For every hard-core PC gamer out there hunched over a coffee-stained keyboard, there are as many console gamers happy to sit back on a nice couch somewhere and fire up their favourite disc.
Unfortunately, any couch worth sitting on still takes up a lot of room and can be cumbersome to position, so for the ultra-casual gamer out there, the Bean Bag has made somewhat of a revival.
No longer the domain of whacked-out hippies, Janis Joplin fans and dentist waiting rooms, the Bean Bag has re-entered mainstream society - after taking a shower, getting a haircut and generally gaining credibility as somewhere you'd actually want to park your posterior. With this in mind, we decided to take a closer look at two models currently vying for your attention after recently entering the NZ market.
Weighing in at a shade over eight kilogrammes, this mighty bag has recently found its way to New Zealand, and not a moment too soon. You might not recognise the brand, but Sumo Lounge has provided a range of bags and seating solutions to such events as the 2008 Much Music Awards, the 2008 Glastonbury Festival, the World Cyber Games and even the television show Extreme Makeover Home Edition.
The tough, anti-rip, anti-stain, nylon exterior of the Omni manages to retain flexibility, and allows the bag to be used in a multitude of ways. From a conventional cushion to a loveseat, crash mat or lounge chair, you can position the bag in pretty much any location large enough to fit it. At 1370x1670mm, the large surface area can even be utilised as a comfortable location to get a few hours kip. Not that we're in the habit of drifting off at the end of a marathon gaming session, of course.
Unfortunately our Sumo Omni originally arrived overfilled from the factory, an issue Sumo Lounge was quick to acknowledge. However, as it was a review sample and one of the first examples in the country, small problems like this are to be expected. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, we attempted to open the bag and remove some of the PVC pellets without making an unholy mess - something, we've learned, that is absolutely outside the laws of nature. Don't try it. Trust us, the damn things go everywhere.
In so doing however, we were afforded the opportunity to inspect the build quality. The bag consists of thick nylon sheets stitched together and connected at the top with not only a wide Velcro seal, but an industrial-sized metal zipper as well. It's little wonder that Sumo Lounge has a six-month guarantee on this Velcro/zipper combination, as well as the material composition, and I can't imagine what kind of a series of circumstances would lead to their destruction. You probably wouldn't want to drop a cow on it, but for all other duties you're unlikely to find something more resilient - if you're after a crash mat that even the kids can't ruin, this is for you.
The Sumo Omni comes in a range of five colours for the New Zealand market: black, brown, green, blue and red; although we hope Sumo Lounge will expand this to include the full range of ten colours offered in North America. You can also buy the PVC beads separately, although there should only be minimal decompression over time. We've had tremendous customer service from Sumo Lounge, and as they're expanding their operation in New Zealand we hope to try out a range of their new products over the coming months.
For more information including photos and video demonstrations, head over to the official site.
If Buzz Lightyear ever needed a rest, this is the sort of chair he'd choose. The Eye Chair is a novel solution for those who find themselves tripping over headphone cords, or simply wish to enjoy a multimedia experience at floor level.
The bag comes equipped with an audio interface into which you can connect a stereo RCA input. There is also an RCA output, a 3.5mm headphone output, and separate volume and bass dials. There's a bunch of different ways you can hook up your electronic devices - you could use the RCA input/output to have volume and bass controls for your console or PC at your fingertips, or you can simply connect the chair directly to your sound source and use the built-in speakers.
The Eye Chair is equipped with three speakers - two either side of the pod at the top of the chair, and one bass speaker roughly where your lower spine meets the bag. The speakers are sown into the fabric of the seat, and come with their own tough protective grills to prevent cone damage, and despite free-floating at the whim of the material they can be positioned to suit. The sound quality from these speakers is surprising - as they're not bolted to anything you'd expect to be accosted by tinny notes, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Perhaps the pressure your own body weight places on the bag anchors them, because when you're actually in the chair they are more than adequate, and we can easily see them being used not only as supplementary speakers, but a sound solution in their own right.
The bag itself is constructed using a tough nylon material that, whilst thinner than the Sumo Omni, is much easier to shape around your posterior. The Eye Chair is definitely a personal solution - once you've carved your own groove into the seat it's unlikely you'll want to share, but this really just adds to the appeal and makes it all the more attractive for bedrooms, or smaller gaming areas. The chair does require a separate power supply (a power pack is included, along with numerous audio plug adaptors) although it more than holds its own as a comfortable place to game without even connecting it to anything.
The Eye Chair is available in black & silver, or red & silver, and distributors MMD even have a special on - they've carved $100 off the retail price and you can now experience this futuristic bag for $299.00. If you're planning on attending Armageddon in Auckland this year, keep an eye out for their stall - it's the perfect opportunity to try before you buy.
In the meantime, we're going to kick off another marathon gaming session. With bags like these, we might be quite some time.