Many people are fans of Shiatsu massage, which is a fairly full-on kind of kneading, but sometimes Shiatsu chairs at their most intense are a little too much for some people. Beurer has thought of that, and in addition to its moving massage heads its chair uses air compression to inflate and deflate the seat and sides to move your muscles and grip your thighs without feeling like someone's twisting their knuckles between your ribs.
Beurer is a big name in the world of high-tech health and wellbeing, with a huge product portfolio that includes electrical beauty products, medical monitors, heat lamps, more compact massage cushions and much more. The MG320 is its top of the range massage seat cushion. (For more alternatives, check out our best massage chair guide – or if you're after something smaller, head to our roundup of the best massagers.)
We're a little disappointed to see some online retailers claiming that this chair can alleviate stress, anxiety and depression; there's no solid evidence to back up such claims. What it can do, and what it's really good for, is soothing tired or tense muscles and helping you relax. That's more than enough to justify buying one. Read on for our full Beurer MG320 Shiatsu Air Compression Seat Cover review.
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Beurer MG320 Shiatsu Air Compression Seat Cover: design and features
As the name suggests, this is a seat cover rather than a whole chair: it's designed to be slung over your office or dining chair and secured with the included double strap. Although it's not a full chair, it'll deliver a more complete massage experience than a massage cushion (we've also reviewed the Beurer MG 149 Shiatsu massage cushion, if that sounds more your scale).
The frame is strong enough to take your weight on a soft sofa, but if it's a low-backed sofa you'll probably find you end up reclining a little too much. There's also a hanging strap so you can store it on a hanger as if it were a suit.
The seat cover is made of PU leather with removable, machine washable mesh and velour bits over the neck and back areas.
Beurer MG320 Shiatsu Air Compression Seat Cover: comfort
Our testers found the MG320 to be supremely comfortable, with sides that are more forgiving of larger bodies than some rival chairs. Be careful when you get into it, though: the massage heads sit in the lumbar position when the chair is switched off, which can be an unpleasant surprise if you're not expecting it and makes this unsuitable for sitting on if you're not actually using it. Unlike some other firms' rolling massages, the rollers here can't be made wider or narrower to suit different body styles or preferences, although you can adjust the height of the neck rollers to suit taller users.
As mentioned in the intro, there's also a very effective air compression option – similar to mechanism powering the Homedics Stretch XS mat. As with that product, the trade-off for that more gentle massage experience is noise: with the air compressor on there's slightly more noise as the airbags inflate and deflate.
Beurer MG320 review: performance and programmes
There are four massage heads in total, two at neck height and two for your back, and those heads rotate in pairs to deliver Shiatsu-style massages. You can choose from three different intensity levels and three massage areas: lower back, upper back or full back. You can also create a spot massage by moving the heads to whichever bit of your back requires more attention, and enable heat to make your massage even more soothing.
If you've found other Shiatsu massage chairs to be a little too forceful you'll appreciate the combination of air pressure and adjustable intensity here: you can still have a massage that makes it feel like someone's rearranging your skeleton, but it's nice to have the option of something a little less intense too. The heat and light are very effective too, although using them in the evening with the air massage on felt rather like sitting inside a video game cabinet.
Beurer MG320 Shiatsu Air Compression Seat Cover review: verdict
The Beurer MG320 Shiatsu Back & Neck Massager costs a little more than some similarly specified rivals – the typical price at the time of writing is £239, compared to about £150 for other brands – but the addition of air compression makes a significant difference to the whole massage experience. It's also useful to have more than one intensity level to choose from, as that makes the chair accessible to more people. It's an excellent all-rounder.