I'll let you in on a little secret: the best gaming chair I've ever had has always been a second-hand affair. My latest purchase was a furnished offering from a local retailer, and before that I had a full-sized, comfy armchair acquired from a warehouse sale.
But part of the reason why I dug around for second-hand offerings at all was because good gaming chairs were hard to find. That's not the case now, with good gaming chairs available at major retailers around Australia. And a new Singaporean brand is now trying to make waves in Australia: Secretlab.
The only chair available from the Singaporean company initially is the Omega Stealth, currently available for $500. It makes the Omega Stealth one of the pricier offerings as far as furniture goes. But then furniture isn't the kind of item you replace every year or so -- once you've got something comfortable, you're likely to keep it for several years. And if you're going to spend $500 on a chair, you'd damn well want to.
The Omega Stealth is incredibly comfortable. I was a little sceptical of the shape at first, because I'm the type of gamer who likes to occasionally sit lotus while holding a controller. The Omega Stealth isn't having any of that, at least out of the box: the armrests are bolted on by default, although you can unscrew them. But it's comfortable nevertheless, particularly when the lumbar velour pillow was wedged into the point where the seat meets the back support.
The entire chair is upholstered in bicast leather. It's the same material as what you'll find in other gaming chairs, although there's an elegance to the Stealth's black/gold styling with red stitching. It's certainly appropriate for an office setting than the overt stylings of other offerings, although you'll still have to get around the whole "racing chair" look.
The actual seat rest is especially comfortable. It has a firmness to it from to the cold cure foam which forms the basis for the seat's cushioning. There's just a hint of resistance, but not so much that you feel like you're going to sink into the chair over a long period of time.
The armrests are nicer than they look too. There's nothing flashy about their appearance -- it's moulded plastic -- but the one big plus in their favour is how wide they are. Secretlab also advertises them as being 4D armrests, which is just a fancy way of saying you can adjust them up, down, to the left, right, in, or out. There isn't a great deal of flexibility in the horizontal adjustments, but any gamer with a larger frame will enjoy being able to adjust them away from your body, as well as the angle.
Larger gamers, however, might want to check the weight limits. The Omega Stealth can support up to 120kg, but Secretlab only recommends it for those weighing 110kg or less. There are plenty for whom that's simply not enough, and that's something Secretlab will need to address in future models if they want to be more accessible to the Australian market.
The tree-trunks among us might have a bit of an issue too: the chair's only recommended for people between 160 and 180 centimetres, although I've been told that gamers around 190cm have used the chair without issue. I'd imagine people around the 200cm mark might have troubles with any gaming chair, mind you.
Something else worth addressing: the protective side covers. They're two bits of plastic that fit over the top of the screws that bolt into the side of the chair. Unfortunately, the side covers won't hold without drilling in a Phillips-head screw right into the leather. There's no prefabricated hole, and I ended up leaving the side covers off entirely because it seems bizarre to spend $500 on a PU Leather chair only to hand-screw a hole into the side. Secretlab has told me that they'll look into this for future models, but if you're buying the Omega Stealth you'll need to keep this in mind.
Another thing you'll want to remember is to bring a friend for assembly. Secretlab's instructional videos -- which they recommended I refer to, rather than the materials within the box that the Omega Stealth arrived in -- suggest you can put the chair together by yourself. And you can, but it's bloody difficult and Secretlab themselves strongly suggest you have help on hand.
There's one part of the assembly that's particularly problematic: attaching the bracket to the backrest. The process begins by unscrewing four M8 screws that come pre-installed into the chair, and then rescrewing them through the bracket back into the backrest. The holes for the screws are actually incredibly shallow, and it can be incredibly easy to cross-thread if you're trying to hold the backrest and bracket in place at the same time. Trust me: get help.
The Omega Stealth, however, is extremely flexible. The seat can recline as far as 165 degrees back, and you can even fix the chair while it's in a titled position. Most people won't sit that far back, but it's helpful if you want to lock in a minor adjustment.
Overall, I'm more satisfied with the Omega Stealth than I expected. Even the armrests, which have a cheap appearance in contrast with the rest of the chair, are surprisingly comfortable. And it's immediately comfortable from the off, with the sole exception of the head pillow which I ditched immediately.
You can check out the Omega Stealth further over at Secretlab's website. It's normally selling for $629, although a special $499 deal has been running for at least a few weeks now. You can also order the Omega Classic for the same price. It comes with all the same features except for a bit of white tread, but the Omega Stealth looks a lot better.
Update: Secretlab have reached out to stress that the PU leather used -- which falls under the umbrella of bicast leather -- is completely synthetic with no animal hide in it. (Bicast leather is typically defined as a material with a split leather backing with a covering of polyurethane, which is then embossed.)