Chairs Technica: We review two new models from Anda Seat
Last October, we reviewed a pair of gaming/home office chairs—Secretlab’s Omega and Anda Seat’s more explicitly gaming-themed Fnatic. After several weeks of daily use, the Anda Fnatic took the crown for “favorite chair in the Salter household”—so when Anda offered two more models for review, we snapped them up.
Those two models are the Kaiser 2 and T-Pro 2, neither of which has an explicit esports team affiliation like the Anda Fnatic. This means a more austere appearance—particularly in the case of the T-Pro 2, which doesn’t share the Fnatic’s and Kaiser 2’s neck-height “wings.” Much like the Fnatic, these are excellent chairs—but having all three on hand at once made it clear how important picking the right chair for you and your body really is.
Unboxing and assembly
Assembling the Fnatic, Kaiser 2, and T-Pro 2 chairs all follows the same, simple blueprint:
- Stuff the wheels into the five-lobed star base
- Drop the piston into the star base
- Drop the piston dust cap onto the piston
- Bolt the arms to the seat
- Bolt the seat back to the seat
- Bolt the soft plastic dust cover over the exposed seat back bolts
- Bolt the height adjuster to the bottom of the seat base
- Drop the assembled seat onto the piston in the base
This is a simple process, and none of it is physically demanding; I completed it without a helper in 10 minutes or less, including picture-taking, for each of the three Anda models I assembled. The included hex key is a sufficient tool for the job—although it’s a little annoying that each end is a different size, due to the different heads on the dust cover bolts versus the rest of them. If you have your own set of hex keys/Allen wrenches, you may prefer to use it for the bolts on the seat back to avoid nudging the seat arms.
If Anda has more than one version of its assembly manual, I haven’t seen it—despite looking nothing like the Kaiser 2 or Fnatic, the T-Pro 2 came with the same manual, showing a chair with neck-level “wings.” This doesn’t get in the way of actually assembling the chair, but it gave me a nasty moment thinking I’d received the wrong chair!
Minor shipping issues
The Fnatic arrived intact, but both T-Pro 2 and Kaiser 2 had minor shipping-related issues on arrival. One of the arms on the Kaiser 2 had torn entirely through the shipping box—happily, there was no actual damage done.
The T-Pro 2 arrived in an intact box, but it was a little more disassembled than it should have been. These chairs have a two-piece dust cover that fits over the junction between seat and back—a triangular cover that goes over the recline mechanism, and a separate bolt cover that hides the bolts connecting the back to the brackets attached to the seat. The triangular recline mechanism cap is installed at the factory and should not come off; it’s further locked into place by a tab on the bolt cover once the chair is fully assembled.
On the right side of the T-Pro 2, the recline mechanism cover was missing, which I didn’t notice until it came time to attach the bolt cover on that side. Rummaging through the box produced the missing cap, which snapped onto the mechanism after a little fumbling. By itself, the recline mechanism cover didn’t snap on very securely—it tended to pop back off easily. Adding the bolt cover—which has a tab that snaps into a recess on the recline mechanism cover—solved that issue.
Once fully assembled, I had no further issues with the T-Pro 2’s originally iffy dust cover.
Goldilocks and the three chairs
Anda Seat Kaiser 2 & Anda Seat T-Pro 2
Although the Fnatic and Kaiser 2 share the same frame, they have significantly different upholstery—the padding and “vegan leather” covering in the Kaiser 2 is considerably firmer than that in the Fnatic. The pillows in the Kaiser 2 are the same vegan leather as the chair and share its firmness; the pillows on the Fnatic are covered in a velour-like cloth and are significantly “squooshier.”
The T-Pro 2 stands out considerably, with a different frame, cloth covering instead of vegan leather, and even firmer padding than the Kaiser 2. It’s not quite as firm as the Secretlab Omega in my office—but it’s close. Its pillows are soft with velour-like covering, similar to the Fnatic.
Opinion one—5 feet, 11 inches
Having all three chairs on hand at once makes very clear that size matters. At 5 feet, 11 inches, all three chairs fit me reasonably well—but I needed to adjust the neck pillow on the Fnatic and Kaiser 2 up an inch or two in order to get the support where I needed it. The T-Pro 2 had the opposite problem—on it, I needed to adjust the neck pillow down by about an inch.
The T-Pro 2 required less actual adjustment to get where it needed to be for my frame, but I found myself missing the pass-through “wings” of the Kaiser 2 and Fnatic. It was much easier and more comfortable to adjust the height of a pillow whose straps were run through pass-through holes than yanking on one that just sort of slid onto the neck area of the T-Pro 2.
After spending plenty of time in all three chairs, I like the Kaiser 2 the most, followed closely by the Fnatic. Styling issues aside, I appreciate the greater firmness and all-vegan-leather covering of the Kaiser 2 over the Fnatic. The T-Pro 2 came in last place for me—wrestling with the neck pillow felt obnoxious, and I just plain prefer spill-resistant vegan leather to cloth.
With that said, all three chairs worked well for me—I’d choose any of the three over the Secretlab Omega in my office, and I like that one better than anything that came before it.
Opinion two—5 feet, 6 inches
My wife joined me in trying out all three chairs. The Fnatic has been her office chair for several months now, and she has praised it pretty thoroughly—she describes it as “too big for [her], but in a good way.” She appreciates its generous but soft covering and padding, and she occasionally sits criss-cross applesauce in it when she’s tired of the standard, upright “srs bzness” seat position.
She was initially excited about the T-Pro 2 due to its cloth covering—but she couldn’t make its much higher neck pillow position work for her, she didn’t like its extra-firm padding, and her feet didn’t sit flat on the floor, even with the height adjusted all the way down and the seat incline fully vertical. After we spent five or 10 minutes going through every ergonomic adjustment possible, she pronounced it “usable” but still not something she felt truly comfortable with.
The Kaiser 2 met with considerably more approval—which wasn’t surprising, since it shares the same chassis as the Fnatic. She still greatly preferred the Fnatic, to my surprise, despite spending as much time on ergonomic adjustment as we had with the T-Pro 2. The Kaiser 2’s firmer padding changed her perception of the chair as “too big, but in a good way” to just plain “too big.” She also wasn’t able to comfortably sit criss-cross in the firmer chair.
Despite her strong and unhesitating preference for the Fnatic, Janis declared the Kaiser 2 better than anything she had been given in an office job, and she would have been thrilled to get one—if she hadn’t tried the Fnatic first.
All three Anda chairs feature the same overall set of adjustments:
- Seat height adjustment (via gas piston)
- Seat recline adjustment (angle of seat to back, via lever)
- Seat tilt adjustment (angle of seat+back as a unit to the floor, via rocking)
- Seat tilt lock (can be locked at any angle desired)
- Seat arm height
- Seat arm depth (they can be slid forward away from the body, or closer toward the body)
- Seat arm width (adjustable by rectangular bolthole during installation)
- Seat arm width (further adjustable by button on arms, during usage)
- Seat arm pivot (can be rotated horizontally, e.g., to support hands resting atop one another on the desk)
- Removable lumbar support pillow, with removable washable cover
- Removable neck pillow, with elastic support band and removable washable cover
To achieve the ideal posture and support, you’ll likely need to fiddle with every single one of these adjustments—particularly if you spend many hours a day seated. This isn’t unique to Anda chairs; it’s true of any chair. If you don’t feel that there’s much difference between the various adjustments on a chair, the odds are good that it simply fits you so poorly that nothing works.
One thing that I appreciate about all three of these Anda models is that the removable pillows work for me. Although I generally want to adjust the position of the lumbar and neck pillows manually by an inch or so each time I sit down, it doesn’t take any real work to get them where they need to go, and they feel good once there.
By contrast, I can’t make my Secretlab Omega’s lumbar support pillow work for me, no matter what I try—or its neck pillow. I actually ended up pulling the neck pillow off the Omega and using it as a lumbar support pillow instead—which works, but it’s considerably more of a fiddly annoyance each time I sit down, since it falls down entirely instead of staying largely in place like the proper lumbar pillows do on the Anda chairs.
I’ve learned several things in the last six months’ gaming-chair experimentation. One is that gaming chairs are not “just a meme”—while I’ve never personally owned an Aeron or Steelcase chair, I’ve been supplied with Aerons in office jobs and failed to be impressed. There are certainly crappy gaming chairs, just as there are crappy office chairs—but the good ones are quite good, and they’re significantly less expensive.
Another is that size matters. As a 5-foot 11-inch dude at 200 pounds and change, this was an easy distinction to miss—pretty much everything out there is designed for people sized and shaped reasonably like me. My wife—who, at 5 feet, 6 inches, is slightly taller than average for American women—had a much less forgiving experience finding the right chair for her, whether in office or gaming chairs.
Knowing all this, I think the biggest advantage that “proper” office chairs have is the ability to go sit in one in a showroom and find one that actually fits your frame properly. The difference between a chair that accommodates you properly and one that doesn’t is enormous. If you’re shorter than 5 feet, 8 inches, this goes double—and I strongly recommend that you at least seek out specific reviews from other folks your size if you can’t seek out demo chairs to physically test for yourself.
If you’re 5 feet, 8 inches or under, the Anda T-Pro 2 is not going to be for you—particularly not if you want the neck pillow installed. If you’re 5 feet, 8 inches or taller, either the Kaiser 2 or Fnatic will likely be a good fit—though I’m not sure how well either would work for folks much taller than 6 feet, 1 inch. If you’re 6 feet, 2 inches or taller, I’d recommend skipping the Kaiser and Fnatic and taking a look at the T-Pro 2.
One final cautionary word about height: just checking the backrest height on a chair won’t tell you what you need to know. The Fnatic, Kaiser 2, and T-Pro all share a backrest height of 34.2 inches—not much different from Secretlab Titan XL 2020‘s backrest height of 33.5 inches. But the curvature of the backrest—and the position of the neck pillow, if installed—makes an enormous difference.
Listing image by Jim Salter