Photo: Associated Press
Income inequality in the U.S. is higher than it’s been since the 1920s. That’s tough news for most Americans, but for the top 1% who own or control about one-third of the wealth in the country, life could hardly be better.Just take a look at these overpriced luxury tech products that came out in 2010.
Most of us say we would never buy such frivolous gadgetry, but the truth is we simply can’t afford this kind of conspicuous consumption.
Too lazy to walk to the oven or barbecue to see if your roast is done? The iGrill is a Bluetooth-enabled meat thermometer that will beam the precise temperature to your iPhone or iPad. The accompanying app also gives you tips like choosing the right meat and when to flip it, and will help you convert temperatures to familiar measurements like medium-rare. The app is free. The iGrill itself costs $99.99.
Samsung announced a special 'Luxury Edition' of its Android-based Galaxy Tab tablet at a London event called the Millionaire Fair last week. It's exactly the same as the regular Tab shown here, but includes an exclusive leather case and Bluetooth headset. For the privilege, users will pay 750 Euro, or about $1,000. The regular boring Tab costs around $600.
BarMax, an iPhone app that helps law students in California and New York study for the bar, came out in January at a price of $999.99 and is still the most expensive app in the App Store.
Olive's music servers let you rip CDs to a local hard drive and record sounds through different types of microphone inputs, then play those sounds through a stereo or stream them over Wi-Fi. That's a reasonable need, and the Olive has a cool-looking touch screen to navigate with.
Then again, you could buy a good computer with CD drive ($2,000 tops), and a decent audio interface from a company like M-Audio or MOTU, which range from $100 for bare bones to $1,000 for entry-level pro outfits. You'll have a full computer to do do work, play games, and send and receive e-mail, and it'll cost a lot less than the $5,000 single-function O6HD.
The folks at Origin disassembled an Xbox 360, separated it into components, put a brightly lit water cooling system into it, and integrated it into a gigantic black box that also contains a full Windows 7 PC. Prices start around $7,000, but this edition, photographed at a recent Microsoft event, had a list price of $9,999.
Vertu is known for its luxury telephone handsets, and this year the company introduced the latest version of its Constellation with gold plating. The specs look like a typical Symbian feature phone with keyboard and camera--it doesn't even have a touch screen or 3G data antenna. But who cares? It's gold plated.
British purveyor Stuart Hughes offers all sorts of insanely expensive limited-edition gadgets, including diamond-studded BlackBerrys for 15,000 pounds (about $24,000) and a gold-plated iPod Touch for 210,000 pounds (about $330,000).
This MacBook Air is the winner among pure tech products, at 320,000 pounds, or about half a million dollars. Be warned, however: gold-plating company Computer Choppers claims that Hughes is a fraud who takes images of other products and Photoshops them to make 'new' creations.
Panasonic demonstrated the world's largest TV, a 152-inch plasma 3D wonder, at CES in January and began taking pre-orders in Japan in July. The company hasn't revealed a price, but the similar 103-inch TV costs 8.5 million yen, or about $100,000, and CNET estimates this one to cost about five times that amount.
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