One of the first things you notice about the Herman Miller Sayl is its unique look. While this office chair did finish in the upper portion of the group, it's not the most comfortable and doesn't seem as durable as some of the top products. It's also definitely not on the inexpensive side, retailing for close to $700, though it is the least expensive chair that got top marks in our adjustability metric and is quite easy to assemble. However, there are chairs that only scored a few points worse that cost less than half of this chair, so we would recommend sticking with one of those or saving a few hundred dollars more to get the best of the best unless you absolutely love the modern look of the Sayl.
Herman Miller Sayl Review
Pros: Super easy to assemble, very adjustable
Cons: Could be a lot more comfortable, design isn’t universal
Manufacturer: Herman Miller
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This office chair tied with the Herman Miller Embody and bested the Think by Steelcase by a single point. In our opinion, the Sayl is the least comfortable of these three and doesn't seem as durable, but it does offer the most adjustability. Both the Sayl and the Think are quite easy to build, while the Embody can be a bit of a pain. When it comes to price, the Sayl is the clear winner, costing about $680, followed by the Think at $778 and the Embody at $1295.
In our crusade to find the best office chair of them all, we purchased all the most promising chairs, then compared their performance side-by-side with a panel of judges rating the comfort level, durability, adjustability, and ease of assembly of each chair. Keep reading to see their opinions of the Sayl and what it did well and where we wished it did a bit better.
Comprising half of the overall score for each chair, comfort is king when it comes to these products. We had our judges try out each chair for a significant amount of time, then decide how long they were actually able to comfortably sit in it — whether it would work for a full workday or only for a few hours. Additionally, we aggregated the judges' opinions of the backrest, armrests, and seat cushion of each chair and took that into account when determining scores. The Sayl delivered an alright performance, earning a 6 out of 10.
All of our judges agreed that they were totally content sitting in this chair for at least 5 hours, with four of them having no problem sitting in this chair for a full 8-10 hour day. The Sayl doesn't have the tallest backrest, which may have contributed to the taller testers only wanting to sit in it for half of the day.
The backrest of this chair is a rubberized mesh, which some of our judges loved and others weren't so enamored with.
The armrests have a much more universal appeal and the seat was also regarded as quite comfortable by most of our judges.
Following our suite of comfort assessments, we moved on to rating and scoring how adjustable each of these office chairs is. We primarily focused on how much you can customize the backrest, armrests, and seat pan of each chair, as well as adjust the way it reclines. Finally, we combined all of this to see if we could easily get the chair into an ergonomic seating position at an average desk. Altogether, these assessments account for 35% of the total score, with the Sayl delivering a stellar performance, meriting a 9 out of 10.
The backrest on this chair does offer lumbar support and we liked that you can move it up or down. The armrests on the version we tested are fully customizable, letting you move them up and down, closer or further to you, forward and back, and pivot them, although we weren't the biggest fans of the raise and lower mechanism. We also have seen versions of this chair without the completely adjustable armrests, so make sure you double-check you are buying the one you want.
You can adjust the depth of the seat pan and move the chair height up and down. When it comes to reclining, the knob that adjusts the tension is fine and there are tilt limiters to set different angles that you can recline it.
Overall, this makes it super easy to get the chair in a position that conforms to ergonomic guidelines.
Next, we evaluated how well constructed and durable each chair felt, which is responsible for 10% of the total score. We based the score on our own assessments of each chair, on reading through tons of other user experiences, and on the length of the warranty included with each chair. The Sayl performed quite well, receiving an 8 out of 10.
We didn't really notice any major signs of damage after our testing process, though we could see the front padding of the armrests showing a bit more signs of wear than some of the other models. The height adjustment lever also seems like it is a little flimsy.
We saw a handful of user reviews that echoed this sentiment, noting that the front seat cushion padding and the armrest padding began to wear or break. However, this chair does include a 12-year warranty.
Ease of Assembly
For the last 5% of the score, we judged how long it took to build each chair and the quality and clarity of the instructions. The Sayl did very well, earning a perfect 10 out of 10.
It arrives almost completely built and we had the chair ready to go in less than 5 minutes, as you only have to set the top on the base. The directions were also very clear, as there was really only a single step.
This chair isn't the best value, as there are chairs that cost quite a bit less and cost less than half of the Sayl.
Overall, the Sayl is a solid chair but it isn't really one that we recommend. It's a pricey purchase and only really stands out from the group by its unique looks, rather than by a particularly impressive performance in our tests.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer