Our Favorite Things: Last-Minute Gift Ideas (Day Four)

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So you’re rich, filthy stinking rich, and you want to know what to get, well, probably for yourself, since who else can afford to buy you this stuff? In keeping with my colleagues’ Santa lineup, I guess that makes me Blitzen, whose name with a simple twist of your brain’s linguistic cortex might come out “Blingzen”, because that’s what we’re looking at here—some of the world’s most expensive tech-bling!

Yamaha AvantGrand N3 ($15,000)

The sound of Yamaha’s premium CFIIIS Concert Grand, the action of a Yamaha C1 Conservatory Classic Collection Grand, and since it’s technically a digital piano, it never goes out of tune. Forget cracked iron plates, broken strings, fiddling una corda rods or worrying about watering humidistats—that, and the AvantGrand N3 weighs just 438 lbs. (contrast with the CFIIIS, which weighs 1,100 lbs.). How’d they do it? By placing microphones at four points along the CFIIIS’s soundboard to grab the sample library, then piping that sound back through four comparably placed speakers in the baby-grand-like body of the N3. The result: an open-air acoustic piano sound even the most expensive software synths–higher quality samples or no–can’t manage, coupled to an actual grand piano action. And since real acoustic pianos resonate in ways you can feel through your fingers, Yamaha added what it calls a Tactile Response System to the equation—basically a vibration-feedback system that makes playing the AvantGrand’s touch almost indiscernible from that of an actual grand.

(MORE: Our Favorite Things: Last-Minute Gift Ideas–Day Three)

OVO-4 Home Flight Simulator ($60,000)

What do you get for the flight sim enthusiast who already owns an actual plane? Why something that costs as much as one, of course (well, used anyway). The OVO-4 Home Flight Simulator lets you climb into an egg-shaped thingamajig with three 24-inch monitors, a vibration feedback system to simulate turbulence and a full-on cockpit’s worth of levers, buttons, dials and of course a yoke to fully immerse yourself with a custom-tailored version of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X. “Piloting an aeroplane in your home makes about as much sense as driving a combine harvester around the bathroom,” goes the marketing literature for this thing, and I couldn’t agree more. Sure, you’ll look a little like Mork from Ork rolling around in it, but that, my friends, is the price of fidelity.

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