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Hey, big spender

In the midst of being frugal during gift buying, take a moment to dream big.

When the holidays roll around, full of tinsel, glitz, and mall Santas, that annual question pops up every time: What do I buy? Gift lists chock full of gadgets are usually a safe bet, leading to that iPod mini for the cousin who lent you money for college, or maybe an Ogo for yourself. But what if you had loads of cash? Maybe you found yourself with Microsoft stock after the economic turnaround and invested the returns in Google. Then it’s time for some serious shopping. We don’t pretend that the average consumer can afford gifts on this scale (goodness knows we can’t), but like that Lamborghini in the showroom, they’re sure fun to look at. Here’s a gift list that would make any techie swoon:

Atlantic Technology

System 8200 speakers

Ka-ching: depending on components, from $7,000 to $20,000

On your journey from childhood home to dorm room to real-world apartment or house, you probably picked up some speakers along the way. In many surround sound set-ups, this means there’s a ragged collection of old and new subwoofers, speakers, wires, and stands. Then there’s the System 8200 THX Ultra II certified series of speakers. Watching “Star Wars” on THX? There can be no greater geeky goal. The system includes everything you’d need to trick out a room for amazing sound, including a few three-way satellites, a PedWoofer compact Servo-controlled pedestal subwoofer, and a dedicated external amplifier for the PedWoofer. And of course, it comes in a variety of finishes, to match your decor.


Personal Racing Simulator

Ka-ching: $15,000

Spending half the day in front of a flat-panel playing “Need For Speed Underground 2” or “Star Wars Battlefront” is a worthy pursuit. But sometimes, don’t you just yearn for, well, more? Something more authentic, more hands-on? Here it is: the VirtualGT personal racing simulator. Forget having to wait at GameWorks for those kids to run out of money just so you can hit the track. Now, you’ll own the track. Each hand-crafted VirtualGT has a comfy racing set, five-channel audio system, strategically placed vibration transducers, and a high-definition video display in your choice of LCD, plasma, or CRT. You’ll have your pick of more than 180 cars and 19 different tracks, and you can tweak car specs with the touch of a button. Vroom.

Hasselblad H1

digital camera

Ka-ching: $6,000

Tired of the digital-camera deluge yet? It seems everyone has gotten into the point-click-download world in the last couple years, and the result is utter confusion once you hit the electronics store. But perhaps you yearn for a higher-quality camera, one that seems beyond the reach of the everyday rabble, and isn’t thrown in with the jumble of other digital cameras. If that’s the case, you’re looking for Hasselblad. The darling of professional photographers, Hasselblad makes cameras that take striking magazine, news, and gallery photos. Though it’s only started to dabble in digital products, the H1 is quite an initial entry: It has a 90-degree reflex viewfinder, multishot optimization, and a grip display that shows all camera settings and a detailed histogram of your exposure. It’ll make your kid’s birthday party look like a modeling shoot. Your holiday photos were never so dazzling.


61-inch XBR plasma TV

Ka-ching: $20,000

What collection of pricey tech toys would be complete without a plasma TV? After a hard day of spending money on racing car games, it’s time to nestle into that home theater and watch some bad movies on a very, very good screen. The Sony XBR has been called the Ferrari of plasma TVs and a piece of visual art. So, what could be better for watching “CSI” in hi-def? Sony aimed to build a better plasma TV when it developed this beauty, and the result is fairly staggering. It features a plasma display element different from others of its ilk, and the engineering is unique–it uses a media receiver box that does most of the processing. It’s 61 inches in diameter, a statistic that pretty much speaks for itself if you’re used to a standard 25-inch living-room TV. It’s also got a bunch of other frills for better picture and movie resolution, such as Digital Reality Creation and CineMotion technology. But forget all the terminology; just sit back and watch.

Future Home Media

Private theaters

Ka-ching: Depends on set-up, but major

If you don’t want to bother putting together your own expensive speaker and plasma combination, don’t worry. After all, the digital revolution has changed the way people work, sure, but also how they play. The result is a company like Future Home Media , a creator of private home theaters so good that its Hollywood client list is highly confidential. As for the company’s services … oh, where to begin? Private-theater design and installation, home networking, integration of entertainment and computer systems, THX surround sound calibration, home monitoring from anywhere in the world, and of course, 24-hour support. As you can imagine, multiroom systems aren’t a problem, and the company can set it up so you can create a central music server or Internet radio that can be piped throughout the house. It even designs the system so that you select music simply by reaching out a single, pampered finger and touching a CD cover image on the screen. Now, that’s how to be home for the holidays.

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