iMovR McHale Ergonomic Chair Review
- Lab tested
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Usually when we say “you get what you pay for,” it’s meant as a negative point against a cheap product. But with the iMovR McHale, you get what you pay for—in a good way. This chair is superb. Comfort, assembly, all the ergonomic adjustments you need and great quality set it apart from the competition. It comes with an excellent 12-year warranty matching the much more expensive Herman Miller equivalent. Unlike most ergonomic chairs you can buy these days it is built in North America, not China.
|MSRP / List Price||
Drift Gray color: +$50
Free to lower 48 states
Kelp Green, Lagoon Blue, Bay Navy, Drift Gray, Storm Gray and Night Black
Steel with plastic covering
Seat height: 17.5″-21″
Seat: 19″ x 16″ (Small), 20.25″ x 18.5″ (Standard), 21″ x 20″ (Large)
|Competition||Compare to Other Top-Rated Ergonomic Chairs|
|Where to buy||
Buy on iMovR
|Ease of Assembly|
|Positives||Some of the best mesh we’ve felt and an innovative (patented) lumbar adjustment system make this chair very comfortable on your back. Between the three seat sizes and bevy of adjustments, this chair will work for pretty much everyone. The adjustments exist without being overly complicated or intimidating to figure out. A 12-year warranty covers the entirety of the chair, unlike competing warranties that are much shorter for the seat fabric and foam. Assembly is quick and easy. Made in Canada, not China.|
|Negatives||There’s no seat pan slide adjustment, but the differently-sized seat pan options mean you’ll be able to find one that fits you.|
Why A Chair?
Read a couple of our reviews and you’re sure to find us saying that sitting is the enemy and generally trying to convince you to sit less. So why are we reviewing an ergonomic office chair? We’re also realists.
While almost everyone should stand (and ideally also walk) more at their desk, it’s inevitable that some portion of your workday will be spent sitting. Standing or walking too much can also be harmful to your health and the most beneficial approach is to simply change positions often. It’s why doctors say “the best position is your next one.”
We’re all going to sit, the important thing is to sit in a way that takes the pressure off your backs and legs. And to not sit for too long at one stretch, of course.
iMovR is well known for its tech-forward active workstations (i.e. standing desks and treadmill desks) and specialized active seating (e.g. perching stools). They’ve finally entered the market with conventional ergonomic office chairs—including the McHale we review here and the Neemo we also reviewed—so we were eager to see how they compare to Herman Miller, Humanscale and other ergonomic chairs we’ve previously tested and are currently testing in our ergodynamics lab. If you’d like to see more ergonomic chair and active seating options, definitely check out our roundup of ergonomic chairs.
Adjustability is probably the most important feature of an ergonomic office chair, so this feels like the best place to start. There are two ways to achieve adjustability. The first is passive adjustment, like the Officemaster OM5, where the chair conforms to the user without many knobs or levers.
The second, and most common, is active adjustment, where a user must make their own tweaks to find the right position. As you can see from the McHale’s levers and knob, it’s the second type.
The iMovR McHale does not have a sliding seat pan, but it does offer three different seat pan size options. Small is 19” wide and 16” deep, standard is 20.25” wide and 18.5” deep, while large is 21” wide and 20” deep. The positives to not having a seat pan slider is that it makes the seat feel more stable because it’s one less moving part to shift as you move your body around—and one less moving part is also one less thing to potentially break someday.
Other than a seat slide, the McHale has just about every adjustability option you could want, starting with seat height adjustment range from 17.5” to 21”.
We found the “wishbone” lumbar adjustment mechanism to be very comfortable. You turn a handle on the seatback to increase or decrease how pronounced the lumbar support is. The seatback itself also raises from 39.5” to 43”. Between these two features, everyone will be able to find their sweet spot for lumbar support.
The armrests adjust in four different ways, including height, width, depth and pivot. Other than a button for height adjustment, all of the other adjustments work with just the pressure of your hand, meaning it’s very intuitive to use. The tension feels right, it won’t move accidentally when you move your arms but it’s not difficult to move either.
The McHale has a tilt lock and adjustable tilt tension. It also has an “ergo tilt” feature, allowing the seatback to recline and still maintain proper spinal alignment. The front edge of the seat stays at a fixed height (so you don’t cut off any circulation in that hotspot above the knees) while the back edge of the seat pan reclines downward and the seatback actually reclines at twice that angle. This all works in concert to support your back while you tilt back and leads to some very comfortable reclining.
One note on adjusting the tension of the recline, make sure you slide the knob out. We didn’t slide it out before turning the first time, which led to us hitting our knuckles on the height adjustment lever.
All of these may sound like minor factors but even small degrees of adjustment can make enormous ergonomic differences. Moving an armrest just a couple of inches up or down can bring your arms to a proper (90 degrees or greater) working angle, and prevent developing repetitive strain injury (RSI). It’s a fine line to walk between having great adjustability and having too many levers and knobs to learn, and the McHale manages to find the balance with a great deal of adjustability and three levers.
Comfort and Quality
The McHale’s mesh back is exceptionally comfortable. It’s both pleasant to the touch and it compresses your back in a way that makes you feel very supported. Combined with the seat height adjustment and the lumbar adjustment, this is the most comfortable chair on the back we’ve tried.
Polymer abounds in the McHale constructions, but it all fits together very well and the overall effect is to make the chair lighter. It feels very solid and the plastic is finished in a way that makes it attractive. You can tell by the heft of the chair, the precision manufacturing tolerances and the feel of the materials that it is built to last.
The iMovR McHale arrives in a box that’s 32” x 26.25” x 20.5” and weighs 50 lbs, so you may want help to bring it inside and get it in place. Beyond that, assembly is very simple. Insert the chair back into the seat and fasten with three bolts. Then put the cylinder into the base and the seat into the cylinder.
The McHale comes in three different seat sizes, as mentioned above.
There are six colors to choose from: Kelp Green, Lagoon Blue, Bay Navy, Drift Gray, Storm Gray and Night Black. Note that the Drift Gray color comes at a $50 premium. Like iMovR’s Neemo chair, it does come standard with carpet casters but you can upgrade to dual-surface casters for $64 in case you also need to roll on wood floors.
We found both types of caster to work smoothly, and as a bonus, they both worked well on hybrid sit-stand chair mats because the wheels are fairly wide and don’t cut into the polyurethane material.
We find this level of customizability to be the sweet spot for ergonomic chairs. With more expensive, highly-customizable ergonomic office chairs on some websites you can quickly plow into The Paradox of Choice. Unless you’re a trained ergonomist or chair salesperson you may be flummoxed by having so many options to sort through.
Studies have even shown that users can be so intimidated by having 17 adjustment levers and knobs on their chairs that they may not actually bother to set them all properly, and instead remain seated in a less-than-ideal posture. For that reason, we’re not big fans of those chairs unless a) you have an anthropometry or medical condition that necessitates certain very specialized adjustment settings, and b) you have an expert on hand to help you get adjusted properly once the chair arrives. The other downside to having too many adjustments on a chair? More opportunity for parts to break.
Office chairs vary wildly in quality and it doesn’t always line up with price, but a simple sign of quality is the warranty because it shows what the manufacturer thinks of their own product’s durability. Many chairs in this price range list a lifetime warranty, but then specify it’s only five years on foam and upholstery, which of course are the parts of a chair most likely to wear out quickly.
iMovR doesn’t play that hidden-limitations game with the McHale and has a simple, 12-year comprehensive warranty that applies to usage up to 350 lbs. Considering this is the same warranty offered by Herman Miller for much more expensive chairs, this is one reason we gave this chair a 5-star rating on consumer value.
Between the superb mesh and lumbar adjustment, the McHale is exceptionally comfortable on the back. So much so that it’s become a hot property around the office. This isn’t a cheap chair but between the Herman Miller-caliber warranty, quality and adjustability, you feel like you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
As we like to remind our readers, the corollary to “you get what you pay for” is “you pay for what you get.” While Herman Miller is a solid multi-billion-dollar brand, as consumers we know that when we buy a big brand more a lot of our money goes to advertising rather than to components. The iMovR McHale chair, as well as the lower-cost Neemo, deliver more of the real goods for the dollar.