Top critical review
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Low Cost, Low Quality, Short Warranty, High Failure Rate
on December 4, 2008
I live in a smallish one bedroom apartment and have frequent visits from out-of-town friends and relatives, so I have a pretty significant need for temporary beds. When set up, the temp bed is right in the middle of the living room, so I need to deflate and store a temporary air bed on a daily basis when guests visit. Unfortunately this is a nightmare endurance test for air beds as the frequent compression and folding of the unit for storage along with the periodic inflation and deflation is a formula for a shortened air bed lifespan.
There are two significant names in makers of at-home air beds: Aerobed and Intex. (Coleman seems to be targeted more for camping use and their beds by most accounts seem to be cheaper and less comfortable than these other two more residential brands.) Aerobed costs three to four times more than comparable Intex products, and it may not surprise you to hear that the Intex also offers significantly lower quality along with the lower cost.
This model, the Intex high-rise twin size (18" high) appeared decent at first inspection. Unlike Aerobed, which insists that every sleeper must fit comfortably on a 74" long mattress, the Intex is 80" so taller sleepers or those who like their pillow under the top of their heads rather than under their necks will be more comfy.
Unfortunately this is the only advantage Intex has over Aerobed. The Intex feels mushier even at maximum inflation, so the "adjustable firmness" feature on the Inex is wasted unless you like sleeping in jello, as even maximum pressure inflation will be as soft as most users want.
The main problem with the Intex is that the motor to inflate it is inside the bed. Aerobed uses a detachable inflating motor. The problem with the Intex design is that the internal motor creates a hard inflexible lump in the interior of the bed, along with a sharpish rigid exterior plastic panel with the inflation control and electrical cord storage. As might be predicted, the Intex is almost impossible to fold into a compact bundle, and you will soon give up on attempting to stuff the folded bed back into its storage bag. At best you will end up with an untidy big lump, like a half full garbage bag, that needs to be stowed away in a corner or closet. Even worse, as you compress and fold the bed up, you are stretching, bruising, and maybe even tearing the internal and external lining of the mattress around the motor and the external control panel.
In my case, this contusing and abrasion of the mattress for storage resulted in a major air leak occurring after only maybe a dozen uses. Fortunately, this happened in the first three weeks of ownership, so I could easily get a refund as I bought the unit from Amazon. Intex itself has only a 90 day warranty on its products versus a 1 year warranty for Aerobed products.
The air leak in the Intex basically makes it un-useable as it loses most of its air after only three hours. The sleeper wakes up sinking into a plastic mush, and although you can of course always add air in the middle of the night, this does not make for restful sleep, as at the air loss rate of the leak here you would have to add air twice during the night in order to get 8 hrs of rest on a reasonably firm and supportive sleeping surface.
Though this review seems to be an endorsement of Aerobed, my experience with that brand has also been mixed. My original Aerobed twin size low (6" height) is still alive and kicking after 5 years of frequent use, but a later Aerobed deluxe full size high riser (24" off the floor) lasted only 15 months of light use before developing a leak. Moral of the story from my experience: if you want a durable air bed, especially one that can stand being deflated and stored frequently, get a low rise Aerobed. The higher rise models seem to be more inclined to spring leaks.
The other lesson here is that Intex beds are pretty junky. Looking at the reviews of this model on Amazon, 8 out of 28 reviewers (including me) report air leaks on this model. That's about a 30% lemon rate, so buyer beware. Spending more on an Aerobed gets you a better warranty and also better design and build quality.
Even so, unless you plan to keep your air bed permanently inflated and set up, I would suggest getting some other temporary guest bed solution. The 74 inch max length of the Aerobed models is an annoyance, and the long term durability of these inflatable designs is very questionable where the product will be deflated and compressed for storage on a regular basis. Maybe an old-fashioned folding cot would be a better low-tech solution for many consumers in need of a frequently deployed and frequently stored temporary bed for guests...