Powerful laser pointers are something that many people are often curious about, however not too often does someone get a chance to handle one. The folks over at WarnLaser recently gave us at the ‘Brick a chance to try out one of their lasers to see what we thought. This is not the first time we’ve had our hands on a laser of this caliber and through this we’ve learned that all lasers are not created equal.
The sample we received is a 120mW Tiger Series GX, running on a couple of standard AAA batteries in a frame about the size of a large pen. In fact, this laser has pen-like clip and can pretty easily fit in a shirt pocket, but might be a little bit heavier than most of the items in your pocket protector at 55 grams. The Tiger Series is a nice balance between power and portability in the array of lasers from WarnLaser. It’s about in the middle of the road – you can get weaker lasers and you can get them much more powerful.
Aside from the beam (which we will get to more in a minute), the other most important for us is the only real moving part on the device – the switch. The button on this laser is covered in rubber and is easy to find and press, but not so light that it’s going off accidentally. With lasers that are this powerful, it’s important to have one that only lights up when you want it to. Surprisingly enough, not all laser pointers do as good of a job with the switch as this one does.
The Tiger Series produces a green laser beam that is ridiculously bright. The set comes with a case for the laser and some special goggles to help protect your eyes, but you will never want to point this into anyone’s face. The beam will easily light up a dark room, but the distance it will shine is the coolest part. Shining it into the night sky produces a beam that appears to never end and is easily seen like a super-long, narrow light saber. It works great for pointing out constellations. It can also put a green dot on just about anything close enough to see with your naked eye, day or night. Using it to identify points on buildings for construction, forests or anything that you want to accurately point out from a distance is easily done.
With this much power concentrated into a narrow beam of light you can imagine that some heat can be generated as well. With the 120mW version that we were looking at we were not slicing anything in half with a quick swing of the beam, but we were able to cause some minimal damage, mostly to dark colored items.
The WarnLaser guys sent along a few black balloons in the case. We blew these up and were able to pop them from as far as 5 feet away within a second or two. After concentrating the beam on just about any dark surface, especially plastics, will start producing visible smoke and etching the surface within a few seconds.
Overall I have to say that we were very impressed with the Tiger Series laser from WarnLaser. This 120mW model retails for just under $200 and had very solid construction with a nice, curved metal case for storage. WarnLaser also has models ranging from 5mW at around $30 to a 700mW device that needs a special key just to turn in on, going for nearly $3000. After using our sample and seeing what it can do, we’re glad WarnLaser didn’t trust us with anything more powerful!