Product Type: Jané Rebel child car seats
Newest Review: ... of journeys without waking up unnaturally. It does lie flat: the base is very slightly sloping upwards from toe to head, but it's flat, an... more
A winner if you have space
Jané Matrix Car Seat
Author Name: Alastair
Jané Matrix Car Seat
Advantages: Brilliant flat car-seat; design, build quality, great for country walks, maneouvrable
Disadvantages: Heavy, bulky
We recently bought a Jane Matrix Cup for my second child. I already knew that you need two to three prams or pushchairs: one for the early months: one for the next eighteen months, and another one, if you're unlucky, because the second one wore out. The breakpoint is when the baby can sit up unaided (around six months). When you hit that point, Maclarens are the easiest: cheap, light, one-hand operation. But a baby is not a toddler, and a new baby is not a crawler/cruiser.
In my experience the process of shifting babies from house to car (or vice-versa) always occurs five minutes after they have fallen asleep. Young babies are sometimes (usually) very touchy about being moved, and the process of upending them and strapping them into seats that make them flop forward, head askew, is unpleasant and worrying.
When I saw the lie-flat car seat from Jane I was immediately drawn to it. It's proved to be a very effective way of shifting our baby without disruption. She has survived tens of journeys without waking up unnaturally. It does lie flat: the base is very slightly sloping upwards from toe to head, but it's flat, and the slope is minimal. The straps that hold the baby in are not fixed by velcro any longer: they are a three-point click-lock webbing harness: very secure indeed. When our Jane rolled down some steps and part tipped over before I grabbed it, our daughter was completely unscathed, being fully surrounded on all sides by the car-seat, and well strapped in -- flat.
Downsides of the carrycot/car seat are: 1) to secure it flat on the rear car seat means you have to use two seats. We have quite a big car (Saab 95) and it fits fine across the middle and one side seat, leaving good space for an older child or adult to sit alongside. But I can imagine with a smaller car it might take up the whole seat. 2) Securing it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you have the knack, is straightforward. 3) it's heavy and it's big: the shell is very thick compressed foam (like a giant bike helmet) so the interior space is quite narrow. Our daughter is quite small, and I think the seat might not last very long or be suitable for a very big baby. 4) When put upright, it does need quite a lot of space between rear seat and the front seat back. I would say that in any largish car it'll be fine, but if you think group A or B for hire cars, it would be a problem.
More generally: contrary to some of your reviews, I have been amazed by the design quality and the build quality of the Jane. It's like a fantasy of German Mittelstand engineering: a Miele of prams (but Catalan, of course). It makes Bugaboos look flimsy and badly-specified. Everything just works. The changing bag has poppers to shorten the strap to go over the handlebar at the perfect height. The hood of the carry-cot and the hood hoop of the carriage conspire with the cot cover to make a fine sun-blocking combination -- no parasols etc. The foot-brake is fine, the hand-brake absurdly high-tech (ventilated disc!). Try the following test: fill the changing bag with thermos flasks and full botles, hang it on the handlebar, and take the carrycot off. The carriage does not tip back at all: rock steady.
We've used it for walking in a forest: tangly exposed roots, rutted paths, muddly paths etc. It really feels safe and solid and easy to walk with. The big front-wheel pivots with great ease: it must have very good bearings.
The whole thing is big, and it's heavy. But, to be fair, any of the travel systems has that feel and characteristic. It does have a sizeable footprint and it takes a lot of space in the boot. But overall, for the convenience and security of the flat seat, and the general solidity -- it's great. Just be prepared for the fact that you will buy a light pushchair when the baby gets bigger, and will probably find the Jane only comes out for walks or runs.
Oh, and one last thing. Supermarket trolleys it will not fit in. But that's a short period (say up to six months) before the baby can sit in the ones provided by many large supermarkets' trolleys. And during that period it's the easiest time to use a sling or a Baby Bjorn (or Bjorn Again, as my wife calls it), when shopping or the like.
Summary: The Miele of buggies, with a flat car seat that removes anxiety about flopping babies