Homedics ShiatsuMAX 2.0 Massage Chair review: tough love for knotty necks and backs

If you like your massages to be intense, the Homedics ShiatsuMAX 2.0 could be the perfect massager for you

HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0 massage chair product shots
(Image credit: Homedics)
T3 Verdict

The ShiatsuMAX 2.0 Massage Chair offers two kinds of massage: a rolling massage and a Shiatsu massage. You can use the standard programmes or spot massage a specific area, and you can also add vibration and/or heat. The Shiatsu massage is very intense, though, and may be too strong for some.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Powerful Shiatsu and rolling massage

  • +

    Adjustable roller width

  • +

    Effective heat option

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    You can't adjust the intensity

  • -

    Side bolsters aren't very generous

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Homedics is one of the leading home massage brands, and this ShiatsuMAX 2.0 chair sits at the top of its product range. The RRP is £299, but this particular model is often discounted so it's wise to look for a massage chair deal.

This chair is designed to do everything: there's a rolling motion to move up and down your back, two sets of double massage nodes to deliver a Shiatsu-style massage, vibration massage for your upper legs/thighs and an optional heat setting that's designed for really soothing tired muscles. There's a strap to secure it to a suitable chair, a hanging loop for storage – it takes up about the same hanging space as a suit – and a remote to control its 14 different programmes. In fact, it's one of the best massage chair pads we've tried. Read on for our full Homedics ShiatsuMAX 2.0 Massage Chair review.

Homedics ShiatsuMAX 2.0 Massage Chair review: design and features

The ShiatsuMAX 2.0 looks like a car seat cover, although this particular one is designed for indoor chairs: simply pop it over your office chair or a dining chair and it's ready to go. Its robust frame means you can also use it on even a soft sofa, although Homedics doesn't recommend it: the ShiatsuMAX was designed to be used in an upright seating position and may not cope with the extra weight if you're reclining on it. 

The key selling point here is that the ShiatsuMAX does everything in one chair: heat, rolling, vibration and Shiatsu, with pre-programmed massages that cover all or some of your back as well as the option to widen or narrow the rollers for maximum comfort. There are 14 different programmes to choose from and the adjustable headrest means the ShiatsuMAX 2.0's neck massage isn't off-limits to tall people. 

HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0 massage chair

(Image credit: Carrie Marshall)

Homedics ShiatsuMAX 2.0 Massage Chair review: comfort

This is not a chair to throw yourself into: if you do, you'll find yourself introducing your lower back to the shiatsu rollers in a very unpleasant way. Their default position when the chair is off means you'll want to remove the ShiatsuMAX when you're not using it.

Once you're in the chair and getting a massage it's very comfortable for most body types, and the adjustable headrest is handy for taller users. However if you have a larger body you may find that the side bolsters could be more generous: one of our testers, a UK size 20, found them uncomfortably tight. The chair has been “life tested” with a 90kg load, which is just over 14 stone.

The ShiatsuMAX 2.0 is very quiet in operation: while it isn't completely silent you're more likely to notice the delighted squeaks of the person using it than the noise of its motors.

HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0 massage chair

(Image credit: Carrie Marshall)

Homedics ShiatsuMAX 2.0 Massage Chair review: performance and programmes

How you feel about the ShiatsuMAX 2.0 will depend very much on how you feel about the intensity of your massages: there's no option to increase or decrease the intensity here, and the Shiatsu massage in particular is very forceful. Of our four different testers, three absolutely loved it and the fourth found it exceptionally uncomfortable. You should expect to feel a little uncomfortable for the first few turns if you're not used to Shiatsu massages but for one of us that discomfort didn't change after a lot of use: the rolling massage was much less divisive, although we'd have preferred it if it went just a little bit lower on our back.

Our testers were united on the heat option, though: adding it to your massage program or spot massage is wonderful. It's hot enough to really penetrate into your muscles without feeling uncomfortable or overly warm. You can also include a vibration massage, which uses two motors to vibrate underneath your bottom.

HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0 massage chair

(Image credit: Carrie Marshall)

Homedics ShiatsuMAX 2.0 Massage Chair review: verdict

If you like your Shiatsu massage to be strong or you live with someone who does, the ShiatsuMAX 2.0 Massage Chair is an excellent option with an impressive range of programmes, excellent heating and the ability to adjust the roller width to suit different body shapes. It was a little too intense for one of our testers, though, and larger-bodied customers may want to try before they buy – a service Homedics is happy to provide. If you find the massage is just too much you might prefer a rival with adjustable intensity such as Beurer's MG320.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).