What Can I Get With All This Money?
Here's some (rare) good news from the IRS: The average 2010 tax refund as of March 4, 2011, was $3070. That's a few dollars less than last year's $3082, but still a generous sum. If you're one of the millions of taxpayers who've already received--or will soon get--a refund check from Uncle Sam, what will you do with your money?
Here are ten suggestions for tech enthusiasts. Each assumes that you'll get $3070 back from the IRS, but your refund may vary, of course. Shop wisely, as many stores out there are hungering for your refund money. Post-tax time is starting to look like Black Friday.
One more thing: The prices quoted here were accurate as of early April, but are subject to change.
Home Theater Extravaganza
Three grand and change will buy a first-rate home theater system, provided that you don't get too extravagant. Since Samsung's ultraslim 55-inch HDTV is on sale--with a free flat wall mount--now is a good time to equip your home cinema room. Don't forget the sound systems and the Blu-ray player. Note: The HDTV also supports 3D content.
* Samsung UN55C8000 55-Inch HDTV ($2179)
* Bose Cinemate II Home Theatre System ($599)
* Samsung BD-C6500 Blu-ray Player ($229)
Ultimate Gaming Rig
Sure, megapricey gaming machines such as the $7000 Maingear Shift Gaming Desktop PC and $6300 AVADirect Custom Gaming PC will bust your tax-refund budget. The small-footprint Digital Storm Enix, however, starts at $1935 for the top-of-the-line Level 4 model, and you can customize it to reach your spending cap. Here's an example.
* Digital Storm Enix Level 4 ($1935)
* Asus Maximus IV Extreme motherboard ($235)
* 250GB Intel Model 510 solid-state drive ($568)
* 16GB DDR3 2000MHz GTX-8 Digital Storm Certified Performance Series RAM ($244)
Apple's Finest Laptop
The 17-inch MacBook Pro is an elegant and powerful laptop, and it certainly isn't cheap. Tax refund to the rescue! With these add-ons, you'll easily reach your three-grand limit.
* MacBook Pro 17-inch ($2499)
* 256GB solid-state drive ($500)
* High-resolution antiglare widescreen display ($50)
Your Own Web TV Studio
Hey, superstar, isn't it time you started working on your budding broadcasting career? Here's what you'll need to create your own Web TV show.
* A PC with a quad-core processor, such as the HP EliteBook 8740w XT910UT ($2700)
* Microsoft LifeCam Cinema Webcam ($48)
* Westcott uLite ($89)
* Blue Snowball Microphone ($100)
Robotic Care for Home and Garden
Why push a lawnmower or pay a gardener when a robotic grass-cutter will do the job for you? Simply set a weekly mowing schedule and let Robomower do its thing. You'll have a few bucks left over, so you might want to buy a couple of floor-cleaning robots, too.
* Robomower STC 81000 RL1000 ($2225)
* Scooba 230 + Essentials Kit ($300)
Need a he-man notebook that can withstand kicks, drops, and sugary-beverage spills? The pricey Panasonic Toughbook 52, with its magnesium-alloy casing, spill-resistant keyboard, and shock-mounted hard drive, is the Chuck Norris of laptops.
* Panasonic Toughbook 52, Core 2 Duo P8600 2.4GHz, 15.4-inch TFT
A Gargantuan HDTV
TV and Tunes Bathroom Upgrade
Few people can afford every bathroom luxury known to humankind. But your tax refund will make two possible: a 17-inch TV hidden inside a bathroom mirror, and a wireless waterproof shower speaker that has a dock transmitter for your iPod, iPhone, or MP3 player with a 3.5mm minijack output.
* MB Quart Hidden Reflections TV Mirror SM6036-17 ($2999)
A Six-Pack of iPad 2s
Buy six Apple iPad 2 tablets with 16GB and Wi-Fi, and play Springtime Santa, grabbing an iPad for each of your loved ones. Of course, your largesse may create friction with family and friends who didn't make your iPad gift list. Well, there's always next year.
* iPad 2 16GB with Wi-Fi (six at $499 each)
With all these monetary machinations, tax time is stressful. This tankless wonder from Toto will help ease your tax-season anxiety. It washes your nether regions with warm water, and then air-dries and deodorizes them. Sorry, it isn't flush with tax advice.
* Facial-Quality Toilet Tissue, Case of 96 (three cases at $160 each)