ROCKVILLE, Md. – In a world full of smartphones and tablets, recliner technology has been hard pressed to keep up.
Perhaps that’s why the first chair presented to me by Chris Dipnarine, manager of the La-Z-Boy store in Rockville, was decidedly low-tech. I had asked Chris for the most magnificent chair he had to offer to someone who wanted to watch the big game in style.
My first stop was a piece with no massagers, no power-assisted movements, or, in fact, anything electric whatsoever. It was probably the best of the bunch. Still, I was hoping to see something like this monstrosity — a $5,700 mass of cascading plastic and leather that keeps an LED television looming above your head at all times.
But aside from making the furniture itself larger and stuffing flatscreens in awkward and threatening places, the only changes in recliner tech seem to be a push away from vibrating massage chairs and toward Shiatsu massagers in premium models.
Across product lines, La-Z-Boy is preparing an onslaught of upgrades that will make heat and vibrating massage motors more available. While that wave is coming soon, it still won’t be here in time for the Super Bowl.
So, with the options available today, here are the La-Z-Boy chairs that could make for your ultimate game day experience:
For the gadget lover: The Dempsey ($1,100) and McAlister ($2,000)
Many people apparently prefer the Shiatsu massage chairs to the old vibrating ones. But my brief experience can only be explained as uncomfortable, and to me they seemed like crude devices aimed at pummeling your spine into submission. Nevertheless, these are the latest and greatest in massage technology, and you may like them.
For the die-hard sports fan: The Champ ($700)
More than 200 off-the-shelf logos, including the Terrapins, Capitals, Nationals and Wizards, are available to put on this no-nonsense black leather recliner. They cleverly attach to the headrest with a zipper, allowing you to change your chair based on your events and loyalties.
Unfortunately, NFL teams are not available this year as a result of the lockout, although you can make do with a custom logo of your choosing, or a simple American flag. Next season La-Z-Boy does expect us to be able to get a Redskins logo. The zipper feature will allow us to remove it in disgust when all hope is lost around Week 7.
For the professional sitter: The Maverick ($1,500)
The brown leather Maverick is classy, but I was looking for something decked out and over-the-top.
“Does it come with a Shiatsu option?” I asked Chris.
“You don’t like Shiatsu,” he adeptly pointed out.
As a piece of furniture, it was undoubtedly the best. If you must have all the high-tech gizmos, they’ll be coming soon. Power-assisted reclining means you’ll be able to use a remote instead of the standard lever. Heat and vibration will become available on this chair and many others, he said.