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Tempur-Pedic is highly rated, but Bed in a Box offers good value

The leading name in memory foam is Tempur-Pedic, which gets our Best Reviewed nod. Founded in 1992, this company virtually pioneered the production of luxury memory foam mattresses and is generally among the top-rated brands with overall owner approval ratings between 81 and 88 percent. Yet at SleepLikeTheDead.com, Tempur-Pedic falls right around the middle of the pack among memory foam brands. These models get high marks for their durability and long warranty, and contour to the body better than other mattresses. However, this same feature makes movement more difficult and increases the likelihood of trapping heat. The mattress is also somewhat more likely than other brands to have an unpleasant odor when new.

In lab tests, Tempur-Pedic mattresses get mixed results. The bottom-priced Tempur-Simplicity model earns excellent marks for durability in one evaluation, but a mattress from the more expensive Tempur-Cloud line doesn't hold up well in another critique. It gets gradually softer with use and part of the foam actually tears during testing. Both Tempur-Pedic mattresses get mediocre scores for support based on how well they keep the spine in its natural alignment. Another drawback is the brand's high price: A queen-sized Tempur-Pedic without the foundation can cost anywhere from $1,100 to $7,500.

In contrast, several lesser-known brands offer mattresses for as little as a few hundred dollars. The best rated of these, Bed in a Box, is sold exclusively online and costs $650 to $2,000 for a queen size. At SleepLikeTheDead.com, the brand earns an overall satisfaction rate of 86 percent, higher than the pricey Tempur-Pedic brand. Owners give Bed in a Box very high marks for comfort, value and customer service, but the brand scores slightly below Tempur-Pedic for durability and its 20-year warranty is slightly shorter. It also has the same odor problems.

A big handicap for Bed in a Box is the mattresses aren't sold in stores, so you can't test them before making a commitment. However, the company does offer a full money-back guarantee with return shipping costs covered. The downside is that owners are required to keep the mattress for at least 60 days, then it can be returned within the next 60 days.

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