The Serta iComfort mattress ... what's the buzz
I always find it interesting to take a look at some of the new offerings that seem to create such a buzz in the mattress market. Not long ago it was the Dr Breus mattress which was more often than not being promoted as a 100% latex mattress when of course a simple look at the law tag would make clear that it was anything but ... with only a little bit of latex hidden inside it. In addition to this of course ... the "story" of sleeping cooler which was its major selling point was because of the Celsion latex and the outlast ticking which are available in many mattresses in the market place at much lower prices. This story though created a huge buzz in the industry for a while until consumers realized that they were not getting what they thought they were paying for ... in spite of the "famous person" endorsement that is so often used to sell mattresses at an inflated price. In this case the national manufacturer was International Bedding Corporation,
Now ... Serta has introduced the iComfort mattress with the "revolutionary" new gel memory foam (and in some models "slow recovery" latex). This "revolutionary" new memory foam somehow justifies a price which averages between $1374 and $1599 for the queen Genius model with 2.75" of the Gel Memory foam, 2" of "support" foam, and then 6" of comfortlast foam core. I guess the higher prices are to leave room for "bargaining".
Now lets compare this to something similar. The Gel memory foam in this mattress is made by Avanced Urethane Technologies/Sleep Innovations as you can see here which is available under the brand name NovaForm at Costco. If you look at the Costco website, you will see the Novaform Gel memory foam Queen mattress here for $599.99.
Granted, it does have 1/4" less of the "revolutionary" gel memory foam but it has a little more support foam poly underneath and is 12" thick overall. Fairly similar. Of course there is also a possibility that the foam densities of the gel memory foams are slightly different since neither mentions this specifically (EDIT: the iComfort uses @ 5lb memory foam while the Novaform uses @4lb) . Do these minor differences justify an almost $800 price difference (or more) for 2 mattresses using very similar materials in almost the same amounts? In my view of course the answer is NO.
This is another of so many examples of why we recommend local manufacturers with shorter supply chains who actually put quality and value into their mattresses rather than just attach high prices to them hoping that consumers will believe that the brand name somehow justifies what they are paying.
It's sad that so many people will "trust" the name or what they're being excitedly told by a salesperson enough that they will actually buy this mattress ... and think they got a "deal" if they manage to bargain their way into a little bit of a discount.
I work in the industry and actually challenged Serta with what the major difference was... here's the scoop.... the iComfort is 30% gel vs. 10% gel for the sam's club and costco "nova" foams. when you compare the 3" in the Serta with the 2" in the warehouse toppers and beds, you end up with about 6 times the amount of Gel... that being said, I've also laid down on both and you can definitely tell the difference. The iComfort beds feel much denser.
I certainly appreciate the information that you have added to this thread ... however it brings up a few more questions for me. It also points to the lack of information and transparency in the materials used in the mattresses made by major manufacturers and the consumer difficulties that this represents. This is probably as frustrating for you as it is for consumers. While I certainly believe that you have been told this, there is just no way to validate it's accuracy as there is nowhere on the web that I am aware of that this information is made public. The difference in thickness of the novaform gel layer and the Serta is only .25 as well rather than an inch so even if what you were told was true (which I doubt), then the Serta would have 3.3 times the gel in it not 6.
All of this is also is making an assumption that having more gel in the memory foam is a good thing. Since Sleep Innovations has not released much information about it, about the only thing I know is what they say, what can be inferred, recognizable patterns in consumer reviews, and that it has less tear strength than regular memory foam. There are many cases where smaller amounts of "additives" to a material can actually perform better than larger amounts. Again, the lack of available consumer information leaves the consumer at the mercy of the manufacturer's "story" which they are selling which is a rather poor substitute for accurate information about the materials themselves.
I checked out the Serta gel foam topper available at Amazon here and if you calculate it out, the gel topper is less than 5lbs per cubic foot. This is less than most of the higher quality memory foams on the market which are usually 5 lbs and up. Assuming that the gel material is more dense than memory foam, this would mean that the memory foam used was substantially less than 5lbs which does not represent great quality memory foam as a "base" material.
Did you order a Novaform from Costo just to try it out and compare it with the Serta?
Thanks again for taking the time to post.
Just to add a little more information to this ... the Sleep innovations gel memory foam calculates out to being a little under 4 lbs/cu ft and as I mentioned in the last post, the Serta calculates out to being just under 5 lbs/cu ft. This means of course that while neither of them are using particularly high quality memory foam as the base for the gel beads, the Serta would certainly feel denser ... and would probably last longer between the two. If it is true that the Serta is using more gel, then that would also mean that the memory foam used as a base is even lower density and worse quality than this.
In terms of value, I personally don't think that either of them represent good value. At the price of the Serta, there are much higher quality memory foam mattresses available at a lower price.
The Sleep Innovations is close to the price of what I would call a "throwaway" mattress. This means that if it's comfortable and you are happy with the idea that low density memory foam doesn't last very long, then by all means buy it knowing that another mattress or topper purchase will soon be needed. There are higher quality "throwaway" mattresses available as well at a lower cost.
This to me is another case of selling a "story" rather than selling the quality of materials used. Unfortunately this has become the "norm" for the industry as a whole ... and is especially true for many of the major manufacturers such as Serta (hovering under a billion a year in sales) and Sleep Innovations (in the range of 300 million a year or perhaps more now).
Interesting too that Michael Fux who founded Sleep Innovations and later rejoined them to help them emerge from bankruptcy has just started a new company called Comfort Revolution who will also be selling gel memory foam called Hydraluxe. Likely made by Advanced Urethane Technologies as well would be my guess. They will be "competing" with both Serta and Sleep Innovations.
Ok, I'm curious about this information and I'd like to know more. I am currently looking to buy a memory foam mattress and after doing a fair bit of reading, I have narrowed my choices down to three brands: the Serta iComfort, the Costco Novaform Gel memory foam, and the Dynasty Mattress (which appears to be a cheaper knockoff of the Tempurpedic and it gets excellent reviews on Amazon).
With respect to the iComfort and the Novaform, common sense dictates that if the iComfort is indeed virtually the same bed as the Novaform and manufactured by the same company (Sleep Innovations), then I would clearly get the Novaform and save several hundred dollars. I also read a thread over on the whatsthebest-mattress.com forums where a few other people have also asserted that if you look at the iComfort label, it will say "made by Sleep Innovations." Phoenix, you have also stated that the gel memory foam for the iComfort is made by Sleep Innovations.
I decided to go see an iComfort in person to look at the label and see whether it actually is the same mattress as a Novaform. However, the label on the iComfort clearly says it's made by Serta, NOT Sleep Innovations. When I click on the link you provided, it draws up a blank page and I see no proof showing that the iComfort is indeed a rebranded Novaform.
So is there anything else out there that proves Sleep Innovations has a hand in both the iComfort and the Novaform? If that is indeed the case, then my choice has just been narrowed down...it would be the Novaform vs. Dynasty Mattress. I'd appreciate any advice and feedback!
I'm not sure which link wasn't working for you (I checked them and they seem to be working for me) but if you go here and click on the 4th picture you will see the you will see the "by sleep innovations" on the Serta packaging. You can also see here at Sam's club that the 10" Serta gel memory foam mattress is labelled "by Sleep Innovations". Even if they didn't say so explicitly in this case, in the mattress industry you will often have to "connect the dots" and since Advanced Urethane Technologies is making "gel bead memory foam", then it would be fairly safe to assume that any company using a similar description would be from the same source.
Even though the foam itself is similar though, they would have the ability to make the same foam in different densities and it seems that the Serta version is slightly denser than the Novaform version. 5lb memory foam is generally considered the "cutoff" for good quality memory foam, 4lb memory foam is medium quality while 3lb memory foam is low quality. The denser the memory foam the longer it will last and the longer it will keep it's qualities. Of course there is a lot of mislabeling in terms of density as well and some places will label their memory foam differently (per 2 cubic ft for example) to make them look like higher quality.
Just to further confuse the issue ... there are so called "gel memory foams" also made by sleep innovations that are not the same as "gel bead memory foam" so sometimes a slight difference in description points to a different material. In this case however, it is the same foam but in different densities.
In terms of the Dynasty mattress, They say it is 5lb memory foam however they do not say who manufactures the memory foam and they do not say it is Certipur certified so it is probably safe to assume that it is Chinese sourced (Made in USA could easily mean manufactured in USA from Chinese foam) and they have no information about what is in the rest of the mattress. This is not necessarily bad in and of itself but it makes it an "unknown" foam from an "unknown" company using a "website builder" website and I personally have some difficulty buying a mattress where I do not know the quality of the materials or how "safe" they are (I have personally experienced some of the breathing issues that come from memory foam materials that outgas) and know little about the company.
If I was going to choose a very low cost memory foam mattress, then I would either make my purchase from a local manufacturer who will tell you exactly what type of memory foam they are using or from a Costco, Sams Club, WalMart type of outlet who will allow a return at no cost to you (and will usually even come to pick them up).
Thanks, Phoenix...this is AWESOME info! While the iComfort may have slightly increased density on the foam, it appears that the Novaform is the better value. I'm ok with spending $500 on the Novaform with the realization that I may have to replace the mattress after maybe 5 years. I actually spoke with a Costco sales rep at my local store earlier today who just bought the mattress herself and she loves it so far. In light of your advice about the Dynasty, it appears that the Novaform will be great for my needs. Now I just need to find a good sturdy foundation. Thanks again for your input!
Glad I could help a little. Just to throw a couple of other options into the mix for your consideration as well.
While I am not a huge fan of memory foam and prefer latex, this is very much a personal preference issue. If I was to buy a memory foam mattress, the type of memory foam that is my personal favorite is Aerus manufactured by Foamex. The reason for this is that it is in my opinion the most breathable of the memory foams (I tend to sleep hot on memory foam). I would personally lean in this direction over the sleep innovations memory foam although I do agree with you that the Sleep Innovations is a better value than the Serta iComfort as long as it is suitable for your sleeping positions and comfort/support needs (that's why it's nice to have return options for an online purchase in case it doesn't work out).
There is an Aerus memory foam mattress sold at WalMart online using 4lb foam which is in the same price range and you can see it here http://www.walmart.com/ip/12-Aerus-Natural-Memory-Foam-Mattress-with-Pomerol-Cover/11030706
In addition to this, if any of our manufacturing members are anywhere close to you, they would also be well worth a phone call as they may also have a quality memory foam mattress in your price range and you could be confident that they are using the best quality materials available in their price range as well (including the polyfoam used as a base foam under the memory foam).
Always nice to have choices
This was a very helpful discussion to follow. I was very close to buying the Serta icomfort, but after stumbling upon this website I have learned what I have always wanted to know about mattresses and the industry. I am now planning to purchase a latex foam mattress from a factory direct store. However, I have one burning question before I purchase. Are the gel beads used in Serta memory foam a form of the buckling gels discussed on this website...and if so, does it suggest a more stable mattress?
Hello Sschuck, ... and welcome to the forum.
The buckling column gel is quite different from the gel beads that are used in the "gel memory foam" mattresses. It is made up of "honeycomb" like "soft plastic" type of material. The individual hollow columns "collapse" when a certain amount of weight is placed on them while the surrounding cells remain "stiff". The material contains no memory foam.
Natura is one of several manufacturers that use this material (orthogel) in some of their mattresses and their nexgel site here is very informative
The "gel beads" on the other hand are beads of a "gel like" material which are infused into memory foam. I personally believe ... based on the feedback I have seen and research I have done ... that it is more about marketing than it is about performance as I am not convinced of its benefits over a high quality memory foam or other materials. The "stability" (in the sense of it's ability to support) of a memory foam mattress ... with or without the gel beads ... would depend on the density of the memory foam comfort layer, it's thickness, and perhaps most of all on the type and quality of the support layers (usually polyfoam) underneath it.
Good luck in your search and if you have any other questions feel free to ask .