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Humanscale Diffrient Smart Office Chair Review

We expected a significantly more impressive performance from this incredibly expensive chair
Humanscale Diffrient Smart Office Chair
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Price:   $1,570 List | $949.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Sturdy, easy to assemble
Cons:  Expensive, could be more adjustable
Manufacturer:   Humanscale
By Hayley Thomas, David Wise, and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Jun 25, 2021
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Comfort - 50% 7
  • Adjustability - 35% 6
  • Durability - 10% 9
  • Ease of Assembly - 5% 10

Our Verdict

The Humanscale Diffrient Smart Office Chair has a high price tag. However, we found its performance doesn't quite commensurate with its premium price. This chair scored above average in each of our metrics but didn't really distinguish itself from the other chairs of the group in any way — besides its price tag. It is well-built and a snap to assemble, but there are other chairs that are more comfortable and have more adjustability — the most important traits a good office chair should have — making it hard to recommend the Diffrient.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $1,570 List
$949.00 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Sturdy, easy to assembleExtremely comfortable, tons of adjustability, sturdy constructionIncredibly easy to assemble, very adjustableGreat value, durable, comfortableInexpensive, relatively comfortable, and adjustable
Cons Expensive, could be more adjustablePriceyCould be a lot more comfortable, design isn't universalLooks aren't universally appealingDurability could be better
Bottom Line We expected a significantly more impressive performance from this incredibly expensive chairThe absolute best of the best, thanks to its incredible comfort, adjustability, and constructionThis chair distinguished itself on its looks rather than its ratings, but still offers a high level of performancePairs exceptional comfort and durability, at a price you just can't beatA surprisingly comfortable office chair that can't compete with top tier products, but boasts an especially comfortable price
Rating Categories Humanscale Diffrien... Steelcase Leap Herman Miller Sayl DXRacer Racing Series Modway Articulate E...
Comfort (50%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Adjustability (35%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Ease Of Assembly (5%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Humanscale Diffrien... Steelcase Leap Herman Miller Sayl DXRacer Racing Series Modway Articulate E...
Seat pan adjustment Yes Yes Yes No No
Adjustable lumbar support No Yes Option available Yes; a movable pad Yes; the backrest moves up and down
Lumbar support Yes; a slight protrusion Yes Option available Yes; a removable movable pad Yes
Recline lever No No No Yes Yes
Tilt limiter No Yes; 5 stop points Yes; 3 stop points Yes; only locks in the upright position Yes; locks you into a position
Armrest width adjustment Option available Option available Option available as a third-party upgrade Option available No
Swivel armrests Option available Option available Option available as a third-party upgrade Yes No
Armrest depth adjustment Option available Option available Option available as a third-party upgrade Yes No
Tension knob No Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Diffrient scored quite well in our comfort test, but wasn't the...
The Diffrient scored quite well in our comfort test, but wasn't the best of the bunch.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Comfort


Comfort is the highest-rated metric in our testing process. Our comfort evaluations comprise half of the total score for each office chair. We selected a group of testers of varied sizes and stature and they put each chair to the test. To award points, we had each judge rate various parts of the chair, with respect to comfort; each tester then evaluated how long they would be comfortable sitting in the chair. The Diffrient did well, though it experienced mixed reviews; half rated the chair highly and reported that they would be able to sit on it for 10-12 hours. The other half detested the chair, and experienced discomfort after sitting in it for 1-2 hours.

Opinions on how long you could comfortably sit on the Humanscale...
Opinions on how long you could comfortably sit on the Humanscale differed drastically among our testers.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The seat and armrests were rated highly across the board; however, when evaluating the backrest, the difference of opinion became noticeable.

The Diffrient has a decent amount of adjustability.
The Diffrient has a decent amount of adjustability.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Adjustability


We had the same panel of judges try out the full range of motion available to them on the backrest, armrests, and seat, and rate their impressions. We also had them assess the customization afforded to you with the reclining mechanism. It didn't perform as well, meriting an above average score for adjustability.

We weren't fans of the minimal lumbar support and fixed backrest.
We weren't fans of the minimal lumbar support and fixed backrest.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

This chair got off to a bad start when we scored its backrest, as it barely has any lumbar support and you can't adjust the backrest at all. The version of this chair we tested only has the ability to raise and lower the armrests, but the newer versions are fully adjustable, letting you move them up or down, forward or back, and swivel them. It did redeem itself a bit by having a very adjustable seat, which lets you change both the height and the depth.

We did appreciate the fully adjustable seat.
We did appreciate the fully adjustable seat.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Unfortunately, this chair doesn't have a way to manipulate the amount of resistance required to recline and we found the default setting to be far too low.

The low reclining resistance made it easy to feel like you are going...
The low reclining resistance made it easy to feel like you are going to fall out of the Humanscale.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

It also doesn't have tilt limiters, so you can find yourself reclined much further than you would have liked by only slightly leaning back.

This chair is one of the more durable models that we have seen.
This chair is one of the more durable models that we have seen.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Durability


Next, we moved on to comparing how durable and sturdily constructed each chair is. We used both our own observations and other reviews to determine scores. The Humanscale Diffrient achieves an almost perfect score in the department. We do not have any issues to report, as our chair held up well in our tests, showing no noticeable signs of wear over the multiple month testing period.

This chair required almost no assembly at all.
This chair required almost no assembly at all.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Ease of Assembly


For our last category of assessments, we judged each chair on the effort required to go from unboxing to sitting in it, as well as how easy the directions are to understand. The Diffrient achieves one of the top spots overall, meriting it a perfect score. The process is straightforward and we had it ready to go in less than five minutes. You just need to set the top on the base and you are ready to go.

Value


This chair is a far from worthy value option, pairing an uninspiring performance with a premium price.

Conclusion


While the Humanscale Diffrient is a solid chair, we would expect a chair in its price range to be pretty close to perfect.

The Diffrient is a great chair, but it is a bit pricey.
The Diffrient is a great chair, but it is a bit pricey.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Hayley Thomas, David Wise, and Austin Palmer