Luxury computers

As its qualities are determined by the cutting edge of engineering rather than fashion or component cost, technology defines a competing system of value to traditional luxury. That hasn't stopped Bentley aiming for the old-school appeal with its curious clutch-style $20,000 laptop. Though about as powerful as a late-1990s toilet seat iBook, it even scooped the prestigious Microsoft Fashion PC Award.

You could even say that technology is a problem for makers of luxury goods. Compared to an iPhone, for example, a calculator-display $30,000 cellphone from Vertu has a serious credibility problem. One step removed from a Tomy Teletubbies Telephone sprayed with glue and rolled in diamonds, such designs tread a delicate balance between fashion and ridicule. By thoroughly concealing its functionality with creative design and ostentatious materials, however, Suissa computers' luxury desktop PCs aim to distract buyers from the spec sheet.

Makers of luxury computers have a choice to make: specs or sparkly stuff. The former invests in the diminishing returns of the aforementioned 'alternative' value system, which means maximal engineering at ostenstatious cost, doomed to rapid obsolescence. Boutique gaming PCs, where spending money on hardware is part and parcel of the enthusiast scene, are ground zero for this class of luxury item. What better example than the pure luxury PC above, which is named the Pure Luxury PC. Prices start about just shy of ten grand.

The other option is tradition; the luxuries of gold, mahogany and other artistic and material extravagances that even the most tech-illiterate consumer can appreciate. Here is the beautiful Moneual gold computer, jam-packed with features such as a Core 2 Duo processor, 6" display, and Windows Vista.