Review: AndaSeat Fnatic Edition treats your butt like a pro gamer's
Athlete endorsements are meaningful to people buying sporting goods. Want some basketball shoes? Check out what Steph Curry's wearing, if those kicks can keep his wonky, hundred-million-dollar ankles safe, chances are they'll work for you too. Tiger Woods ain't hackin' round the fairways with no crappy golf clubs, and you can probably trust Roger Federer to pick a half-decent tennis racquet.
The great rising sport of 2020 is butt-sitting. Specifically, sitting on butts in hastily-assembled home offices for long periods of time. If there's one group of people I'd trust for advice on long-endurance butt-sitting, it's professional gamers, so when AndaSeat offered me the chance to try out its Fnatic Edition gaming chair on the very day the armrest crumbled off my old office mule, I jumped at it.
Fnatic, in case you're not an esports follower, has been around since 2004, and is a global pro gaming organization featuring some of the best League of Legends, Counter-Strike, and Apex Legends players on the planet, among others. These guys have put in the hard yards, sat on some serious butt and raked in more than US$15 million in prize money. I was frankly pumped to sit my butt on a chair worthy of such athletes.
The AndaSeat Fnatic Edition Premium Gaming Chair is a beast of a thing. I was glad to have a buddy over when it got delivered, it felt like a two-man job to bolt it all together. Every component is built like a steel-framed brick outhouse, and when you get it all put together it weighs a hair under 30 kg (66 lb).
It looks for all the world like a racing seat in a riced-out sportscar, an impression that's reinforced by its lurid orange highlights. It would look amazing sitting in one of those tastefully LED-lit man caves I see so often on YouTube, but in my office it merely calls attention to the horrific carpet designs popular in the 1970s. The backrest is colossal; at 5 ft 11 (1.8 m) my head doesn't even poke over the top of it, so my wife has no idea if I'm sitting there until I spin around and reveal myself in the manner of a Bond villain. She has the startle response of a baby deer.
I'm proud to say I have the most abundant butt in the entire New Atlas organization, as well as a poorly controlled, overenthusiastic sitting motion that once earned me a bit of a reputation. One friend's parents used to hide the good chairs out in the shed when I came around, I kid you not.
But those flimsy, decorative fancies were not AndaSeat Fnatic editions. This thing is built to take a ludicrous degree of punishment. My Beyonce-grade badonkadonk (Beyoncadonk?) doesn't trouble the angled side rests of the 16.54-inch (420-mm) wide seat platform, and while I've certainly spent decades grazing in good paddocks, I don't come close to the chair's maximum static loading weight of 200 kg (441 lb). It's even rated to support a 352-pounder (160-kilogrammer) that's rocking right back to the maximum 160-degree tilt. What I'm saying is that regular chairs fear my butt, friends, and this thing scoffs at it.
The degree of adjustability approaches the comical. Releasing the backrest with a handbrake-style lever lets you lie back until you're looking nearly straight up. I'm not admitting to napping in this chair; my editors are reading this. But it's definitely possible. The seat's resting tilt can be set to tip you off the front or hoist your feet off the floor to the back, or several points in between.
The armrests have buttons and levers all over them; you can move them in and out, up and down, forward and back. You can yaw them in and out like a pair of pinball flippers. And of course you can raise and lower it on a hydraulic post. The lever for that is just stiff enough that my six-year-old can't creep into my office and let my chair down to prank me, and I'd call that a win.
There's a removable memory foam lumbar support cushion designed to sit perfectly against the backrest, and a memory foam headrest you can attach too; the former is heaven for me and the latter is hell; it pushes my head too far forward into a penitent bow I find unseemly for a man of my status. But it's got a nice elastic strap that can attach it directly to my head, so I'll be hanging onto it for shameless use against the window or the poor person next to me on long-haul flights.
I have found at least three different configurations that make me really comfy. I've been sitting on my butt in this thing for long, uninterrupted stretches through lockdown and my complaints are few.
But they're not nothing; the arm rests, for example, remain loose and wobbly after adjustment. Now, since one tends to move one's arms around a bit, this might be by design, but for me it does cheapen the feel of the chair a little. For another thing, as I mentioned before, there are angled sides to the seat, which do add to the sportscar look of it, but these are supported by literal metal bars. I'm not big enough for this to be a problem, but anyone closer to the max rated weight is likely to find their legs being needlessly wedged in by those metal bars, and I'm sure that's going to annoy people that buy it off the spec sheet alone.
The tilt-back feature is nice when you unlock the base into "rocking mode," but then the spring on it is so strong that I can't dawdle away all tilted back on a phone call pretending to twiddle the curly cord around my fingers. It deposits me rudely back to vertical as soon as I stop pushing with my legs, as if saying "back to work, lazybones." Maybe I'll be able to reach balanced equilibrium if I continue eating all the pies. It's certainly worth a shot.
The final thing I'd like to raise is the PVC faux-leather upholstery. It looks good, if a tad plasticky, and by all accounts is highly durable, but it doesn't breathe as much as, say, PU faux leather, or certainly anything covered in fabric. As a result, and I'm not gonna sugar coat this, it gives me a bit of a sweaty bum. We're not talking gallons, nothing too gross, just a looming sensation of slight, moist tackiness around the 'tocks that does prod into my consciousness several times over the course of a day. I have wondered aloud if team Fnatic runs up against this during intense all-day competitive sessions, and whether it's a weakness that can somehow be exploited by opponents.
At US$450, this is a premium priced seat. And despite the minor issues above, it remains an exceptionally comfy, supportive and monstrously strong piece of gear. It also looks excellent, which provides a nice contrast against my awful splotchy brown carpet. And the Fnatic logo looks great too; I might just get it as a tattoo and tell my friends it means "strength" in Japanese.