Nov. 7, 2011 at 6:58 PM ET
When coming up with my list for the most overpriced tech products, I had to set some ground rules. Simply slapping some diamonds and platinum on an iPad wouldn‘t count — anyone could do that. The product had to be designed by the company selling it and the product price needed to far exceed the intrinsic value of the materials. I also selected products where the overpricing is made even more obvious by having much cheaper options available that are just as functional (or in some cases more so).
In the end, I came up with six products that are so outrageously overpriced they just had to make the list. Here they are:
#6. Vertu Constellation Quest Smartphone ($8,299)
Vertu, a division of Nokia, has built a brand around super-luxury cell phones for the Hollywood glitterati and Russian oligarchs of the world. The Vertu Constellation Quest is a beautiful phone, with hand-tooled leather, sapphire keys and other luxury features. But at the end of the day, it’s still just a phone, and not a very advanced one, either. Running Nokia’s dated Symbian operating system and with a tiny 2.5-inch display, it’s decidedly behind the times. For $8,299 you should expect more, and you get more with practically any iPhone or Android phone on the market — most of which are under $600, even without a contract.
#5. Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 4 —85-inch 3-D TV ($85,000)
Bang & Olufsen has always been a premium-priced brand, but they’ve outdone themselves with the BeoVision 4 85-inch plasma TV. With its whopping $85,000 price tag, the BeoVision 4 clocks in at mind-blowing $1,000 per inch. Sure it has some cool features, like a screen that automatically lowers when you’re not watching it, but who really needs that? Instead, pick up Sharp’s new Aquos 80” LED LCD for a mere $4,500.
#4. Leica M9 Titanium Digital Camera ($28,000)
What happens when you take an already pricey $7,000 Leica M9 camera and put it the hands of automobile designer Walter de'Silva from Audi? You get the even more pricey $28,000 M9 Titanium version made from titanium, sapphire crystal and leather typically used on Audi cars. While I appreciate that the “Leica logo has been restyled and is elaborately hand-engraved in pure resin, inlaid with white enamel, sealed with clear varnish and then polished and positioned centrally — directly above the lens“, I think I’ll save 21 grand and go with the base model.
#3. AudioQuest Diamond HDMI Cable ($1,495)
There is no shortage of overpriced HDMI cables on the market, but AudioQuest takes the cake with its Diamond line, charging a jaw-dropping $1,495 for a 6-foot cable. What do you get for that price? A lot of marketing hooey, mostly, about solid silver connectors and proprietary insulation. Digital signals aren’t prone to interference over short lengths, and there is scant evidence that higher-quality cables make any difference. Instead, get a 6-foot cable from highly regarded Monoprice.com for $3.50.
#2. Goldmund Eidos Reference Blue Blu-ray Player ($170,000)
How can the Eidos Reference Blue Blu-ray player possibly cost as much as a house? According to Goldmund, ”It is because our specialists made absolutely no compromise between the quality and refinement of the finish, the exceptional mechanical construction and the cost.” For those of us that have to make compromises, we will likely be better off with the Samsung BD-D6500 (well under $200 retail), which offers many useful features not available in the Eidos Reference Blue, such as 3-D output, built-in Wi-Fi and hundreds of apps. And don’t worry about compromising the picture; "Avatar" is going to look just as good on the Samsung player, and you’ll have enough money left over to buy a house to watch it in.
#1. Text messaging from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon (20 cents a message)
With all the high-priced gizmos out there, how does a 20-cent text message make my #1 spot? Let’s do a little math. AT&T charges 20 cents per text message. A single text message is limited to 160 characters, which is at most 160 bytes in size. So, 1 GB of bandwidth can handle about 6.25 million text messages. Multiply 6.25 million by 20 cents and you find that the cell phone companies are charging $1.25 million per GB of data for text messaging. If you’re a heavy texter, texting plans from the carriers can drive cost per gigabyte down into the tens-of-thousands of dollars. Or use that old standby, email, instead.
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