The Russell Executive Mesh Chair is the Aeron for people on a budget. I’ve had to sit in many, many different kinds of chairs in my inglorious temping career, and this one is by far the best. Both the seat and the back are mesh, so the chair breathes. The ergonomic control, while not nearly as complete as the Aeron’s, is still definitely superior to any chair I’ve found in the sub-$300 range. As with the Aeron (which goes for twice that amount, or about $600-650 new), the arms are attached to the back, not the seat – and they’re easily removed. It’s light but sturdy (steel frame) and pretty easy on the eyes (a little bit biomorphic). I’ve been using mine since late last year and it’s vastly improved my relationship with my desk.
Best of all, it’s only $230 new at discounters.
[This chair is no longer available. Regardless, the more recently-reviewed Mesh Manager's Chair is a cheaper option. -- SL]