We reviewed the SL5000 from Vertagear last year, citing some excellent new technologies baked in, including their new HygennX smell-repellent material. The coffee ground nanotechnology is baked directly into the chair, and with a year of heavy use by both humans and dogs, it’s as pristine as the day it arrived. Now, a year later they’ve debuted the PL4800 with a host of new technologies including a redesigned lumbar support system as well as a new seat cushion. Time to unbox this newest edition for a closer look.
It doesn’t get any easier to assemble than these Vertagear chairs, and I’ve put together more than a few to make that statement. As you can see in the video above, a single person can do the entire thing without a single hitch. To ensure that ease of build, they use a channel system to mate the top and bottom, and provide all of the tools needed in a simple blister pack. There is a rather thick instruction manual that goes over the installation in detail and in quite a few languages, but frankly you don’t need it. The only important bit is to tighten the bolts the way I did – get all of them seated a little bit before you lock them all down.
Looking over the individual components, it’s clear that this isn’t one of the commodity knock-off chairs that flood the market. You know the ones – they litter the likes of Amazon and all look precisely the same. Here we have materials that clearly differentiate them from their contemporary counterparts. Let’s dig into them in the order in which they are assembled.
The star frame for the chair is a lightweight aluminum alloy – a step up from the plastic ones, and a further jump from the heavy steel ones that some chairs have. There are paired up with the Penta RS1 Casters introduced last year. These new casters are coated in a polyurethane to make the chair roll more smoothly on hard surfaces. If that’s your use case, they are perfect and quiet. If you have carpet, then you’ll probably want to grab these replacement casters. Since the Vertagear team used a standard device size, the replacement casters pop in just as easily as the official stuff.
The frame of the chair is incredibly sturdy. It’s made of steel and has enough cross-supporting to last far longer than even the 10 year warranty on it would suggest. The rest of the chair has a two year warranty, but given how the previous chairs have worn (or more accurately, not worn at all), I’m starting to think that doesn’t matter much. Put simply, if I showed you several years of these chairs in a row it’d be impossible to tell between them.
Covering the chair is PUC faux leather. PUC stands for polyurethane, and is a type of blended plastic that resembles leather. It’s then coated in the aforementioned HygennX coating made from ground up coffee beans. This coating has stayed put for years at this point, repelling all smells and spills. I’ve got dogs that like to jump on and sit on my chairs, and they tend to…well, smell like dogs. Through the course of use, the chair has also taken a spill or two of liquids. The liquid beaded up and didn’t soak into the chair, and the dog smells seem to bounce off the surface. I can’t say it smells like coffee, but I can happily say that it doesn’t smell like anything else.
Underneath the PUC faux leather is ultra premium high resilience foam, or UPHR. Regular foam can handle 2.5 pounds per cubic foot, but UPHR foam pushes that to just over 4 pounds per cubic foot. This should help with the more sturdy among us, as well as retaining its shape as you aren’t pushing it to its limits, without being too stiff or uncomfortable. This leads to the biggest improvements to the formula – the ContourMax lumbar support, and the VertaAir seat.
The ContourMax lumbar support is effectively a set of “abs” for the lower back of the chair, made up of air pillows and flexible memory foam. Air pockets for support are hardly new, but the configuration of the PL4800 is such that it effectively cradles and conforms to the curve of the spine. It subtly ensures proper back alignment, but unlike a simple pillow, it stays put. Pillows tend to move, and it’s very easy to fall off to the left or right of the center. A lumbar support bar is usually exactly that – a metal bar with a foam wrapping. The advantages of both the pillow and the bar is that they are adjustable – something this ContourMax lacks. It’d be great to see round two on this tech adding a small amount of adjustment to relax or firm up the placement, but what’s on offer is a big improvement over its contemporaries.
The seat of the chair, named VertaAir now, has also received a bit of an upgrade. Instead of being a solid core of UPHR foam, there are eight hexagonal air pillows with four air tunnels to deflect the air pressure as you sit. As such, sitting in the chair spreads the pressure from your sit holes across the entire width of the chair.
The shape of the seat has also had a bit of an adjustment. An earlier chair from Vertagear had rather large upward flairs on the sides to ensure you stayed centered in the seat. The PL4800 opts for a wide seat with plush sides without the hard “wings”. It’s a far more comfortable seat overall, and some of that comes from another shape change in the front.
Remember those cheap knockoff chairs I mentioned? Almost all of them are extraordinarily uncomfortable. One of the reasons is that the front of the chair is effectively a square block. They sit against the legs, applying pressure on the back. The PL4800 has a rearward slope, angling backwards at the bottom. This small adjustment means pressure isn’t applied to your legs, making long sessions more comfortable.
The shape of the chair, combined with the standard class-4 gas lift, is important to the overall balance of the chair. As such, be mindful of the height and weight recommendations for any chair you might select. The recommended height on this chair is a 6’6” user weighing 260lbs or less. Tipping either of those is going to mess with the balance of the chair, just the same as swapping out that commodity gas cylinder. It’s far better to pick the correct chair for the job, of which Vertagear sells many.
It was interesting to see an included pet hair roller. Rather than the non-reusable tape, this is a washable type. It’s a nice inclusion as the chair does collect shedded hair like crazy – something my ladies have proven time and time again. I’ve got a pet vacuum that handles it just fine, but if you don’t happen to have one, this inclusion will do the trick – a welcome and unexpected goodie.
Throughout the chair you’ll find a thick yellow stitching, as well as double reinforcement on all seams. Single stitched seams tend to be wear points on chairs, but anywhere the human body contacts (and in many places it doesn’t, including underneath), Vertagear has more than doubled the stitching. In some areas I believe they might have even gone beyond that. The result is a chair that, based on the previous several years of chair models, will hold up to just about any abuse.
Nearly every gaming chair out there includes “4D armrests”. That is to say they can move in four directions – up, down, left, and right. Rather than going with a plastic button and tension-based detents for the twist, Vertagear once again goes the extra mile. A metal paddle on the side unlocks the up and down motion, and a metal button at your thumb unlocks the toe in and out motion. You can even slide it toward your body or away from it to ensure your forearms land exactly where you want them, making them technically 6D armrests. While there is nothing special about the actual armrest surface, the mechanisms to put it where it needs to be is just another nod to quality.
There are two optional upgrades for Vertagear chairs – an upper and lower LED kit. The lower kit illuminates underneath the chair, casting a rainbow of color around you. The upper one replaces the racing holes at the top of the chair with ones with LEDs inside. This upper light set comes with a Vertagear logo etched into the thick plastic panel that sits in the center, but that’s where the second upgrade comes in.
As you can see at the end of the video that started this review, you can also have just about anything customized into this plastic panel. If you have a logo, your name, or something else that could look cool on camera, this is your way to get it on screen. In my case I had them print our Gaming Trend logo on both sides. Most users won’t see these, but if you spend any time on camera for streams, it’s a must have. The lighting system uses a commodity battery with a breakaway charging cable to keep everything lit up, which is nice – you aren’t stuck with a proprietary issue later, or worse, something non-replaceable. They last for about a week of non-stop use, so just remember to plug them in overnight once a week and you are golden. These lighting kits are an additional $250 a piece, so you’ll have to weigh your choices. That, tacked onto the $499 retail price of the chair might tip the scale too much, but I leave the value judgment to you the reader. If it is a bit rich, just wait for a sale – there are many throughout the year. Let’s talk about the software that makes them work.
Inside the kit for the LED upgrades is a tool set for replacement and a small USB dongle. This dongle is placed in a PC or Mac where you can use NZXT’s CAM software to configure what sort of light pattern you’d prefer. There are many to choose from, as well as quite a few patterns you can enable. All of that is great…but it does mean you’ll need a PC available to adjust your lighting. This is the sort of thing that should be a Bluetooth app. In fact, NZXT used to have a CAM app for Android and iOS but has since abandoned it. It’d be great to be able to connect with Bluetooth to the chair to change things on the fly, rather than having to occupy a USB port and have CAM software running to do the same thing. This arrangement has been in place for some time – I think it’s time for Vertagear to cut the umbilical cord. Make your own app, folks – let me do this with my mobile device.
Ultimately, the PL4800 is more than a simple iteration. The team has introduced a number of meaningful improvements to the feel and comfort of the chair. While the software leaves a bit to be desired, and the ability to adjust the new lumbar system would be welcome, it’s hard to fault the chair in any real way. It’s comfortable, it looks gorgeous, and it’s built to last. Don’t settle for these crummy knockoffs – the PL4800 is the chair you want.
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
Unrivaled quality, excellent comfort, and a handful of brand new features are combined with last year’s HygennX tech to make for a chair that is built to last and will keep you comfortable for gaming, work, or anything in between.