Serta icomfort Genius mattress

Due to lower back pain, I am needing to part with my waterbed (which I have loved) and look for a new mattress. I like the memory foam mattresses and found the icomfort Genius and the Sealy Destiny to be comfortable (in the showroom) possibilities. We haven’t bought a mattress in 20 years and not only is it overwhelming, it’s EXPENSIVE! We will pay the price of course, but your website said NOT to buy any of the major brands! Those are pretty stong words and now I don’t know what to do. I noticed you were asking people where they lived so I’ll let you know upfront that we live in State College, Pennsylvania (equally inaccessable to anywhere :slight_smile: I found your website by accident but I’d be happy to hear what you have to say. Any guidance or recommendations would be appreciated.

Hi DebbieK,

A lot of things have changed in 20 years as you probably know :slight_smile:

At that time … mattresses that used better quality materials … and that were two sided … were a little easier to find. The “mattress world” was a little different place.

You’re right that State College is in somewhat of a mattress desert but you do have some better options if you’re willing to make a few phone calls and then possibly do a bit of traveling. In the end … finding a better outlet that either makes or sells better quality and value mattresses will not only save you money for equivalent quality but it will save you the time and frustration of having to sort through all the “stories” and never really knowing what to believe or which stories have any truth in them.

The closest factory direct manufacturers to you are in post #2 here. While there are some very good choices in the list … I would also call them first to get a sense of who they are and how helpful, responsive, and knowledgeable they are and how well you “connect” with them before deciding on which if any would be worth a trip. A few phone calls will give you a much clearer sense of what they offer both in products and service.

I’ve also updated the information in the linked post to include some of the better “candidates” in State College that may be worth “interviewing” along the lines of this article before you decide to visit them.

If you have questions along the way … feel free to post them.


Okay, so we have finally found a mattress we like at Page Bedding, one of the local manufacurers you mentioned that is about an hour away. We are seriously considering making a purchase through them, however, I’m used to doing “research” and reading reviews about a product before I buy it. Their website does not have any such information, so how do I really know what people think of their products and what the company is like to deal with?? I would like to know what real people have to say about the particular product I am considering purchasing?

Also, I have become very familiar with the “Bed-In-A-Box” website and all of the WONDERFUL reviews that people have posted there. Do you know of their products and do you have an opinion on them? Are they really as good as the reviews claim they are?

Thank you for any info you can provide.


Hi DebbieK,

I think reviews can be more misleading than helpful depending on what they are reviewing.

I think they can be helpful if they are about the service at a particular retailer or outlet because most people can tell when they get good service or the people there are helpful. Of course your own dealings with them on the phone or in person will also tell you a lot about their level of knowledge and service and I would always talk with a manufacturer or retailer before I visit them.

Reviews about a mattress can sometimes be helpful if they …

Identify the specific mattress they are reviewing (not just the brand or model lineup), the specifics of the materials in the mattress, and have more information about the body type and sleeping style of the person writing the review, and there are enough of them to identify a wide ranging and consistent pattern about how a mattress feels to a specific group of people. Unfortunately most reviews are not specific enough and there is little information about the people who are buying them and even if there is … how a mattress feels to one person may be completely different from how it feels to the next person because of different body types, sleeping positions, preferences, and levels of sensitivity to different softness/firmness levels. One person’s firm is another person’s soft and a mattress that provides perfect comfort/pressure relief or support/alignment for one person or even a group of people may be completely unsuitable for the next person to sleep on … even if they have a similar body style . If there is a consistent pattern then it may at least give some indication that a mattress is firmer or softer than average.

If a review identifies the specific mattress they are reviewing and includes the other information that would make it relevant and is written at least a year after the purchase and there are enough of these … then it may give some indication of the quality of the materials that are used although 2 - 3 years or longer would be better here to identify any issues with foam softening or breakdown in the longer term (again if there are enough of them).

Reviews about a mattress can be mostly misleading if they …

Talk about quality or about “value” because I would guess that only about 1% or less of the population knows enough about the materials in a mattress to know which mattresses are high quality/value or low quality/value and the only way to know the quality of a mattress is if you know all the layers and components in a mattress. Once you know the quality of a mattress … the only way to know “value” is by making meaningful comparisons to other mattresses that use similar quality materials. Without knowing the quality of the materials in a mattress … price means nothing. You can’t feel the quality of the materials in a mattress (low quality and high quality materials can both feel good initially or in a showroom) … you can only know quality by knowing what is in the mattress

Talk about how a mattress feels because how one person feels on a mattress (whether they are talking about pressure relief, support, or their personal preferences) may have nothing to do with how the next person feels unless as I mentioned earlier there are enough reviews of a specific mattress that give an indication that for many people a mattress may be softer or firmer than “average”. Even this may not “translate” into how soft or firm it may feel for you and will tell you little about how well the mattress matches your needs and preferences in terms of PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences). Some of the needs and preferences that can be important to different people and that each person may need to “test” or research for themselves are listed in post #46 here.

Quite frankly … most of the people that sell mattresses in the industry today have little real knowledge about the differences between a good quality and poor quality mattress and they certainly aren’t able to help educate their customers about the differences either. The exceptions … at least from a consumer point of view … tend to be in the group of smaller local or independent manufacturers that either sell factory direct or through better sleep shops where the focus is on real information and customer service instead of marketing techniques.

So while reviews can be helpful for certain things … in general they say very little about the quality or value of a mattress you are considering or how suitable it may be for your unique needs and preferences. Buying based on how other people describe a mattress can be among one of the worst ways to shop for a mattress IMO. There is also more about mattress reviews in post #13 here and in post #20 here.

Smaller manufacturers like Page Bedding tend to work through local word of mouth and with a typical local manufacturer you will find they use higher quality materials and will be more open about telling you what they are using in their mattresses (at least for those who ask). It is not uncommon at all to see fewer reviews about smaller local manufacturers even though they have been in business for many years. They don’t tend to cater to online purchases in most cases which I think is part of the reason that online reviews are often limited. Many don’t even have a website or have a website that has limited information.

You can see some thoughts about Bed-In-A-Box in post #2 here and as you can see they use good quality support layers in their mattresses but the memory foam layers are lower density than I would personally consider. I have talked with them on quite a few occasions and I think they are good people and sincerely want to provide good value to their customers … I just think that they made a mistake in choosing such a low density memory foam in combination with such a high density base layer. If I was going to purchase from them (and I believe there are better options available) I would choose the mattress with the thinnest layer of memory foam possible because at least with with thinner layers the effect of foam softening will be less of an issue over time.

If I was thinking about an online memory foam order … some of the better quality/value online memory foam sources I know of are listed in post #12 here.


New questionf for you Phoenix. My husband went to a local store near his work and came upon mattresses by “Paramount Sleep” which we have never heard of.
This is their website: Back Performance® - Paramount Sleep Company®. Do you know anything about this company and have any recommendations in regard to their products? Their prices are pretty good.

Any info would be appreciated.

Hi DebbieK,

You can find some of my thoughts about Paramount in post #9 here.

I have often mentioned them as a “possibility” in various forum lists around the country but because they are a wholesale manufacturer … their “value” will depend entirely on the specific mattress you are looking at, the layers and components in the mattress, and most importantly on the ability and willingness of the retailer you are dealing with to provide you with meaningful and accurate information about the layers and materials in the mattress you are considering (including the density of any polyfoam or memory foam) and the prices they are charging for the mattress. Prices are only “good” if they reflect the quality and content of the materials in the mattress.

If they can provide this for you and you need any help “translating” the layering and material information they provide (and you have made sure it includes all the layers and the foam density of any memory foam or polyfoam in the mattress and the type of any latex they contain) then I’d be happy to give you my thoughts about any of their mattresses that you are considering.


Hi Phoenix,
Well as you predicted, it’s very difficult to get detailed information out of anyone regarding what’s really INSIDE their memory foam mattresses. And I am becoming overwhelmed by the vast amount of choices and my still limited understanding of everything. I am now strongly considering a few of the online choices that you recommended.

I would appreciate your expertise in making a recommendation, or at least an educated explanation of the 3 options below, that I am considering. To aid in your recommendation, here is a quick overview of our needs: We have slept on a water bed for the last 15 years. I am a stomach sleeper with arthritis and pain in the lumbar area. My husband is a side sleeper. We have agreed that we do not want the softest or the firmest of whatever we choose (more like firm with some “cush”). I would LOVE latex but it is out of the budget. We are upgrading to a King size. #1 is pretty much top of the budget.




Any info would be MUCH appreciated!!

Thanks MUCH!

Hi DebbieK,

I certainly understand the frustration and this is the reason that where you buy a mattress can be more important than the mattress you buy. The choice of a retailer or manufacturer and ability and willingness to disclose the materials in their mattress is one of the most important parts of a mattress purchase in terms of knowing it’s relative quality and value.

When you have narrowed down your final options to choices between “good and good” … then only each person in combination with their conversations with each manufacturer or retailer can decide on which mattress may be the best match for your specific needs and preferences and it’s time for me to “step out of the way”. A good manufacturer is in a much better position to make suggestions about which of their mattresses may suit you better than others than I am (they not only have much more detailed knowledge about the specifics of the materials they use but they have a customer base of people that may have similar needs and preferences to you that they can use as a reference).

I would make sure you have had a detailed conversation with each one that included information about your body type and sleeping positions, your local testing experiences on different types of mattresses and materials, and on the types of mattresses you are used to sleeping on. This will help them to help you more effectively so you can at least narrow down your choice with each manufacturer to one.

Because of the many variables involved … there is no formula that can make this decision for you and your own personal local testing on mattresses that use different types of materials is the best indicator of which mattress may work best for you. There are no “bad choices” in your list and once all the worst choices have been eliminated then your own best judgement in combination with your conversations with each manufacturer and your own “value equation” (see post #46 here) is the only way to make your final choices (as difficult as this may be).

I know from personal experience how difficult this can be and it took me several weeks to narrow down my own final choices in my last mattress purchase to only one (and the truth is that probably any of them would have been fine). Each person will have a different set of preferences that are more of less important to them and I would weigh each of the factors that are important to you on a “plus and minus” list for each of your choices.

The first thing I would do though is decide on whether you prefer slow response materials (like memory foam or gel memory foam) or fast response materials (like latex or polyfoam) in your comfort layers and eliminate the option that you like the least. This would either narrow down your choices to two options (the two memory foam options) or one (the latex option).

The next thing I would do is to see which of your choices most closely matches the mattresses that best met your needs and preferences in your local testing. If you can’t decide between two final choices … I would tend to err on the side of firmer support cores and thinner/firmer comfort layers (especially because of your stomach sleeping). It is much easier to “fine tune” a mattress that is too firm than it is to firm up a mattress that is either too soft in the support layers or is too thick and soft in the comfort layers.

While I don’t know your body type information (which is a big part of how each manufacturer would recommend the best choice for you) … your needs may be very different (based on your different sleeping positions and possibly on any weight differential between you) and this may also be an important part of your conversations with each manufacturer and your choice of mattress. Bear in mind that stomach sleepers tend to need thinner firmer comfort layers than side sleepers. There is more information in the first part of post #2 here about ways that can help accommodate different needs and preferences of a couple.

The good news is that you are choosing between some of the best value mattresses in the country. The “difficult” news is that final choices can be among the most difficult parts of all especially when it involves “eliminating” some of the best value in the country which is never easy.

In the end though … only you (with the guidance of each manufacturer) can make these final choices based on your own personal value equation.