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Humanscale Diffrient Smart Office Chair Review

We expected a significantly more impressive performance from this incredibly expensive chair
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Price:   $1,426 List | $999 at Amazon
Pros:  Sturdy, easy to assemble
Cons:  Unjustifiably expensive, could be more adjustable
Manufacturer:   Humanscale
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Nov 29, 2018
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

The Diffrient Smart Office Chair by Humanscale has the highest price tag of the entire group, retailing for over $1400. However, we found its performance isn'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 does feel well-built and was a snap to assemble, but there are other chairs that our judges found to be 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

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Diffrient scored slightly worse than the DXRacer and a bit ahead of the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh. It scored about the same as the DXRacer when it came to comfort and durability, outperforming the Modway. However, the DXRacer offers more adjustability than either of these other chairs. When it comes to price, both the Modway and the DXRacer are far less expensive, retailing for about $1300 and $1100 less, respectively.

Performance Comparison


To determine which office chairs we were going to recommend, we looked at dozens and dozens of different models, then bought all the ones that showed the most potential to really test out and get to the bottom of which office chair is really the best. We rated each chair in four different weighted categories, with the Humanscale's results below.

Comfort


The weightiest testing metric out of our entire process, our group of comfort evaluations comprises half of the total score for each office chair. We selected a group of judges of varied size and stature, then had them try out each chair for enough time that they had a good feel for it. To award points, we had each judge rate various parts of the chair with respect to comfort and decide how long they would be alright sitting in it. The Diffrient did quite well, tying for the second place position overall with a 7 out of 10.

Our judges' response to the Diffrient was one of extremes, with about half of them rating this chair very highly and being more than happy to sit in it for 10-12 hours and half of them detesting it, only able to sit for 1-2 hours before experiencing substantial discomfort.


Looking at specific parts of the chair, the seat and armrests were actually rated quite highly across the board, but it was looking at the backrest where the difference of opinion became noticeable, receiving much more of a mixed response.

Adjustability


Ranking next in significance, our adjustability metric is responsible for 35% of the final score for each office chair. We had the same panel of judges try out the full range of motion available to them on the backrest, armrests, and seat of the Diffrient and rate their impressions, as well as assess the customization afforded to you with the reclining mechanism. The Diffrient didn't do quite as well, meriting a 6 out of 10 for its marginally above average adjustability.


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.

The Diffrient did redeem itself a bit by having a very adjustable seat, letting you change both the height and the depth.


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.


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

Durability


Next, we moved on to comparing how durable and sturdily constructed each chair is. We used both our own observations and other user reviews to determine scores, as well as taking the length of the warranty period and coverage into account. This set of evaluations is responsible for 10% of the final score, with the Humanscale Diffrient earning a 9 out of 10 for its great showing.

We didn't really find any common issues in all the other user reviews that we read through and our chair held up quite well to our tests, showing no noticeable signs of wear — though we did only test for a few months. The only potential issue we saw was some of the adjustment levers did seem a little on the flimsier side.

This chair also has one of the longest warranty periods, with a 15-year term on everything but the arm pads, cushions, and fabric, which is only warrantied for 5 years.

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 for this process are to understand. The Humanscale Diffrient tied for the top spot overall, meriting a 10 out of 10.

The process is so simple, you don't even need directions and we had it ready to go in less than 5 minutes. You just need to set the top on the base and you are ready to go.

Value


This chair is a horrible 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.


David Wise and Austin Palmer