Wicked Lasers (wickedlasers.com) is a Hong Kong-based supplier of, well, absolutely wicked lasers. They got their start in 2004 with a green laser pointer that the firm quickly modified with a higher output pump diode capable of producing 55mW to 125mW.
From there, they’ve been off to the races, producing ever more powerful lasers, and innovating with new materials and features. Their odyssey has led them into the Guinness Book of World Records, into military applications, and to creating the world’s most powerful flashlight. Here’s a review of WickedLasers, and all they have to offer.
Wicked Laser’s Product Lineup
We have decided to line up the company’s lineup of products in order of their appearance. You’ll begin to notice a trend, namely, ever bigger, ever stronger, and ever more powerful.
The company began introducing its Spyder products in 2006. These lasers were made from heat-resistant brass and were fully waterproof. The Spyder I Series is the product that claimed a Guinness World Record as the world’s most powerful handheld laser. That was also when Wicked Lasers began creating purple lasers from diodes harvested from the world’s first Blu-ray player. The company later made even more powerful model by harvesting Blu-ray burners. That’s what you call creative.
The company thereafter switched to aircraft-grade aluminum, resulting in products that were lightweight and practically indestructible. By 2007, they were selling red 300mW, green 300mW, and blue 40mW lasers (their Spyder II series). These were the first handheld lasers to offer TEC cooling. You can see that the progression in power needed to be matched by a progression in strength and cooling capability.
Wicked Lasers soon found itself producing equipment that had military applications. Their Photonic Disruptor was the first handheld laser created specifically for military use, and included adjustable focus and waterproof casing.
The Spyder III series of products followed next. These class 4 lasers were offered in 500mW green, 60mW green, and in 500mW red. They offered mini lock safety technology, and are fully compliant with laser-specific manufacturing requirements. The company favors aircraft grade aluminum, and uses a reinforced heat sink and tactical strike bezel.
The firm’s current offering in this class is the Spyder III Krypton, which pumps out 750mW of green laser light and which the company asserts can be used to point out individual stars.
The Arctic I has fully variable power, and a fluorescent strike-bezel tip, which can be used for night-guiding purposes. And when used with a “Phosforce” ad-on, the Arctic becomes a powerful white-light flashlight. An “Expander” add-on allows you to multiply the focus of the beam.
The Arctic was followed by the S3 Krypton, which uses one full watt of power, and devotes that energy to the production of a green light with a wavelength that is highly visible. This laser is twenty times brighter than its predecessor, and Wicked Laser claims it has a range of 85 miles, which is enough to penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, and the thermosphere, and go into, you know, space. Not that you’d be able to send a friend up there to check.
Now, the real world applications for the S3 Krypton, in particular, are a bit limited. If you use it for a presentation, one slip-up and you’ll blind your audience, which would certainly be counter-productive. Don’t aim it at anyone, including yourself, and don’t look at its reflected light either. And no pointing it at airplanes, please. The main reason to own the Krypton, and many other Wicked Laser offerings, is because they are just so downright cool.
A product with a bit more general appeal is the company’s Torch, which Wicked Laser claims is the most powerful flashlight in the world. The device now uses lithium technology (it originally sported a massive, Ni-MH battery pack) and a 100W halogen bulb, creating 4100 lumens, and enough heat to cook an egg or start a fire. The Torch is machined from military-grade anodized aluminum, and has a heat-resistant lens and reflector that allows you to use that powerful light either as a floodlight or searchlight.
The company has outfitted the Torch with three power settings, just in case you don’t always want to light up the heavens, and its halogen lamp has an expected life of 2000 hours. It can be recharged without battery removal, and has an automatic lock-out feature for security purposes.
The Nano is Wicked Laser’s ultra-compact laser. This little item produces 100mW of power, and can point across a football field, just in case that’s how far away the whiteboard is when you’re giving that presentation.
The powerful Spyder II Krypton sells for $999, but offers bragging rights for free. The Torch sells for $199, more than you might spend on a flashlight you’d grab on the way out of Home Depot, but if you take your flashlights seriously, and want those extra lumens for camping, trekking, or for finding an earring that fell out in the driveway, it may be a very wise investment. The Arctic now sells for the same $199, and the Nano sells for $69.
The company had its brush with fame, and with negative customer feedback, in 2010 when it was unable to meet an avalanche of orders for its Arctic I (which was created by harvesting a diode from a Casio laser projector). The product caught on worldwide, to the point where the folks at Lucasfilm filed a cease-and-desist letter objecting to the product’s “light saber-like design.”
The publicity from Lucasfilm’s actions sent the Arctic I’s sales Luke Skyrocketed, ultimately outrunning production and leading to serious delivery delays. The company responded by expanding its capacity, and has had no backlogs since, and the current version of the Arctic is available for sale to Star Wars fans and to non-Star Wars fans alike.
Wicked Laser offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and warrants that its products will remain free from defects for one year. The firm also offers delivery to every country in the world. They may want to reconsider that one after reading some of the news in the morning paper.
As for customer support, the firm maintains separate email addresses for customer service, order changes, RMA requests, and refund requests. And their “deliver anywhere” guarantee suggests a rugged frontier attitude that should appeal to customers in Syria, the Anbar province, or Ukraine.
This is a company that has stayed at the frontier of high-powered handheld lasers for a decade, and in the process has produced a few products with general appeal and utility as well. The Torch is likely the Wicked Laser product with the broadest appeal, as those extra lumens truly can come in handy when you need to find your way in the dark. And the nano will let you give a presentation at the Superdome.
When it comes to the stronger lasers, the Spyder III Krypton and the Arctic, the first thing to mention is the risks involved in their use, which Wicked Laser fully recognizes. This is equipment that if used improperly can cause serious injury, including eye damage and potentially blindness. The firm has taken commendable steps to reduce potential hazards, including instruction sheets, safety glasses of sufficient density, start-up in a low-power mode, and the use of a specific sequence, to be provided only to the owner, that is required to operate the laser.
The stronger lasers will definitely appeal to a special kind of person. Draw a Venn diagram showing as one circle the universe of people who love to buy expensive, cool things, and showing as another circle the universe of people who are highly responsible.
If you believe you belong in the intersection of these two circles, one of these powerful lasers may be for you.