The end of the world might not be nigh, but the end of the year is, which means it's time once again for our annual look back at some of the most outrageous examples of new technology to have crossed our desk during 2012. So be as naughty or nice as you like, because even the most eloquent of letters written to Santa Claus won't elicit a response if any of these items appear in the fine print.
A two-wheeled Lamborghini
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A genuine Lamborghini bicycle sounds like a clever, budget-friendly way to have the luxury Italian supercar marque represented in your garage. It's not. Rolling on carbon fiber rims and finished in the Argos Orange shade of the Aventador LP 700-4, the BMC impec Automobili Lamborghini Edition will set you back €20,000 (roughly US$26,000). Problem number two – there are only 30 of these limited-edition racing bikes being produced.
A US$5 million watch
Given the bombardment of time-telling devices we're all subjected to these days, the wristwatch should by rights have gone the way of its pocket-carried ancestor long ago. That's definitely not the case, particularly when it comes to the flourishing luxury timepiece end of the market. While we've seen plenty of high-priced examples over the past 10 years, the arrival of the diamond-smothered Hublot Big Bang watch in 2012 blows everything else we've seen out of the water when it comes to boundless extravagance.
And what does US$5 million bring to the end of your arm? A white gold case and dial studded and an incredible 1,282 grade A diamonds, all put together by 12 cutters and five setters working full-time for seven months. And it's not all bad news for the bank account – you'll save on battery replacement courtesy of the self-winding, 25-jewel, HUB 1100 movement driving the Big Bang's diamond-polished hands.
A (modest) floating island
It may only cost a fraction of the gargantuan US$200 million Wally Island, but this superyacht come floating tropical island paradise remains very much a wish for most of us this holiday season ... in fact, most of us couldn't afford the wrapping paper. The Orsos Island is a 20 meter (66 ft) wide, 37 meter (121 ft) long home away from home with a customizable, high-tech layout and six double rooms.
A basic model will cost around €3.6 million (US$4,450,000) with prices heading north from there depending on the options. The price tag isn't the only stumbling block for those in the market for their own relocatable island – the Orsos is still at concept stage and a prototype isn't expected to be complete until the end of 2013.
The PAL-V flying car
Flying cars have been a staple on Gizmag's pages over our 10 year history, but it's only in recent times that the phrase "viable option" has started to enter the equation. One of those promising as much is the Personal Air and Land Vehicle (PALV) – a tilting 3-wheeler on the ground that transforms into a fully-fledged two-person gyrocopter capable of reaching a maximum airspeed of 97 kts (180 km/h/112 mph).
Flight tests were conducted this year, but the downside is that first deliveries are not expected until 2014. Looks like we'll just have to take a rain check on this one.
Coffee with a dash of design kudos
Many a freshly unboxed coffee machine will be taking a pounding come December 25th, but few will have arrived carrying the price tag of a small car. Sporting a minimalist design penned by former NASA, Apple and Tesla employees, the US$11,111 Blossom One coffee machine features integrated Wi-Fi, a 1.3 MP camera for scanning QR codes of special brew recipes, a choice of mahogany, walnut, sapele, teak or zebra-wood finishes and, as one might expect, high-end build quality. It also makes coffee.
Even the well-heeled will have to wait for next year for this one though – deliveries are slated for the first quarter of 2013.
The most technologically advanced private aircraft available anywhere on Earth
That sounds like a big call, but it's a claim the creators of the Volta Volaré GT4 hybrid electric aircraft appear to be sticking to. The four-seater plane uses what's called an "EViation Drive" to fly under electric power with a gas engine kicking in when the its battery drops to 25 percent capacity. In the air the four-seater boasts a cruising speed of 160 knots (296 km/h/184 mph), an operational ceiling of 24,000 ft and a range of 1,000 nautical miles (1,852 km/1,150 miles).
The hybrid technology is not the only talking-point – the Volta's striking metallic design (which incidentally is actually hand-crafted carbon fiber) is one which science-fiction writers from the 1950's could relate to, while the interior is packed with 21st Century technology like touchscreen glass and an optional HUD.
Looking for a little more cabin space? If the US$495,000 price tag of the Volta Volaré GT4 doesn't scare you, perhaps Brabus can help – the German auto tuning house announced this year that it is kicking off an aircraft customization division which will transform private jets to the desired specifications of customers. Pimp my plane indeed.
A 10,000 W iPod dock
If bigger is better then Behringer's 10,000 W iNuke Boom dock for iPhones and iPods definitely has something to offer. At 8 feet (2.4 m) wide, 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and weighing in at 700 pounds (318 kg), this mega-dock sports twin 18" subwoofers, dual 12" neodymium woofers, two 1.75" titanium-diaphragm HF drivers that the company says can "break glass" and a volume dial that goes all the way to 11. At US30K the price tag is just as hefty as the unit itself ... and that's not allowing for the crane hire and the extra room you are going to need to add to your house.
A 1,088-hp electric supercar
This year as usual we've covered a dazzling array of incredible – and for most of us, thoroughly unobtainable – supercars, and one of the most drool-worthy to cross our desk is the Rimac Concept One. Hailing from Croatia, the all-electric Rimac uses four in-wheel motors to put out nearly 1,100 horses and 1,200 lb-ft of torque, makes 0-to-62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.8 seconds and backs this up with a range specced at a very practical, if seemingly optimistic, 370 miles (595 km).
The car is available for reservation ahead of deliveries in 2013 and only 88 will be built with an expected price tag somewhere in the US$1 million region.
A thumb drive from outer space
Bucking the trend of ever decreasing prices and increasing capacities that has marked the portable flash drive market in recent years is this space-age offering from ZaNa Design. Starting at US$1,100, the USB 3.0-compatible, 64 GB Apophis drive is made with authentic and certified meteorite with a high-purity diamond embedded for good measure. There's also an 18-carat gold model that will set you back US$1,990 ... but there is a lifetime warranty.
An amphibious quad bike
Finally, here's one for the person who has everything, but could still use a little extra space in the garage. After a long incubation period the GIBBS Quadski hit the market this year, bringing its unique transformer-like ability to tackle both land and water to consumers – at least those consumers with US$40,000 in their pocket.
The Quadski's 175-horsepower BMW Motorrad four-cylinder water-cooled engine takes it to a top speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) on both land and water, with the transformation process between the two modes taking just five seconds.
That's it for our picks of the top gifts you can't have this Christmas, but it doesn't help most of us in our quest to fill those empty stockings. For those looking for some practical advice on this front, stay tuned for our run down on the top tech gadgets you CAN have for Christmas this year.View gallery - 17 images