Herman Miller x Logitech – Embody Gaming Chair Review
As a lifelong gamer and IT professional I have spent a large part of my life at a computer desk. As you get older and move away from the typical “gaming chairs” you begin to think more about your health and your posture. Herman Miller is one of the most recognized brand names in the world. They have been around for a long time and have released a gaming chair based on the original Embody design. Herman Miller partnered with Logitech to create a chair to assist gamers for long gaming sessions. This is also great for content creators and those who are on their PCs for several hours. HM chairs have always carried a premium price. As of Q2 - 2022 the Herman Miller x Logitech Embody Gaming Chair currently retails for $1,795.00 (plus tax – free shipping). With such a steep price you would expect this chair to excel at every level above the competition and over the years the competition has grown. As usual I will give my honest opinion about my latest purchase in my pursuit to find the best ergonomic chair for my needs. Every chair is different and everyone has a different spine alignment. The Embody is not a new concept from HM, but is now being targeted at gamers. The Embody chair first appearance was in 2008 with its unique design and ‘backfit’ adjustment knob. The ‘BackFit’ knob allows you to support the thoracic (upper- back) or sacral (lower-back) area more properly. The Embody Gaming Chair should have more padding for longer gaming\streaming sessions and provide several features that I will cover throughout the article. I have always wanted an Embody for roughly 6 years now. Let’s see if the Herman Miller x Logitech Embody Gaming Chair can live up to the hype.
Packaging & Shipping
When my Herman Miller x Logitech Embody was delivered I was surprised at the size of the box. The box was 63 lbs. and very tall and wide. The Dimensions were 41x30x29 inches. The box will probably be a challenge to bring inside most home doors and storing the box will not be an easy challenge. However, the chair is already assembled and rolls right out of the box. Zero assembly is always a great thing. The packaging is very nice and you can tell it was packed to prevent any damage during shipping. Right out of the box the Embody Gaming Chair looks just as great as the pictures online. The fabric looks and feels very nice as well. One thing you’ll notice right away is that the chair is smaller than you probably imagined when looking at it in person, however it still looks nice regardless. The chair is manufactured in the USA and all of the parts appear to be made of quality parts that should last a very long time. What is more important to me isn’t the aestheticsn but the ergonomics that the chair offers for long working & gaming sessions.
The first time I sat in the chair it felt very nice. No issues initially. The casters felt great and responsive when moving across my carpet while setting. Moving was effortless. The aluminum base might not be suitable for those of you who like to rest their feet on the base of the chair. The base is sturdy, but pretty thin and fairly short in length for those who are wondering. The seat extension was simple enough to use. The tilt, height and posture fit handles\controls all felt like high-quality parts. Now let’s see if this chair is worth nearly $2,000 at regular price ($1,795.00 + tax).
So what is the first thing you do after sitting in a chair? Most people will rest their elbows on the arm rest of chair. The Embody Gaming Chair arms have 9 different height positions which is very nice. The arm rest are also fairly large which gives us a nice area to rest our arms. The ‘entire’ arm, including the plastic holding the arm rest in place, can be moved inward or outward for the arm width adjustments. I find this design to be a bit weird, but perhaps there are some people out there than can use this feature. There are 4 different arm width positions that you can use, but I’m sure most people will ignore this feature and use the arms\arm rest in the “typical” chair fashion (at the default position). For a chair that cost $1,795.00 you would expect the padding on the arms to be top notch and made of premium quality, unfortunately, you would be sadly mistaken. The Embody Gaming Chair arm padding feels similar to that of a $300.00 - $400.00 chair or perhaps cheaper. There are other chairs with similar pricing or cheaper pricing with softer arm padding that feels much better than what we get on the Embody, the Steelcase Leap V2 comes to mind and had great padding. I have seen some people spend even more money on the chair for cushions just so that they can rest their arms comfortably on the Embody. You cannot pivot the arms and there is no depth control or in other words the arms don’t move forward, backwards or inward, unless you move the ‘entire arm’ inward\outward as explained earlier and that includea the plastic holding the arms up. This is a huge step backwards that even $150 - $250 chairs offer. This can be a deal breaker for some purchasers. Now to my personal experience, I felt as if I had to re-train my left and right arm when using my computer. Since the arms cannot be positioned to support my arm\elbow in a way that I like to use my PC, I felt as if I had to keep the chair straight at all times when using my computer mouse. If you turn the chair too far to the left or the right your elbow might lose some or all of its arm rest support. Why a nearly $2,000 chair doesn’t support pivoting or depth control, which is a simple standard feature, is beyond me.
Now this is one of the most important parts of the chair, the rear that supports your thoracic, pelvic & sacral region. A great chair should be able to support your back properly for long periods of time. Of course you should always stand stretch and walk everyone once in a while as well. The Embody major feature is its ‘BackFit’ knob. Since everyone has a different spine curvature the Embody allows you to align the rear of the seat to match the curvature of your spine accurately. This feature will be a hit or a miss with some people, but it’s nice to have control over how different areas of the back are supported. The BackFit adjusts both the upper and lower back regions at the same time. This can be an issue for those who want more control over the BackFit mechanism. Suppose you want to only adjust the lower-back region, but not the upper back region vice-versa, well you can’t do that. You have to adjust them both at the same time nearly perfectly to get the max comfort. This can take a long time to get adjusted properly. When you first sit in the Embody it feels great, but you must adjust it. The chair gives you a lot of freedom to move freely. The back of the chair flexes as well and you have a wide range of motion since you won’t have to worry about the chair hitting the back of your arms or your elbow. This can be great for musicians recording on their PC. The HM Embody is the first chair I have ever sat in which came with a break in period. Typically you will just sit in a chair and it feels comfortable or uncomfortable right away. After a few moments of adjusting the chair you can get the chair tuned to your sitting style rather quickly. Well the Embody takes this to an entirely different level. It could take days, weeks and possibly longer than that to get the chair adjusted just right. This chair is one of the most frustrating chairs I have ever had to deal with in my entire life. The first thing you will notice is that the chair slightly reclines, but you can counter this with the excellent tilt tension knob. The tilt tension knob was very nice from my experience and it was simple to get the tension just right. The Embody chair was created to support the reclining position because Herman Miller Research and Development team over the years determined that this was the healthiest posture for computer users. Being in a reclined position puts less pressure on your spine than if you were sitting upright and HM believes that this will keep your head aligned properly which requires no headrest when reclining. Well some of us need to sit upright for various reasons, but reclining is nice. What is not nice is being forced to recline in order to enjoy the chair. If you try to adjust the ‘BackFit’ knob to “force” your back into an upright position the top of the chair will dig in your upper back near the shoulder area (more on this in the ‘Rear Seat Padding’ on the next page). So although it is possible to sit upright without reclining it will not be the most comfortable. This chair is absolutely relentless when it comes to correct posture. Unless you sit correctly nearly 100% if the time, this chair will be unforgiving to your back.
Rear Seat Padding
The HM x Logitech Embody Gaming Chair is supposed to have more padding than the original Embody. If this is truly the case then I can only imagine the issues that the original Embody has. The padding is very nice in the Thoracic area (mid-upper back area), but the padding fails and becomes very thin in the Pelvic\Sacral\Lumbar area (lower back). At the very top of the chair on the edges there is thin padding as well. The thin padding on the top of the rear of the chair is where you feel the chair digging into your upper back if you attempt to force the chair to allow you to sit upright at all times. So it’s better to match the curvature of your spine to prevent the hard plastics from digging into your upper back around the shoulder blade area depending on your height. I have included a picture below that shows the areas of the chair that have nice padding and the areas that have little to no padding. Padding feels very nice until you get down to the 4th pattern on the fabric and it’s pretty much little to no padding at that point.
Bottom Seat & Cushion
The seat has a decent amount of cushion and is very spacious. You can sit any way you choose even cross-legged if you want. However, just know the chair will punish you for it as I explained earlier about sitting properly. The seat initially feels great when you first sit in it every time, but after a while the seating loses its padding and you can literally feel the rough lumps in the bottom of the chair at times. I have heard that some models should have more padding, but I am reviewing the Logitech Embody that I have at my computer desk right now. Overall the padding is pretty good. For long gaming sessions the Embody has something that Herman Miller calls ““Copper-Infused Foam”. This foam is supposed to prevent pressure from building up and keep the seat\fabric from getting uncomfortably hot. The padding is decent and although Herman Miller advertises its “Copper-Infused Foam”, unless you keep your room fairly cool your underside will get warm and hot, even with the thin clothing on. This can be frustrating in the warmer months of the year or when you are running the heater to warm up your home during the colder months. I felt like the padding on the edge of the chair was pretty decent for my thighs, but the base of the seat doesn’t feel as great after about 20 minutes or so. Adjusting the seat length doesn’t have a “premium” $1,795.00 ‘feel’ to it either. It’s basically just two plastic handles on the side of the chair that you either pull forward or backwards. It’s simple to use, lift your left slightly, grab the handles on both sides of the chair, pull upwards on the handles, then push\pull with a little force. Other chairs offer a smooth sliding mechanism with the press of a button typically on the bottom or side of the seat, but oh no, not the Embody Gaming Chair. You cannot change the “seat depth” in the traditional sense either. The seat simply doesn’t move. That is because the seat is permanently attached to the rear of the chair. So although you can “extend” the seat “length” for leg support you will not be shifting the entire seat for maximum comfort. The thought process behind this design choice was allowing a more “natural” position for better support while sitting at different reclining levels. So if you are looking for relief you won’t be getting it here in the lower back area. The chair rear is permanently connected to the seat with no opening for relief for the lower back if needed.
Now the ‘kicker’ literally, I started having back problems 1 week after using this chair. Initially for the first few days I thought it was just the chair correcting my posture or something. The first issue was shoulder\upper back pain and the second issue was lower back pain. I felt relieved to get out of the chair and lay down on multiple occasions within the first 4 days of owning this chair. I have pretty good posture and haven’t had back issues prior to using this chair; however I can no longer sit in the Embody for long periods of time. I have reverted to using my far cheaper ‘budget’ desk chair. The Herman Miller Embody was supposed to replace my current budget desk chair, but given the budget chair price and the fact that my budget chair has served its purpose; it’s time to move on. I was hoping to find another chair with great back support and I thought that the Embody was going to be that chair, but it’s not. I might have to go back to the Steelcase Leap V2 which was a nice chair that I used for many years.
Final Score:6.7 out of 10
Using my personal chair grading score (not including aesthetics) I would give the Herman Miller a solid 6.7 \ 10 which means this chair slightly above average. As brutal as that may sound, average isn’t bad per say, but the price and lack of features must be taken into consideration for most consumers. $1,795 + tax mean that being average just won’t cut it. Once you surpass the $300 range you are mostly looking for features and long term comfort. Unfortunately this chair did not provide either during my expereience. Instead it gave me back pains within the first few days and I will be returning the chair. I tried to stick with it, but I just couldn’t take the back pains and lack of features. Build quality and padding\cushion is nice overall, but too many cost cutting measures are in place. Herman Miller offers a 12 year warranty and the chair does appear to be using high quality parts.
I would improve the Embody by giving the user more options. Detach the bottom seat from the back of the chair. If that is not an option for their R&D team then Herman Miller could at least add roughly 40% more padding to the lower back lumbar area to make it more comfortable and tolerable. Allowing the user to control both the lower sacral region separately from the higher thoracic region would greatly assist those adjusting the ‘BackFit’ for their spine curvature. I would simply get rid of that arm bending mechanism that the Embody uses for Arm Width. It’s such an exaggerated feature. Simply allow the arm rest to pivot, move back and forward for depth. The arm rest are large so that helps a lot. At $1,795.00 this arm rests should be extremely comfortable with a nice cushion out of the box. A headrest would be a nice touch as well. The bottom of the seat also needs a bit more padding. The build quality feels solid so that’s not an issue. Even if all of those issues that I experienced were resolved the price would still turn some people off. Paying nearly $2,000 for a chair is a big commitment.
Definitely Try Before You Buy
For me personally the chair fails at nearly every avenue. No headrest, slightly softer than typical arm-rests, the arm rests are in a fixed position and does not move, cheap padding in the lower lumbar\tailbone region, bottom seat cushion 'bottoms out' after 20+ minutes of sitting. Now that I think of it I’m sure that Herman Miller would cheap out on the padding if they did release an official Embody Headrest themselves based on what I have experienced so far. This chair will be great for those who love aesthetics as this is one of the most beautiful chair’s I have ever seen. If you have great posture this chair should be great for you as well. However, regardless of your posture the hard plastics, thin padding will bring some types of discomfort to the lower back. The seat is large and will allow you to sit anyway you choose, even cross-legged. If you like to recline and have pretty good posture this might be the chair for you, otherwise it’ll be frustrating. I didn’t go deep into the reclining feature as it works just as well as any other office chair. The reclining is very smooth and nice, but it cannot make up for all of the pitfalls that this chair has. There were some complaints about the chair being noisy, but noise wasn't a big issue for me personally after many weeks. I'm not sure what the chair will sound like after a few years.
I would highly recommend sitting in the Embody first for at least 30 minutes before purchasing it. The website does allow you to return the chair within 30 days, but beware that Herman Miller charges a 10% restocking fee up $500. That would mean that if you were to buy the Herman Miller at retail price (with Free Shipping) that would cost you anywhere from $90 to $130 to return it. Herman Miller can also refuse returns for various reasons, but those reasons appear to be reasonable (used, not like-new conditions or misused or damaged items). With all of that being said I cannot recommend the Herman Miller unless you sit a specific way or sit correctly 95% - 100% of the time. The chair is unforgiving and will punish you if you do not sit properly. Most of the punishment will come from the very thin padding in the lower back (Pelvic\Sacral\Lumbar area) which happens to be the most crucial area for most people. We can clearly see where Herman Miller cut costs. Sadly they cut cost in some of the most crucial areas in the chair. The first obvious areas being the padding in the lower region and the top-most upper region on the edge near the shoulder blades. The second obvious cost cutting area on the chair were the arms\arm rest. The arms are basic and the material feels slightly more rugged than far cheaper ergonmic chairs, but there is no cushion on the arm rests. It feels similiar to a budget $250 - $350.00 chair. No arm rest padding and you’ll have to spend even more money for aftermarket cushions for the arm rest.
Optional Aftermarket Headrest In the Works
The chair does not ship with a headrest and never will. This is because Herman Miller believes that the Embody will position the head properly at all reclining levels. I must say for the most part they are correct and I didn’t feel the need to use a headrest. My back and neck felt properly supported at all reclining levels. However, that still doesn’t excuse the fact that this nearly $2,000 chair doesn’t ship with a headrest. A lot of people enjoy a headrest when resting or watching videos\streams at their computer desk. However, there is hope. There is a 3rd party company named Atlas that has released aftermarket headrest for various Herman Miller branded chairs and Atlas has been working on a headrest for the Embody for roughly a year now. Now that I think of it Atlas has ONLY release headrest for Herman Miller chairs and is only planning to release headrest for HM branded chair. Atlas has strong ties with a former HM engineer and a former HM designer. The Embody headrest is supposed to release sometime in late Q4 2022 or early 2023. Looking at the prices of Atlas previous HM headrest that are aimed at higher priced chairs I suspect that the Embody headrest will properly cost no less than $200.00. That’s quite a bit of money for a headrest and let’s not forgets that you will need to spend even more money for aftermarket soft padding for the Embody arm rests if needed. Given that the Embody has a unique back to support your spine the Atlas headrest will more than likely connect to the plastic spine on the back of the Embody chair. Another thing to consider is that it is not confirmed if Herman Miller would accept a return if the Atlas headrest cause any damage to their design. It’s probably nothing to worry about, but not everyone goes out and spends upwards towards $2,000 on a computer chair. At that point it’s an long term investment and hopefully an aftermarket headrest won’t screw anything up.
I plan to review other chairs as well so if you enjoyed this review please share this article and feel free to leave a comment below.