Reviews can play an important in the research phase of any product. To be helpful, reviews need to present a variety of facts to aid in the selection process for a consumer. We have developed a five category system to help compare different massage chairs. This system weighs the 5 categories equally allowing each one to earn 20 points. The score of each category is then summed to give a total score for that massage chair. This is by no means a perfect system, but it provides a more systematic approach to the evaluation process. The 5 categories we use for the review include: Warranty & Customer Service, Comfort/Ergonomics, Ease of Use, Features and Massage Therapy. We hope you find this approach helpful for your research. This review is of the Real Ultra EP30004. This shiatsu massage chair is in the $4,000 to $5,000 range.
Warranty & Customer Service:
The first category is warranty and customer service. The warranty is the protection given to the consumer for the product. The shorter the warranty, the more risk the customer has to take in the transaction. With the EP30004, Panasonic gives a 1 year labor, 3 year. This is the warranty directly from the manufacturer. This is a rather short warranty period for the dollar value of the transaction. In most cases, the consumer can purchase an extended warranty for this massage recliner, but then that drives the total cost of the product. If you require customer service, then you must contact your original retailer. This certainly means that customer service and turn around times are variable and depend on the retailer. Overall Rating for Panasonic warranty and customer service is 15.
Comfort & Ergonomics:
Massage chair recliners usually have a dual function. One is obviously to massage, but the other is as a recliner. Therefore, comfort is usually an important consideration, since the chair may not always be used in the massage mode. A recliner should be comfortable to sit on. The Real Pro Ultra comes with padded armrests. There is a comfortable, soft upholstered head pillow to support the head. We found the recliner is comfortable to sit in. The leg ottoman is adjustable out an extra 5 inches, which helps to target your legs better. The Real Pro Ultra is well designed from an ergonomic point of view. Overall Rating for Panasonic comfort and ergonomics and customer service is 18.
East of Use:
The massage chair industry increases the functionality of its chairs every year. With the increase in functionality comes increasing complexity of controls to run them. Our ease of use category is for making the controls of the chair as intuitive as possible for the user. Panasonic is one of the premier electronics companies in the world, so we expect them to completely understand this issue. Panasonic has pioneered the use of a “Voice Guidance" system in their chairs to help consumers with ease of use. This interactive system enables novice users to quickly understand and use the chair to maximum benefit. The remote is very cleanly designed and intuitive. It is not cluttered like many controllers we evaluate. The remote comes with memory functions that can remember the favorite massages of up to 4 different users. Manual controls are located in the side panel of the remote. Overall Rating for the EP 30004 for ease of use is 19.
The important features of the EP-30004 are the Junetsu massage and the shoulder/arm stretch. Panasonic has developed the Junetsu style massage in the Real Pro Ultra. The Junetsu is an ultra fine kneading massage. This uses small circular motions that penetrate deeply through the muscles for a soothing massage therapy. Panasonic has developed a novel shoulder stretch in the EP 30004. The arm rest has padded covers that lift up, where the hands and arms can be placed inside. The airbags then activate to which hold the arms. The chair back then reclines slightly to extend the arms and shoulders. This slow, gradual stretch helps to elongate the muscles of the arms and shoulders. This stretch helps to remove tension from the muscles and increase the range of motion. Overall Rating for the Real Pro Ultra for features is 19.
The massage functions built into the EP 30004 include both automatic and manual programs. There are four 15-minute Pre-Programs, One 5-minute Quick Program and One 15-minute Self Program. There are 4 full body automatic courses and 5 different massage speed settings. The automatic massage functions include the following: Shiatsu, Gentle, Deep and Refresh. Panasonic has developed its exclusive Junetsu or ultra fine kneading massage system in the Real Pro Ultra. This chair provides high quality and realistically replicated massage therapies. There are two stretching functions. There is a lower body stretch and the shoulder stretch. The lower body is covered with 22 airbags including the hands, arms, buttocks, calves and feet. This chair also provides both Swedish and shiatsu style massages for excellent massage coverage. Overall Rating for the EP 30004 massage recliner for massage therapy is 19.
How does the Real Pro Ultra EP-30004 rate on an overall basis? Summing up the score, our overall rating of the EP 30004 is a 90/100. Panasonic continues its innovation with cutting edge massage therapies such as the Junetsu massage technique and the shoulder stretch. The technologies incorporated into this massage recliner are solid. We are still a bit disappointed with the aesthetics of this chair, which is very plain. Panasonic has incorporated an extendable ottoman which helps reach a taller user more effectively. The massage therapy tends to be a bit lighter than other chairs which over longer term use may be a concern for some. But, overall, this is a well designed and effective massage chair recliner. If you are looking for a shiatsu recliner in this price range, then this is one you should check out.
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