In a Nutshell:
The Ogawa Active L Massage Chair is a solid mid-range chair with a strong feature set. While not perfect, there’s a lot to like about this model. Recommended For: While it’s got some therapeutic features, it makes a better general or hobbyist chair, although depending on what your therapeutic needs are, this one could be an excellent fit that will make you feel better.
Overall Massage Quality
Ease of Use
Are you in the market for a solid, high-quality massage chair? Are you looking for something that’s designed more for general use than to meet a specific therapeutic need?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you’re going to find a lot to like in our Ogawa Active L massage chair review.
Ogawa is made by the same company that makes Cozzia and Homemedics chairs. The critical difference is that the Ogawa line is sold primarily online, and the other two can be more readily found in showrooms around the country.
Make no mistake though, from end to end, the entire Ogawa product line is defined by its quality. While this chair might not be for everyone, for a broad swath of the market, it’s a fantastic chair that will provide you with years of reliable service and leave you feeling better.
Broadly speaking, the Active L makes a better general use chair, although it does offer some therapeutic benefits, and depending on what your needs are, it may serve you quite well in that regard.
Don’t worry; we’ll go over everything this model can do in the sections that follow so you’ll have all the information you need to decide if it’s a good fit for you. Let’s have a look!
An Overview of the Ogawa Active L Massage Chair
There are no two ways about it; this is unmistakably a massage chair. While some designs take pains to blend in with your home’s décor, this isn’t one of them. The leg massage ports and the Chromotherapy LED give the chair a futuristic look that may clash with the rest of the room. It’s not an unattractive chair; it’s just obvious what it is. That’s not a deal breaker, just be aware that it’ll stand out in whatever room you decide to put it in.
The Active L is a sizeable piece of furniture, measuring 63” x 31.5” x 46.1” and weighing in at 239.2 pounds, so if space is an issue at your house, it may be difficult to figure out where to put it. The upshot is that it was designed with space-saving technology, and only needs about 5” of space between the back of the chair and whatever wall you set it next to.
The size of the chair, combined with the adjustable Ottoman does mean that it’s a comfortable fit for bigger, taller users, and the chair supports a maximum weight of 300 pounds, and a maximum user height of 6’3”.
L Track & Quad Rollers
Let’s start by talking about the basic, roller-based massage. There’s a lot to like here, but Ogawa didn’t go as far as they could have, in our view.
First and foremost, the chair is built around an L-Track, which allows its quad rollers to travel from your neck/shoulders all the way down your back, then under the seat to massage your glutes and the backs of your thighs. Quad rollers are the current industry standard, and the length of the track ensures that you’ll get a top-quality massage just where you need it.
The massage quality is further enhanced by the inclusion of not one, but two Zero-G seating options.
Zero-G seating is NASA inspired, and really does leave you with a feeling of weightlessness. It improves the overall massage experience by using your body’s weight to press you more firmly into the seat back, allowing the rollers to deliver a deeper and more penetrating massage.
Then there’s the body scanning technology, which automatically re-positions the rollers each time you take a seat, so that they’re aligned with your body’s pressure points. If, for whatever reason, the body scan doesn’t get it quite right, there are options on the touch screen tablet (more about that later) that allow you to manually tweak the position of the rollers so that they’re exactly where you want them.
All of that is fantastic, but could have been made even better had the design team also included 3D roller technology, which allows the rollers to move out and away from the massage track, providing an even deeper, more therapeutic massage. Sadly, this technology was not included, and in our view, makes this feature implementation fall short of being exceptional.
Having said that, again, if you’re looking for a good general-purpose chair, then the combination of the long track, the quad rollers, and Zero-G seating positions will not disappoint!
Lots of Great Options
While there are a few models that offer more in the way of options at the Active L’s price range, you could count them on one hand. We were extremely pleased on this front. Regarding massage techniques, you’ll find:
We were, of course, expecting the basics, but the presence of two advanced techniques was a pleasant surprise, and while Shiatsu is a common offering, you don’t find many massage chairs that offer Swedish, which we love.
In addition to that, you’ll find a total of nine pre-programmed massage options, including:
There’s also a tenth “Demo” program that gives you a taste of the various techniques the chair has to offer.
Not enough for you? You can, of course, put the chair in manual mode, and forego the pre-programmed options entirely, and each massage can be adjusted via the touch screen tablet through five different speed and intensity levels, allowing you to create the perfect massage experience for you.
Of course, you can also activate spot or zone massage anytime you like too, so you can focus the rollers on one specific area of your body, which is superb.
Finally, this model also offers a vibration massage in the seat. While we’re not a huge fan of the feature personally, we recognize that some people do like it, and if you’re one of them, then be aware that the Active L has it.
The one thing that left us somewhat disappointed was that the Smart 3D (the company’s flagship massage chair) offers the ability to create your own customized pre-programmed massage routines, and this one does not.
Since they both use the same app, we can’t imagine that it would increase the price much (if any) to give this chair that feature too, and it would make it even better than it already is. Even without that ability though, there’s a lot to like about the number of options and the amount of flexibility you’ve got here.
A Very Good Air Massage
The Active L’s air massage is rendered via 44 Second Generation airbags, which is slightly above average for chairs in its price range. As with the roller-based massage, you can adjust the intensity of the air massage through five levels, and activate it just for specific body regions if that’s your preference.
To get the most out of the air massage experience, we recommend putting the chair in one of the two offered Zero-G seating positions. This leaves you feeling as though you’re floating on, and being gently massaged by a cloud, and will help you relax after a busy, stressful day.
This is one of the chair’s therapeutic features, and we welcome the addition of heat, any time we find it because heat + massage provides more benefits than massage alone.
That said, we were a bit underwhelmed here. This is a high-quality chair, and given Ogawa’s reputation for excellence, we would love to have seen the heat function extended into the leg massage ports too, and perhaps some way of controlling the temperature. Sadly, neither of those are present, but if you suffer from chronic lower back pain, this will probably wind up being one of your favorite features.
The body stretch offered by the Active L is good but falls short of being excellent. The fact that it’s present at all is a plus, of course, but if you’re buying a chair specifically for its body stretching function, you’d be better served by taking a closer look at the Ogawa Smart 3D which offers very aggressive Thai stretching, or a model offered by Kahuna, which offers their outstanding “Yoga Stretch.”
This one will get the job done, no doubt, but again, there’s just nothing exceptional or “next level” about it. Still, if you have a therapeutic need for regular stretching, and you like the Active L’s other features, this might be the thing that makes you decide to buy.
Calf & Foot Massage
We were pleasantly surprised by the strength of the feature implementation here. It’s actually better than the calf and foot massage offered by the company’s flagship model, the Smart 3D. We say that because in this case, the calf and foot massage is rendered via a combination of airbags plus foot rollers, whereas on the Smart 3D, there are no foot rollers.
If you have a job that sees you spending several hours a day on your feet, this is probably going to be the feature you like best, and it does give a very good calf and foot massage. True, it could be made even better with the addition of heated foot wells, but this feature certainly won’t disappoint!
An Entire Entertainment Suite at Your Fingertips
This is something that Ogawa does very well, and we expect that in a few years’ time, this will become the new industry standard. The Active L doesn’t have a remote at all. Instead, you get a full-sized Android tablet with a touch screen.
The chair also features a pair of high-quality Bluetooth speakers, so you can connect to the internet and pull up your favorite music while enjoying your massage, or install games on the tablet and play them, or surf, read, or watch movies. It’s fantastic!
On top of that, the Ogawa app is intuitive and well designed, allowing you to control all aspects of the chair via the touch screen. It’s even got a separate diagnostics section, and if you encounter any problems with the operation of the chair, it can walk you through troubleshooting.
Of course, human help is always just a phone call away, and Ogawa is known for its excellent post-sales service and support. We couldn’t be happier with this feature implementation!
A Bit of a Learning Curve
It’s no secret or surprise. As you add more features, options, and controls, it does increase the slope of the learning curve, and the Active L is no exception. While you can sit down and start enjoying your first massage in mere minutes, expect to spend some time exploring everything this model can do. If you’re not a tech-savvy person, that process will take a bit more time, but it’s not an especially daunting challenge in any case.
Pros & Cons of Ogawa Active L Massage Chair
On the whole, we really like Ogawa Active L Massage Chair. It’s got tons of features and delivers a very good roller and airbag-based massage. It’s quiet and relatively easy to use, and it’s backed by a company that takes post-sales service and support seriously.
As we said at the start though, this is a much better general-purpose massage chair than a therapeutic one. For instance, if you suffer from chronic back pain, you’ll probably want something with 3D rollers, more heat, and a better body stretch. If you suffer from chronic leg pain, you’ll probably want something with heated foot wells.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that can deliver a consistently good massage, and provide you with plenty of customization options and extras, the Active L is hard to top.
Ogawa Active L Massage Chair Conclusion
And that wraps up our in-depth Ogawa Active L massage chair review. We recommend it without reservation for hobbyists and casual users. It’s a great way to wind down after a hectic day. It’s an exceptionally high-quality model, backed by the company’s impressive five-year warranty.
If you’re looking for a chair that’s designed to meet a specific therapeutic need though, this is unlikely to be the chair you’re looking for.
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