Most of the time, when we do these head-to-head comparison pieces, we examine each feature offered by the two respective chairs, scoring points along the way and providing a final score and recommendation at the end.
In this instance, our usual methodology won’t work because when it comes to the question “Inada Flex 3S or Dreamwave?” The answer is simple.
The Flex 3S was designed to be a less expensive version of the Dreamwave, so in any head-to-head comparison, the Dreamwave is destined to come out on top. So if your budget allows it, you’ll always want the Dreamwave.
Having said that, there are some differences between the two models that are worth highlighting. If you decide you can live with the Flex 3S’ scaled-back feature set, it will provide tremendous value for the money.
In the following sections, we’ll go through the features of the two chairs side by side, comparing and contrasting them to give you a better view. Before we do that, here are the links to the detailed reviews of the respective models:
A less expensive version of the Dreamwave. Well-designed and feature-rich.
The undisputed, best massage chair on the market today, but comes with a high price tag.
- Half the price of Inada Dreamwave.
- More user-friendly.
- Offers 500+ massage combinations.
- Has heat in the footwells and armrests.
- Has fewer airbags and offers fewer customization options.
- No Zero-gravity seating.
- Can only accommodate users up to 6'2" tall.
- Has a zero-gravity position.
- Offers more than twice the airbags as well as lumbar and seat heat.
- Accommodates users up to 6'5" tall.
- Due to its many different functions and settings, some users may find it tricky to customize their massage.
Inada Dreamwave vs Flex 3S Features
The two models have the fundamentals in common. Both are built around a standard S-Track, are equipped with quad rollers, and offer 3D Body Scanning Technology. This ensures a world-class massage with every use.
This is the first significant difference encountered when comparing the Inada Dreamwave vs Flex 3S Massage Chair. The Dreamwave, being the more expensive model, offers Zero-G seating, while the Flex 3S does not.
This is a useful feature that has direct impact on the overall massage quality. By placing you in a position such that your knees are elevated slightly above your heart, most of your body’s weight is pressing down and against the rollers. This results in a deeper and more penetrating massage.
It should be noted that while this does mean that the Dreamwave’s massage is slightly superior, the chair only offers a single Zero-G seating position. Most chairs that include the function offer two, or even three positions, so by itself, this may not be sufficient to prompt you to select the more expensive model.
Options, Options, and More Options
Most massage chairs not made by Inada offer slightly more than a hundred massage combinations. Here, both models we’re comparing far exceed the industry average. It’s less a matter of “Inada Flex 3S or Dreamwave” and more “Inada vs. the rest of the industry.”
There are differences, of course. The Flex 3S offers 500+ massage combinations, while the Dreamwave offers more than twice that number.
In both cases, the number of combinations you’ll have at your fingertips is mind-boggling and so far beyond what competing chairs make available that it’s not even a fair comparison. You will be thrilled with either model on this front.
This should probably be considered Inada’s signature feature. The company does air massage better than any other company in the business today. The Dreamwave features an almost unbelievable 101 airbags, while the Flex 3S offers 50.
50 is more than every other comparably priced chair on the market today. 101 is off the chart. In both cases, you’re going to get an air massage of unsurpassed quality.
Another feature shared by both models. Body stretching is a rare feature that provides tremendous therapeutic benefits, especially if you suffer from chronic back pain.
The reason is simple. Spinal disc compression is the #1 cause of back pain, and the stretch function provides the same benefits as a chiropractic adjustment, providing almost instant relief as it takes the pressure off your discs.
The implementation is slightly different between the two models, but both are excellent.
If you’re a taller user, it’s not a question of “Inada Flex 3S or Dreamwave,” you’re going to have to spend the extra money and get the more expensive chair if you’ve got your heart set on one or the other.
While both models claim to have an Ottoman with an extension model, the Flex 3S will only accommodate users up to a maximum height of 6’2” while the Dreamwave will accommodate people up to 6’5”.
The Dreamwave’s timer implementation is far superior to the one found on the Flex 3S. On the more expensive chair, you can actually use the remote to adjust the timing. With the Flex 3S, all you can do is select or re-select a massage option from the remote to add time. There’s no direct way to make modifications.
In both cases, all massage programs on both chairs default to thirty minutes.
Calf and Foot Massage
This is somewhat of a letdown in both chairs. The calf and foot massage in both models is rendered entirely by airbags. There are no foot rollers at the bottom of the foot well. Granted, the sheer number of airbags built into both models means that the calf/foot massage is quite good, but it’s still not as robust an experience as you’d get if rollers had been included.
Features The Dreamwave Has That The Flex 3S Doesn’t
As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap between these Inada Flex 3S or Dreamwave models, but the Dreamwave, as the more expensive chair, does have two features that the Flex 3S lacks. These are Heat (lumbar and seat) and a back-vibration massage that can be added to any of the Dreamwave’s other massage options.
Ultimately what it comes down to is this: The Dreamwave costs significantly more money than the Flex 3S.
For the added cost, you get:
If you’re willing to pay the difference in price to access these features, the Dreamwave makes the most sense. If those features aren’t worth the added cost in your mind, go with the Flex 3S.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Inada Massage Chair, Official Brand Website.
- Massage Therapy, GoodTherapy.
- Foot massage: The pause that refreshes and is good for you!, Harvard Health Publication.
- 5 Things To Consider Before Buying A Massage Chair, Lifehack.