Here's Looking at You
When you're crunching spreadsheets, Arcade Fire on $20 computer speakers does a handy job of providing a little background noise. On the other hand, when you're kicking back with a little Mahler and a glass of Pernod, you want to catch every last aural nuance. So it's only natural that you'd drop $150,000 on a pair of French company Cabasse's La Sphere coaxial speakers. The eyeball-style shape isn't just for looks: Cabasse claims that the spherical design allows the woofer to provide the best linear response at a fraction of the volume required for traditionally shaped cabinets. The stand, which looks like it came out of a science-fiction movie, is an integral part of the design, working with the speakers themselves to maintain "stability and spatial coherence." So you can close your eyes and get lost in the music--if you can shake the feeling you're being watched. -- By Emru Townsend
Hollywood in Your Hand
If your home movies are elaborate--like, Steven Spielberg elaborate--a regular camcorder just isn't going to cut it. The camera that all the cool moviemaking kids are using is the Red One. You can hold it in one hand (it's almost a foot long and weighs 9 pounds minus the lens and battery) and shoot 12-megapixel video at 60 frames per second or 720p video at 120 fps. It's designed to produce images with the same sharpness and depth of field as 35mm film, and directors such as Peter Jackson and Steven Soderbergh have gushed about it. A steal at $17,500.
Undercover Phone Elves
If you want to sell a common item for an outlandish price, it helps to have a good story. Luxury phone maker Vertu has one of the best: "In a secret facility nestled in the English countryside, technicians who've completed a rigorous three-year apprenticeship assemble each phone by hand, using precious metals and stones." We'd prefer something like "Monks sworn to silence toiling in a medieval abbey," but perhaps they were too expensive. What are the stealthy technicians assembling? One example of their pricey handiwork is the $18,000 quad-band Constellation model, which features an 18-karat yellow gold finish and black leather backing, a ceramic keypad with laser-perforated symbols for backlighting, and a screen made of sapphire. One button gives you direct access to 24-hour concierge service.
Laser Your Vinyl
Audio enthusiasts still argue over whether the durability and clarity of CD are superior to the sweet but sometimes scratchy sound of vinyl. Now there's the ELP Laser Turntable series, which takes the best of both worlds and comes up with a third way. Instead of a needle dropping down on your stacks of wax, four lasers read the reflections of your records' grooves, while a fifth tracks each record's warp to keep the reading beams' height constant. The result is more accurate sound reproduction than a traditional stylus produces, with all the warmth that purists crave, minus the wear and tear on the record. Dropping $13,999 gets you the LT-2XRC model, which plays 45-rpm, 78-rpm, and any-size 33-rpm records.
The other extravagances we've included here are solid products that actually exist. This one doesn't seem to exist yet. But what would a list of absurdly expensive products be without Luvaglio's laptop, with a price tag of over $1,000,000. No, really--one million dollars. Even if you say it like Dr. Evil, it doesn't seem to make sense. Then again, what other laptop comes with 128GB of solid-state storage and a 17-inch backlit LED screen with its own integrated cleaner? Lesser notebooks aren't encased in wood, leather, and precious metals. And they most certainly don't come in a motorized box that opens itself, exposing the laptop to your waiting, impeccably manicured hands. But here's the clincher: Remember how Superman's Fortress of Solitude was run by crystals? The Luvaglio laptop activates only when you insert the unique colored diamond that's included, making the gem a power button, security device, and conversation starter all rolled into one. The expressions on your guests' faces better be worth the price.
The Swiss company Pat Says Now manufactures computer mice that come in a variety of fun designs like cats, ducks, and even a green brain (which the company describes as "outrageously bilious"). But if you're looking for more luxury than laughs, take a look at the company's Diamond Flower model. At around $25,000, it's the world's most expensive computer mouse, the company claims. One look, and you'll see why: Its case is 18-karat white gold encrusted with 59 brilliant-cut diamonds in the shape of--you guessed it--a flower.
Rev Up Your Mouse Pad
Fine living is all about the details. If you're pushing a $25,000 mouse around, a freebie mouse pad from the local computer store just won't do. Enter the $540 Formula 1 mouse pad, handcrafted by the same people who make monocoques, the sleek shells that are Formula 1 cars' bodies. (The connection doesn't end there: The pad itself was designed with the same type of 3D modeling software used to design race cars. Of course, you might wonder how much sophisticated software is needed to design a rectangle inside another rectangle, but it does sound good.) The pad is made out of polished carbon fiber, with an inlaid leather surface for the actual mousing area. And you don't have to worry about scuffing your desk: The back is made of Italian black suede.
Okay, so Barco's 56-inch LC-5621 LCD is meant for corporate and defense environments, but it's a home-theater maven's dream. Priced at $42,000, the LC-5621's quad-HD (3840 by 2160) resolution means you can watch really high-definition movies (if you can find any), or up to four 1080p video feeds simultaneously, thanks to its two dual-link DVI ports. A 176-degree viewing angle means there's plenty of room to sprawl in front of the screen, and a 6.5ms gray-to-gray response time means images will look good even if you're watching the Spider-Man movie while someone else is playing the video game. Now that's family entertainment.
We Dare You to Say Nothing's On
If you'd rather not keep track of which channels you've subscribed to, or if you have to juggle TV viewing schedules with a family member, DirecTV's Titanium service is the definitive answer to your problems. For a $7500 annual fee, you get access to everything DirecTV has to offer. That really means everything: Every channel, movie, and pay-per-view event--including premium fare like adult shows and high-definition channels--becomes available to you. For that price you also get up to ten high-definition, dual-tuner DVR terminals and 24/7 customer service, including a dedicated team of technicians available at any time.
For a mere $99, you can buy TrekStor's i.Beat organix FM, a perfectly serviceable MP3 player with bonuses such as line-in recording and support for the geek-friendly Ogg audio format. But wouldn't you really rather have the Gold version? It sports an 18-karat gold casing, 63 1-carat diamonds--and a $20,000 price tag. Even at that price, though, they won't up the 2GB storage? Flash memory must be more expensive than we thought.
Maybe someone should have told Tivoli Audio that the crystal goes inside the radio. The extremely limited-edition version of the company's Model One radio and MP3 player is surrounded by the stuff. The crystal encasement designed by Swedish glass and ceramics artist Per B. Sundberg raises the price of the Model One to $4200. If you're dithering over whether to buy it, you'd better hurry--only 30 have been made, and who knows how much one of these babies will sell for on eBay.
Hardcore entertainment junkies don't just like to have a lot of movies and music, they like to have them at their fingertips at a moment's notice. Kaleidescape's rack-mounted 3U Server can store ripped DVDs and CDs on a RAID hard-disk array, with the most basic $20,000, 750GB configuration capable of holding 112 DVDs or 1250 CDs. Max one server out to 9 terabytes, and you're talking enough space for 1340 DVDs or 15,000 CDs. The 3U Server can integrate into a networked home media system, distributing music and video to up to 45 audio or video zones simultaneously. Not enough entertainment options? You can always add another server to the system. Of course, you might also consider going outside every once in a while. You know, maybe get a little sunlight?
A Keyboard That's Tougher Than You Are
Not that you're expecting to use your computer outside in the middle of an ice storm, but what if you had to? Then you'd want Stealth Computer's 2000-IS-DT-PS/2 keyboard (when you're this tough, you don't need fancy names), a $2200 114-key Windows keyboard that can withstand anything nature can throw at it, short of bubbling lava. With a no-nonsense stainless-steel enclosure, this keyboard is immune to corrosion and can withstand 100 percent humidity, temperatures ranging from -40 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit, windblown dust, spray from a hose, and ice forming on its casing. The only question is, will your computer--or you--survive the same kind of punishment?
Let's just make this clear: The last thing you use this projector for is a PowerPoint presentation, unless you have some really big pie charts. That's because the Sony SRXS110 has a display resolution of 4096 by 2160 pixels (otherwise known as 4K resolution). You can display four high-definition images together and still have a few hundred thousand pixels left over. The SRXS110 is designed for digital cinema projection, but it's actually a bit overqualified. Its top projection rate is 60 frames per second (compared with film's 24 fps), and few films are actually shot and distributed in 4K. It handily "up-rezzes" lower-quality images, though, so even your DVD collection will look pretty hot. The cost? Between $70,000 and $100,000--steep, but the expensive model also automatically pops popcorn.
Hair Sheep Headphones
Some people call headphones "cans," but that term doesn't seem appropriate for Ultrasone's $1499 Edition 9 model. The handmade, limited-edition headphones use the company's S-Logic surround-sound system to both immerse you in three-dimensional audio and preserve your hearing (by reducing the actual volume level while maintaining the perceived volume). But much of the rest of the cost apparently goes into making the product look and feel great. The head and ear padding are made of leather from the Ethiopian hair sheep, and the earcups sport chrome nameplates with a black chrome trim. Just how much do you love your neighborhood DJ?
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