It is interesting and humorous how thoughts and opinions differ between men and women on certain topics. Many times there is a black and white line separating their perspectives on some things. In this case, (overly-) powerful handheld lasers… the kind that can pop a balloon from across the room, melt plastic, and need eye protection to use. So far, every female has either asked me what is it used for or reminded me how dangerous it is. Whereas, every guy has smirked, asked to see it, try it, participate in my reviewing of it, or said they would take it off my hands when I am done. In this case, I am referring to the SKY Technologies one watt handheld blue laser I was sent to review / (smirk) play with.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
SKY Technologies Blue Handheld Series lasers emit a 445nm “true blue” laser beam using InGaN semiconductors. The TO-38 laser diode is housed in a sturdy, well made aircraft-grade aluminum shell, anodized in black. In addition to the ribbing machined into the head of the laser, the aluminum housing itself doubles as a heat-sink that assists in the dissipation of heat cause by the laser firing.
The Handheld Series is powered by two 123A (16340 3.7V) batteries. And while SKY Technologies includes a charging plug, they do not include the batteries with the laser due to the more stringent regulations of shipping lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. I used SureFire batteries for this review but did order a pair of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries from Amazon because the laser burns through batteries amazingly quick. On a fresh set of batteries, the first 2-3 minutes is at peak power then they drain down pretty fast after that, impacting the power output of the laser. The batteries last 20 maybe 30 minutes tops. It is difficult to preciously track cause you really do not have it on for all that long.
Safety features on the SKY Technologies portable lasers include: a mechanical aperture shutter, key switch, remote interlock connector, LED emission indicator, and proper warning labels…though the laser I received to review did not have a remote interlock, those sold to US customers will.
As you can see, a key is required to unlock and activate the SKY Technologies handheld lasers. To unlock, you simply insert the key in the laser by aligning the notch on the key with the groove on the lock mechanism then turn it clockwise 90 degrees so the arrow points toward the aperture.
Another safety feature of the SKY Technologies handheld lasers is a mechanical aperture shutter designed to physically trap the laser light. Between the first knurled ring (aperture) and the heat dissipation rings is a second knurled ring that enables you to focus the beam of light. The focus mechanism allows you to control the divergence of the beam.
Once the key has been turned and the aperture opened, activating the laser is simple…just push the red button. The laser continues to fire until the trigger button is pressed again. The LED emission indicator glows red when firing.
The Handheld Series has a great heft and quality feel to it, very nicely sized and weighted.
Compared to the S3 (SPYDER III ) Arctic laser I reviewed a few years ago, the SKY Technology Handheld Series is much more portable and easier to weld. Laser technology has definitely come a long ways in the past few years, more bang for the buck…from both a power/shrinking size/cost points of view. Of the four lasers pictured above, the SKY Technology Blue Handheld Laser is, for the most part, the most powerful and least expensive of the lot.
The Gadgeteer Kid and I setup balloons to show just how easily the 1W Handheld Laser popped them even at a distance. The issue we ran into the most was movement, if all the balloons had stayed perfectly still, the carnage (aka balloons popping) would have been nearly instant. We did discuss how a slow motion camera and balloons filled with propane would make for a more epic video…perhaps next time . Though I am not sure the laser would ignite the gas before it dissipated.
This video shows how quickly this blue laser can chew through a LEGO brick. It did so in an impressive 15 seconds.
SKY Technology Handheld Series lasers are available in violet, blue, green, red, and infrared variants ranging from 50mW to 1000mW output/power options. They cost between $99 to $280, depending on color and power rating, they have a 5000 hours expected lifetime, and include a full one year warranty.
I have had the opportunity to review many different lasers as a Gadgeteer and at $159 (1 watt), the SKY Technologies Blue Handheld Laser is definitely a great bang for the buck. That said, right now many men are (mentally) giggling ‘how cool’ and many women (probably saying outright) what the heck is that dangerous, thing actually good for?!? A laser with this kind of power is certainly not a toy and most people do not really have a worthwhile use for it either. But I equate it to a high-tech, modern day equivalent to the M80′s I used to “play” with as a kid. Take that for what it is worth, I know these lasers can blind and are a felony to aim at aircraft, but when used responsibly can be fun and educational as well.