Working at T3 towers has been a joy, everyone on the team is awesome, I love what I write about and even the weather has been great recently. But there's been one problem. Lower back pain.
I've never experienced back pain in all my time on earth but after a few weeks in the cramped standard-issue office chairs, I was in agony. This culminated in my back giving way when bending down to put some laundry in the dryer. At 27 years old, I refused to accept that I was the problem.
Then I moved to the Boulies EP400, the big brother to the EP200. Having used it for over a month, I could never go back to a basic chair. Read on to find out why.
Boulies EP400 review: Price and Availability
You can order a Boulies EP400 for £289.99 from the Boulies website and to make things even sweeter, at the time of writing it's down to £249.99.
Unfortunately you can't find this model stateside or in Australia but Boulies does offer a range of gaming chairs for those markets as well as the Fit series of office chairs.
Boulies EP400 review: Set Up
Of course, half the fun of an office chair is the building process and I'm happy to report there was nothing too difficult required with the EP400. I managed to get the chair from box to behind in just over half an hour and I'm far from a DIY wizard.
The process was pretty pain free, and aside from the fact It was a bit heavy with my bad back (shout out to Active editor Matt Kollat for the lifting help) I had no problems in assembly. I was dreading having to locate a screwdriver or wrench but in fact, all of the parts and tools necessary came in the box.
My one issue with set up was that the headrest wasn't attached properly. It was slack and wobbly, but a quick email to Boulies saw a replacement arrive ASAP and I've had no such problems. I think that was a fluke error but take from it what you will.
Boulies EP400 review: Design and Features
Fitst of all lets all admit it, with its grey mesh design, the EP400 is a looker. It is also available in black but in grey amidst all the black chairs at T3 Towers, I can definitely see which one is mine in an instant.
Compared to the EP200 (on the left), the EP400 boasts an intricate design that I think is more elegant to like at and there are larger, more prominent chrome accents than the smaller model as well.
You might notice the lack of a knob to adjust lumbar support on the EP400, but that's very much intentional. This chair doesn't have a separate lumbar support and instead features what Boulies describes as "dyanmic back support". The base of the back of the chair adapts to your posture and supports your spine. Judging by my back, it definetely works.
Another noticeable feature is the telescopic footrest. I'm not someone who typically uses a footrest but it's easy to slide in and out and to adjust and doesn't compromise the chair when not in use. While your feet may be comfortable, your arms won't feel left out either. 3D armrests can be moved in six different directions to find the perfect position for however you want to sit.
As with most office chairs, a lever below the base of the chair adjusts height but you also have a second lever that can bring the seat towards or away from the rear of the chair, simply shimmy forward or back to adjust. The firm but comfortable headrest is designed to relieve pressure from your neck and as someone who sits back a lot when typing, I definetely agree.
Boulies EP400 review: Performance
Like I said, prior to using this chair I was having terrible back pain that made it hard for me to do anything sitting down. My physiotherapist said that although there was nothing obviously wrong with my back, there was a dysfunction from sitting down for prolonged periods of time.
Switching to this chair and reducing the amount of time I stayed sitting by using a standing desk produced an improvement in a matter of days and I could never go back. Now when working from home while the chair is in the office, I definitely notice the difference between the EP400 and my cheap office chair.
My other common issue with chairs is durability. I am not someone who is good at sitting still, and I'm pleased to report that my fiddling with levers and fidgeting has had no effect on the chair, all of the levers still function as they were fresh out the box. Whether slouching or sitting up to attention, I feel like my back has ample support and it has given me the confidence to stop worrying about my posture constantly.
Mesh may not sound like the most comfortable material to sit on but trust me it is cosy and cool. I've had none of the overheating that comes with a leather or fabric chair.
In terms of areas for improvement they would be twofold. First the footrest. Not only does it feel quite cheap, but I am 6 ft 1 (186 cm) tall and feel a bit like the footrest is only just about long enough for me to actually rest my feet on. If you're any taller than me, you might have to stretch. My second concern is something my co-workers have noticed as much as me, creaking. Particularly when leaning back, this isn't the quietest chair in the world.
Boulies EP400 review: Verdict
I'll forever be grateful to the EP400 for alleviating my back pain. Not only is it comfortable and easy to assemble, but the dynamic back support also quells any worries I would normally have of not being able to adjust it correctly with a manual setting. It's not a perfect throne with a slightly disappointing footrest and the odd creak, but I'd much rather the chair make such noises than my back.
While £289 (currently £249) for a chair may sound like a lot but if you're working in an office or from home, that's a lot of time spent sitting down. Compared to the Boulies EP200 it is less than a £100 price difference and I think definitely worth it for the superior back support and increased comfort.
The Boulies EP400 is Available at Boulies.co.uk