#REVIEW: Secret Lab Titan XL Gaming Chair, One Year Later

Just about exactly a year ago, I ordered a new office chair. Or, at least, it arrived just about exactly a year ago; the actual order was a couple of months before that. My old chair was starting to fail after ten years of daily use, and I figured it was time to upgrade, and given the fact that I was working from home and spending 8 hours in the chair every day, I figured dropping a decent chunk of cash and going for a Secret Lab chair would not be an unreasonable use of my money. I have now sat in this chair for hours, basically every single day, for a year; if I were to estimate 1000 hours of sitting time (keeping in mind 40 hours a week from the end of January through April, mind you) that would probably be a conservative estimate. That picture is without any attempt to make the chair more presentable; looking at it now, I probably could have cleaned off the seat a bit, but you get the idea.

And here’s the review: a year later, the $600 or so I spent on this chair was worth every dime.

Storytime: this post, and I swear this is true, was actually inspired by a dream I had last night, where I, no shit, realized I’d had the chair for about a year and decided to review it again, only to discover that the seams were fraying everywhere and all of the leather was starting to peel and my expensive-ass gaming chair was starting to fall apart. And I was unhappy! I do not want anything I own to fall apart, especially when I haven’t even come close to getting my money out of it yet.

(My dreams really are this boring. Yes. I dreamed about the blog.)

Anyway, you may see on your own where the dream diverged from reality a bit; the biggest way is that there’s no leather on this thing, fake or otherwise, and as near as I can tell if I took a few minutes to clean the cat hair and (ugh) beard dandruff flakes off of it it would effectively be indistinguishable from a brand-new chair. It took me a while to figure out exactly how I wanted to set it up, as every single piece of this chair can be adjusted, but once I got there it’s consistently been the most comfortable desk chair I’ve ever sat in, even if I still am absolutely unable to recline in it like they keep doing in all the ads. There are definitely examples of Expensive Things out there that don’t live up to the hype– as an Apple guy, I would know– but this is not one of them. I’m glad I made the decision to buy it, and I expect to be sitting in it for a long, long time.

Reviewlets and updates

There’s a whole lot of Opinions rattling around in my head right now, and if it’s okay with everybody (LOL, it’s not up to you) I’m going to dump all of them into one post. Woo-hoo reviewlet city let’s goooooooo!

I read a fair amount of YA, but until now I’ve not really dipped my toes into middle grade novels, which is a genre I haven’t really touched since I was a Language Arts teacher back in Chicago. The honest truth is that I picked up Matt Wallace’s Bump less because I was interested in it specifically than because I like Matt’s other work a lot and want to support him as an author. And it worked out, as these sorts of reading decisions often do: Bump is about a third young-girl-coming-of-age story, a third of a nonfiction book about professional wrestling, and a third honest-to-goodness Scooby-Doo episode without the supernatural bent, right down to the villain literally having a mask torn off in one of the final scenes.

And it’s delightful. It’s a touch more predictable than I want from my books, but I’m going to let that slide since it’s middle grade and a touch of what comes off as predictability to adults is actually helpful with young readers, and it’s very clear that Matt has kind of been bursting at the scenes to tell a story about wrestling and wrestlers, but I’ve yet to find a book that I thought was hurt by the author’s enthusiasm. This is a much sweeter, more grounded story than anything I’ve ever seen from him before– not a trace of the magic or swords or demons or alternate planes of existence that are all over his other work– and I’m really glad I grabbed it. There’s a lot of Spanish in it but it’s well-contextualized, and I may put it in my son’s hands and see what he does with it.

Plus, that cover. C’mon. How can you see that cover and not want to read this?

I have now read three of Akwaeke Emezi’s books, and I am pretty certain that their The Death of Vivek Oji is their best book yet, although it’s one of those books that is really difficult to talk about very much without spoiling details that ought not to be spoiled. I can say this much: it’s a family story set, as all of Emezi’s books have been, in Nigeria (and how much do I love that I have multiple books by Nigerian authors on my shelf right now? Nigerian literature is the shit right now, y’all, get in on this) and the title character is already dead as the book begins, and the whole story is centered upon finding out what happened to Vivek and learning about his life. Emezi’s writing is as beautiful as it ever was. I had spent most of January thinking that it was going to turn out to be a bit below-par in terms of the quality of the books I was reading, so I’m glad to finish off strong with this and Bump.

The chair continues to work out quite well. I have precisely two gripes about it and they’re both very minor: one, that because the armrests are so adjustable (they can be moved up and down, inward and outward, and can also be set at angles) they tend to feel a little loose, and while the fabric that the chair is upholstered in feels great to the touch and looks like it’s going to be durable (and doesn’t seem to attract cat hair, which I was a bit worried about) I’m used to a slidier leather seat, and I find myself not as able to quickly reposition myself as I was in a leather chair when I feel the need to do that.

Yeah, that’s the bet I’ve got on gripes: the armrests are a little wobbly and my fat ass doesn’t slide across the seat the way I’m used to. It’s a good chair. I’m glad I bought it.

These are the last six albums I’ve purchased, and I’m not sure what it says about me:

I have discovered that I didn’t give the Black Crowes enough credit when I was in high school. That album is magnificent.

The boy is deeply into Greek mythology right now, and we bought him Immortals: Fenyx Rising for the PS5 for Christmas. He ended up not being terribly enthralled with it, but I’ve picked it up recently and … well, I’m having fun with it, I suppose, but it’s going to end up being a 7/10 game or so, and it’s mostly because Ubisoft is such a terrible Goddamned publisher. The game is clearly ported from the PC and still retains tons of PC-centric UI and interface decisions, which is annoying, and Ubisoft has slathered all of their usual “Hey! Want to spend more money?” microtransaction bullshit all over the game, as well as their stupid membership thing that I refuse to sign up for. They do this with every one of their games and I think I’m done buying stuff with their logo on it, because they always manage to make their games shittier in the exact same way. I didn’t spend sixty or seventy bucks on your game so that you can ask me to spend more money every time I turn around.

Also, and this isn’t the game’s fault, it’s a PS5 thing: the damn touchpad in the middle is too sensitive and is too close to the square button. Hitting the touchpad in this game brings up the menus, and because it and the square button are so close together I am constantly bringing up the damn menu in the middle of tense fights, because the square button is dodge and that button tends to come up a bit in combat. Now the good news is that this does pause the action, so it’s not getting me killed, but it’s insanely annoying and now that I think about it I probably can blame the game because there has to be a programming way around this and I can’t believe it didn’t come up in play testing. I kept accidentally throwing myself into photo mode, too, which requires clicking the thumbsticks– never ever map anything that can fuck up combat to clicking the thumbsticks, game— and nah never mind I can totally blame the programmers for this. Photo mode, at least, can be turned off, and the thumbstick thing has been the bane of my existence for years, but I can’t be the only guy with fingers big enough that they’re scraping the edge of the touchpad when hitting square.

I feel like I had something else when I started this, so if I remember what it was I’ll put it here.

The chair again, and a question

I admit it: I’m kind of achy. This chair has so many different ways to tweak it that I’ve spent all day fiddling and changing things, and I haven’t figured out an optimal way to sit in it. Part of this is my desk’s fault; the front of my desk is lipped in such a way that getting my legs underneath my desk while still reaching my keyboard comfortably isn’t exactly impossible, but requires some precise settings from my chair. At any rate, I’m not worried that I’m going to turn on it or anything– I just need to figure out how I want everything set and I’ll be fine.

That said: look at that image. The chair can actually recline back farther than that; I don’t think that guy is at full recline.

Is there anyone out there who thinks they could do that in a desk chair without freaking the fuck out? Because one of my major peeves with desk chairs (and even recliners, sometimes) is Sudden Unexpected Rocking. I react very poorly to unexpectedly feeling like I’m going to fall(*), and leaning backwards that far in a desk chair– or, truly, even close to that far– is simply not possible for me. My wife tried it last night and got maybe to 110 degrees before she decided she’d had enough. But you see these people in the videos about these chairs just leaning all the way back without a care in the world, and I want to have whatever magical ability they have that’s allowing them to do that. Because I seriously can’t.

(*) I have said many times before that I’m not afraid of heights, but I’m afraid of falling. People react like this is contradictory, and it’s not. I don’t care how high off the ground I am so long as my feet are planted securely, but I can and have very recently had serious panic moments from a brief involuntary shift in my center of gravity while sitting in a chair. I have never had a problem in an actual rocking chair, though, something I sit in all the time, and if you can give me some insight into why a desk chair or a recliner might trigger my lizard brain and a rocker doesn’t, I’d genuinely love to hear it.