Neutral Posture 5500
This is a highly adjustable chair with a very “cushiony” feel all around. This is one of the only chairs evaluated which allowed adjustment of the lumbar firmness. The adjustments were relatively easy to figure out, though some of the adjustments (seat pan depth) were somewhat unusual and so took some getting used to. Creatively, the instructions were built into the armrest, though it is not obvious that they are there. Feedback from users in the field has been very positive for this chair. However, these chairs are more expensive than most.
The seat has a thick cushion and many adjustments (height, depth and tilt).
Overall, the backrest is highly adjustable (height, tilt, tension). The backrest also has a thick cushion and “pump up” lumbar support, similar to the inflatable air soles found in some athletic shoes.
The armrests are height, width and pivoting adjustable, though the width adjustment requires the user to reach under the chair. The 360-degree rotating armrests can be useful in moving the armrests out of the way for work close to a desk.
The backrest has ratche height adjustment that is very easy to use. Reach back, pull up and the whole backrest moves up to where you want to position it. The armrests also pivot 360 degrees. This isn’t unique to this chair alone but it is a relatively uncommon option. The “pump up” lumbar support is novel and is one of the only chair evaluated so far to have that option. This chair is registered with the FDA as a medical device. This may make a difference for some. As always, let a chair’s comfort be your guide.
This chair is very nicely designed, though, not perfect. Bonus points for the ratcheting back height adjustment, and for the fully pivoting arms. The rotation can be difficult to use, however, and it is not obvious that the armrests even can rotate. Some users may find they accidentally ratchet the backrest height up as they move around during work. The lumbar firmness adjustment is nice, although it takes quite a few pumps to notice a difference, which may be annoying to some people. Instructions are built into the armrests! This makes them difficult to lose – a nice touch. In the trade-off between making the instructions obvious and keeping the “clean” look of the chair, Neutral Posture has made the instructions unobtrusive. This means some people may never find them. The adjustment paddles also have icons showing what each paddle adjusts, and you can see the paddles while sitting in the chair. The tension adjustment is the standard knob hidden under the chair and is difficult to use. Likewise, the armrest width adjustment is hard to get to. Overall, this chair rates very highly.