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Posted by Chris Scott Barr on Nov 1, 2011

Review – Playseat Office Elite Gaming Chair

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(No Macs were used in the testing of this chair.)

We spend a lot of time talking about games, and the hardware you use to play them with. But there is something that we don’t talk a lot about, something that’s essential to a good gaming experience. I’m talking about the thing you sit in the whole time you’re playing. Whether you’re gaming on a console or PC, I can almost guarantee you’re sitting down most of the time. (Yes, there are Kinect and Wii games, but who’s counting?) Well today we’re going to give you a look at one of the coolest chairs that you’ll probably come across, the Playseat Office Elite.

Playseat is primarily known for their line of racing chairs. While I do like the idea of having a dedicated gaming chair, I don’t have the space for something that bulky. What I would use is a gaming chair that works well as an everyday office chair. That is exactly the idea behind the Office Elite.

So what makes this chair so different from any other office chair? When you see most “gaming chairs” for sale, they usually have some sort of rumble feature and some cheap speakers built in. That’s not the case here. Instead, they’ve taken their well-known racing seat, installed arms and a base on it, and added two adjustable A.A.R.M.S (Anodized Aluminum Readjustable Mechanical Surfaces) in front of your arm rests. This is supposed to give you a more comfortable way to game for hours on end, while allowing you the flexibility to use it as a regular desk chair. The question is whether or not they pulled it off.

Assembly

The chair does not come assembled, so instead you start with a 70lb box. You have all of the necessary tools (just a couple of Allen wrenches) included, so no need to rummage through your tool box. The first thing I noticed when pulling out the pieces was that there is very little plastic to be found. Aside from the wheels, part of the armrests and a few small knobs and such, everything else is either metal or vinyl. Needless to say, as the assembly came along, this chair felt solid. I also noticed that the seat back was folded over to start. This is actually a pretty cool feature, which lets you tuck the chair away under a table or something if you need to make some extra room.

My only complaint during the assembly process was that there were no instructions for mounting the arms. It wasn’t exactly rocket science, but there were a couple of points where I was confused, and a simple set of instructions could have been helpful. Other than that, installation was pretty simple.

First Look

Once the chair is fully assembled, it looks pretty impressive. It’s a chair that when you see it, you want to sit in it. The racing chair back immediately lets you know that this isn’t your average, ordinary office chair. And the shiny steel framework tells you that this thing is rock solid. But what catches your eye the most are the two arms sitting in front of the arm rests.

Comfort and Functionality

Looks are great, but it’s not enough to sell me a chair. It needs to be comfortable, and if it’s a “gaming chair” it needs to do something to improve my gaming experience. Otherwise, it’s just another good looking place for me to sit.

As far as comfort goes, I’d say that the Office Elite is decent. I have a nice, well-padded chair that I find more comfortable for everyday use. However, during gaming sessions, the Playseat wins hands-down. Why? Because of those adjustable arms.

Once you have the arms set to where they feel most comfortable, you’ll want to set a mouse on the right one, and some sort of keypad on the left. I chose the Nostromo from Razer. This keypad will take the place of your traditional keyboard while gaming. This will take some getting used to, if you haven’t been gaming with something like this before. Definitely take the time to remap any keys and assign macros until you’re happy. After all, if the input device is causing you problems, the chair isn’t going to do you any good.

After I went through my settings on the Nostromo and got them to my liking, I started doing all of my PC gaming exclusively in the Playseat. What I noticed is that the position I would sit in felt more natural than when I’m in my regular chair. That’s because my keypad and mouse were positioned exactly where I needed them. Usually at least one of my arms is at an angle, as my keyboard tray isn’t wide enough to keep the WASD keys directly in front of my left armrest, while the mouse sits in front of the right.

What was even more strange is that I no longer found myself hunching over after a long period of gaming. Yes, I’m one of those people who will get excited while playing, and slowly move my head closer, and hunching over my keyboard tray. However, because the positioning of the keypad and mouse felt much more natural, at no point during my gaming sessions did I find myself hunching over like I did in the past. This is exactly what makes the Office Elite a great chair, it makes gaming feel more natural.

Conclusion

For gaming, the Playseat Office Elite is by far my favorite chair. I love the way it looks and feels. There’s nothing quite like swiveling to the left or right, and still having your mouse and keypad be where they need to be. Plus, no more hunching over my keyboard means I’m more able to focus on the game, and less worried about how much my back is starting to hurt.

As a regular office chair, it isn’t my favorite. It’s comfortable enough to use, but there are more comfortable ones out there for everyday office use. Thankfully the arms do come off, so they don’t get in the way of your desk or keyboard tray, and the seat folds down if you want to tuck the chair away when you aren’t gaming.

The real question is whether or not it’s worth the $800 price tag. It really depends on your budget, and what you’re after. If you have the extra money to spend, and you’re looking for a chair that is going to last you for years and make your gaming sessions more comfortable, then I say it’s absolutely worth it. However, if it’s between this or updating that 4 year old rig, I think your money would be better spent on upgrading your hardware. This chair won’t make you any better at playing games, it’ll just make the experience more enjoyable.

The Good

  • Solid construction.
  • Puts you in a more natural position while gaming.
  • Looks great.

The Bad

  • Expensive.
  • Not as comfortable for everyday office use.

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