With the trend toward simpler designs and more efficient manufacturing processes, chairs from companies like Herman Miller and Steelcase are now available for $700 or less. In fact, the basic version of the Herman Miller Mirra chair (*Est. $600 to $800) discussed earlier could go in this category.
In 2009, Herman Miller introduced another lower-priced chair, the Setu Multipurpose Chair (*Est. $580). The Setu has won both a Red Dot award and a NeoCon 2009 Gold Award. It is designed to be simple enough not to need an instruction manual; only its height is adjustable. A "kinematic spine" automatically adjusts the tension as the user reclines. The Setu chair is designed to be used by more than one person, since different users don't have to adjust it (other than its height) to fit into it comfortably. This makes it useful in a shared office or a conference room. Professional reviewers who have tried the Setu generally like it; one describes it as "like an Aeron crossed with an Eames management chair," but notes that "it's not designed for long sits." Like the Aeron chair, it is Greenguard Certified; it is also made of 43 percent recycled materials.
For those who might prefer a cloth chair, another mid-priced choice is the Steelcase Amia (*Est. $600), introduced in 2007 as a lower-priced alternative to the Leap and Think. Brian M. Hull, who reviews the chair for TheHumanSolution.com, gives the Amia high marks for its four-way adjustable armrests that pivot inward and upward for maximum flexibility. He also notes that Steelcase incorporated much of the technology used in the Leap and Think, and even made some design improvements, such as a one-piece adjustable lumbar support (as opposed to the two-piece design on the Leap). Hull says this change results in a sturdier feel which helps provide level support across the back. The Amia is available in two base finishes (standard black or, for an additional $50, platinum) and twelve fabric colors, and offers a lifetime frame and structural warranty.
For a little more money, the popular Steelcase Think (*Est. $690) office chair is another lower-cost option; it receives excellent reviews. Its user-adaptive design makes use of flexors in the seat and back that respond to your movements, and a reclining apparatus underneath the seat leverages your body weight to automatically adjust the tilt tension as you lean back. You can adjust the seat height and the arms, but there are no complicated knobs to worry about. The Think chair earns raves from Wired, and a reviewer for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine writes that it is "a functional and lovely chair, worth the price." Options include an adjustable lumbar support (*Est. $30) and a head rest (*Est. $130). Like the Steelcase Leap, the Think has a lifetime warranty, except for the seating mechanisms (10 years) and fabric (three years).
If a $500 office chair is out of your price range, there are some less expensive options, although reviewers warn that with ergonomic office chairs, you get what you pay for. There are very few expert reviews of low-priced chairs, but owner reviews are plentiful. Several of Office Star's office chairs get high ratings from owners, and they are widely available not only online, but also at stores like Staples and Office Depot, so you can easily try one out before you buy it.
If you're on a budget and want a leather chair, one option is the Office Star Executive Ergonomic Leather Chair (*Est. $250), which comes in black or burgundy Italian leather. It has a high back, a contoured cushioned seat and padded leather arms. It is fully adjustable; you can set the arm width and height as well as the seat and back height. It also has tilt tension control, so you can set the amount of resistance when you recline or rock. This chair has a warranty of 15 years on nonmoving metal parts, five years on component parts, and three years on fabric and foam. Owners posting reviews at Overstock.com are uniformly pleased with this chair's performance; one writes, "It has many options for adjusting the seating and the arms are great if you spend a lot of time at the computer. Good quality -- doesn't look cheap." A couple of owners say they had trouble putting it together since the instructions are poorly written.
Those who prefer a mesh task chair might want to consider the Office Star Air Grid Deluxe Task Chair (*Est. $200). It is not as adjustable as the Executive Ergonomic Leather Chair, but it does have built-in lumbar support, height-adjustable arms and seat, and tilt and tension controls. The back and padded seat are made of a breathable mesh material, which many owners find more comfortable since it lets air circulate as you sit. And as part of Office Star's Space collection, this task chair carries a lifetime limited warranty. Owners give it enthusiastic reviews, with many saying they feel their posture has improved and their backs have stopped bothering them since they got the Air Grid Deluxe Task Chair. Some caution that it may be too big for people under 5 feet 5 inches or so, since the seat depth is not adjustable.
We read reviews at BestBuy.com for the True Seating Microfiber Executive Chair (*Est. $170). Though not purely ergonomic, this task chair does have pneumatic height control and upholstered arm pads. About a dozen owners review it at BestBuy.com, and most of them give it high marks for its easy assembly and overall comfort, although some say the seat is a bit too firm for them, and one owner says the color is darker than shown online. Note that this office chair has a very short limited warranty, only covering parts for two years.