I’ve had the Panasonic MA73 massage chair in my showroom for quite a few months, but have not taken the time to write a comprehensive review on this great chair until now. It is a very versatile chair that offers a wonderful massage experience. I will say that the more I sit on this chair, the more I like it. Here are my observations and thoughts of the feature-set.
- It is a very easy chair to operate – Getting started is a breeze. Just sit in the chair, press the power button, and select one of the auto programs. The chair will auto recline and the body scan will begin. Very simple.
- Only available in the black color – It does not have the creme option that you can find on the MA70.
- Pedestal Remote Control – easy access, but annoying if you don’t want anyone to see a remote control sticking up from the chair. By the way, the remote control display is very easy to read. It has labels for buttons and a body caricature to show what is being done by the massage rollers and where on your body…and it is all quite easy to follow and read. There is also a timer on the remote to show you how much time is left on your session (20′ sessions, by the way).
- 3D Roller Technology – You will have the benefit of 3D rollers to give you the option to increase or decrease the intensity of the roller massage. The chair defaults to a pretty vigorous roller massage, so it’s nice to have the ability to change that for a more sensitive back.
- This chair has the ability to double as a regular recliner – you can rotate the ottoman around to hide the calf and foot wells, as well as use the large, pillowed back pad to support your lumbar and cervical spines if you want to use the chair as a recliner. The arm massage is hidden quite well by the arm rests, as well.
- Heated Jade Stone Rollers – This is a unique feature. Pretty much all other massage chairs that have a heating element use a heating pad of sorts. The MA73 has little heating units attached next to each of the 4 jade stone rollers. These heaters warm up the rollers which, in turn, give you a thorough heat experience up and down the entire roller track length. Good stuff! The chair also has foot heaters but, to be honest, I’ve never really noticed them.
- Great neck and shoulder massage – This one of the few, of not the only massage chair that gives the user a trapezia massage. As the rollers move up from the upper back to the neck, they roll forward over top of the shoulders and do a fantastic massage for the traps. I love this feature! The neck massage is far superior to it’s predecessor, the MA70. You get a fabulous neck and shoulder massage with this model.
- When you turn off the massage chair in the middle of an auto program, the ottoman will first restore to it’s default position, and then the rollers will park at the bottom of the back. It won’t be until the rollers park that the chair back will restore itself to the default position. If you don’t know this, you might get frustrated and hit the power button on and off a few times trying to get the chair back to restore. Just be patient when you shut off a program before it’s done and you will find yourself upright with the chair completely stopped and restored.
- Soft to Hard Auto Programs – Panasonic added a gradient scale on the remote control to show the softer programs relative to the harder programs. This is good to know as the more vigorous programs, particularly without the back pad, can be quite overwhelming for a new user…especially a tender one!
- Great Arm Airbag Massage – This is another feature that Panasonic improved over the MA70. I love the arm and hand massage in the MA73. With the newly innovated air cells, it seems as though the contact is more broad so that it feels like more of the forearm and hand are getting massaged.
- Good Foot & Calf Massage – The airbags are great in the feet and calves. There is a fairly large, solid knob under the sole of each foot which may tend to feel a bit uncomfortable when the outside airbags are inflating onto the outside of your feet, thus pushing your feet down onto the knobs. Just beware of that little discomfort. If it is uncomfortable to you, you will find that you’ll get accustomed to it rather quickly.
- Seat Airbags – The seat airbags are located under each thigh and buttock and inflate consecutively and concurrently, depending on the desired therapeutic effect. Panasonic uses the seat airbags in a clever way when the neck stretch program is on. I’ll explain that in point #13.
- Stretch Program – Most chairs have a stretch program that is what I would call a “whole body stretch”, where the chair back reclines and elevates, the ottoman lowers and raises, while the airbags simultaneously inflate. In most chairs that have that feature, the stretch is a very nice program. However, in the MA73, the stretch program is a series of consecutive regional stretches that work the neck, the midback, and the hip/pelvis areas. I love it! The neck stretch involves all the seat airbags inflating at the same time and then the rollers positioning themselves under the skull. Then the seat airbags deflate and the rollers stay under the skull while the seat drops. It is a great feature that I’ve never seen before in a chair. The midback stretch is intense and uses the rollers while the shoulder airbags pin the shoulders in. Overall, I really like the stretch program of the MA73, even if it is different from the norm. I might also mention here that the remote control allows you to turn on each segmental stretch on it’s own if you don’t want to use the full body option.
- Shoulder Airbags – As I mentioned above, the shoulder airbags inflate to the outside of the shoulders, thus pinning the upper back in place while the rollers go up and down the upper back. This makes for a very good, intense upper back massage.
- 32″ Roller Track – Because of a longer roller track, the neck and sacral areas get great attention from the rollers. As I mentioned previously, the neck massage is great on this chair, but the sacrum and tailbone get great attention too.
- Memory Function – The MA73 is one of the few chairs that will memorize any custom program you create from the manual settings. You can memorize up to 3 different programs for yourself or up to 3 programs for 3 different users.
- Voice Response – Although I have turned it off now that I’ve had the chair for so many months, it is a great idea for getting a new user accustomed to how the chair works and what is going on during each program. I would strongly recommend having the volume up so that you can get great instruction while experiencing the chair as a newbie.
- Thigh Airbags – These airbags serve a dual purpose: 1.) to hold the hips in place, particularly during the stretch program, much like the shoulder airbags do for the upper body, to increase the intensity of the rollers, and 2.) to massage the IlioTibial Bands (ITB) on the outside of the thighs. The ITB’s are quite tender in folks who have ever had back, knee, or hip problems. And, you won’t know they have a problem until these airbags inflage up against them. It will be a little uncomfortable if they are really tight, but the benefits are awesome!
The more I sit on this chair, the more I like it. Because it is Japanese designed and engineered, the quality is second to none. The warranty is a 3 years parts and labor warranty plus this chair has a less than 1% failure rate. The smaller size of this chair makes it easier to fit in any room. It was built to handle the taller body; it can comfortably and effectively massage anyone from 4’10” up to 6’3″ tall.
You just can’t go wrong with it.
Dr. Alan Weidner
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