Published on March 26th, 2011 | by Greg0
Playseat Elite Office: Game of Thrones
When you think of important gaming gear, a few things leap to mind. Your mouse, keyboard, gaming rig or console are critical- not to mention a good set of speakers or headphones. An often overlooked- but equally important element- is your seating. And, more broadly, this goes for workers and managers as well- a cheap desk chair is a poor investment; buying a quality one is easily worth it. Like a good mattress, excellent seating can be an investment that you use for eight or more hours a day. And there are plenty of decent desk chairs out there- from high-end Herman Miller to various ergonomic models. What there wasn’t, until recently, was a good desk chair that also offered the features that gamers need. This products is aimed at those of you who just like staying late at the office to put in some extra hours “working” on Minecraft.
The Playseat Elite Office might not save the world- but it could change the way you play World of Warcraft, or any other game. PC gamers know what they need from a good chair- various levels of adjustability, armrests that are comfortable, solid cushions for serious sessions. And the Elite Office chair hits those marks, and goes a few steps further. It isn’t perfect- it’s oddly uneven- but it is the best desk chair for gamers that we’ve seen.
We quickly realized that it wasn’t a chair to be taken lightly. In fact, we had trouble hauling the box up our stairs, as it weighs something like 70 pounds. Once we got it in place, we started assembly, which was pretty easy and took maybe thirty minutes total. It’s nice that necessary tools were included, and the instructions were clear and concise (with one important exception that we’ll discuss soon). And you’ll quickly see where the weight is- the base is solid metal (anodized aluminum), the bolts are big, and it’s clearly well-constructed. The rating on the Elite is up to 270 pounds, whereas many office chairs top out around 220.
We sat down, and noticed a few things immediately. First off, it’s comfortable, but it’s no Aeron. There isn’t quite the level of adjustability that exists in some chairs- lumbar support is weird, and the velcro connections make the seat squeak at times. The seat looks and feels quite a bit like leather, but is actually vinyl- it holds up well against spills and use, but is a little less comfortable or plush. The plastic holes in the head support were unnecessary and uncomfortable, but they do look cool. The casters are industrial strength, roll nicely, while weight is balanced well and even after a couple of weeks of heavy use the chair still looks new. Compared to other mid-range desk chairs, this one looks and feels better, and it swivels more smoothly than any chair we’ve ever had.
So far, so good- but it’d still be just a pretty decent desk chair. In fact, the gamer-directed features were a bit odd. There aren’t speakers built-in or any fancy gizmos like that- the gaming advantages of this chair lie strictly in a special pair of removable A.A.R.M.S. [Anodized Aluminum Readjustable Mechanical Surfaces]. No, we’re not kidding. Basically, you pop on these additional heavy metal pieces that can hold included surfaces to serve as your mousepad or place for your keypad or gaming controller. There are a number of issues that we immediately saw- for starters, the instructions included in our box don’t address the A.A.R.M.S at all. We checked, double-checked, and though it was fairly easy to figure out, it was still a weird omission. We should note that our manual did not say “Elite” and may have been an early model. Another small issue is that many gamers already have special mousepads that they are used to playing with, with different surfaces for different conditions, and that it would difficult to use them with this system. The ergonomic placement of the mouse also did not feel better, even after adjustment- our other hand was still on the keyboard in our case, as the surfaces aren’t really large enough for a full-size keyboard. This left our arms in different positions, feeling a bit unnatural.
Finally, for a chair with some clear attention to detail and build quality, a couple of parts still feel cheap and serve to ruin the overall effect a little. The seat can fold down and tilt backwards in a pretty nice way, but the entire handle cover is chintzy. Also, it’s easy to grab that handle, pull up, and find your back suddenly being pushed forward with a fair bit of force- not a nice sensation. Also, the picture is a bit misleading- the gaming surfaces included do not look like what are shown in the pictures. We would’ve been able to pass over any of the little things as minor and barely worthy of note, except for the price. The list price on the Playseat Elite Office is $749- not unreasonable for an well-made office chair, to be sure, but a bit on the high side considering the flaws. We found it online for under $700, available in either black or white. It’s now our favorite chair for PC gaming, and it looks professional enough that visitors can easily mistake it for a sophisticated throne. But a few small niggles keep us from wholeheartedly recommending it, or replacing the rest of our furniture.