In a Nutshell:
The Fujita SMK9600 massage chair is a model with some very good features, and some poor implementations that make this model hard to like. People who suffer from chronic leg pain, add one star to our final rating.
Overall Massage Quality
Ease of Use
Do you suffer from chronic pain?
If so, you’ve probably been on the lookout for a quality massage chair filled with therapeutic features, and your search may have put this model on your radar.
As you’ll see in the detailed Fujita SMK9600 Massage Chair review that follows, while it’s got a robust set of features, there are some things that are implemented in such a cumbersome manner that it can be a deal breaker for many would-be buyers.
We’ll cover everything the chair does, outlining the things it excels at, and going into detail about some of the poor design decisions, so you’ve got everything you need to decide if it’s the right model for you.
Let’s get started, and see what makes the 9600 tick.
Fujita SMK9600 Massage Chair Color Variants
An Overview of the Fujita SMK9600 Massage Chair
Hybrid L/S-Track Design and Quad Rollers
The core technologies that drive the model are excellent. The Hybrid L/S-Track is an impressive 50” long and allows the chair’s quad rollers to not only follow the natural curve of your spine, but also to travel under the seat cushion to massage your glutes and the backs of your thighs.
The quad rollers themselves are current industry standard technology, and closely mimic the feeling of human hands, resulting in a fantastic core massage experience.
3D Body Scan
Before your massage begins, the 9600 takes a scan of your back and automatically repositions the rollers to ensure they hit all your pressure points.
If the tech doesn’t get it quite right, there are buttons on the remote that allow you to manually tweak the roller positions and adjust the width of the massage field. This two-pronged approach guarantees that the rollers always hit where you need them to.
This is another technology that enhances the core massage experience.
By positioning you such that your knees are elevated slightly above your heart, it leaves you with a feeling of weightlessness, and it allows your body weight to press more firmly against the cushions of the chair, which in turn allows the rollers to render a deeper, more penetrating massage.
The only drawback here is that only a single Zero-G seating position is offered. Our hope is that in some future model upgrade, this will be expanded to two, or even three. Even so, the fact that it is present at all has to be counted as a win for the design.
The combination of the technologies we’ve talked about so far are all exceptional and give the Fujita SMK9600 everything it needs to render a world-class massage. If only the design team had stayed on this course!
A Disappointing Number of Options
This is the first area where the Fujita design team let us down. For a chair priced in the mid-range, as this one is, the number of massage options and combinations it offers is disappointing. Starting with the basics, it offers the following techniques:
This is quite underwhelming. You can find massage chairs half the price of this one offering the same number or even more techniques than this.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the model’s only failing where options are concerned. Next, the 9600 offers several pre-programmed partial massage options:
At first glance, that looks terrific, but here’s the problem: The model would have been much better served, and the feature better implemented if the designers had just included a “Spot” and “Partial” massage button.
Not only would this have streamlined and simplified the remote, but it would have resulted in more flexibility where partial massage is concerned, and ultimately, given the user more options than these few that have been pre-programmed.
Finally, there are the full-body pre-programmed routines, which are:
These are excellent, and what we’d expect to see in a chair priced at the mid-range. Unfortunately, this is the only design element in this section that they got right. For the price they’re asking, we would expect to see at least one more advanced technique, preferably a few more basic ones.
The fact that you can modify all the roller-based massage options through six intensity levels, and that the strongest setting renders a deep tissue, highly therapeutic massage is insufficient to offset the negatives of this particular implementation, in our view.
Air Massage Mode
The 9600’s air massage is rendered via 46 Second Generation Airbags, which is excellent at its price point. Even better, the remote allows you to either enjoy a full body air massage or selectively activate airbags on these regions:
Combine this with the fact that you can modify your experience via three different intensity levels from the remote, and the results speak for themselves. This is one of the 9600’s strongest design features.
Waist, Knee, and Ankle Heat
We haven’t seen too many other Fujita SMK9600 Massage Chair Reviews call particular attention to this feature, and we’re not sure why.
Heat is always a popular feature, and this model does it better than most by offering heat not only in the waist/lumbar area, but also in the leg massage ports, covering the knees and ankles.
Given that heat + massage provides superior therapeutic benefit compared with massage alone, this, for us, is the stand-out feature for the model. If you suffer from chronic pain in either your lower back or your legs, you’ll find yourself making frequent use of it, and it’ll be your favorite aspect of the chair, hands down.
Waist & Pelvis Twist (in Place Of A Full Body Stretch)
Many of Fujita’s models offer a full body stretch. Sadly, the 9600 isn’t one of them.
In its place, it offers both a waist and pelvis swing function, which provides the same basic benefit, but in a milder, less aggressive form.
It relieves back pain by taking pressure off compressed discs in your spine. That’s great, but the problem with offering two mild versions of this function is that neither may be intense enough to provide the relief you need.
In our view, a superior approach would have been to offer an aggressive body stretch with the same effectiveness as a chiropractic adjustment, then offer either a waist or hip twist as a milder fallback for those suffering from acute, chronic pain.
While both of these functions do have therapeutic value, we see this as a missed opportunity by Fujita.
An Excellent Calf And Foot Massage
This is another very strong design element of the 9600, and if you spend several hours of each day on your feet, it’s going to inevitably become the thing you look forward to at the end of each work day.
With more than half of the chair’s 46 airbags located in the leg ports, the calf and foot massage is exquisite. It’s made even better by the tri-rollers located at the bottom of the foot wells that gently tend to the soles of your feet.
By themselves, those things would make this an exceptional feature. But when you add in the aforementioned knee and ankle heat… honestly, you may never want to get out of the chair! It is simply amazing.
Having spent the last couple of features singing Fujita’s praises, we come to what is the worst feature of the model. The implementation here is just terrible, in our view.
To enjoy the head massage you have to physically strap this device… this piece of gear onto your head.
Other massage chairs deliver a head and neck massage by building a recess into the headrest. Granted, that approach doesn’t reach all the way around to your forehead, but that’s a slight gain.
We do not regard any feature implementation as being acceptable if it requires you to strap things onto your body. It’s just a non-starter for us, and one of the main reasons we’d be reluctant to recommend the model, despite the fact that it has some strong selling points.
All of the massage options in the chair default to a twenty-minute duration, and can be time adjusted up or down in five-minute increments, anywhere in the 5-30 minute range.
Not all chairs offer a time adjustment feature, and many of the ones that do, don’t implement it as well or as effectively as the 9600 does, so we count this as another high point of the design.
(Fairly) Simple Remote
Sadly, the remote suffers a bit of needless complexity. Most of this stems from the existence of all those pre-defined partial massage modes we mentioned previously.
All those buttons could be stripped out and replaced by a single “Spot/Partial” button, which would make it much easier to use and master.
Even so, the remote isn’t terribly complicated, and while there is a learning curve, it is a fairly slightly one. You won’t have much difficulty mastering the chair and can be enjoying your first massage in a matter of minutes, even if you’re not tech savvy.
Pros & Cons of the Fujita SMK9600 Massage Chair
As with a few other Fujita models, it almost feels as though Fujita had two design teams working on the Fujita SMK9600 massage chair. One team of seasoned experts, and one team that was in varying stages of intoxication.
Some of the features are just superbly presented. To see them sitting next to other features with terrible implementation is jarring, to say the least.
At a minimum, we’d like to see all the poor implementations we discussed earlier corrected and add the following:
Fujita SMK9600 Massage Chair Review Conclusion
We wanted to like the 9600, and the sad part is that this chair has most of what it needs to become a great design.
While there are a few superbly implemented features, it’s hard to look past its various shortcomings. And too often the chair seems to get in the way of itself and its potential for greatness.
Even so, we would still highly recommend this model for anyone suffering from chronic leg pain. The heat, combined with the quality of the calf and foot massage make it a strong model for those purposes, in spite of itself.
For everyone else, you can keep looking. There are other models that offer more for the same or less money.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Fujita Massage Chair, Official Brand Website.
- Heat for Pain, PainScience.
- The Benefits of Shiatsu Massage, CenterPointMN.
- What’s The Big Deal About the Zero Gravity Position?, Reverie.
- Body Scan, Applied Health and Massage.