Pricey baby stroller might make even the ‘1 percent’ blush
Review • $850 high-tech device that unfolds with push of a button also has its faults.
Published: July 3, 2013 09:34AM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:34PM
image
Keith Johnson | The Salt Lake Tribune The Origami stroller.

It may be called the 4Moms Origami baby stroller, but it really isn’t for moms or babies. It’s for nerdy, gadget-loving dads who love to wait in line to drop $800 on the latest iPad.

It’s a baby stroller as if built by “Iron Man’s” Stark Industries, or it should follow Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. Whatever it is, when I first heard about it, I knew I had to review this cutting-edge yet hilariously over-the-top stroller. And with a name like 4Moms, it’s perfect for Utah, right?

The first thing that may catch your eye about the Origami stroller — which is designed by the Pittsburgh company 4Moms — is that you don’t have to push, pull or yank it from its folded state. No more stepping on levers with your foot or trying to stretch the handle bars wider to “inflate” the stroller into position.

With the Origami, you simply push a big orange button, and it automatically unfolds, thanks to small motors inside the frame. You hear a whining sound, and the device rises up and locks into position in just four seconds. Push the button again and it folds right up just as quickly. That alone is going to arouse the techno-parent.

It also has a pair of running lights in front and two more headlights low to the ground for those sunset walks through the park. There’s an LED screen for mom and dad that displays the outside temperature and walking speed, and a trip and lifetime odometer to track the number of miles. It also has warning indicators to tell you when the stroller is locked into position, not locked or is being blocked by an obstruction while folding.

And get this. It has not one BUT FOUR cup holders.

There is the standard removable storage compartment below the seat, and it has shoulder belts and a hoodie to cover the baby like every other stroller.

But does every other stroller have a four-wheel independent suspension system for a comfortable ride?

There are accessories sold separately to change the color of the seat, an adapter to use a Graco-branded car seat, and a handle bar bag for additional storage. You can even charge your cellphone with the stroller while on the go with an additional $40 accessory.

Why not go all the way and include an iPad stand for the toddler? Just kidding, it doesn’t.

Because the Origami uses a battery for power to fold and unfold, as well as for the headlights, its designers brilliantly included a way to recharge the battery, just by pushing it. The downside is that the stroller makes an audible whirring sound when you push it.

Because the Origami is packed with all of those high-tech features, it obviously isn’t priced like a $30 umbrella stroller. No, at a staggering $850, this is a stroller for the “1 percent.”

Although pricey, the stroller is well built and fairly rugged. It’s also stylish, with a frame built of dark grey, curved bars made out of composite metal. There was some initial assembly, which was easy enough. And you can’t deny that pressing just one button to fold the stroller, especially when parents always seem to have their hands full, is a nice luxury.

But my wife and I have already survived the toddler years (thank heavens!), so I let my brother and sister-in-law try out the stroller for a week with their 2-year-old daughter.

They most like its incredibly smooth ride. Thanks to the independent suspension, the Origami has a more velvety feel than their other strollers (they have three). They said it was especially good for using on level ground, say, at a shopping mall. My brother said turns were intuitive, “almost like a Segway.”

They liked the visibility of the running lights, which are always on (and the curved metallic frame is also made of a reflective material). The headlights were strong enough to be seen at night. The four cup holders were a hit, as was the efficient use of space.

But given its price, several disadvantages stood out.

At more than 30 pounds, my “researchers” had their biggest struggles with the stroller’s weight. Instead of carrying it when it’s folded, the Origami is so heavy, it has two additional smaller wheels on the front so you can roll it like a suitcase. Getting it in and out of a car was a chore, especially because there were no intuitive places with handles to lift it when folded.

The weight, my sister-in-law said, also made for more work to push the Origami and baby up a hill, compared with other strollers. And when folded, it’s hardly compact, meaning it takes up a lot more room than an average stroller.

Although the Origami has a built-in sensor that prevents it from folding if a child is sitting in it, be careful that it doesn’t fold or unfold with the child near it. It’s supposed to stop when it senses an obstruction between the bars while folding, but it all but crushed a plastic garbage can I placed underneath it. It’s similar to vans with side doors that open and close automatically — make sure your child’s hand is far from it when closing it.

The 4Moms Origami stroller is built for the Fortune 500 CEO with everything, not for the rest of us who value convenience over fashion. But for the Ferrari-driving parent who likes to show off their worth instead of their parenting skills, this is the stroller for them.

vince@sltrib.com

Google+: +Vincent Horiuchi

Frills like few others

LED screen that tracks walking speed, miles walked, outside temperature

Four cup holders

Four-wheel independent suspension system

Two sets of running lights

Pushing stroller recharges the battery

Folds and unfolds at push of a button

With frills, a few chills

At more than 30 pounds, it’s awkward to lift.

Its bulk takes up a lot of room when folded.

At $850, its price is out of reach for most.