By David Ponce
[Let me start by letting you know that Wicked Lasers is a sponsor of this site. I have gone out of my way, however, to be impartial in this review, and have included a video for your enjoyment/amusement/ridiculing-of-the-author.]
Let me be quite clear: the Spyder is about as scary, as potentially dangerous, as insane a laser as your money will probably ever be able to purchase you. You’ll never be able to get as many stares, finger points, old-lady yelps and crying children as you will when you wield it and it will be hard resisting the temptation of getting yourself in heaps of trouble by pointing it in all the wrong places.
The company claims it is shock proof, water proof up to 5 meters, with a 100% continuous duty cycle and a 90 mile range. They claim that “The Spyder Series? are the most powerful green lasers in the known universe”, and after playing with this beast for a few weeks, I have few doubts about the truth of that statement.
Come inside for all the details.
Unlike last time, I should preface this review with a strong warning. This particular laser is far too powerful to be considered a toy. Matter of fact, if you don’t wear protective goggles, there’s a very good chance the back of your eyes will be replaced by a smoking hole. Don’t be stupid, and be careful.
The model that was sent to me rates at 200mW, a little over twice the power of the previous one. The first thing that you notice, is its weight. The entire laser assembly seems to have been enclosed in a machined steel billet. It must weigh a pound, perhaps a pound and a half. Its dimensions are around seven inches long and an inch across. It is truly massive, and feels very heavy in the hand. Its potential to serve as a percussive weapon (read: hitting someone on the head with it), simply due to its weight is undeniable.
The battery compartment comes separately, and fits inside the battery enclosure in the main laser shaft. It uses two lithium CR123A batteries, which sell for anywhere between $4 to $10 each. On the shaft, you’ll find a rather odd dome shaped power button. You have to compress the rubber to actuate the switch underneath. I believe this design is meant to preserve the watertightness of the laser. The business end of the laser is covered by a piece of glass that seems to have been forcibly embedded in the metal.
When in your hands, nothing shakes, nothing rattles. It is one solid, monolithic piece of metal with a rubber button on the side. You can hit it, drop it, dunk it under water: nothing comes loose, and everything keeps working.
The batteries last for about three hours, and the drop in intensity as the battery depletes is much less noticeable than with alkalines. Of course, this is due to the way Lithium batteries discharge. Sadly, the CR123A types you’ll need are a little pricey, but if you can afford this laser, you can probably afford a few batteries.
With 200mW to play with, I was looking forward to seeing just what sort of damage I could do. Well, as soon as you turn it on, you realize this is no toy. Your first instinct will be to reach out for your safety goggles. The simple backscatter from the laser (the dot on walls, or furniture, or whatever) is so bright that even glancing at it is painful to the eye. Like staring at the sun, really.
The beam is clearly visible, and is thick and powerful. In the dark, the laser can serve as a flashlight, as the backscatter really is that bright. The company claims a range of 90 miles with this particular model, and I have no doubt at all that this is true. On the only outdoor experiment I performed, I pointed the laser straight up at the sky at night. I then called a friend two miles away and asked if he could see the beam. Sure enough, he did.
Another interesting point is that this laser has a 100% continuous duty cycle. This means you technically never have to turn it off: once on, you can leave it on until the battery runs out. This is possible due to an improved heatsink and has implications for holography enthusiasts, I believe. Mind you, we have no specialized equipment, so we were unable to test for purity of signal (ie, we don’t know if the laser keeps to a specific wavelength, without jumping up and down and otherwise polluting the light beam).
So, what can you do with it? Of course, the most fun is burning stuff. Unlike the previous model we tested, this one will light a match in under two seconds and under six second even if you’re six feet away. It’ll burn holes through paper within three to five seconds. It’ll cut through electrical tape like butter and give you a nasty sting if shined on your skin (yes, we are that stupid!). It’ll even light matches and cigars (though it takes a little longer for the cigar), making this the world’s most expensive lighter.
Other uses? Well, this can have definite applications in law enforcement. Shining it in the eyes of someone, even from miles away, will immediately blind them, probably for good. Even just as intimidation, its effect would be powerful.
I was a little reluctant to take it outside, to be honest. I live in the middle of a city, and it’s hard not to attract attention with this sort of power. It’s quite difficult to describe the feeling you get, waving this laser around. And it’s even harder to tell you just the sort of reaction you’ll get from your friends and neighbors: anything from drooly amazement, to hostile aversion (“Hey you dumbwad, don’t shine that around here!” was one gem I heard).
The Spyder series come in three flavours: 200mW, 250mW and 300mW average output, with peak occurring at 450mW. Very impressive. Of course, prices are impressive too: $1,000, $1,500 and $2,000 respectively.
- Strong, sturdy construction
- 100% continuous duty cycle
- Shock and water proof
- Expensive batteries
- Awkward to use in polite settings
- Expensive to purchase
- Will really scare neighbours
Also, please watch this lovely video.