The OHCO M.8 massage chair is currently a very popular chair. It was introduced to the world officially at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January of this year, but was not available for general distribution until a few months later. We received ours at that time and have it in all of our showrooms.
This model also comes in a limited edition, leather-upholstered version, called the M.8LE. Other than the upholstery and an included signed certificate from the designer, the M.8 and M.8LE are the exact same in form and function. Both models are beautifully designed by Ferrari designer, Ken Okuyama. It really is a nice looking chair.
Here is a point by point discussion of a.) my observations of the chair after hours of sitting in it and taking pages of notes, b.) info from the owner’s manual, and c.) feedback from customers who have already used the chair.
- 3D/4D Roller System – You can adjust the depth of the rollers with three settings. 3D alludes to the depth of the rollers, the 4th “D” alludes to the speed or rhythm changes during the auto programs. Pretty much all 3D chairs integrate speed or rhythm into the massage. I tried to judge the intensity of the rollers in each of the main spinal areas. What I found is that the roller massage at it’s greatest 3D depth is mild to moderate in strength in the buttock region and neck region (without the headpiece), moderate to strong intensity in the upper/mid back region and neck region (with the headpiece rollers). The rollers in the M.8 are quad (4) rollers.
- Neck Traction Headpiece with Rollers – The headpiece of the M.8 comes with rollers that massage the neck as well as airbags at the bottom of each side of the headpiece that inflate and compress down on the top of the shoulders, thus creating a traction effect on the neck. The headpiece has an attached back pad that extends from the bottom of the headpiece all the way down the back of the chair. Here are two things to consider about that set up: i.) I would recommend that when you sit in the M.8 to begin your massage session, move the headpiece/back pad all the way down to the bottom of the chair back. Lean back and then turn on your program. When you set up this way, and
depending on how tall or short you are, you will feel the bottom part of the headpiece behind your shoulder blades. It will feel unnatural at that point, but when you turn on your auto program, the chair will recline and your body will move down relative to the headpiece so that when the chair has reached it’s recline position, the headpiece is ideally sitting on your shoulders. If the headpiece is still not completely out from under your upper back, shrug your shoulders a couple of times to get your shoulders right underneath the headpiece airbags. That is how you want it to be so that the rollers in the headpiece are on your neck and not at the back of your skull.If you are so short that the headpiece won’t reach the back of your shoulder blades, pull the back pad down even further, onto the seat. That should bring the lower part of the headpiece down to your shoulder blades level. This positioning issue is important to fit on the chair optimally for your height. If you do not position the headpiece correctly, it will ride up the back of your head, causing the neck rollers to actually hit your skull as well as the shoulder airbags will be too high to effectively compress and traction down on the top of your shoulders. Plus, your head will not be cradled in the headpiece comfortably because your chin will be tucked into your chest rather than pointing up in a neutral position. ii.) The neck rollers in the headpiece offer a nice, vigorous massage. However, the
attached back pad is just another layer of padding between your back muscles and the chair rollers. If you want a more intense back massage, other than increasing the depth of the 3D/4D rollers (which is sometimes not enough for folks who want a strong back massage), you can lift the headpiece and attached back pad up and over the back of the chair so that you now only have one layer of padding between your back muscles and the chair’s rollers. This will increase the intensity of the back massage for you. At it’s highest intensity, though, I can still see some folks wanting more in terms of massage strength. In my opinion, it’s not that the rollers don’t have sufficient forward motion to dig in deep, but I think it’s because the material between your back and the rollers is synthetic leather. Most other chairs use linen in that place, instead of synthetic leather, which is much, much thinner than the quality grade synthetic leather used in the M.8. You would get a stronger roller massage but the linen tends to wear out easily, thus setting you up for warranty headaches later on.As an aside, there is a quick key on the remote control that turns on the headpiece neck rollers. There are 3 different massage programs for the neck headpiece, each program representing different roller direction movements. There are also 3 different speed adjustments for the headpiece neck rollers. The rollers stay in one position…they do not move up and down like the primary back rollers do. These headpiece neck rollers are stronger on the neck than the primary rollers are when you move the headpiece out of the way. The shoulder airbags do not work when the headpiece neck rollers are deployed as a manual program.The traction of the neck is facilitated when you are situated correctly in the chair with your head properly sitting in the headpiece. In this position, the base of your skull “hangs” in the middle of the headpiece while the shoulder airbags simultaneously inflate and push down on the shoulders. That constitutes the tractioning. I was hoping that the shoulder airbags would have inflated more to compress harder on the shoulders and that the airbags would have remained inflated for a longer period of time than they actually did. I feel that this would have really created a much better, more therapeutic neck traction experience .
- MaxTrack Roller Track – OHCO has come up with a more versatile roller track, which is a modified version of the more traditional L-track. What makes it unique is that the rollers still go all the way down to your buttock muscles (gluteals and piriformis muscles) but still allows almost a full recline of the chair. What this means is that the user can have a better stretch program since the chair in full recline is closer to a full horizontal position. True L-track chairs don’t allow the chair to recline much further than the actual L-shape of the roller track, thus minimizing the effectiveness of the stretch program.
- Stretch Program – While I’m on the topic of the stretch program, what really fascinated me about the OHCO M.8 stretch was how the chair deployed airbags on the sides and front of the seat to accentuate the stretch as well as using the forward-most seat airbags to “dig” into the belly of the hamstrings. L-tracks rarely, if ever, actually reach the belly of the hamstrings (belly = the part of the hamstrings between the knee and the hips; what most people grab when they tear a hamstring). These airbags inflate during the stretch program and compress on the hamstring belly while the rollers are also working on the glute muscles and the top of the hamstrings. Pretty cool idea, actually. I was surprised and impressed by that feature. This combination of rollers and airbags massage in the seat region was fantastic.The full stretch program has a lot going on. The chair doesn’t just have the shoulder and seat airbags inflating while the rollers are working, as mentioned above, but it also integrates neck tractioning, foot airbags, along with upper back & waist airbags. The stretch program is not a purely axial decompression, like most other massage chairs, but uses a lot of body rotation and side-to-side movement (aka translation).
- Shoulder Airbags – Part of a good stretch program are the shoulder airbags. The M.8 uses shoulder airbags not just to pin the shoulders back during the stretch program to accentuate the stretch, but also to move the upper torso from side to side by inflating on one shoulder and then another. I did notice, however, a small popping sound when the shoulder airbags inflated. I assumed it was just a shifting of the plastic shoulder housing when the airbags were inflating and deflating. Not terribly bothersome, but thought I’d mention it.
- Side Entry Doors – This feature is completely revolutionary and innovative.Ideal for people who have trouble getting into and out of a massage chair, like older folks or for people in significant back pain, the M.8 has arm rests that swing open like car doors to allow you to enter from the side. Great idea! As a matter of fact, you will see in the owner’s manual that getting on the chair from the front, like every other massage chair, is not recommended. Getting in through the side doors is the “correct” way to enter the chair. On the outside of each door, the
chair also has approach lighting that turns on when the user comes within a certain distance of the chair. Ideal for dark rooms that make it harder to see the chair.
- Calf & Foot Rollers – Both of these sets of rollers feel very comfortable when they are in use. I didn’t feel the need for any foot pads, although some are provided with the chair. The chair also comes with heel shiatsu pads already installed. These pads are located at the inside wall of each heel well. If the heel massage feels to intense, those heel pads can be removed. The calf region also has Thera-Elliptical Kneading by the airbags, which, if you haven’t experienced that feature before, really enhances the calf massage in a wonderful way.
- Automatic Spool Remote Control – I love this feature. The remote is attached by a chord to the chair. Most chairs just have the cord laying around in a haphazard way. The M.8 cord is on an automatic rewinding spool that brings the cord back into the body of the M.8 and hides it. I have seen this feature in another chair model, but this one works so nicely and the cord never gets stuck. It reminds me of an iron automatic power cord spool.
- Remote Control – I love the remote. It is very intuitive and easy to use. It is also back lit, allowing for easy readability even in a dark room. The remote has a few quick keys which allow you to access certain functions, like the foot rollers, calf rollers, zero gravity, and neck headpiece rollers, without having to go into the main menu each time you want to change something.
- Heat – I have never sat on a massage chair that brought the heat like this OHCO M.8. It has heated rollers, along with heating elements in the feet, seat, back, hands, and headpiece neck rollers. They all turn on by default when you turn on a chair program, but you can either turn them all off or leave some of the areas on. It was too much heat for me. I had to turn them off. In the Utah winter, I might not find it to be so hot.
- Program Linking – Each auto program lasts about 18 minutes. If you find that to be too short, you can link two auto programs together so that they run one after the other, thus increasing your massage time to 36 minutes. Again, it is fairly easy to navigate this functionality on the remote control.
- Massage Choreography – OHCO employed the services of a master shiatsu practitioner to choreograph the M.8 massage experience. Being aware of that when I sat in the chair, I must say that the sequence of massage modes very much reminded me of what I typically felt when having massage administered by a Licensed Massage Therapist. The way the massage progressed along was very reminiscent of a real human massage experience.
- Arm Airbags – Each arm has 6 airbags (3 on top, 3 on the bottom) that
sequentially worked over each hand, wrist, and forearm. I love the sequential airbag massage and the intensity was great. What I found bothersome, though, was that the arm airbags tended to squeeze my arms out of the massage area. It may be because my shoulders are broader or because the synthetic leather is slippery, but I found that annoying when I was getting my arms massaged. I consciously had to push my arms back into the massage area. Hard to relax when you have to keep pushing your arms back into place.
- Manual Settings – I have a couple of thoughts about the manual settings that I wanted to share. First of all, the OHCO M.8 has a better variety of manual programs and manual settings. Like most chairs, you can set up a point or partial area massage with the manual setting, but what I like is that you have more massage mode options than just kneading and tapping. Secondly, you can turn on the rollers in the manual settings, independent of the air bags, and independent of the foot rollers, calf rollers. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out was how to turn off the airbags once I had manually deployed them, and still keep the rollers going. I’m not saying that it couldn’t be done, I just wasn’t smart enough to figure it out (which means it wasn’t clearly intuitive on the remote control). I finally had to turn off the massage chair to get the manual airbags to stop inflating. Lastly, I really liked how, when using the manual settings, when I chose a point or partial roller massage, the roller buttons on the remote control lit up letting me know that I could move the rollers to where I wanted them. A simple thing, but made the use of the remote even easier while setting up the manual roller massage.
- Auto Programs – There are 10 full body auto programs with 4 more focused, regional programs. One of the auto programs is a full body air-only massage. A great program for those that just want the ultimate relaxation without the rollers moving the body around.
- Aromatherapy & Air Ionizer – The OHCO M.8 is the first massage chair
that I have seen that has a built in aromatherapy plug-in. You will receive a small device into which goes a “wafer”. You drop your essential oil onto the wafer and then plug in the device into a receptacle located behind the left speaker cover (left, when sitting in the chair). You can then turn it on from the remote control.The air ionizer is located behind the right speaker cover. It doesn’t require any device to use it. You just have to turn it on from the remote control. It blow air towards your face to rid your breathing space of various pollutants.
- The chair also has many of the features you come to expect in a massage chair today, i.e. body scan, space saver, chromotherapy (the remote control display changes color), BlueTooth technology, a USB charging port, and zero gravity positioning
I hope this review helps you understand this new, innovative massage chair a bit better. This is a long review because there are a lot of very interesting features that I needed to mention. Even still, I have probably missed something. If you have any comments or questions about the OHCO M.8 massage chair, please feel free to enter them below in the comments section. Discussion is encouraged.
Dr. Alan Weidner