Luxury, so they say, comes at a price, but in the world of innovation and new technology, things can sometimes get way out of hand. It's with this in mind that each year we compile a list of the most expensive, ambitious and completely over-the-top products and ideas that have crossed our desk in the past 12 months. So from the praiseworthy to the preposterous, here's Gizmag's list of the top 10 things you won't be getting for Christmas in 2013.
A taste of Top Gun
If you're in the market for a personal jet and really want to stand out from the uber-rich crowd, it might be time to invest in some military-inspired wings. The
Saker S-1 will cruise at Mach 0.95, reach a top speed of Mach 0.99, take-off and land from runways as short as 1,500 ft (457 m) and cover a distance of 1,600 miles (2,575 km) on one tank.
So bragging rights are sorted, but there is a catch or two: in-flight meals and entertainment will not be on the offing in this squeezy tandem two-seater, and even if you have the requisite US$5 to $7 million laying about, you'll have to wait until 2019 before you can park one of these babies in your hangar.
A $10,000 smartphone
Competitive pricing may be one of the factors driving the growth of smartphones running on the Android OS, but like every rule, there are exceptions. The
Vertu Ti is one very big exception. Running on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the Ti features one-touch access to a live personal assistant, a polished titanium case with leather accents, a 3.7-inch sapphire crystal screen, a 1.7 GHz processor and a somewhat underwhelming 8 MP rear camera (though it does sport a twin LED flash). All for just €7,900 or about US$10,500.
Iron Man suit anyone?
Iron Man franchise may have almost run out of steam in 2013, but the prospect of a real suit worthy of Tony Stark is heading in the opposite direction. In May news hit that inventors at Solar System Express (Sol-X) and biotech designers Juxtopia LLC (JLLC) are collaborating on a
space diving suit (complete with gyroscopic boots and power gloves) that would enable extreme thrill seekers to take a leap from the very edge of space. Back on the ground, the US Navy's top SEAL, four-star Admiral William McRaven, is pushing for a
military take on the Iron Man suit called the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) that would incorporate a range of technologies, such as medical diagnosis and treatment and situational awareness, into an endurance- and strength-enhancing exoskeleton.
Given they don't yet exist, you probably won't see either of these in your stocking this year, but with the rapid development of exoskeletons across a range of fields we've seen continue throughout 2013, this is one area that's quickly becoming more science than fiction.
Diamonds are a Roller's best friend
Never a company to shy away from the term "luxurious," Rolls Royce almost outdid itself with this one-of-a-kind Phantom shown at the Dubai Motor Show in November. Created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the model, the
Celestial Phantom shines with a glass-particle exterior paint job, a headliner infused with more than a thousand fiber optic lights that accurately replicate the constellations in night sky (if you're in the UK that is) and a staggering 446 diamonds hand-set into the doors, center console and rear divider. Oh, and there's also a rather posh picnic set included with the car.
A Ferrari for your wrist
Every supercar driver needs a superwatch, at least that appears to be the thinking behind the
LaFerrari supercar in Geneva earlier in this year, the incredibly detailed watch was designed as a tribute to the car and sets a record for Hublot in terms of the number of components that power the movement – 637 to be precise.
Only 50 Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari are to be made and are expected to cost around US$300,000 each. Somehow the knowledge that this is $1 million cheaper than the four-wheeled LaFerarri doesn't bring us much comfort.
A lavish lavatory
Supercars and personal jets are all well and good, but those looking to spoil themselves within the comforts of their own home should look no further than the
Numi – a toilet with a US$6,650 price tag. This comfort-laden commode features Bluetooth connectivity for music streaming, programmable ambient lighting in no less than seven different colors, a bidet, heated seats, foot warmers, custom settings for individual users, a wireless remote (so you never have to touch any surfaces) a USB port for upgrading firmware and the ability to greet users with a personalized message. We shit you not.
Taking the prize for the most outlandish example of audio gear to grace Gizmag's pages during 2013, the
Opera Only from Italian designer Andrea Pivetta is a 1,500 kg (3,307 lb) 1.85 x 2.5 x 1.85 m (6 x 8.2 x 6 ft) monster amplifier capable of putting out an astounding 160,000-watts of power. Along with the 2,112 high current bipolar transistors, 6 cooling fans, oodles of LEDs and aircraft-grade aluminum and steel construction, the Opera Only has an optional 15.6-inch touch control console running Windows-based Motu software. There's a six month wait on orders, so it's a little late to add this to your Christmas list. The cost – €1.65 million (about US$2.2 million).
A robot swarm
This robot swarm has nothing to do with military advances or apocalyptic planetary takeovers. It's all about doing the dusting. Colombian designer Adrian Perez Zapata took out this year's Electrolux Design Lab competition with his so-called Mab concept, which envisions a host of 908 solar-powered flying mini robots swarming your home in a concerted cleaning frenzy once the spherical "home base" unit scans the surrounding area. While still very much a blue-sky concept, we hope this idea takes-off in the not-too-distant future.
A monster tablet
Tablets are sure to be a popular gift this year, but it's unlikely any will impress quite like the
Panasonic Toughpad 4K UT-MB5 that was originally unveiled in prototype form at CES in January. While most of us are waiting for prices to drop before upgrading to a 4K big screen TV, Panasonic has packed 3,840 x 2,560 pixels into this tablet's 20-inch IPS Alpha LCD screen. It is powered by an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8 GB of RAM, packs a 256 GB SSD and runs Windows 8.1. Panasonic is targeting professional users with "business-rugged" durability that should see the device survive drops from up to 30 inches. And drops are a definite possibility with the tablet weighing in at a hefty 5.3 lb (2.4 kg).
While the US$5,999 price isn't exactly attractive, this monster tablet is far more attainable that most of the other entries on this list. But alas, you still won't be seeing one under the tree this year – Panasonic isn't releasing the 4K Toughpad until early 2014.
The world's safest safe
So where do you keep all the thing's you can't have for Christmas? How about the world's safest luxury safe? That's the billing for the
Fortress from German safe manufacturer Döttling. The Fortress is available in a number of bespoke configurations, which can include a Spanish cedar humidor to ensure your Cuban cigars don't go stale, and eight watch winders in which to park your Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari. Döttling says the Fortress can be certified for insurance coverage of up to US$1,000,000. It doesn't, however, say how much it costs.
So that's it for our list of 2013's most outrageous technology offerings, but we would love to hear your picks. Head to the comments section below to share your sightings.