Secretlab, manufacturer of our favorite gaming chair, the Omega, is launching a subsidiary brand to produce more traditional office chairs. Neue (pronounced 'noy-yuh') will specialize in mesh chairs and launches their first offering tomorrow, November 20th, just ahead of Black Friday.
The appropriately named NeueChair is a solid piece of industrial design; everything about it feels sturdy and solid, like it just rolled off the production line at a high-end German auto plant. Not unlike a German luxury sedan, the NeueChair is also a lovely piece of industrial art, with bold sweeping curves picked out in silver or obsidian (the obsidian model has additional plating to enhance its durability). It's as attractive as it is functional, and it's very comfortable to sit in, particularly after you've adjusted it's extensive suite of settings to suit your body, though it's not a cheap proposition: on sale for Black Friday at $649, it will retail at $799 (or, for the silver version of the chair, $549/$699 respectively). That's the price you pay for one of the best gaming chairs, though.
NeueChair - Assembly
On paper, the NeueChair should be an incredibly easy chair to put together, and for the most part it is. It comes in two main pieces, with the backrest and seat being fully assembled, all the component pieces and levers already attached. The wheelbase is separate, so the only assembly required is putting the two pieces together and pushing the casters into the wheelbase.
Aside from the weight of the unit (the wheelbase is as heavy as you'd expect from the solid metal, industrial design, and the combined seat and backrest is even heavier), getting the two main pieces combined is no issue - just slide the hydraulic piston into the wheelbase and pop the backrest/seat on top. Bizarrely, it was adding the casters to the wheelbase that proved unduly difficult. It took an incredible amount of force to jam the casters into their slots, to the point that I found myself checking repeatedly to make sure I wasn't missing some slot or join that would allow them to slide together more easily. I wasn't - it just takes a lot of elbow grease. Though this was annoying while I was assembling the chair, it does virtually guarantee that nothing short of an act of god is going to separate those casters from their new home.
The other nice thing about the two piece design is that it makes the chair really easy to take apart and move. Instead of trying to jam it around tight corners or through low door frames you can easily lift the top part of the chair off the piston and move both pieces independently. With a chair like this, one that's a real investment, you want to know it'll be easy to bring along if you move, and the NeueChair is simpler to separate and transport than almost any chair I've owned.
NeueChair - Adjustability
Like the other Secretlab chairs I've tested, the NeueChair has fully adjustable armrests, which has rapidly become one of my favorite features in any chair in which I spend any serious time. Being able to raise the armrests to the level of your elbows means less stress and load on your back, and it also facilitates comfortable angles for typing if you're using it at your desk.
The NeueChair also has a welcome recline lock that allows you to find the perfect angle to support your back. Unlike a lot of office chairs, which will recline backwards under your body weight and thus don't provide adequate back support, the NeueChair feels firm and sturdy, though the mesh is also giving enough that it doesn't feel like leaning against a hard surface. There's also a button to adjust the depth of the seatbase so the contours of the back of the chair can be shifted to suit the curvature of your back.
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NeueChair - Design
Unlike the majority of 'gaming' chairs I review, the NeueChair doesn't feel desperate for negative attention, but that doesn't mean it's bland either. It stands out aesthetically not because it's festooned with flashing RGB lighting or a huge, garish logo, but because of its understated and sleek looking industrial design. The silhouette is enhanced by the broad sweep of the supporting chassis' curves, and flourishes like the round accents near the wheelbase mean it avoids looking purely, coldly functional.
That considered, attentive design extends to the production quality. The frame is built from ADC12 aluminum alloy, a high strength, (relatively) lightweight metal that in the obsidian model is then plated for additional longevity. The powerful hydraulic piston is further carburized (heat treated in the presence of carbon to further strengthen the metal) for durability and to prevent surface wear when it slides into the wheelbase, and the mesh is a triple layer of polyester that's virtually invulnerable to staining and firm but soft to the touch.
Overall - should you buy it?
The NeueChair is not a bargain chair, but that doesn't mean it's not a value. It's the kind of chair you buy when you never want to have to buy an office chair again. Everything about it screams strength, durability, and quality, and most importantly it's very comfortable to sit in. Beyond that, it's easy to move (assuming you never have to remove the casters, which you shouldn't; the wheelbase is pretty portable), and its understated design means it would fit into practically any environment / theme. If you're ready to commit to a chair that will last, the NeueChair is worth every single penny.