Friday, December 1, 2006

Expensive (but worth it) gifts for the truly worthy


By David Gewirtz

So, no one's going to buy you that Bugatti Veyron you're dreaming of, eh? Well, perhaps you're loved enough to merit a gift that's just expensive ($500-$5,000), rather than something in the millions. If you're looking for geek toy love, you've found the right place.

As I mentioned last week in "Super-expensive gifts for the rich and excessive", we're doing things a bit differently. Rather than just the dull recitation of popular products, we've turned to the ZATZ editors, to a bunch of experts in the Internet Press Guild, and to a bunch of tech gaming enthusiasts, my own gaming buddies in the Iron Phoenix gaming community.

A sweet pair of Aliens

Let's kick off the tech gifts with a pair of 'puters: an Alienware laptop and desktop. I've had the pleasure of using the Alienware Aurora m9700 laptop, shown in Figure A, for the last few weeks and I've got to say I've pretty much fallen in love with this machine.


This is a laptop even Liz and Max would love. (click for larger image)

Normally, I can't wait to get review units out of here. We have a limited amount of review lab space and every item that goes back means more space for other projects. But this machine is such an ideal device that I'm going to be very, very sad to see it go.

The version I have clocks in at a bit over $3,000, has a 17" screen with a resolution of 1920x1200 -- exactly the same as on my 24" monitor on my desktop. It's got a 2.4GHz 800Mhz FSB Turion 64 mobile processor, 2GB RAM, twin 160GB drives, an NVidia GeForce Go 7900 GS video card, and quite a bit more. To be clear, this baby is a monster. It's a full desktop replacement, capable of gaming and serious programming -- but it's not exactly light.

Although I've had my pick of high-end laptops from Dell, Sony, and others, it's the Alienware device I've just really grown to think of as a real work partner. Honestly, in just a few short weeks of use, it's become my favorite machine.

Senior editor James Booth took the dream machine concept even further, dreaming up the most extreme Alienware desktop he could find. He started with the Area-51 7500 shown in Figure B.


This is one mean looking system. And it's mean inside, too. (click for larger image)