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Programming IT Technology

Best Chair For Desktop Coding? 742

Posted by timothy
from the because-an-army-marches-on-its-back dept.
wifeoflurker writes "Can someone give me recommendations for a desk chair to give my husband as a Father's Day gift? He currently uses a cheap one he got from Office Max, but I want him to have a really comfortable one. He spends his life in this chair (coding and lurking on Slashdot). I don't have time to research good chairs on the internet today (I'm chasing my 10 month old around, and she seems to get into the most mischief when I'm staring at the computer screen), so I figured a few folks here might share their personal recommendations." Has there been any great progress in the state of the art (of sitting) since the last time readers sought recommendations for back-friendly chairs a few years back, or the perfect computer chair nearly a decade back? Is there even such a thing as a back-friendly chair, or should we all be in astronaut-style lounge workstations?
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Best Chair For Desktop Coding?

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  • Thanks (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:03PM (#23768475)
    Hey honey, thanks for thinking of me, I really appreciate it!
  • by XenoPhage (242134) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:04PM (#23768495) Homepage
    Wow.. Utter shock at a slashdot reader having not only a wife, but, presumably, having reproduced...
  • by PachmanP (881352) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:04PM (#23768499)
    Sounds like someone has been taking the shouting of "who's your daddy" a little to seriously...
  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:04PM (#23768501)
    I know there are a lot of contenders in this arena -- and honestly, at the price it seems very high.

    But think about it -- you own a car that you like. You spend maybe what, an hour, or two a day in it? You spend maybe $400 for the car payment plus insurance and gas.

    And you sit in a chair for 5-7 hours a day. You should make a good investment for the sake of your back, your butt, and your comfort. I have the Aeron and the only quip I have with it, is that it doesn't match the height of my desk (which is actually a writing desk, incorrect height for a mouse/keyboard).

    I like the Aeron -- it has a lot of adjustments, it's built very solid, it has a good warranty and you can get them serviced a LOT of places (casters and such). It's NOT cheap, but refer to what I said earlier on why you SHOULD spend the money.
    • by trybywrench (584843) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:18PM (#23768743)
      I have to second the Herman Miller Aeron. I finally bit the bullet and bought one and I've really noticed a difference with respect to fatigue. I would say I can write for about 2 more hours then usual with the Aeron.

      No one wants to invest in a good chair but you have to think about the fact that your chair is in use from the time you sit down at your computer to the time you get up. It's the most utilized piece of computer gear you have. A lot of people skimp on monitors too even though it's the second most utilized piece of hardware.

      A solid chair and a solid monitor then keyboard/mouse goes very very far in keeping you productive.
      • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:36PM (#23769093) Homepage Journal

        A solid chair and a solid monitor then keyboard/mouse goes very very far in keeping you productive.
        And then you visit slashdot, nullifying all your efforts.

      • by mikael (484)
        Having used a variety of chairs, I'd say the following are important:

        o Wheels - being able to push the chair back when you move away from the desk (otherwise you will probably just tear the carpet).

        o Adjustable height - make sure you are not hunched up in front of the keyboard or bending your neck looking down.

        o Armrests - definitely needed for sitting back and letting your arms rest. As others have pointed out, make sure these are adjustable.

        o Rotatable - maybe you want to have a side desk alongside your m
      • by Skyshadow (508) * on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:08PM (#23771775) Homepage

        I've used the Aeron, and I like my Mirra just as much. The only way I'd get an Aeron right now is if I were very tall/short (thus making the sizing thing worthwhile) -- for 90% of us, the Mirra works just fine and it significantly less expensive.

        What the parent poster said, by the way? Completely dead-on. There are two bits of furniture you shouldn't skimp on, and they're your bed and your office chair.

    • by Thelasko (1196535) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:23PM (#23768829) Journal
      I had an Aeron at a previous job. Making the switch to whatever this purple monstrosity I have now has been difficult. My favorite part about the Aeron is it allows airflow around your body.
      • by andyring (100627) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:56PM (#23769371) Homepage
        So in other words, when farting a lot, it disperses quicker?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Fizzl (209397)
          As a contractor of many years, I refuse to take second hand chairs as my main post. Sure I will sit in any chair for an hour, but fuck me if I have to smell other peoples farts after sitting in one long enough to get it warm.

          I was once asked "Why are you so demanding about the chair? You will be here for only three months or so!". I gave the manager a quizzical look and asked. "Say.. Do you ever hide your flatulance into your cushiony chair?" (Yeah, not from US. I guess that would be waaaayyyy too offensive
      • Surgery on my ass (Score:5, Informative)

        by kramulous (977841) * on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:11PM (#23770475)

        the Aeron is it allows airflow around your body.

        I'm going to make my work buy one today.

        This is embarrassing, but two years ago I had surgery on my butt. I can't remember the name of the condition, but it has generally been reserved for truckdrivers. Basically what happens is a hair in your crack becomes ingrown because you sweat (I live in a sub-tropical environment and at the time, wasn't wearing 100% cotton underwear), and sitting down all day the hair grows inward. Long story short, you go to *extreme* pain very quickly and hence I had a lot of morphine (which is good) and a general anesthetic and surgery to remove about 60ml of pus (which was bad). I had an additional hole in my arse about the size of my fist (poor choice, perhaps a tennis ball).

        The next worst thing was the healing process. You have to regularly wash the wound out three times daily to prevent the condition occurring again until the wound completely heals. That takes about 4 months! I'm stoked that my partner is a nurse, but it's not really all as glamorous as it sounds.

        You do not want this condition! Wear 100% cotton underwear, pants that breath, and a chair that does not allow you to lean back. (Found the condition - pilonidal cyst - beware the gross pictures)
    • The company i worked at about 8 years ago bought new Aeron chairs for everyone in the company, and i couldn't stand them. The metal frame with webbing felt rather harsh and unnatural, and that was before i tried crossing one of my legs under the other (right ankle under left thigh or vice versa) which was actually painful in the Aeron. I felt uncomfortable sitting in my chair for the entire rest of my time at that company. The only benefit was that they let us take our old chairs home if we wanted them, and
      • by jmkaza (173878)

        i tried crossing one of my legs under the other (right ankle under left thigh or vice versa) which was actually painful in the Aeron.

        The reason you hate it is the exact reason I love it. On most chairs, when I try to fold my ankle under my thigh, the armrests get in the way and I get cramped into the chair. With my Aeron, the armrests drop LOW, so my knee can rest on top of the armrest, and work as an armrest itself.
        I'm in it up to ten hours a day and haven't had the slightest bit of discomfort.

    • by kmahan (80459) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:54PM (#23769341)
      I've owned an Aeron for several years. I used to sit in it for 8 to 10 hours a day working. After a couple of years I started experiencing the symptoms of RLS. Very annoying. I went to docs for the usual diagnostics/drugs. Nothing really helped.

      One day my wife was talking to the manager of a Relax The Back store and my RLS came up. Upon hearing that I used an Aeron chair he said "That could be the problem. The way the front area of the chair where the legs go over is designed can cause problems with circulation and such." (I heard this second hand from my wife). I switched to a more traditional office chair. Within a month my RLS symptoms were gone.

      So no scientific proof and I haven't felt like switching back to see the Aeron was the problem. But I'm a lot happier now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by llZENll (545605)
      So true, people have their priorities so out of whack, they won't even blink at spending $30k on a car they will use 2 hours a day, but gawk at the notion of buying a $2000 monitor or $1000 chair that you use 10 hours a day. I spent almost $1000 on my Aeron, got all the options, chrome, I haven't sat in a better chair.

      The 2 best ways to spend money in your office: 1) monitor and 2) chair!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lewp (95638)
      I've worked a couple places with Aeron chairs, and while I think they are probably the best chairs I've used, I have noticed that they seem to wear out rather quickly (or maybe it's just my big ass?). I don't have any experience with the other status-symbol-ergo-chairs like the Humanscale Freedom, so I don't know if the Aeron is especially good, or just that ~$1000 buys a whole lot of chair. Most of what I have to compare them to are chairs from Office Depot and such.

      By the way, this might not be the best c
    • by droopycom (470921)
      Yeah,

      I should try to use my office chair to go to work one day. It has wheels and its mostly downhill both way so it can definitely replace my car...
  • Ikea Markus Chair (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DeionXxX (261398) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:05PM (#23768507)
    I have this chair at home and I love it...

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00103102 [ikea.com]

    It was well worth the $200.

    The high back lets you recline fully when enjoying a movie. It's very comfortable and has a bunch of options to set height, back stiffness / angle it reclines to.
  • Swiss Ball! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by polyp2000 (444682) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:06PM (#23768515) Homepage Journal
    this might sound a little crazy but a pilates / swiss ball is the absolute daddy. Once you are used to it its really very comfortable, balancing is fairly easy and kind of forces you into the right posture.

    N.
    • Re:Swiss Ball! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @03:20PM (#23769691) Homepage
      I found the kneeling chair [wikipedia.org]. It looks like it would be really uncomfortable, and with no back support you would get tired, but something about it just puts your entire body in the right position.
      • Re:Swiss Ball! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Gnavpot (708731) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:23PM (#23770635)

        I found the kneeling chair. It looks like it would be really uncomfortable

        I have used the original Variable Balans for 20 years at home, and recently I persuaded my employer to buy one for work too. I easily easily spend more than 12 hours daily in those two chairs.

        I consider them extremely comfortable. However, my chairs are of the rocking chair type: http://www.varierfurniture.com/default.aspx?menu=693 [varierfurniture.com]

        I have tried one of the models with a fixed bottom frame (or whatever you call that in English), and it was not nearly as comfortable. A few hours, and my shins hurt. I think the angles were a little different, but the main reason was probably that it couldn't rock so I had to sit in the exact same position all the time.

        One word of warning:
        It took me several years to get used to the chair.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lawaetf1 (613291)
      There was a study done a couple years ago using MRI scans that showed the best posture is actually slouching back in the chair with the feet flat on the floor. Weight is taken off the spine. Exercise balls, in my opinion, are lousy chairs. You can still sit with terrible posture, they provide no back support (leaving your spine compressing all day), and can be dangerous. Pop them all!
  • Excerice ball (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuantumRiff (120817) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:07PM (#23768533)
    I know everyone is different, but I have used an excercise ball at home, and really like it. It forces good posture, (one of the biggest problems with back pain) and even works the abs and back muscles to stay sitting up straight. At a former company I worked at, I had a pretty cool chair with no back (until we hired somebody with an acutal medical back problem, and they gave it to him), it had 2 "pads" one was lower, for your knees, and the upper pad was for sitting on. It worked similar to the excercise ball.
  • Herman Miller Aeron (Score:3, Informative)

    by axle_512 (199903) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:07PM (#23768535)
    The Herman Miller Aeron is my choice.
    Strong enough to take my abuse (and I'm tough on furniture).
    Comfortable enough to sit in for hours.
    The aesthetics are extremely nice IMHO.

    Only downside to this chair is the $$ price.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pubjames (468013)
      Well, I managed to break the arm of mine. And I'm not fat. Not really fat at least. Normal fat.
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:07PM (#23768537)
    Which country is this? :)
  • by drcagn (715012) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:11PM (#23768627) Homepage
    To the guy who complained about his chair: your wife is getting you a new one!
  • Car seat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davidbrit2 (775091) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:12PM (#23768635) Homepage
    Car seats are, after all, designed to be used for hours at a time. I've always wanted to stop by the junk yard, find a nice seat, and mount/weld it to some kind of base. The reclining feature would be nice for those all-nighters.
  • by mseidl (828824) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:15PM (#23768681) Homepage
    The Hawaii Chair:

    http://www.skymall.com/shopping/detail.htm?pid=102518472&pnr=M53 [skymall.com]

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9_amg-Aos4 [youtube.com]

    It will give me amazing 6 pack abs in 3 weeks with no dieting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:17PM (#23768715)
    I highly recommend Knoll's Life chair... It has an active support system that gives you good lower back support throughout a range of positions. I sat in an Aeron for years and I much prefer "Life".

    They list for $1200. But you can find them online for under $600 including shipping. I was lucky enough to find a guy near my house that sold them to me for $325. I've bought 4 now for my employees.
  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:20PM (#23768777) Homepage
    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2005-06-07-office-fit_x.htm [usatoday.com]
    "Sitting at their desks is about the last thing workers would do in Dr. James Levine's office of the future.
    Dr. James Levine keeps a 1 mph pace on his treadmill while checking his e-mail.at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
    Instead of being sedentary in front of their computers, they'd stand. But instead of standing still, they'd walk on a treadmill. And instead of meeting around a conference table, they'd talk business while walking laps on a track."

    But just a standing desk with a tall stool to alternate with can work wonders for back pain and good posture.
    The walking is probably better on the knees though.
  • Grahl Duo-Back (Score:3, Informative)

    by Weasel Boy (13855) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:21PM (#23768805) Journal
    Most comfortable office chair I have ever sat in. Way more comfortable than Aeron. Cheaper too. I have one at home.
  • by eison (56778) <pkteison @ h o t m a i l . c om> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:22PM (#23768807) Homepage
    Humanscale Freedom chair (with headrest option). About the only way to spend more on a computer chair than an Aeron, but it's a better chair. Seat stays level and slides when you lean forward/back, and headrest automatically comes up, so it's easy to adjust position comfortably.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I 2nd this. I got one about 6 months ago and have had much less back trouble. My brother has something from Knoll that he likes a lot, but it costs even more than the Freedom (it is leather though). BTW, the Freedom chair is what Bill Maher uses on his show.
  • by ppetrakis (51087) <peter.petrakis@gmail.com> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:25PM (#23768883) Homepage
    It's so much simpler and cost effective than the Aeron. The chair moves with you,
    the seat pan, the lower lumbar support, it's great. It's arm rests are fully adjustable, vertically, forward/back, and side to side. The lower back support actually works and doesn't feel like someone stuck a piece of wood behind your back. You can adjust it's height and it's depth. I've owned one now for 2 years now and have no regrets. I have back problems and this is the only chair I can sit in without being miserable when I use a computer.

    http://store.steelcase.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=LEAPV2 [steelcase.com]

    If you really want to go all out, get the forward tilt option. The only
    reason I didn't is that the lead time was an extra 1-2 weeks. I should also
    mention that it was really easy to setup. It came in one big box and in two parts, the seat and base. All I had to do was drop the seat onto the base and it was ready, no tools were necessary.

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:31PM (#23768987)
    I recommend the Humanscale Freedom Chair with Headrest [humanscale.com]. I ahve used one for eight years following back surgery, and I love it. I prefer it to the Aeron. It comes in lots of color/fabric choices and is virtually indestructible. The only drawback is price. List is about $1,000, but you can find it for $150-200 less on the net. It also looks cool.
  • by muellerr1 (868578) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:33PM (#23769019) Homepage
    See if you can track down the one Ballmer threw. In addition to the enormous geek cred, that chair would have great sentimental value as well.
  • Other options (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ammorris (755429) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:33PM (#23769031) Homepage
    There ARE competitors to the Aeron, in many other styles... Check out Knoll Office Seating, the ergonomics that go into these chairs is really amazing. If you can stomach the prices, then by all means, your back WILL thank you at the end of a long day. Make sure you buy a properly sized chair (*the aeron comes in 3 sizes) and if you buy some other chair, make sure he adjusts it to where his posture is set right. I have a couple of Knoll Life chairs at home, I can personally recommend them as super comfortable, and they come in a million different color combinations. Oh.. And they'll outlast anything from ikea or office depot.
  • by xutopia (469129) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:34PM (#23769045) Homepage
    Can we all agree that no chair is perfect for everyone?
  • Steelcase Leap (Score:4, Informative)

    by skribble (98873) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:44PM (#23769207) Homepage
    While Herman Miller gets the press (and looks cool) The SteelCase Leap [steelcase.com] chairs are quite cozy and incredibly well built.
  • by Simon Rowe (1206316) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:53PM (#23769327)
    He doesn't want it for coding in...
  • by mapkinase (958129) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @03:06PM (#23769509) Homepage Journal
    "He spends his life in this chair" That cannot be good.

    May be you should buy him something that will lure him OUT of his chair?
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @03:31PM (#23769853) Homepage Journal
    Find a place that has nice office chairs and do measurments.

    Take him there, treat him like a king while it he gets the measurements and adjustments done.

    He can pick out all the colors he wants.
    After words a nice meal with some good drinks.

    When the chair gets delivered, put the 10 month old down for a nap and fuck your husband in the chair.

    You now have the perfect, favorite chair.

  • wooden chair (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:58PM (#23771057) Homepage Journal
    I prefer to use a wooden banker's chair. it's solid and does not lean back or wiggle. I sit in it naturally and comfortably for hours.

    the stupid office chairs they give us at work just kills my shoulders and back. I even hate those aereon chairs (I borrowed one for 3 days).
  • by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:43PM (#23772181) Homepage Journal
    is a nice soft one without hard edges or any real weight, but then again I work at Microsoft....

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