Now that I have both the Flex 3S and the DreamWave in my showroom, right next to each other, I am commonly asked what the differences are between the two since the Flex looks like nothing more than a mini-DreamWave. So, I figured it’s time to write a comparative review between the two models. Today, in Part 1, I will focus on the similarities and in Part 2 I go over the differences.
Even when I am covering the similarities, there will be some differences among the similarities (if that makes sense!), so I will lay that out for you in Part 1, as well.
As I already mentioned, the Flex 3S looks like a miniature version of the larger DreamWave. Although the body styling is similar, the chairs are quite different. Many a massage chair model in the industry today is a copycat body style of the Inada DreamWave, which turned the massage chair world on it’s head when it was introduced into the US market 6 or so years ago.
The new and revolutionary design was mocked at first, but has since become the template for many other massage chair company models. Models that come to mind with mimicked body design would include the Osaki Dreamer, Osaki OS-4000, Luraco iRobotics 6S, Infinity IT-8500, Cozzia 16026, Superior massage chair, OSIM uAstro, Omega Montage Pro, and, to a lesser degree, the Infinity Iyashi. I’ve probably missed a handful of other models that could be included in this list.
2. 3D Roller Technology
Both chairs have 3D roller technology, which involves aircells that push the rollers forward into the spine and deflate to retract the rollers. The 3D mechanism is managed by buttons on the remote control. The DreamWave has one button that manages it, while there are two ways to adjust the 3D roller intensity on the Flex 3S: 1.) one button that puts both the 3D rollers and the aircell pressure on maximum force automatically, together, or 2.) two other separate buttons, each one adjusting either the aircell intensity or the roller intensity.
3. Lower Lumbar Roller Reach
The DreamWave always had a great low back roller massage because the rollers could reach down into the top of the buttocks area and really hit the sacral/tailbone area. The Flex 3S does the same thing. Both chairs do a delightful job of hitting an area that most chairs don’t reach.
4. Seat and Waist Aircells
Both chairs employ seat and waist aircells, but use them a bit differently. For example, the DreamWave uses aircells in the seat to move the seat from side-to-side and up-and-down, while the Flex 3S uses the aircells to inflate the two sides of the seat either concurrently or one after the other to induce hip rotation.
The waist aircells are also used a little differently in that both use the waist aircells to induce rotation of the lumbar spine (low back) but the Flex 3S also uses the waist airbags in the stretch programs to push the mid and lower back forward while the body is in an extended or flexed position. The use of waist airbags in the flexed stretch position is a fairly new and novel idea, not seen in most other chairs.
5. Heating Elements
Both chairs have heating elements, but their locations differ. The DreamWave has heating elements in the seat and low back, while the Flex 3S has them in the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands.
6. Auto Recline and Auto Restore
When you turn on any of the auto programs, the chair will auto recline into a default position. When the program is over you can bring the chair up to full incline by pressing the recline/incline button for 2 seconds. If you stop the program before it times out, the chairs will both auto restore to the neutral position.
7. Japanese-Made with 3 Year Parts & Labor Warranty
This is a biggie for a lot of massage chair shoppers. Because of the Japanese engineering, design, and manufacturing, the Inada chairs have a longer life expectancy and have a lower breakdown rate (aka failure rate). They are known for their quality. Both are made in Japan and have the same warranty. You can buy an extended warranty for 2 additional years of parts & labor coverage for either chair.
8. Stretch Program
The Inada DreamWave has a stretch program that focuses mostly on extension of the spine (that is to say, laying out the body flat), whereas the Flex 3S has integrated a flexion component (that is to say, upright seated position of the body) to the stretch program along with the extension component. Both chairs use the waist airbags to push the torso forward during the stretch program, but the Flex 3S has additional aircells in the mid to upper back to do the same. In my opinion, the stretch program of the Flex 3S is superior to that of the DreamWave.
There are lots of other similarities that are less noteworthy, but nonetheless important, i.e. quad rollers, full body airbags, 30 minute program timer, Inada’s sophisticated body scan technology, ottoman length adjustment, synthetic leather upholstery (DreamWave has a black leather option that Flex 3S does not have), and vibration.
In Part 2, I will review more of the differences between these two fantastic models.
Dr. Alan Weidner
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