Occasionally I get up and move to another part of the country, sell of all my furniture, most of my clothes, so that my move is many boxes, mostly filled with journals and research notebooks, sometimes a few systems, and sometimes just hard drives. I even give away most of my clothes. My friends find this amusing. After this last move, I had no bed for many months, perhaps half a year, and I didn't find it to be all that important until I ran into a cute girl I liked, got distracted from work, and bought one. However, I got a good chair and a desk right off the bat, as the first furniture I got.
I have an Aeron and a Freedom chair, depending where I'm at - at home it's the Freedom chair, and I love it. Last night I saw a ted talk, low and behold, they are talking about the chair, http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/niels_diffrient_rethinks_... I went upstairs and sat in the chair again after the talk, to appreciate how much I like it. I don't think about it much when I'm sitting in it, and that's the incredible thing -- I frequently got irritated with my chair years back. Product link: http://www.humanscale.com/products/freedom_index.cfm
a grand on a chair isn't bad...my laptop cost me more, and it gets less use.
If you're serious about your work, spending as much on a good chair as you do on your computer (usually less; a quarter as much for me) isn't begging too much. you can make the money back with the longer hours it lets you sit comfortably for and in the hospital bills you'll avoid from having a properly aligned back. It's also important to lift weights daily if you're going to be sitting in a chair all day working. It'll fix any adverse effects sitting from extended periods has and give you energy.
If you have trouble finding the money to afford the necessities for your work, I am always asked by clients to refer them to coders, and there are many freelance gigs floating around out there if you look.
Unless your budget is limited, the price difference is not worth the risk of injury.
It's a simple and clean design and it doesn't tear up your clothes like the net fabric Aeron. I find that the handful of adjustments that it provides are enough.
It's not that adjustable: control the armrest height, how far you can recline, and the tension of the spring that holds you there. Mine has the newer style lumbar support, which is undeniably a hack. I keep it away from my back; it does nothing but push me further to the front of the chair. My biggest gripe, however, is the comfort of the seat. That damn plastic bar running across the front creates a horrible pressure point and probably increases the likelihood of DVT.
While I'm no advocate of the Aeron, I'm also unaware of any good alternatives. Looking forward to seeing what others suggest.
Let Joel Spolsky speak (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/FieldGuidetoDeveloper...):
"Let me, for a moment, talk about the famous Aeron chair, made by Herman Miller. They cost about $900. This is about $800 more than a cheap office chair from OfficeDepot or Staples.
They are much more comfortable than cheap chairs. If you get the right size and adjust it properly, most people can sit in them all day long without feeling uncomfortable. The back and seat are made out of a kind of mesh that lets air flow so you don’t get sweaty. The ergonomics, especially of the newer models with lumbar support, are excellent.
They last longer than cheap chairs. We’ve been in business for six years and every Aeron is literally in mint condition: I challenge anyone to see the difference between the chairs we bought in 2000 and the chairs we bought three months ago. They easily last for ten years. The cheap chairs literally start falling apart after a matter of months. You’ll need at least four $100 chairs to last as long as an Aeron."
Re your comment: "That damn plastic bar running across the front creates a horrible pressure point and probably increases the likelihood of DVT."
The plastic bar on mine seems to create a natural pressure release because it curves downward. It seems that such a feel should occur if you've got the right height.
Audition some alternatives and sell the Aeron if you find one that works better for you.
My Aeron's big problems: It is a fraction too short, and it doesn't have enough upper back support. I fixed Problem B by strapping a pillow to it with a bungie cord. Problem A still awaits its solution. I may try building a false floor (basically a sheet of plywood atop a few 1x3s) -- a wacky but effective solution. ;)
Here's the one I bought from Amazon. It's absurdly durable (gym quality) and comes with a small pump to inflate it. For less than $20, it completely changed my desk posture. Even IKEA can't beat that.
It also fits easily in my backpack when deflated, which is good when one decides abruptly to move across the country.
FWIW, I'm 6'3", and while I got the largest ball size, that may have been a factor.
Its the Freedom Task Chair by Humanscale. http://www.humanscale.com/products/freedom_index.cfm
I think they are better than Aerons; not sure about the price though.
i liked it better than the humanscale freedom, but ymmv. the liberty is beautifully designed - it uses your own bodyweight to ensure good posture.
drove 1h both ways across LA to sit it in before i bought one online for 1/2 the price that it was selling in the showroom ($700 vs $1400).
it was an awesome purchase - i could sit in it all day. i sold it to go digital nomad for a while, but when i pick a place to live, it'll be one of the first things i buy. jason calacanis' "cheap tables, expensive chairs" advice is bang-on imho: http://tr.im/k490
looks like the liberty has come down in price too: http://tr.im/k48A
I own this chair. I believe it is the rebranded version of the Raynor Enjoy (once sold in Europe):
I looked hard at this chair. It is a rebranded Raynor Ergohuman:
They work fairly well.
There are a few things worth checking on an aeron to make sure you're getting a good deal:
1. the quality of the mesh (check for cuts, etc. I would avoid if the mesh is in bad shape).
2. check the base, make sure you rock side to side. avoid creaks, and clanks. Aerons are generally REALLY durable unless they've been abused.
The issue with ordering Aeron's blindly is that they come in a ton of different configurations. Some have tilt forward, not just tilt back for example. Some have leather arms rests, different lumbar system, etc..
Like car shopping, there's no such thing as a "last good deal" so don't force yourself into purchasing something you're having second questions about. The economy is in the shitter, plenty of Aerons will be available if they aren't already.
I am not a heavy guy by any stretch of the imagination and these chairs all break down on me so the aeron is something that I am considering largely because of the cushion problem. (also the mesh keeps cool during a long session and the posture elements are nice too)
I was going to buy me the most basic office chair (height and tilt-adjustable, as I guess just any of them) because I don't wish to pay price of something like Aeron and I don't understand what the above-basic chairs have to offer me.
I have been looking at the humascale chairs (http://www.humanscale.com/) but they are not cheap either.
VDU breaks and good basic ergonomic positions still get you a long way towards pain-free work, anyway. A chair can't fix everything.
I bought this one a few years ago and it's still holding up perfectly. It has plenty of adjustments to it:
I used to think you need the absolute best office chair out there: I had some German high-end chair and then a Swiss Giroflex 33 (Model 33-7777... below on that page http://www.giroflex.com/content/produkte/giroflex_33.php), both around a thousand bucks.
Now I'm sitting comfortably in some decent Staples office chair (adjustable armrests, mesh back, leather seat), that I picked up for 150 bucks.
Not much difference.
The MAIN thing is that your posture is good, and that once in a while you stretch and exercise!
Advice for founders and small business: buy a decent but cheap Staples office chair at first (not the comfy big one, but the lean adjustable kind with good armrests, so you can relax your arms while you're typing). The high-end market doesn't really improve your experience that much.
OTOH, if you have the spare cash to blow... a high-end office chair IS marginally better.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure there is one.
The problem is, as far as I can tell, there aren't any, or at least there weren't three years ago when I last looked. None of the knockoffs have the combination of support and breathability that makes the Aeron unusual.
One thing I'll say: if you're looking for Aerons, make sure you get one with lumbar support, which makes a tremendous difference. I've heard good things about Steelcase chairs -- see http://www.steelcase.com -- but they're not cheap either. We talk about them briefly here: http://blog.seliger.com/2008/06/15/tools-of-the-trade—what-a... .
The Leap chair does look a lot more adjustable and maybe more solid too.
It also helps if you live in Michigan, near where they're produced, 'cos then you can get them off craigslist for cheap. :)
Also: The comfiest chair in the world won't make up for getting up and stretching periodically. The human body isn't really that well-suited to sitting, spending ten hours a day staring at something right in front of you, and typing.
About 2 months ago I searched really hard for a cheap used Aeron without luck. I opted for a $150 chair from Staples after trying out every one there and at OfficeMax. That chair is alright, but an Aeron is definitely worth the investment. I'm borrowing a friend's now and it is so much better. The benefits really kick in during long coding sessions.
I look at buying an Aeron as reducing future health bills. If you know you're going to be coding nearly every day for years, the ROI you'll get out of it is extremely good. Sitting in a crappy chair for 40+ hours per week for months on end makes my body feel like $!%@.
"Others prefer the Steelcase Leap Chair"
Was that it?
(PS: drewcrawford already linked an Office Depot rebranded version for cheaper, so please up-mod him too if you found this helpful :) http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/690690/Realspace-PRO-9...)
I tried all kinds of chairs before and the Aeron is the best. Exercise balls popped, cheap ones broke, and standing got old quickly.
You could also try standing up or using a treadmill but the treadmill I have doesn't have a good enough motor for long sessions at slow speed.
Another alternative just to throw it in there:
The EQ3 Twist chair is interesting. Made out of bungy chords, it flexes but is extremely supportive. I got mine because I've never felt like sitting straight up automatically when getting into a chair, other than this one. It's not in the same realm as the Aeron, in fact it probably leaves funny rope patterns on your butt after awhile, but ergonomically, it's probably better to stand and move around once in awhile for circulation.
At the office I sit on one of those super geek inflatable balls =( $25 and you get used to it after awhile.
I also don't have a horrible back or anything, so take the above two options with a grain of salt!
Just getting out of college doesn't fulfill those 2 requirements. Wait until the amount of work you do demands that you get a chair that costs that much. It seems you would have a lot bigger things to worry about and focus your time on than evaluating chairs.
Of course, it's not for everyone, but it's flexible enough to fit most people very well.
On the other hand, I've used one for 4 years now, and I highly recommend it. It really is that damn good, and if there are two things in life you shouldn't cheap out on, it's a bed and your primary work chair, in that order.
(edit) Wow! You guys can be very sensitive sometimes. Can't we mix a little humour with out tech talk?
How about a "used" Aeron chair at a low price? They are guaranteed for an insane time, ... something like 12 years. Seriously, find someone who is upgrading to the latest generation of Aeron and pick up a classic that is only 5 yrs old and still great!