Pros: Clever concept; quality construction
Cons: Firmness; toxic risk
I recently received a standard-size Contour Cloud Pillow as a gift; it's sold at a discount when one buys two or more. These are also available in queen & king sizes with a cloth cover included, which helps with slipping it into a pillowcase. Having had a memory foam mattress pad years ago, I knew the pillow would need at least a week of exposure out of its cloth cover to air out properly. After the chemical reek subsided, I gave the pillow a one-week trial to see if it was any better than the one I normally use (a feather pillow with a cervical neck roll).
The Contour Pillow's design consists of three precisely molded foam layers of different densities, glued together in a sandwich: a soft white ribbed top layer, for comfort; an extra-firm yellow center layer, for neck support; and a firm blue base layer, for overall support. The pillow also has a crescent cut-out to better fit the neck and shoulder area.
The theory is that the pillow is shaped to fit everyone's anatomy, providing correct head & spine alignment whether sleeping on one's back or one's side. The memory foam is meant to conform to the inevitable variations in human bodies -- but it is also understood that the individual sleeper must adjust to the pillow. Whether one wants to do that depends, I suppose, on the resultant quality of sleep. For me it was not worth it, for my sleep was just as good with my original feather pillow, which was far more comfortable, requiring no adjustment at all on my part.
The theory clashes with reality when the Contour Pillow, which must maintain its general shape, meets a body whose proportions are less than optimal. Perhaps if my neck were longer, or my head smaller, etc., etc., the foam's firmness would not have been as noticeable. As the firmness was very noticeable, going to bed was no longer something to anticipate with pleasure, but more like eating one's vegetables, or taking vitamins. Though I would fall asleep after a decent interval, the sensation was always akin to discipline rather than luxury. Granted, there may be people with physical challenges who require a firm molded pillow for a proper night's sleep; luckily I'm not one of them.
In any event, consumers need to be aware of the potential toxic risk. Both the memory foam itself and the adhesives that bind the layers are outgassing chemicals, hence the odor. If you have a keen sense of smell and/or wish to reduce your exposure to carcinogens, you will probably want to avoid memory foam products altogether. The neck roll that I use with my feather pillow contains a commonplace polyurethane foam and is only a fraction of the volume of the Contour Pillow. Last night, when I switched back to my old pillow, what a relief that was! The Contour Pillow went back in its box, adios!