When I say “Superhero Furniture,” I can predict with pretty good accuracy what images pop into your head; lumpy, silly furniture designed for kids. Spider-Man bean bags, Superman pillows, Wonder Woman sheets. We might love that stuff, but for many of us it’s more suited to our sons, daughters, nieces and nephews who are still working their way through the first half of their schooling. In other words, it’s not very cool, very well designed, and doesn’t have a place even in our home offices, let alone our work offices.
That’s where SecretLab comes in with its gamer-focused line of Omega and Titan chairs. While there are models for Game of Thrones fans (the ones who weren’t totally disappointed by the final season, at least) and for eSports fans, there’s one we care about.
The Dark Knight
This is the single coolest piece of superhero furniture ever created, and it just so happens to be a perfect pairing of a concept and execution. When I think of superheroes who warrant a chair of all things, Batman is pretty much the entire list. Batman sits in his car and other vehicles, of course, but Batman’s time in his lair, in front of his computer, is no less iconic than him gliding over Gotham or jump-kicking the Joker’s goons. If you have any doubt, try to imagine Spider-Man or Superman sitting at a computer. When Wonder Woman sits, it’s usually played for a joke about her invisible jet. Batman, as far as action superheroes go, has a monopoly on sitting. Not only that, but Batman has a certain sleek aesthetic that lends itself particularly well to something like this. The Batmobile is as memorable as Batman himself, and so many of his gadgets and other gear are distinctly Batman in look. In short, this should be the perfect pairing.
Before we get into talking about the chair itself, I want to say right out that the Singapore-based SecretLab flew me out to New York City to get a look at the chair, meet the team, and learn about the company before sending me the chair. They paid for my travel and lodgings for a whirlwind one-night stay.
While I was out there, though, I had the chance to talk to Ronald Loh, the company’s head of global communications about the idea behind the chair and the philosophy of the company – and why you’d want to spend $430 on a chair. Like a prosecutor showing a video of the killer spelling his name out before doing the deed, the argument was short and effective: “Many people, especially us gamers, spend more time in front of our computers than we do in our beds.” Combined that with a warranty that can go up to five-years and it’s basically an open and shut case.
The chair comes with a laundry list of features that help further make the case, too. You can adjust the height of the seat, of course, and the incline of the back. The incline isn’t set with some arcane switch underneath the chair, though. Instead, there’s a handbrake-style switch on the right side of the chair, similar to what you’d find in a car, that makes setting the angle easy and intuitive.
The arms of the chair are some of the most – if not the most – adjustable on the market. The arms can be moved forward or backward, inward or outward, up or down, and can even be angled in or out.
The arms of this chair can be angled in and out, moved forward and backward, wider or narrower, and moved up or down.
Even the materials of the chair help make a case for not just the price of the chair, but why you’d want to pay that premium. With the company’s new model of chair, including the Dark Knight, they are introducing their new Prime 2.0 PU Leather, which is some nice marketing speak that doesn’t say nearly enough about what that leather is. If you’ve owned a chair with any leather surfaces, you’re used to it cracking and then splitting and then getting covered in duct tape. SecretLab actually worked with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research to develop tests for their leather that would help test for and eventually prove the durability of the new material.
Here’s the short version of how the test works. The agency takes a sample of that Prime 2.0 and some regular PU leather and dips them in synthetic sweat that contains all the acids and oils you’d find in our sweat (it smells pretty rank, let me tell you). Then, they stick both samples into a humidity chamber set to simulate 95% relative humidity and 70′ Fahrenheit. These should prep the leather to make it ripe for abuse.
Then, they take that sweaty, humidity-soaked leather (this is getting gross) and subject it to abrasion cycles with a standardized abrasion testing machine used for pushing other materials, like Goretex. Compared to the regular PU leather, the Prime 2.0 stands up to four times the abuse – 200,000 cycles instead of 50,000. In other words, you should be able to do the Batusi in your computer chair all day long as this thing should hold up unless you’re wearing Jean-Paul Valley’s Batsuit, in which case you’re covered in razors already.
The foam seat is a patent-pending mix meant to stay firm over a long period, and we’ll get into how that feels when we talk about actually using the chair. Meanwhile, if you go with the Titan model, it comes with a memory foam pillow that has a thin layer of cooling gel to get both that always-cool sensation and the spring-back of memory foam.
So we have a bat-ton (a measurement from the bat-metric system) of great features that should make this thing sturdy and easy to use.
Then there’s the styling. The Dark Knight chair is available in two of Secretlab’s 3 models – the Omega and the Titan, with the Omega being the medium-sized chair meant for gamers up to about 5’11” and up to 240lbs, while the Titan should be comfortable for anyone up to 6’7″ and 290lbs. It doesn’t cover the whole spectrum, but that should ensure these chairs are comfy for quite a few people. For reference, I’m 5’10” (or 5’11” if the doctor checks me in the morning) and about 210lbs, putting me in the upper range of the Omega chair, but not topping it out.
Both versions feature largely the same styling, though the Omega has some more visually-impressive sharp edges and high-contrast gold stitching.
Here’s where we start to get into the opinion part of this whole review.
From a purely visual standpoint, I fell in love with this chair almost immediately. It looks like a chair Batman would sit in. The leather panels on the backrest call to mind the version of the outfit sported by Batman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, while the symbol itself looks a lot like the one used for the Batman: Arkham games and for the Batman Begins film. It’s that mid-flap rising bat instead of the oval shape used in places like the 1989 Batman movie and the Animated Series. It looks more modern and sleek while also fitting the overall curved look of the chair. The symbol is on the back and front of the chair, too, making sure that you’ll get that sitting-at-the-bat-computer look when someone’s looking at you from behind.
Other than those two bat symbols, the overall look of the chair is subtle. The matte-black look is offset by some carbon-fiber accents and that yellow/gold stitching. The controls for the armrests are glossy gunmetal, and the base of the chair is glossy black aluminum. This thing is black as night. Even the Secretlab styling doesn’t force itself on you with its spot on the headrest feeling almost secondary to the bat symbol.
But you don’t look at chairs, you sit in them. Unless you’re Jean-Paul Valley, who I imagine just looks at all the sitting people in the world with jealousy.
And so I sat in the chair. I’m fortunate enough to work from home, so I was able to use the Dark Knight chair for a few weeks in an exclusive, full-time fashion, sitting in for upwards of 12 hours a day some days, and at least eight almost every weekday. I had the fortune of getting my hands on a new video card just after I got in the chair, so I’ve been spending even more time in it than I might otherwise, playing games at my PC instead of my Xbox or PlayStation. The chair I’m moving from is a TempurPedic backless chair I picked up about five years ago that cost almost as much while featuring only up-down armrest adjustments and no back adjustments. The chair served me well, but the Dark Knight is a different beast entirely.
I can only speak to my experience here, and people who are smaller or bigger than me, have different backs or different health needs might have a different experience from mine.
One of the toughest parts of getting used to the Omega is dialing it in. This chair couldn’t be much more different from my previous office chair. With all the different widths, heights, and angles to set on things, I spent more than than I would’ve thought getting the chair to feel “right.”
Another thing is the “bucket” shape of the chair. The sitting area is pretty narrow compared to some other chairs, and you’re really mean to just sit in it. Or lay back, which you can totally do, even as a full sized adult, without feeling like the chair is going to fall over.
Where my previous chair had room to pull my legs up, sit crosslegged, or slump down, the Omega simply does not allow that. You sit in this chair, as strange as that sounds. While I’m not going to pretend I’m suddenly an ultra-focused working machine, I did find that being held upright and pointed toward my computer did help me focus on my computer that much more.
It does take getting used, though. The form in the seat is rather firm. It has a good back-to-edge length that means my legs don’t get numb when I sit all the way back, but the particular combination of my desk and this chair means that I have to use a footrest more extensively than with previous chairs. I also found that the narrower seat highlights the fact that I tend to sit with my legs spread pretty wide and my feet turned inward, and I had to get used to sitting with my legs closer together.
The materials and design of the Omega seem to encourage better posture by making poor posture uncomfortable. That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s not. I found myself straightening out and using my chair properly more and more the longer I used it.
One thing that I found a little perplexing looking at the models of the two chairs is that the Omega comes with the lumbar cushion, while the Titan doesn’t, and this seems like an oversight considering that there’s crossover between the two, and those of us toward the upper end, and I can’t help but wonder how it would’ve affected my experience.
One other thing that’s necessary to point out is that when Secretlab sent me the chair, they sent it pre-assembled. That means a few things. First and foremost, I didn’t get to experience the assembly process so I can’t tell you anything about that aspect of it from either a materials or instructional perspective. It also means that the chair was assembled by an experienced professional, and should theoretically be the best possible assembly available. Finally, it also means that if the chair was going to get beat up or torn up in shipping, it would’ve. It was shipped to me wrapped in plastic and strapped back-down to a wooden pallet. And yet, the chair is in perfect condition. The pictures included in this review were taken after weeks of sitting and probably well over 200 hours of “butt-time” with the chair, rather than when the chair freshly shipped.
And so we as close up this review, there a few things to consider. The Secretlab Omega is a great chair overall, and makes a very good case for the $430 price tag. It’s sturdy, heavy, and tries to help you sit the right way. It’s tough to dial in, but that’s because there are so many dials. But just as importantly for people like us, it looks good. It looks and feels like Batman tech, not Batman himself, and that’s a crucial distinction that turns it from an eyebrow raise to a must buy. If you’re looking for a new computer chair and you love the Dark Knight, it’s hard to go wrong with Secretlab’s chair.