Comparing inflatable beds
From simple inflatable mattresses that lie on the floor to raised queen-size beds with cushioned tops and built-in pillows, air beds come in a variety of sizes and styles. Some models come with built-in pumps; others are designed to fold up easily for convenient storage. Most air mattresses can be used either indoors or outdoors.
Recent multiproduct reviews and comparisons are hard to come by, in part because air-bed manufacturers have revamped their product lines in the past year and new models haven't yet received many reviews. We found the most recent multiproduct air-bed reviews in Good Housekeeping magazine. Experts evaluate six air mattresses critiquing each bed's comfort, usability and ability to hold air overnight. Testers praise the Insta-Bed for its comfort and convenience. Unfortunately, the magazine doesn't list every model tested.
Two articles in Real Simple magazine briefly recommend specific air beds, but the recommended models aren't covered in detail. We also found roundups on Bestcovery.com, which recommends the top two air beds (one has been discontinued), and MadeMan.com, which lists the top five air beds with built-in pumps. Both appear to be based on the authors' personal opinions, and no details about testing methodology are provided.
Self-described magazine writer and travel enthusiast Lisa Wood reviews several air mattresses on her site AirMattressBest.com. Her largely positive reviews are based only on her family's personal experience. In a 2005 review for The Wall Street Journal, writer Charles Passy reviews five air beds. This review is old enough that several of the discussed air mattresses have been discontinued, but it provides enough detail that coverage of the still-current models is worthwhile. Beyond this, reviews are rather slim.
User reviews may be king when judging currently available air mattresses. Air-bed owners are in a better position to evaluate a product's long-term comfort, durability and ease of use. We discovered a solid selection of user reviews at Amazon.com and Walmart.com (though this site was more difficult to navigate). A smaller number of reviews are also featured on Epinions.com and Viewpoints.com, and we found some useful feedback from owners posting to discussion forums on Nature.net, a home and garden community, and Mamapedia.com, a parenting-related website.