If you're one of those thrifty computer users always on the lookout for hot bargains, don't bother with this article.
Yes, you read that correctly.
While Yahoo! Shopping's Digital Crave often calls out ways for readers to save some cash — such as this piece on the best dollar store gadgets or this blog post on 10 easy ways to reduce mobile phone data usage — now and then we go to the other extreme and look at some high-end gear you might need to take out a second mortgage to afford.
Well, it's fun to dream, no?
If money was no object and you found yourself shopping for ways to spice up your home or work computer, here we look at some pricey peripherals for both laptops and desktops, PCs and Macs. Towards the end we also suggest a few prebuilt machines, especially ideal for hardcore gamers.
Even if you skip on outrageously expensive gear (like the diamond-encrusted mouse, below), a serious "spare no expense" computer setup could easily cost more than a new Honda Accord (with all the trimmings). So hold on to your credit cards, and check out what's available -- from new mice, keyboards and speakers to huge monitors, 3D printers and gaming towers for hardcore gamers.
OK, so perhaps the world's most expensive mouse is a little, er, excessive — by the way, it's a $26,000 18-carat white gold mouse with nearly 60 individual diamonds (seriously) — but there are many other premium mice you might consider. Pricier options add a number of advanced features that might interest those with deep pockets.
The LG Mouse Scanner (model # LSM-100; $149.99), for example, is a wired mouse and scanner in one. As the name suggests, it's a fully-functional computer mouse but you can activate the scanning feature and then swipe the mouse over a document in any direction for a fast, digitized version of what the mouse is on top of. Plus, the mouse also ships with OCR (optical character recognition) software to recognize text from your scanned files and make it editable and searchable by keyword.
For $160, you might opt for the M4200 FingerTIP ID mouse from Cherry Corp. Using biometrics technology, the mouse has an integrated fingerprint scanner so only you -- and only you -- can log into your computer and password-protected websites. The black or silver 3-button optical mouse is designed for businesses, primarily, especially for those carrying around potentially sensitive information on a laptop.
There's also the Prestige Handshoe, available in wired or wireless configurations, which will set you back about $150 thanks to its quality components, ergonomic design to reduce wrist strain and BlueTrack technology that lets you track on virtually any surface with precision. The Handshoe (model # S2UB-LC) works with PCs and Macs and might be the only computer mice you can buy for right- or left-handed users (different products).
Also for $150 is the Mad Catz R.A.T. 9 wireless mouse, a limited-edition creation that looks nothing like a typical mouse. While competitive gamers typically don't use wireless mice because of latency issues, the makers of this futuristic-looking peripheral claim 1-millisecond response times (read: zero-latency) over 2.4GHz wireless technology. Plus, five programmable buttons means you can select what happens in the game when specific buttons are pressed. A small side panel moves forward and back and pivots outwards to position your thumb however you like. Two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are in the box.
And now for a mouse that looks like those light cycles from Tron: The Razer Ouroboros mouse ($129.99) also offers fast response times for heated gaming sessions, including a dual-tracking system -- optical and laser -- for increased accuracy on most surfaces. Designed for both right- and left-handed users, this 11-button mouse offers programmability, an 8200 dots-per-inch sensor and 7-foot cord to charge up the wireless mouse and still use it at the same time.
Would you spend $200 on a keyboard that didn't create music? The Logitech G710+ Mechanical Keyboard ($199.99) is for demanding gamers who want fast and responsive keys (with good spring to them), quiet performance and adjustable backlighting for late-night fragging sessions. In fact, you can just have the WASD and arrow keys illuminated so you can see the important keys while competing online.
As with many other Logitech gaming keyboards, the G710+ includes six programmable keys and three mode keys to configure up to 18 unique functions per game; also create macros on the fly to perform multiple actions with one button tap.
If you're one of those clean freaks who want a sterile work (or play) environment, consider the Really Cool Keyboard ($199.99) from Man & Machine. While its disinfectant design was created initially for the medical community, a number of schools, libraries and regular (anal retentive) folks are picking this pricey keyboard up because of its sealed silicone design that makes it dust-free, contaminant-free and water-resistant. This all-white wired keyboard with backlit keys is also much quieter than most other keyboards with no click noise.
Ergonomic keyboards are also popular computer peripheral — among those who don't mind spending north of $100 on a quality product. Microsoft's Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 ($119.95), for example, reduces wrist and forearm strain between its curved and humped QWERTY keyboard and matching ergonomic mouse also designed to reduce pressure on sensitive areas, such as your carpal tunnel. Both silver and black accessories are wireless and work up to 30 feet away from your computer — though I'm not quite sure why you'd want to be that far away from your PC.
This two-in-one product also helps to reduce strain on your eyes thanks to a zoom wheel in the middle of the keyboard to quickly enlarge documents, media files and webpages, and make it easier to navigate between them.
Monitors, printers and speakers
Computer users who believe they've got a large computer monitor on their desk might feel, er, inadequate, if they caught wind of the LG EA93. Unveiled earlier this fall at the IFA 2012 conference, this 29-inch monitor rocks a WQHD resolution (2,560 x 1,080) and 21:9 aspect ratio, which is the same as your local movie theater. Whether you're a serious multi-tasker, photo editor, gamer or film fanatic, this screen with 5 millisecond response times and 178-degree viewing angle might be something to save your shekels for (while no price announced just yet a small 27-inch model goes for about $1600). It also boasts a split-screen option that can partition the display in up to four segments, plus you can connect two devices to it simultaneously, as well.
Mac owners who want to go big might also consider Apple's 27-inch Thunderbolt Display for $999. Yes, it's costly — the same price as the MacBook Air, in fact -- but this huge and glossy display is bright and beautiful at 2,560 x 1,440 resolution. Along with a Thunderbolt connection (to connect other Thunderbolt devices, such as a hard drive), this monitor has three USB ports and a FireWire port, Ethernet, FaceTime HD camera and stereo speakers with high-quality audio.
When it come to printers, you could buy a regular multifunction all-in-one — a wireless solution that prints, copies, scans and faxes — but why would you pay just $50 to $100 for one of these when you can spend four-digits on a printer instead? Did we mention it creates 3D objects?
Cubify's Cube 3D printer is now available for $1299, plus $50 for each ABS plastic cartridge (one color), the same material used to create LEGO pieces. With 10 colors to start, the Cube 3D printer can create a one-color mold - measuring 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches - in about an hour or so (less time for smaller objects, like custom chess pieces). The printer itself is 14 x 14 x 18 inches and weighs about 9 pounds.
Once you attach the spool containing the soft plastic material, you'll launch a 3D digital file of an object on your computer and click to "print" it via this USB-connected peripheral, which then dispenses the ABS plastic layer by layer until the object is made.
Cubify says users have access to 50 printable designs out of the box, plus it plans to provide a huge library of CAD files for downloading and editing. Users will also have the ability to share designs with others. And if you need something bigger or with multiple colors you can use Cubify's Cloud 3D Print service to have the product manufactured and shipped to your door.
When it comes to sound, certainly you can do a lot better than the tin can-sounding speakers you probably have connected to your desktop or the internal speakers built into your laptop or ultrabook.
If you've got the greenback, the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 ($499.99) is a pair of computer speakers that look good and sound great. B&W's shrunken hi-fi speakers include 3-inch woven glass fiber woofer cones for clear and powerful bass response, 1-inch aluminum dome tweeters and a 72-watt digital amplifier. These 7-inch tall speakers are draped with a black cloth and have an aluminum top plate for added durability. Along with a 3.5mm jack to connect to your PC, it also includes USB and auxiliary inputs.
Whether you're into music, video games or movies, treat yourself — more specifically, your ears — to a great-sounding computer set-up. The Bose Companion 5 Series speakers ($399.99) is a high-end 2.1 solution (including booming subwoofer) that sounds like a 5.1 system thanks to the hideaway Acoustimass module to deliver a surround sound experience. Included with these clear-sounding and well-balanced computer speakers are desktop stands, cables and a wired control pod that puts volume and mute functionality at an arm's reach (and includes a port to easily connect a portable MP3 player).
If a 5.1 surround sound option for your PC or Mac is more your thing — a center channel, left and right front speakers, left and right rear speakers and a sub for under the desk — the Logitech Speaker System Z906 ($449.99) is a THX-certified system for theater-quality surround sound in your movies, games and music. This speaker setup is also loud at 500 watts of total power, plus it's easy to control with a control console and wireless remote.
If a prebuilt PC is more your pace, Digital Storm's Cryo-TEC -0°C PC ($8,576) is one of the most powerful prebuilt computers in the world. Ready for the alphabet soup? The Cryo-TEC specs include a six-core Intel Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition processor (running at 3.3GHz), 16GB of 2133MHz Corsair Dominator GT system memory (RAM), 3x SLI GTX 680 2GB video graphics cards and an ASUS Rampage IV Extreme X79 motherboard with USB 3.0 and SATA connectivity.
With all this power you need a serious cooling solution — and this Cryo-TEC system is dubbed a "-0°C" machine as the cold plates drop the internal temp below freezing (and yes the CPU socket is insulated against condensation).
Engineered for serious gamers, the aptly named Big O ($6,000 for base price) from Origin PC is a custom-built tower that houses both a bleeding edge gaming PC and an Xbox 360 Slim (included). Talk about going above and beyond the "call of duty." Since it's custom-built you can choose from a number of options at the company's Big O website, including motherboard, system cooling, processor, graphics cards, system memory, hard drive, power supply and more. Price could top $15,000 for all top-of-the-line components.
Alternatively, the Alienware Aurora 6 Core Gaming Desktop is $1500 desktop computer powered by a factory-overclocked Intel Core i7 quad-core processor (but supports up to six cores), quad-channel DDR3 system memory and an NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFireX dual graphics technology.
Other noteworthy features of the Aurora 6 include a powerful but quiet fan to keep things cool, support for up to four hard drives and optional Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi sound card for major sound.
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