Ogawa Evol Massage Chair Review

Ogawa Evol Massage Chair
  • Number of Airbags
  • Overall Massage Quality
  • Customization Options
  • Ease of Use
4.3

Summary

The Ogawa Evol Massage Chair is a good model that falls short of greatness. It’s got a solid set of features, but a couple of critical failings that make it a fairly narrowly focused massage chair. Recommended for hobbyist users, people who suffer from mild to moderate chronic lower back pain, or chronic calf and foot pain.

Do you suffer from mild to moderate chronic lower back pain?  What about leg pain?  If you suffer from either of those, or if you’re just a hobbyist user, then you’ll probably be very impressed with what you find in our in-depth Ogawa Evol massage chair review.

It’s an intriguing design with a lot going for it, but it does have a couple of potentially fatal flaws that you should be aware of.

Don’t worry, we’ll cover every feature of the design from top to bottom, so you’ve got all the information you need to make a “go/no-go” decision before you spend the money.  Ready?  Let’s jump right in and see what it can do!

An Overview of the Ogawa Evol Massage Chair

Aesthetics

While it’s evident at a glance that the Evol isn’t an ordinary piece of living room furniture, the designers did make some effort to disguise its true nature when the chair is not in use delivering a massage

The leg massage ports can be folded up under the chair until and unless you need them, which makes it look a bit more like a deluxe recliner.  That’s a good thing, and it means that the Evol can blend more easily with the rest of your home’s décor.

It also has a reasonably compact design, measuring just 49.3” x 30.4” x 41.8” and weighing in at 172 pounds. So, even if you have a smaller home where space is at a premium, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a permanent home for it.

The one downside here is that the chair isn’t built with space-saving technology, which means you’ll need at least 15.8” of space between the chair back and whatever wall you set it near.  That’s by no means a deal breaker, but given the chair’s compact design, a space-saving design would have made it even more attractive.

The Evol’s Roller-Based Massage

This, of course, is the key feature of a massage chair.  Getting this right then is (or should be) the overriding priority of every massage chair manufacturer.

Unfortunately, the Evol represents a mixed bag here.  While there are some truly great aspects of its roller-based massage, it’s got a critical failing that detracts from the chair’s central function and purpose.

Let’s start with the good because there is a lot to like here:

First, it comes with heated rollers, which means that you get the benefits of heat everywhere the rollers touch.  That’s amazing, and only a minority of chairs on the market today offer the feature, so kudos to Ogawa for its inclusion here.

Front View of the Ogawa Evol Massage Chair in Chocolate and Cappuccino Color

Second, the rollers can be adjusted through five levels of speed and intensity via the touchpad (which we’ll talk about more in a later section).  At the maximum setting, the Evol is capable of delivering a deep tissue massage.  Third, the Evol offers one Zero-G seating position.  Put those elements together, and you get a massage that delivers tremendous therapeutic benefit.

All of Ogawa’s other chairs offer two Zero-G seating positions, and we’re a bit mystified why this one only has one, but even one is a fine addition that really enhances the overall experience.  Not only does it leave you feeling weightless as you’re enjoying your massage, but it makes clever use of your body’s weight, pressing you more firmly into the seat back, which allows the rollers to penetrate even more deeply.

Ivory and Chocolate Colored Ogawa Evol Massage Chair Reclined in Zero Gravity Position

Finally, the chair has an excellent body scanning technology built into it that almost never fails to adjust the position of the rollers to exactly where you want them.  If for whatever reason, it misses the mark, you can fine-tune the roller positions via the control app and touch screen (which we’ll talk about in more detail in a later section).

Now for the downside.  The Evol utilizes dual rollers.  The current industry standard is quad rollers, which closely mimic the feeling of human hands, and in that regard, dual rollers just don’t quite measure up.

It’s not that the Evol delivers a bad roller-based massage.  It doesn’t, but the reality is that the features above have to work to overcome the shortcomings of dual rollers, whereas if the company had gone with the industry standard, it would have delivered a world-class roller-based massage experience.  We can’t find any valid or viable reason for not going with the industry standard and were disappointed with this feature.  It’s the equivalent of the design shooting itself in the foot, in our view.

It’s also worth mentioning here that the Evol is built around an S-Track, rather than the longer L-Track, which would allow the rollers to travel under the seat and massage your glutes and the backs of your thighs.

An Image of Ogawa Evol Body Scanning Technology

This is neither a good, nor a bad thing really, and is highly dependent on what you’re looking for in a massage chair.  If you don’t need your glutes and thighs massaged, then there’s no point in paying extra for the longer track. 

On the other hand, given the excellent therapeutic benefits offered by the leg massage ports (which we’ll talk about in a later section), the inclusion of an L-Track would have provided great symmetry to the design.

A Decent, But Not Exceptional Number of Options

Given the price of the chair, we were a little underwhelmed with the number of massage techniques on offer.  These include:

  • Kneading
  • Tapping
  • Dual Action (Kneading & Tapping)
  • Clapping
  • Rolling
  • Shiatsu

Ideally, we would have liked to see at least one other advanced technique.  This is not an unreasonable expectation since most of the other chairs in the Ogawa lineup offer at least two.  Sadly, this is all there is.

An Image of Ogawa Evol Program

Things get a good deal better where auto programs are concerned, and this, in our view, is one of the best features the Evol has to offer because it makes it very easy to use.  You’ll find a total of 8 pre-programmed massages, and nine different partial massage offerings, all available at the touch of a button.

Seventeen total auto programs is impressive, and well above what you’d normally expect from a chair in this price range, and is truly outstanding.

The chair also offers spot and partial massage modes, and if none of those get the job done for you, you can always enter manual mode and design your own massage experience.  Best of all, any of the massage options can be time-adjusted to a maximum duration of thirty minutes, which is excellent.

An Image of Ogawa Evol Air Massage Technique

An Average Air Massage

The Evol features a total of twenty-four Second Generation airbags, which is somewhat low for a chair in its price point.  The airbags give a decent, but unexceptional air massage, but they do come in handy for two reasons:  First, they enhance the quality of the calf and foot massage (which we’ll talk about below), and second, they enable the body stretch function (also talked about in more detail below).

The upshot is that the air massage is customizable via three levels of intensity, which gives you some flexibility.  You can get a better air massage from some other chair, and probably for less money, but if you love the other features the Evol has to offer, then this probably isn’t a deal breaker.

Lumbar Heat

Heat is always a welcome addition, and the combination of lumbar heat and the heated rollers adds to the therapeutic value of the chair.  This is a good, strong feature addition, and we were glad to see it!

In an ideal world, we’d love to have seen some means of controlling the temperature of the offered heat, but even without that, we have no complaints here!

Body Stretch

This is another useful therapeutic feature, although it could be better.  Body stretching is listed as one of the chair’s pre-programmed massage options, and is fairly mild

While it does add to the therapeutic value of the chair, if the main feature you’re looking for is the body stretch, then you’d be better served by taking a look at a chair that offers either a more aggressive Thai stretch (like the Smart 3D) or a chair by a company like Kahuna, which is known for its excellent Body Stretching technology.

On the other hand, hobbyist users will probably find the Evol’s body stretch routine to be more than acceptable.

An Image of Ogawa Evol Body Stretching

An Excellent Calf & Foot Massage

This is another exceptional feature implementation.  The Evol’s calf and foot massage combines airbags and kneading foot warmers, which bring heat into the equation. 

In our view, this makes the Evol’s implementation superior to Ogawa’s flagship model, the Smart 3D.  If you suffer from chronic lower leg or foot pain, or if you have a job that sees you spending several hours a day on your feet, this will probably be your hands-down favorite feature of the chair. 

A Complete Entertainment Suite, But…

Most massage chairs on the market today are operated via a conventional remote.  Most of Ogawa’s chairs use a (wired) touch screen tablet with an app.

An Image of Ogawa Evol Massage Chair Touch Screen for Ogawa Evol Massage Chair Review

The app is exceptionally well designed and easy to navigate, allowing you to control every feature of the chair with the touch of a button.  Even better, the app also has a special diagnostics section that will walk you through troubleshooting the most common problems that might arise with the chair’s use.

If, for whatever reason, the diagnostic portion of the app is insufficient, help is always just a phone call away, and Ogawa’s post-sales service and support is World-Class.

The tablet can also be connected to your home’s wireless network, allowing you to listen to music, surf the web, watch movies, or play your favorite games while enjoying a relaxing massage.

The one weak spot in this implementation is the fact that the Evol doesn’t have built-in Bluetooth speakers, so you’ll need to supply your own earbuds or headphones.  It’s not the end of the world, but we would have preferred to see speakers built into the chair itself.

A Learning Curve, But Not A Huge One

Even if you’re not especially tech-savvy, the combination of the vast number of pre-programmed massage options and the strength of the control app’s design means that you’ll have the basics down and be enjoying your first massage just minutes after getting the chair set up.

Plan on spending perhaps an hour familiarizing yourself with the fine-tuning controls (about half that if you consider yourself to be pretty tech savvy).  Well done, Ogawa, for making the chair easy to use and master!

Pros & Cons of Ogawa Evol Massage Chair

So where does that leave us?

On the whole, the Ogawa Evol has many more positives than negatives, but its few negatives are really significant ones and drag down the chair’s final score.  In no particular order, we see the Evol’s biggest selling points as:

  • Ease of use
  • Lots of pre-programmed massage options
  • Heated 3D rollers capable of rendering a therapeutic deep tissue massage
  • Heat in both the lumbar and footwells
  • An excellent calf and foot massage implementation

It’s negatives, given the price of the chair are:

  • Only uses dual rollers (Quad rollers are the current industry standard)
  • Not enough airbags for the money
  • A relatively weak body stretching routine
  • No built-in Bluetooth speakers

We can live with most of these, but the dual rollers hurt the design, and it could definitely stand more airbags.

Ogawa Evol Massage Chair Conclusion

And that brings us to the end of our Ogawa Evol massage chair review.  We wanted to love the chair, and we readily admit that it’s a good design, it just falls short of being a truly great design.

It’s a good fit for hobbyist and casual users, and people who suffer from mild to moderate chronic lower back pain will get a lot out of it.  It also provides good therapeutic value for people with chronic calf and foot pain.

Having said that, there are other chairs on the market that are as good, if not better in those areas that also come with quad rollers, so ultimately it depends on exactly what you want the chair to do.  Based on all this, we can give it a provisional recommendation but pay close attention to the feature set to be sure it aligns with your particular needs.


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REFERENCES & RESOURCES

HomeMassage ChairsBrandsOgawaOgawa Evol Massage Chair Review

  • Chair Institute
  • January 9, 2021
  • Ogawa

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