Our picks for ... office chairs

Better controls and ergonomics define new office 'thrones.'

By Andrew Tilin, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- The Aeron, that mesh-backed trophy of the dotcom era, is no longer the top office throne. Today's task chairs offer handy controls, unparalleled ergonomics, and myriad settings. The details - and our derrieres - helped us find the best.

Haworth Zody $699-$1,299 www.haworth.com (4 Stars)

Haworth Zody $699-$1,299 www.haworth.com
Humanscale Freedom $1,240-$2,970 www.humanscale.com
Herman Miller Celle $564-$984 www.hermanmiller.com

Pros: Haworth made the Zody for those who love features but hate owner's manuals. The under-seat controls are highly intuitive; a right-hand lever mimics the angle of the seat cushion, making it easy to choose between the tilt-forward typing position and a generous recline. Armrests slide and rotate every which way. The lumbar support is easily moved and can be adjusted differently for the left and right sides of your back.

Cons: Nifty as it is, the ambidextrous lumbar support doesn't provide the oomph of its peers. And those endlessly adjustable armrests change position every time you grab one of them to get in or out of your seat.

Buy this one if ...You want a chair that comes with everything but a steep learning curve.

Humanscale Freedom $1,240-$2,970 www.humanscale.com (3 Stars)

Pros: You can't get more comfortable in a vertical position. The Freedom's headrest slides easily to settle in the nape of your neck, and the perfectly shaped, foam-cushioned back provides fine support. You'll marvel at the simple sophistication with which the armrests move in and out of the way.

Cons: Reclining is an acquired skill in the Freedom: The seat awkwardly resists your weight before giving way and then requires that you reposition yourself to get comfortable. Humanscale suggests typing while keeping your neck against the headrest, which works best when you elevate and - surprise! - swing your computer display toward you with a Humanscale swiveling monitor arm.

Buy this one if ... You're willing to pay first-class fare for a first-class seat.

Herman Miller (Charts) Celle $564-$984 www.hermanmiller.com (3 Stars)

Pros: In the Celle, the old-fashioned fixed-back chair support triumphantly meets modern engineering. The molded plastic back and seat cushions are designed to give just so, and Celle's firm ride quickly grows on you. Also, the padding's open-web design lets air circulate, leaving the user cool even after a 10-hour desk session. The seat reclines perfectly, inviting you to push back naturally, right from the hips.

Cons: You must summon the octopus within to adjust the lumbar support: The behind-the-back knob is oversize but still tough to reach. And the overwhelmingly plastic Celle looks a little cheap, making it more appropriate for a cubicle than a C-level office.

Buy this one if ... You think comfort is more important than style.  Top of page

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