Weird and Wonderful Computer Furniture

Looking for a computer desk and chair as hip and eye-catching as your new Alienware Area-51 or Macbook Air? These five wacky computer furniture pieces will put you in the pilot's seat--literally--or make you feel like an astronaut, a race-car driver, or a marathon runner.

With prices ranging from $200 to $6500, they're not cheap. But if you spend 40 hours a week in your workspace, isn't it worth splurging for a cool setup?

1. Vision One Computer Workstation

Want a workstation as comfortable and ergonomically healthful as the cockpit of your car (or the car you wish you had)? Look no further than the Vision One line, which comes equipped with your choice of genuine car seats in various colors, finishes, and configurations. The 12-way-powered Porsche leather bucket seat (pictured) is the most popular upgrade; Corvette and Viper seats are available as well. Prices start at $1700.

The Flagship model shown ($2600 and up) supports three flat-screen displays (or maybe one of Alienware's upcoming curved DLP screens), brackets for a 5.1-speaker surround-sound system, padded and pivoting elbow supports, and an adjustable metal foot rest. Together with the optional matching side rack, it supports multiple PCs and game consoles, as well as a plethora of peripherals--all made to order in the United States in the finest hot-rod tradition. But where's the rear-view mirror?

Serious gamers will covet Ace Bayou's new X-Rocker Pro-Series chair (expected to sell for $199), which is scheduled to ship next fall. Like earlier X-Rockers, this one keeps you low to the action, envelops you with sound, and has adjustable armrests so you can wave your Wiimote as freely as you like.

The X-Rocker Pro comes with four internal speakers and a subwoofer for twice the power of the previous X-Rocker. It also has wireless audio capabilities, so you won't be tripping over cords on your way to the fridge for some Red Bull.

A side panel with an array of ports and controls accommodates all your gear. You can even use the chair as a iPod listening station when you aren't playing games. The chair's hollow core resonates with the bass in music and sound effects, providing vibrations to accompany the audio, greatly enhancing the gaming experience. A headphone jack holds out the possibility of keeping parents or roommates happy.

A final bonus: Socially oriented gamers can daisy-chain multiple X-Rocker Pros together, so all participants in a group game can experience the full intensity of every blast.

3. Steelcase Walkstation

The Steelcase Walkstation ($6,500) is no gimmick. Straight from the august maker of Frank Lloyd Wright office furniture, in association with the respected Mayo Clinic, comes the Walkstation--a combination computer desk and treadmill.

Don't expect to work and run, however. This treadmill is capable of a maximum speed (or should we say "terminal velocity"?) of just 2 miles per hour, in 0.1-mile increments, so you're in no danger of working up a sweat. But merely by standing and walking at a leisurely pace, you'll burn as many as 100 extra calories per hour, elevate your base metabolic rate, and increase your focus and productivity, according to Mayo research. A privacy screen and near-silent operation make the Walkstation usable in open-cubicle settings, and you can order it in any of Steelcases' usual wide array of colors and finishes.

The logistics of the Walkstation seem a tad cumbersome, however. Presumably, most users will opt to work on the treadmill for only part of the day, which would necessitate moving their computer back and forth between treadmill and desk, and employing two sets of keyboards, mice, and monitors. To avoid the resulting hardware overload, consider the Sit-to-Walkstation model, which simplifies the transition between the two positions.

Italian designer Colombo 907's SmartBeds are the cleverest Murphy beds we've seen yet, and good-looking to boot. The Tale model ($3650) is a single-size bed that folds up to become a computer desk. Astonishingly, you don't have to move anything off the desk to open the bed. In fact, you can leave everything plugged in, and your desktop remains fully accessible when the bed is open, so you can grab your laptop or a book to read.

The Tale comes in six finishes. It includes a 6-inch-thick foam mattress and has a fingertip lift mechanism.

 Meanwhile, the Tama model ($5386), a full or queen-size double-bed version of the SmartBed, is perfect for a home office that doubles as a guest room. The Tama shown at right is the full-size double-bed version of this item.

The genius modders at Motoart made this $5300 rolling chair from a genuine B-52 bomber ejection seat. It isn't exactly ergonomic, but we can think of more than a few programmers who could have used one at times. And it's the perfect gift for the Yahoo employee on your list.

This Vietnam-era carpet bomber (nicknamed BUFF) has upper and lower decks for the pilots and navigator/observer. So do you pick the downward-eject version, or the upward? Guess it depends on where your boss' office is.

BUFF chairs are custom-upholstered in the color you specify. And since the Defense Department doesn't sell old plane parts any more, once these babies are gone, BUFFs will be history. Poke around the Motoart site for glimpses of other goodies, such as Rocket and Piston desk lamps--the perfect companions for your bomber chair (not to mention the dream rec-room decor for watching a Houston vs. Detroit NBA final).