Remember this past Spring when I reviewed the QUAD-Roller Massaging Cushion from HoMedics? Now this mostly home health product maker has branched out to create a home entertainment product. The iCush, is a what HoMedics describes as a immersive audio sync seat. Translated into plain gadgeteer speak, it’s a cushion that automatically vibrates to sound input, and has built in speakers.
The idea behind the iCush is that you can connect your iPod, DVD player, TV, game system, etc. to it and both listen to the audio through the built in speakers in the cushion, and feel the vibrations from the sounds.
The cushion itself is quite similar to the QUAD-Roller. It’s not quite as thick though, so it’s comfortable to sit on when placed in your favorite easy chair or sofa. The outside edges of the cushion is covered in Black leather-like vinyl. The main seat and back rest sections are nicely padded and covered with a Grey knit material.
There are elastic straps on the back of the cushion that you can use to secure it to the back of a chair. I didn’t need to use these straps when using the iCush with my Lazy-Boy recliner, but I can see that they would probably be needed if I wanted to use the iCush in a folding metal chair or wooden kitchen type chair.
Included with the iCush are several cables and an AC adapter. The cables allow you to connect the iCush to devices that use Red and White RCA connections, like DVD players, TVs, gaming consoles (Xbox, Playstation, etc.). Also included is a 3.5mm cable with a built in volume control switch.
The main control for the cushion is a wired handheld remote. It has several buttons that can be used to adjust the speed, intensity and location of the vibration.
A large power button and audio sync button is located at the top of the remote.
When the iCush is not being used, you can stow the remote and cables in the stretchy mesh pouch that is sewn into the seam of the bottom cushion.
On the top ‘shoulders’ of the seat back, there are swivel speakers. The location is just right for listening to audio from the connected device.
For this review, I tested the iCush with a Nintendo DS Lite, iPod, Xbox game console and a JVC DVD player. For the Nintendo, I only needed to use the included 3.5mm cable inserted into the earphone jack on the handheld. The other two devices required the use of the Red and White audio cables and the small coupler adapter. Regardless, hook up to any device is simple and easy. The only consideration is that you may need longer cables depending on the location of your DVD, TV, or XBox and the chair where you place the iCush.
Once the audio cables and AC adapter are connected to the iCush, it’s just a matter of pressing the Power button on the remote. Doing so will cause audio from the connected device to start playing from the speakers and the seat to start rumbling. Even at the lowest intensity setting, the vibration is pretty strong and noisy! The remote has buttons to allow you to adjust the location of the vibration. You can have it under your thighs, lower back, middle back, upper back or all of the above.
I actually found the vibration to be much more of a distraction than anything else when using this cushion with the devices I tested it with. The motor sounds from the vibration are just too loud and annoying. Depending on the game, song or movie, the seat may vibrate continuously. In games I would turn off the background music to at least cut out some of the vibration, but from what I could tell, the audio sensing feature is just way too sensitive. It would be nice if there was a way to tone it down so that it would only vibrate for notable events like explosions.
You can turn off the vibration and just listen to the audio coming from the speakers. I’m not sure how useful a cushion with speakers at the top is though… I mean, you can just wear earphones and get the same effect. You can also turn off the audio, disconnect all devices and just use this chair as a massage chair. But, I’d have to say that if that is your main intention, I’d just go with the Quad-Roller instead. It has better massaging features. The iCush is an interesting idea, but I think it needs some redefining to make it a product that I would want to buy and use to make my games, music and movies more fun.