If you drive a Volvo, care about crash safety ratings, never turn traction control off or wear safety glasses when working in the garage, this article isn't for you. Go make sure your Microsoft Smart Screen Filter is on and browse somewhere else today. I'm not saying this to be mean, but if you continue reading, you will be offended one way or another. (Ed. Note - oh, here we go!)
With major news outlets like CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Discovery Channel, Esquire and Maxim Magazines covering stories of death rays, personal light sabers and every far flung story they could, Wicked Lasers had finally broken through the barrier between niche market and retail success with the Spyder III Arctic (which we reviewed), the world's first 1 watt hand held laser. The SIII Arctic really brought Wicked Lasers into the mainstream and with that success came a few failures. Many new customers who purchased the SIII Arctic had to wait several months to take delivery and there were claims of fraud and scams rampant all over the place. The issues were so far out of control I want to tackle them first in this article.
For those who kept their order in and patiently waited for their Arctic found that the device wasn't a cheap plastic toy. The build quality on the Arctic Series isn't anything like what you find in grocery store lasers, nor is its output power. If you took your Arctic and smacked someone over the head with it, you could kill them and not damage the laser housing in any way. The build quality of these Spyder III units is amazing. Wicked Lasers learned firsthand about inventory management and those issues have now been tackled. Orders are now shipping very quickly and delivery times are very reasonable.
That firsthand experience is going to come in handy this year because Wicked Lasers has a new, even brighter model that is the must have laser for 2012. According to Wicked Lasers, green light appears to the human eye 2,000% brighter than blue light. That means you can use a less powerful green laser and still get the same effects we observed with the Arctic model last year. On the other side, you can still get the 1 watt version like we are testing today and take the laser experience to a whole new level.
Try around 85 miles (137 kilometers) to be exact.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
The new Wicked Lasers Spyder III Krypton is the world's first consumer 1 watt green laser. This new model was launched in four power classes, 300mW, 500mW, 750mW and the unit we are looking at today 1000mW (1 watt). Physically the Krypton Series looks nearly identical to the Arctic Series from last year. You still get the same amazing build quality that we will show today, but the overall length has increased by a couple of inches.
Both the Arctic and Krypton Series use the same Sanyo Lithium 18650 battery which is good if you own them both. In our last review we didn't talk too much about battery life because we never drained it between testing and writing the review. I can now update you on that today after having the Arctic in house for more than a year. Around the time we moved the Arctic sat in a box for over three months. When I located it for this review the battery was still in the laser and the unit still shot an amazing blue beam that lasted for several hours. It is important to remember that this battery hasn't been charged since October 2010!
The Arctic Series we tested last year had just four power on modes - low power constant beam, high power constant beam, low pulse and high pulse. With Smartswitch 2.0 that number has been increased to seven modes including Tactical Hibernation that allows you to turn the laser on without having to go through the security clicks that act as a safety from unauthorized use.
Adding to the user experience and usefulness of the Krypton Series is the accessories packages. One of which is the Expanded Lens Kit ($49.95). Wicked Lasers also sells extra batteries ($9.95), extra chargers ($19.95), a Belt Hoster ($14.95) and extra protective lens glasses ($29.95).
When it comes to the actual laser pricing you may be in for some sticker shock on the flagship model. The 1W version that we are testing today has a price of $999.95, but don't let that get you down. Because green light is so much more visible to the human eye even the lower wattage models are still visible under even the brightest conditions. The 300mW model is available for $299.95 and the upgraded 500mW model is two hundred dollars more at $499.95. The 750mW unit comes in at $799.95, but we think any of these four units would be exciting to own.
Our sample unit shipped with a nice accessory package that included the holster, safety documentation, manual, clip, safety glasses, lens cleaning cloth, battery, charger and a clip.
The first battery and charger ship with the stock package, but you can purchase extras from Wicked Lasers.
The holster is an add-on, but it includes a belt clip and does a good job of securing the laser.
Our last extended lens kit didn't have the identification stickers and it made it difficult to distinguish one lens from the other. Wicked Lasers has really improved upon the kit by including the stickers that tell you what lens gives which effect.
The Arctic ships with orange lens to offset the blue light, but the Krypton ships with a deep red lens. It is very important to remember to use these especially if you are in an enclosed space like in the house. With this much power even dark colored items reflect a surprising amount of light and you can easily suffer temporary damage to your eyes. With the Arctic on a few occasions we walked around seeing a blue dot for up to 30 minutes when using the laser without glasses on. The Krypton seems to be easier on the eyes even though it appears much brighter.
Wicked Laser Spyder III Krypton 1000mW Laser
Here we take our first look at the Arctic Spyder III's together. The Arctic is in the foreground and the new Krypton is in the back. The Krypton is a little longer, but still retains the amazing build quality we found on the Arctic.
Without the two end pieces we can take a closer look at the build quality of the unit. This is an aluminum case with several ridges that allow you to hold the laser easily.
Inside we see the inner lens that protects the internals of the laser.
You will want to keep a cap on the end so you don't damage the inner lens.
The battery cover on the back of the Krypton has a safety key. Without this piece being inserted, the laser will not power on. Taking this pin out is difficult by hand so you won't lose it on accident, but you will need to wedge something under it to remove the pin.
The new improved Smartswitch 2.0 lights up when the master switch is turned on in the bottom battery cap.
The three led lights tell you where you are in the startup sequence. You have to press the button in the previous image in a pattern to activate the laser. This is a very important safety mechanism, if you don't know the sequence, then you cannot turn the laser on.
Last year some family drove in for the Indy 500 and my 14 year old cousin brought a friend with him. He saw the Spyder III Arctic and knew exactly what it was. The first thing he tried to do was turn it on in my office where four other people were standing without protective eye wear. If he knew the power on sequence then five people would have spent the next half hour seeing a blue dot. We really like the safety feature for this reason.
Testing Procedures and Laser Focus
Even though the Wicked Lasers Spyder III Krypton doesn't cause the same short term effects as the Arctic it is still important to realize you are playing with a laser that is over 8,000 times brighter than the sun.
If that doesn't cause you some level of concern, than this will - the 1 watt model can project a dot on an object 85 miles away. The Earth's atmosphere is only 62 miles. We would love to test the 85 mile claim made by Wicked Lasers, but there are two issues. The first is getting an 85 mile stretch of land. I'm in Indiana, but we don't have empty corn fields that long. The second issue has to do with the curvature of the Earth.
Testing today will be a lot like Show-and-Tell. There isn't a need to show you matches lighting on fire because they are matches and will light on fire on their own. The balloon popping thing is a bit over played too since you can pop balloons on your own without spending $300.
I will show you some really cool things to do with your own Wicked Laser Spyder III Krypton. We will also look at the laser and compare it to the Arctic.
The Krypton Beam Focus
Using the included glasses that ship with the Spyder III Krypton we can reduce the amount of secondary light that is reflected from an object. The Arctic 1W beam is on the left side and has an elliptical shape. The Krypton 1W beam is on the right side and is much more focused. I would estimate the tip to be around half that produced by the Arctic. This is important because the smaller the dot the more intensity it has.
Here we see the point of impact nearly head on. The point is a nearly perfect circle.
Laser Intensity and Distance
During the day you can't see the beam shooting from the lasers. The day time test was performed at 5PM, so there was quite a bit of day light left.
The dot was highly visible with the Krypton, even at a distance. The Krypton was even able to show a dot on objects very far away at distances the Arctic was not able to produce a visible mark on.
Night time Intensity
Here we get to see both Spyder III units lighting up the night. The beams are very intense with both units, but the Krypton appears much brighter even to the naked eye.
With the moon over head we can see the intensity of the dot on a card board box around 15 feet away. 15 feet is actually very close for the Spyder III series. Let's see a distance shot.
Here we are looking straight up at the nighttime sky with both units on high power mode. We don't have any issues seeing either beam but it is obvious that the Krypton is brighter.
In this shot we hopped in the car and drove about half a mile away from my home where the lasers are pointing at the sky. Forget turning on the porch light when company is coming over. All you need is a Wicked Laser Spyder III Krypton to stick outside and everyone will know which house is yours.
When we looked at the Wicked Lasers Spyder III Arctic we determined that it was an excellent buy for the money. The Spyder III Krypton throws your beam a higher distance, offers a brighter, more converged focus point and gives a much brighter effect. The problem is it costs a grand for the unit we looked at today. For the price you could have three Arctic 1 watt models and a few accessories to boot.
A more appropriate test would have been on price with the $299.95 Spyder III Arctic 1 watt and the $299.95 Spyder III Krypton 300mW. We aren't going to complain about getting the big daddy model though; it just makes giving you are comparison based on price a bit more difficult.
Looking at the Spyder III Krypon 1000mW as a standalone unit without considering the Arctic model I have to say it is a helluva lot of fun. When people come over the lasers usually come out at some point.
Sure, they are novelty items without a real purpose for most people, but then again, what adult toy isn't.
Editor Note: Lasers can be very dangerous. Use them at your own risk and keep out of reach of children.