Mechanical massage chairs promise comfort, relaxation, and self-indulgence, but shopping for one can be stressful. You have numerous models to choose from—many of which merely vibrate, rather than knead, or tout dubious features like “air ionization,” “body scanning,” and “chromotherapy.” After testing 16 models from some of the top brands, we think the Osaki OS-Champ is almost as good as a real massage. This chair is comfortable to sit in and sturdily built, and it massages the entire body. Plus, it outperformed more-expensive massage chairs in key areas like heating and reclining.
This massage chair offers good heating and reclining—two must-have features—and our testers gave it top marks for comfort, build quality, and overall experience.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,900.
The Osaki OS-Champ reclines until you’re fully supine, and it envelops your body in pillowy, faux-leather padding. Internal mechanisms massage your neck, back, and thighs, and airbags on the front and sides of the chair apply pressure to your shoulders, arms, calves, and feet. Its heating feature warmed our testers’ bodies better than any other model’s, and this massage chair is as luxurious and well constructed as any other we’ve seen. Also, Osaki backs it with a generous, three-year warranty. Our only complaint is that the OS-Champ (like most massage chairs of this size) looks like a prop from Star Trek: Odyssey, and it’s sure to dominate the decor in any room.
HoMedics Shiatsu Elite II Massage Cushion (MCS-845HJ)
This is by far the best portable massage chair we’ve tested. It’s easy to set up, to use, and to pack up for storage or transport. The MCS-845HJ massages the neck and shoulders, as well as the upper and lower back, and it comes with a two-year warranty.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $270.
The HoMedics Shiatsu Elite II Massage Cushion (MCS-845HJ) is in a different league than our other picks: It massages only the neck and back, must be strapped onto an existing chair to function, and lacks an adjustable reclining feature. But it’s your best bet if you want a massage chair that you can fold up and carry with you. Like our stationary picks, this model has a variety of massage styles and intensity settings, but on top of that, it’s designed to be easily packed in a trunk for an overnight trip or tucked out of sight between uses. Unlike on other portable massage chairs we tested, on the MCS-845HJ you can actually feel the warmth from its heating feature, and this chair is intuitive to set up and use. It’s comfortable, sturdy, and fairly sleek-looking compared with other portable models, and it’s covered by HoMedics’s two-year warranty.