A SNAZZY BATHROOM makes an apartment, and can sell it, too - just ask any estate agent. Loos that feebly flush and taps that dribble are a turn off. They make it look as though your pad belongs in the Dark Ages. Instead, you might care to enter the electronic age, say in the hi-tech style adopted by the newly opened Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Apart from a 2.1-metre spherical spa tub and rainforest shower in a 200sqft bathroom, its L600 room features a mini-spa with an entertainment system that includes an LCD flat-panel television screen. California-based industrial designer Alan Cusolito says the secret to planning a dazzling, hi-tech bathroom is simple - you just have to view it as much more than a functional room. 'Your bathroom is an important part of your house, just like your living room,' he says. 'And, like your living room, there's no reason it can't be fun and entertaining at the same time it's comfortable and functional.' At the heart of the bathroom stands the least glamorous but most important component: the toilet. The leading hi-tech loo is the Toto Neorest ($32,000). It's the toilet of choice for Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Lopez, and Cameron Diaz, according to Toto representative Lenora Campos. Walk up to the Neorest and its lid spookily opens. If you continue standing in front, as a man would, the toilet seat rises, too. Afterwards, the lid automatically closes, and the toilet eliminates waste with aplomb, its so-called cyclone engine delivering a three-flush combination. Then the deodoriser kicks in to keep the bathroom smelling fresh. Despite the Terminator-style onslaught, the Neorest contrives to save water via nifty gravity and siphon systems. Its clean machine is operated by a battery-powered wireless remote control, the options also displayed on an LCD panel for when you mislay the gizmo. The Neorest elevates a basic human act into one that borders on pampering. A stylish contender for the throne, however, is the Kohler Purist Hatbox Toilet ($43,500). Apart from its high- fashion appeal, like the Neorest it has tankless technology, which earns it the spotlight at posh new Arnhold Design Boutique in Wan Chai. The model will also appeal in households where leaving the lid up is a pet peeve. Thanks to a 'soft touch' activator, the seat closes slowly, in the process activating robust flushing that hits the rim. Washing your hands without touching the taps is the way of the future. A staple of bathrooms in airports, hotels and other public spaces for years, to help prevent the spread of germs, infra-red taps that detect when hands are placed beneath them are trickling into the home. The key advantage of smart faucets such as those made by Geberit is safety: the water comes pre-mixed so nobody should be scalded - handy for children and absent-minded adults. The downside is that you have a problem if you can't turn this function off and want cold water, That glitch is an example of the 'revenge effect', whereby tech bites back and makes you wonder whether you should live like the Amish. But just try to resist the charm of Maax' Rainforest shower ($45,000), which won the US Design Journal's 11th Annual Award for Design Excellence in the bath category. The Rainforest shower promises to 'whisk you away to paradise' by playing soft music and anointing you with 'sensual tropical rain' that falls in delicate drops from tiny openings dotting the entire ceiling. The shower also features a steam nozzle, which means you can envelop yourself in clouds of warmth. Or you can use a combination of soft and pulsating jets to give your body a water massage. Another high-end, hi-tech shower system sure to impress is the Starck X Waterwall ($29,900), which offers 'a thermostat valve for perfect temperature adjustment', as well as six bodysprays for an all-over workout. If you want to be even more passive and self-indulgent, soak in the Kohler Sok Overflowing Bath ($130,000). The Sok looks hard and sharp, but functions like an infinity pool. Water steadily and rhythmically trickles over the sides and tumbles into a gutter that recirculates it in the style of a fountain. In case that's not soothing enough, portals bombard and caress you with bubbles, unwinding muscles. Flip a switch and you activate a rainbow-hued light show that should lift your mood (colour supposedly has a palpable effect on feelings). To complete the futuristic, feel-good mood, you can choose a Sunlight Sauna. The latest model, from US$3,500 to US$6,500, has a CD player, a flat screen television and an MP3 circuit for PC and iPod stereo. So you can sing while you steam. Unlike standard saunas that rely on convection heat, Sunlight Saunas use infrared light. The supposed benefits of infrared sauna treatment range from lower blood pressure to weight loss. The chief obstacle to establishing a bathroom with brains is financial. Even if you do have the money, beware because the realm you create may have its hazards. 'The crotch-level nozzle blasting 102-degree water came as a shock,' wrote reviewer Michael S. Lasky in a PCWorld.com article. 'And my attempts to shut it off only caused other nozzles to splash me as if I were in a penitentiary riot.' However, maybe just as electric windows in cars once seemed novel but have become the norm, one day every bathroom may be hi-tech. If you can, why not get ahead of the curve? If nothing else, early adoption means you can be the envy of those friends cursed with stubborn taps and dodgy toilets.