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The Best and Worst Car Lease Deals: Cars: GQ

Just because you can no longer charge jeroboams of Williams Selyem Pinot on your tired old Visa card doesn’t mean that free and easy credit isn’t returning to the Land of the Free. At least one type of credit has been clawing its way back—secured debt. That’s the kind of debt you incur when you buy or lease something major like a car, the key point being that your friendly bankers can come and repo it if you fail to mail them the green on time each and every month.

With U.S. car sales in 2009 off more than 40 percent from their all-time high of 17.4 million in 2000, carmakers have been working extra hard lately to get people back into the new-car habit, with extra-low (read: subsidized) interest rates and irresistibly cheap leases.

While buying is often the better option for those unable to legally deduct lease payments from their income every April 15th, a lot of people still like leases because they offer lower monthly payments and you avoid the hassle of getting rid of it—the company just takes it back at the end of a lease. In fact, since automakers and banks began playing ball again last summer, the percentage of new cars being leased has doubled. Carmakers aren’t stupid—they understand the magnetic pull of fixed numbers like “$199 a month!!” for a car that might cost $386 a month to buy—so when they want to move more cars in a hurry, they know to sweeten the deals.

Here’s how it works: In theory, a lease price is based not on the full retail price of the car but on an amount that equals the difference between the retail sale price of the car and what it will be worth two or three or four years later, the latter a number known as the residual value. So if you wanna buy a $25,000 car that has a predicted residual value of $20,000 in two years? You’re financing $5,000, divided by twenty-four months, plus interest. Wanna buy a $25,000 car that’s going to have a residual value of $15,000 in two years? Ordinarily, it ought to have a higher lease payment, but more and more you may find yourself the beneficiary of a manufacturer desperate to overstate what its car will be worth in the future—say, bumping that $15,000 up to $20,000 to make a better deal just to stay in the game. Yes, even after you’ve been driving it through slush and potholes for thirty-nine months while your kids are busy barfing and spilling juice boxes in the backseat. Who knows? Maybe they’ve been tainted by scandal and need to move some metal again.

Just remember that when you lease. you’ll be limited to 10,000 or 12,000 miles per year (paying extra for any overage), and let the manufacturers’ sales agony play to your benefit. Actual numbers may vary according to region and individual dealer, and there are always some surprise fees and taxes. But before we unveil our favorite lease deals of the moment, let’s take a moment to review the worst. After all, you’re your own man. No one is going to stop you snagging the car of your dreams, even if it’s one of the worst lease deals in America. What’s the point of arriving if you can’t plunk down $72,000 for a one-year lease of a car incapable of carrying your laundry to the cleaners?

via gq.com

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Smartphone Home: The 5-Minute Android Analysis: Gear + Gadgets: GQ

Let’s face it: This was always going to be about the iPhone. Like comparing your new girlfriend to your ex, or every other woman on earth to Ms. Johansson, the competition has to not merely compete with, but obliterate Apple’s 500-pound gorilla. From the day Google’s smartphone platform was announced, it’s been hailed as the alternative, an open-source savior from the do-no-evil geniuses in Mountain View. So, has Android lived up to its hype? Has it become a proper cure for our iAddictions?

The Good: You can have any iPhone you’d like as long as it’s an iPhone, but on Android there’s a zoo of hardware to choose from, some of them with quite the killer features, from quality QWERTY sliders like the Motorola Droid 2 to 4.3-inch behemoths like HTC’s Evo 4G. If you want your pick of form factor, Android’s the place to be; hell, even on the Samsung Galaxy S I took a liking to, with its unremarkably iPhone-esque design, the Super AMOLED screen’s incredibly dark blacks and deep contrast got more than its share of oohs and ahhs.

In some areas, Android isn’t just on par with the competition, it’s in the lead. It has features like homescreen widgets, giving you quick access to clocks, news feeds, and the like. There’s also the pull-down notification bar, which unobtrusively shows text and e-mail notifications, not just how many signal bars you’re death-gripping away. The Android Market has matured well, and if nothing else covers all the essentials (Yelp, Angry Birds), unless you’re inconsolable without your beloved iGarageDoorOpenCloser 2.5. There’s no doubt, from first glance down to the gritty details, this is a mature platform that’s ready to rumble.

The “Meh”: More than a few people I handed an Android phone to commented, “You know what I notice? The scrolling isn’t as good.” Touch inputs aren’t as fluid or precise as their Apple counterparts, and though it’s come a long way from its beginnings on the dork-tastic T-Mobile G1, the interface still lacks that last bit of shine and polish around the corners. Without a really close comparison—or a smartphone review—in mind, however, for the most part you’d be hard-pressed to care.

The “Huh?”: What’s “Sense,” “Blur,” or “TouchWiz”? The thing about open-source software is, it’s open for meddling. Most smartphones these days are little more than big rectangles with screens on them. If you’re making an Android phone, how do you differentiate yourself from everyone else slapping the same software on their own slabs? Thus, manufacturers are fond of adding what they call “user interface enhancements”; we’ve come to call it “screwing everything up.”

The net result is the Android experience that can vary widely (and disasterously) from phone to phone. What does the home screen look like? How do I unlock my phone? What order are the hardware buttons in? It depends. You’ll constantly hear the anguished cries of reviewers across the land, wishing that Manufacturer X’s sexy new Phone Y would’ve just stuck to Google’s stock code. The carriers get in on it too, hard-wiring each phone with their own usually useless (AT&T Maps?) sometimes unforgivable (the search engine is Bing, and can’t be changed?) modifications. It’s like if a McDonald’s franchise could swap out fries for onion rings… or candy corn: You never know what you’re getting. It’s why Google tried its hand at standardization with its self-branded Nexus One, and why the rumored/upcoming Nexus S has Android enthusiasts all aflutter.

The Cool Factor: As of today, pulling out one of the glitzier Android phones at a party is bit of a conversation piece. But, with its rapidly growing user base, it’s one that’ll soon lose its novelty. So when the day comes that you’re in the subway with four dozen other Googlephoners, what are you left with?

Well in some ways, a pretty freakin’ nerdy phone. Full-on multitasking sounds great, until it can be a bit of a drag; in fact, Advanced Task Killer, one of the most popular Android apps, does nothing but quit all the background apps you forgot to close. “Hey babe, I’ll jot down your number, right after I free up some RAM…”? We think not. And that’s one of the ways you can see its techie roots still showing: It’s just that bit steeper of a learning curve, and the slightest bit less of a solid, consumer-friendly device. It’s certainly a compelling choice. Depending on how you look at it, it might even be the right choice. But is it cool? Call it ease of use, call it Cupertino’s voodoo magic, but even as the iPhone becomes so ubiquitous your dog probably just got one, it still reigns.

Buy one if… you don’t mind a slight learning curve, maybe because you and your comp-sci buddies had a great time modding Linux distros back in the day. Or if you’re just sick of Jonathan Ive making off with your wallet every Christmas.

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GQ Eats: The 10 Best New Restaurants in America: Alan Richman: GQ

1. Lincoln
New York, NY

Almost Instantly, America’s Most Intelligent Italian Restaurant
Jonathan Benno has emerged from behind the Iron Curtain—the mercilessly precise kitchen of Thomas Keller’s Per Se, where he labored brilliantly as chef de cuisine. The word around town was that he was ready to slow down and cook simple Italian food. Not him. He remains uncompromising. He’s the boss at Lincoln, preparing food almost as exacting as that at Per Se, maybe because there’s so much on the line: his own impeccable reputation as well as a reported $20 million investment by the Patina Group. Lincoln is a glass-and-steel structure on the plaza of Lincoln Center, looking a little like a chalet and a little like a three-dimensional rhomboid. With its grass-covered roof, wooden interior ceiling, and multitude of dining areas, some open and some intimate, you might feel as if you’re tucked away in the mountains of Manhattan. Benno’s food is rigorously Italian but comes in a multitude of styles: Lasagna and eggplant parmigiana are idealized but still lusciously gooey. A few main courses suggest the meticulousness of Per Se, although friends insist I’m wrong, claiming Benno’s style here is warmer. His pastas, particularly the uni-and-crab rigati (short tubes, curved and ridged), taste more Italian than I’d expect from a non-Italian. (He isn’t one, even though his name ends in a vowel.) In an era when Italian food in America is about overwhelming gusto and over-the-top portions, Benno’s food is remarkably thoughtful. With Marea (number one in our Best New Restaurants survey last year) only a few blocks away, it seems the Upper West Side is becoming the Italian-food capital of America.

Left: Chef Jonathan Benno’s dramatic new addition to New York’s Lincoln Center.

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The GQ Spring Style Preview: Wear It Now: GQ

1. Wrinkles Look Good on a Man. So Go for Linen
How to pull it off:
1. The cool new breed of linen suit is darker, dressier, and easier to wear. Avoid that fusty and very blah beige color.
2. Don’t be afraid of a few wrinkles—they’re what give linen its attitudinal appeal. 3. Despite its casual rep, a linen suit can stand up to dressy accessories. Finish it off with a pocket square and a formal watch.

Those Bratty Facebook Twins? This Man Birthed Them Both

Name: Armie Hammer, 24
How you know him: Played the six-foot-five litigious twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss in The Social Network.
First audition: A Shake ‘N Bake commercial.
On growing up in the Cayman Islands: “It doesn’t suck.”
Childhood nickname: “Baking Soda Boy. Try going to junior high with the name Armie Hammer. It’s open season.”
How the name-calling stopped: “I punched a kid in the face. I took it for two years! I tried perseverance…” How he started acting: “I saw Home Alone. I was 11 or 12, and I had a dream that I was Macaulay Culkin.” Unlikely Hollywood challenge: His height. “I’ve lost out on jobs because I’m six foot five.”
Life since The Social Network: “People on the street yell at me, Where’s your twin! It’s funny the first time.”
On meeting the real-life Winklevoss twins: “Tyler walked up to me and said, ‘Dude, I do not own a pair of earmuffs.'” —Mickey Rapkin

Suit, $1,195, shirt $295, and tie $135, by Ralph Lauren Black Label. Shoes, $140, by Calvin Klein. Pocket square bu Ermenegildo Zegna Couture. Watch by Cartier.

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RM Auctions’ Amelia Island Sale Makes A Record-breaking $24.3 Million – Bornrich

1952 ferrari 340 mexico coupe

The iconic 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupe, which we included in our list of most important upcoming auctions of 2011, turned out to be the top seller at RM Auctions’ 2011 Amelia Island sale. The rare car, chassis number 0224 AT, offered from the private collection of Larry Nicklin, exceeded its pre-sale estimate ($2,750,000-$3,500,000) and went for a whopping $4,290,000. Another classic from the Nicklin Collection offered for sale was a highly original 1953 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupé, which fetched $660,000. It was earlier expected to go for between $375,000 and $550,000.

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Fountain-of-Youth Mobiles: Cars: GQ

Audi R8 Spyder
Even if you never saw Robert Downey Jr. ripping around in this in Iron Man 2 (with Scarlett Johansson riding shotgun no less) you could understand the fantasy appeal of this topless Teutonic supercar. Just tell everyone you thought it was the new A4, and then peel out of your kids’ elementary school parking lot cackling like a madman.

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Grove + MapleXO's Recycled Skateboard IPhone 4 Cases Reach EBay – Bornrich

grove maplexos skateboard deck iphone 4 cases

Out of the 50 limited edition skateboard iPhone 4 cases made by Grove, in collaboration with Lindsay Jo Holmes of MapleXO, only five are left and they are on eBay. Crafted out of 300 skateboards over a period of one year, Grove + MapleXO’s skateboard bamboo iPhone 4 cases are true works of art that will equally appeal to any skateboarding fan or an iPhone user looking for a new, unique case. For the cases, Lindsay sliced old skateboards into fine strips and glued them together to make individual blocks. The special packaging is made with skateboard pieces set into the end grain and then hand polished for the striking appearance.

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