Top positive review
53 people found this helpful
Bigger than the dearer mains version, but not as convenient
on 12 December 2009
Review updated after 16 months experience (see below) and one star removed.
I tried the dearer mains version of the AeroBed before I bought this, and, although this is cheaper, it's actually much better. For a start it's longer (the mains version is 6' in theory, but in reality you lose an inch or two at each end due to the curve of the top of the bed - for me, at 6', it was too short). This bed is also wider, in fact it's a whole 1m wide! (Despite this, a normal single fitted sheet still fits - just about.) This version also has a slightly raised/angled bit at the pillow end, which is surprisingly comfortable - you don't really need a separate pillow.
Also, although you can just plug the mains inflated version in (no recharging), the battery inflator is more convenient, as you can inflate the bed anywhere (there is a 12v car lead as well). It's also, surprisingly, a lot quicker to inflate - it only takes half a minute, it really is amazingly fast. The battery seems to hold enough charge for several inflations as well (3, so far, but other reviews report as many as 7). The only drawback is a long initial charge (24 hours is recommended), but I found you could inflate the bed perfectly well after just a few hours initial charging.
In summary, this bed is bigger than the more expensive one, inflates (and deflates) more quickly, more conveient, and more comfortable. It's only downside is the colour (why on earth did they choose this awful shade of brown??), but it's not quite as bad as it looks in the photos.
It also doesn't have the strong plasticy smell the mains version does!
Update, 16 months later:
My comments on size and comfort still stand, but, after several nights spent on this bed - due to sick children sleeping with mum! - I am a lot less impressed with the battery powered inflator. The problem is that since the initial review I have had my long awaited back surgery and now find I need to inflate the bed much longer to make it as firm as possible (it carries on getting firmer for at least half a minute after it appears fully inflated). This means that the battery in the pump is drained a lot quicker than before and now typically only holds enough charge to properly inflate the bed a couple of times.
The battery also doesn't seem to hold its charge as well as it used to, typically not retaining enough charge for even a single full firm inflation after being idle for a few weeks, even though I always ensure it's fully recharged before putting it away. This means that several times I have had to wait a couple of hours before being able to go to bed, while the battery has been recharged (and my neighbours have had the pleasure of listening to me pump the bed up at 1 or 2 in the morning!).
So, in summary, if you're 6' like me, you still don't have any choice, you have to go for the longer, battery inflated bed, but, if you're less than 6', my recommendation would now be to go for the mains inflated model, unless you particularly need the flexibility of battery power.