The Panasonic chairs used to be designed, engineered, quality control tested, and built in Japan. Now, the engineering and design are still done in Japan, but the chairs are being built at Chinese factories within which the Panasonic quality control is still implemented. It is the quality control that separates the Japanese chairs from the rest.
The Panasonic massage chairs have always been of a superior quality, reflected in their 3 year parts and labor warranty as well as their low failure rate and longevity. When I first got into the massage chair business in 2005, whenever someone came looking for a new chair to replace their old one, they always seemed to have a ready-to-retire Panasonic that had lasted them 10-20 years. I still get some customers like that. Good chairs.
For the last few years we have been selling the MA70 and the MA73 models, the differences of which I’ve highlighted in a previous video. Well, in 2018 at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES), the new Panasonic MAJ7 was introduced to the US market. I was at that CES and sat in the J7 for a spell, with a staffer explaining the features of the chair while I sat and enjoyed the massage. You can watch that video here.
Today, on the request of a customer, I am going to outline the differences between the MAJ7 and it’s predecessor, the MA73 in this article:
- Softer Padding – One thing I immediately noticed about the chair, when I first sat in it, was how much softer the seating was. It felt like the engineers put in additional padding and pillows to give the chair a softer, more comfortable fit. I liked it quite a bit.
- Massage Intensity – Another thing I noticed was how much stronger the roller massage was throughout the spine in the J7, except maybe the neck massage. The J7 offers a stronger massage to the low back and hips, while maybe having a little less intense neck massage. However, the rollers of both chairs still hit the top of the shoulders just great. Panasonic chairs are some of the very few massage chairs that actually offer roller massage to that area. It’s a pretty good feature, in my book. The rollers on the J7 can protrude as much as 4.9″, which explains it’s increased intensity.
- Mechanical Foot Rollers – The J7 is the first Panasonic massage chair model that has mechanical foot rollers. The Japanese have been the slowest to adopt this feature into their massage chairs, but Panasonic has now come around to the idea…and from our experience, it is one of the better foot rollers out there. The Japanese may be late to the game but, as expected, they are worth the wait.
- Rotating Ottoman – One of the well-liked features of the MA73 is the rotating ottoman that allows you to hide the calf and foot wells. The feature helped the MA73 serve as a recliner as well as a therapeutic massage chair. But, because of the addition of the foot rollers, the rotating feature of the ottoman is no longer available.
- Airbag Intensity Adjustment – Most massage chairs have an airbag compression intensity adjustment, but very, very few have the ability to adjust the airbag intensity of one set of airbags independent of the other airbags. The J7 allows you to do that. So, if the arms are too strong, but the rest of the airbags are just right at the current setting, you can turn down the arm airbag intensity while leaving the rest as is.
- Heated Rollers – Another big hit in the MA73 is still available on the J7.
- Core Programs – Most of the auto programs are the same in both models, but the J7 introduces an auto program (and a stretch program) known as “Core”. What the chair does is substantially inflate the seat airbags so that your whole body is lifted up off the chair seat. While that happens, the rollers position themselves at the low back and then roll up and down while the airbags inflate and deflate. The Core stretch program goes a little further by inflating the leg, feet, and shoulder airbags while the body is lifted up by the seat airbags to traction the spine in the form of a stretch. The interesting thing here is that when the seat airbags lift you up, the rollers move down the low back and actually hit the top of the glute muscles, almost simulating an L-track roller massage without actually having an L-track. The term “J7” actually refers to a “J” track massage to the glutes and hips thanks to this airbag “lift”.
- Pressure Sensing – At CES, Panasonic had a very interesting display (and you can see it on the same video I alluded to at the beginning of this article) that demonstrated how sensitive a rigged roller mechanism was in the process of imitating a hand written calligraphy message that was mimicked and programmed into the mechanism’s software. For the first time in the massage chair industry, a massage mechanism is actually measuring the pressure it is applying to your back muscles much like a real massage therapist. The roller mechanism measures the PSI 1000 times per second to make sure that the rollers match the depth preference you selected on the remote control. Pretty cool stuff!
- Kneading Modes – The J7 comes with 6 new kneading modes that are employed at different parts of your back. See the image below for an explanation.
That about covers the differences. The J7 still has the heated rollers, memory function, simple to use remote control (looks exactly the same except for some programming buttons), great arm air massage, and body silhouette as the MA73. It just has more sophisticated programming available for the discriminating massage chair user.
Dr. Alan Weidner
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