With the sputtering economy, many folks are being much more conservative with their gift-buying. It only makes sense, and it's why we gave you a list of gift suggestions last week that were cheap but still awesome. But if there's one demographic who should be spending more this holiday season, it's the super rich. The well-moneyed have a special opportunity — nay, a duty — to keep the economy going by splurging as much green as possible on insane tech toys this Christmas. This list is for them.
1. Vertu Signature ($12,600)
Considering the short lifespan of a cellie, investing more than a few hundred dollars in a phone is an exercise in ostentatious spending — so go for broke (quite literally) with the most extravagant mobile handset in the freakin' world, the Vertu's Signature. Hand-made from titanium, Space Shuttle hull-caliber ceramics and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, each phone links its owner to a personal assistant—a savvy Google-aided concierge with a pleasant European pedigree, basically—with the touch of a dedicated button.
2. HP Voodoo Envy 133 (starting at $2,100)
The MacBook Air is a little light in the loafers for the on-the-go gamer; a workhorse PC in a tight notebook casing (0.7-inch thick tight) is the superior go-to option. Customizable to get expensive quick, the Envy comes standard with HDMI out for blowing your Warcraft up and onto a widescreen TV and LoJack anti-theft to deter less fortunate n00bs.
3. McIntosh M10 Turntable ($9,500)
Few things say "I'm an uncompromising music snob!" like a vinyl collection not housed in a DJ's milk crates. McIntosh's turntable marries old-timey audiophilia with new-timey digital engineering, serving up sonic accuracy on a resonance-free damped plate sitting atop a perfectly balanced polished platter.
4. Panasonic 103-inch 1080p High Definition Professional Plasma Display ($69,995)
The biggest HD plasma display money can buy at 7.5 feet by 4 feet, or 30 square feet of viewing area. Buy two more and link together to create a mega display, or install the second and third beasts in the bathrooms. Just keep in mind that you'll need it professionally installed.
Available at ABT (free shipping!)
5. Sonoro Stardust Elements ($2,500)
Short of bedazzling an Aston Martin, the Swarovski crystal-coated clock radio is as showy a gift as you're going to find. Sure, AM/FM radio and an input for an MP3 player is a staggeringly simple recipe for a single-speaker system, but this does simple in the cutest package since Britney married the first time.
6. Ultimate Ears UE 11 Pro Custom Monitors ($1,150)
For a truly unique set of headphones, get thee gift recipient to an audiologist for an impression of his ear canal and have the thing sent to Ultimate Ears, which will use it to mold a quad armature speaker config — dual subs, dedicated mid-range, and tweeter in each ear — with three-way crossover in a hearing-aid-esque earpiece to pass on flawless sound so invasively as to tickle the brain lobes.
7. Lexus RXh 400h AWD (starting at $43,480)
Getting 25 mpg isn't going to completely make up for this SUV's carbon footprint, but at least it's not a Hummer and will therefore not attract so much unwanted attention from greenies. Additional plusses: luxury vehicle options including a navigation and Mark Levinson audio system ($4,130 more) and a backup camera. Though no more show-off-y, the updated 2010 model 450h could warrant an "IOU A SUV" coupon under the tree.
8. WineStation ($6,000)
Considering a single bottle of particular vintages can easily top the cost of this automated, temperature-controlled wine dispenser and preserver, the WineStation doesn't seem like too much of a splurge. Argon and nitrogen keep an open bottle as quaffable as the day it was uncorked for as long as two months; in the meantime, the interface can recommend what you should next drink—and not necessarily finish in one sitting.
9. Kodak OLED Digital Frame ($1,000)
Having yen to burn means getting in on tomorrow's tech, like, now. OLED hasn't yet trickled down to the masses in a meaningful way, but showing it off with pictures of the Puerta Vallarta winter home (downloaded from Flickr via Wi-Fi) on this 7.6-inch digital frame is a pretty way of showing cutting-edginess.
10. Steinway Lyngdorf Model LS Home Theater System (starting at $266,000)
Piano maker Steinway capitalized on the Steinway & Sons pedigree of craftsmanship by partnering with Peter Lyngdorf and creating the super high-end audio system Model D last year. The upgrade expands into the home theater arena — an arena, by the way, being a good venue to install such a system — with this monster. Direct digital signal paths makes for perfectly lossless resolution from source… all the better to replace Tori Amos with a full-fidelity audio-only version of her.