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Cheap Office Chairs Buying Guide

High-end office chairs can cost as much as $1,200. The celebrated Aeron chair by Herman Miller (starting at $869) comes in three different sizes, and every piece adjusts to give users the precise position they need.

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It's also guaranteed for 12 years. While cheap office chairs don't come with the Aeron's warranty and pinpoint adjustability, not to mention its brand name and design pedigree, many aren't lacking in comfort and offer more than a nod to ergonomics. Ergonomic chairs are designed to maximize efficiency and safety. This includes adjustable seat height, tilt, and armrests. It also includes being able to swivel -- ideally 360 degrees -- and roll into position easily. Look for proper lumbar support, which provides a slight curve to your lower back where it would naturally arch.

The seat pan should be wide and deep enough for you to sit comfortably for many hours at a time. Tall users should make sure their thighs are fully supported, the Labor Department advises, and short users should be able to sit against the backrest without the backs of their knees touching the front of the seat pan. The edge of the seat should be rounded (this is known as a waterfall seat) in order to avoid cutting off circulation to the legs. The seat height should be adjustable so your feet are flat on the ground and your knees are slightly higher than the seat edge. The armrests should be padded and lack any sharp edges. If they aren't adjustable, test out the height to make sure they aren't too high or low for you. Ideally your shoulders should be back and relaxed with your elbows close to your sides. Look for breathable seat and seatback material that is easy to clean. Generally mesh is the most breathable and leather is the easiest to wipe clean. Finally, make sure the cheap office chair you choose has a stable five-leg or five-point base.

The Office Star Space 5500 (starting at $150) boasts all these must-have features, including fully adjustable seat height, tilt, and armrests, and it's made completely of mesh to be extra breathable. We also like the Staples Vocazo (starting at $105) and the Alera Nico Mid-Back Chair (starting at $134). The Staples Vocazo impresses us with a one-year manufacturer warranty -- the only warranty we found on a cheap office chair. The Alera Nico Mid-Back Chair garners praise in reviews for its upholstered back and a seat that looks and feels like leather. The cheapest office chairs on our list don't fare so well. Users posting reviews of the Z-Line Designs Task Chair ZL1001-01TCU (starting at $64) complain about the back coming loose. The chair also has no armrests. Likewise, reports of a flimsy back on the Techni Mobili 0097M (starting at $68) worry us. While this cheap office chair does have armrests, they aren't padded or adjustable.

by Raechel Conover (Google+ Profile)

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