Chair Wars: Herman Miller Embody vs. Aeron

Ladies and gentlemen, get your posteriors ready, because there's a fancy new chair in town from Herman Miller, called the Embody. Its brandmate, the iconic Aeron Chair that was so popular in the dot-com days, might have to step aside for this futuristic throne, which goes on sale today.

We've been sitting in the Aeron in the picture on the right for the past decade, and we've also been testing that Embody to its left for the past month. How do they compare? As you can see by the gallery below, both are beautiful in their own way. But do they past the true test — flat-out comfort for an all-day writer's back and backside? Click Continue to find out.

chair_wars_faceoff.pngAppearance: Just look at this Embody Chair. We like that "Tomato" color, and its high-tech segmented back looks like a stylized spine. That color might be too garish for you — choose from lots of others, as well as a black frame instead of the flashy white one we tested. And check out that snazzy titanium base, also available in polished aluminum for $300 more. By comparison, the Aeron looks so 20th-century.

Comfort: Embody's designers nailed it with these unusual segmented supports, cradling your back and butt to make you feel like you're floating. It's a slight improvement over the Aeron, which makes you feel more like you're in a well-ventilated hammock. Neither have enough seat padding to keep your butt from getting numb after a couple of hours of intense writing, though.

Adjustability: Both are highly adjustable, with the Embody adding the ability to elongate the seat with those two handles toward the front. See the intricate details of all those tweaks here. The overall construction is a whole lot more sophisticated with the Embody, offering perfect support from stem to stern.

Arms: Both go high enough, and despite that cleaner look of the Embody's arms, they are just as padded and comfortable as the Aeron's. However, the Aeron lets you splay the arms out, which we miss for the perfect mousing position, while the Embody's arms stay pointed toward the front.

Price: You can find an Aeron for around $700, but the Embody we tested is $1890. It's not twice as good +$490. Outlandishly expensive.

UPDATE: That's the price on one site, but the retail base price is $1429, as tested: $1599. Still outlandishly expensive, but not quite as much.

Verdict: The brilliantly designed Embody is the winner, more comfortable than the Aeron but not profoundly so. Its high price and sci-fi looks give it a cachet that will raise eyebrows. If you have the big bucks in these tough times, it's a sure win.

Herman Miller Embody and Aeron chairs