Top 10 tech toys to blow your tax refund on

Sure, you could invest it, but this is more fun

For some of us, it's that magical time of year. Better than the summer holidays, better than Father's or Mother's Day -- even better than your own birthday.

I speak, of course, about tax time. For the lucky masses getting a return, cash coming back from the government feels like free money.

According to the US Internal Revenue Service, the average taxpayer will receive about US$2,300 back from the federal government. And, this year, starting in May, the US Treasury is shelling out an economic stimulus payment of US$600 per eligible taxpayer (US$1,200 for couples filing jointly) and an additional US$300 for each eligible child under 17.

Sure, you could squirrel that cash away, put it toward savings or retirement, or commit some other unnatural and responsible act. But why not treat yourself to something electronic and unnecessary and electronic? Here's your guide.

Optimus Maximus keyboard

You can buy a cheap keyboard for US$20 just about anywhere computer stuff is sold. But why not opt for envy-producing excess in your keyboard? Nothing says "I'm better than you" like a coveted Optimus Maximus keyboard.

The keyboard, which was created by Russian design studio Art. Lebedev, has tiny 48-by-48-pixel, 65,536-color OLED displays on the top of the individual motionless keys. Use an included utility to program what each key will display.

You can use multiple "layouts" -- for example, keys with an appearance and function optimized for specific PC games or applications or any given language. Click here for a demo.

You can purchase different versions of the keyboard with any varying number of keys activated -- 1, 10, 47 or all of them. The Optimus Maximus works with Windows or Mac OS.

Art. Lebedev Studio retail price: US$462 - $1,564 (depending on configuration)

Sony PX-LX300USB turntable

Apple iTunes is great, but the truth is that some of the best music ever recorded has never been digitized. You can find incredible albums in local record stores, secondhand stores and maybe even your own basement.

The Sony PX-LX300USB is a brand-new, high-quality record turntable that plugs into a standard home stereo system for listening to records. But it also sports a USB cable. Plug it into your PC, and you can digitize those albums and convert them into MP3s that you can listen to on your iPod.

Sony MSRP: US$150

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Mike Elgan

Computerworld

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