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We’re sorry, but if you can view the brilliant green beam of the Wicked Lasers Krypton without going gaga with geeky excitement, then we have to question whether you have a soul inside. It’s a laser, people! It’s a handheld green laser that shines more brilliantly and fan-bloody-tastically than anything else you may ever point into the night’s sky.
The Krypton follows Wicked Lasers’ Arctic, a Class IV (read: dangerous) laser that caused considerable controversy last year. Both the Arctic and Krypton are 1-watt, Class IV lasers, but where the Arctic projects a 445nm blue beam and costs just $299, the Krypton emits a 532nm green beam, and costs $1,000. These are key differences. Here’s why:
First, green light is vastly more perceptible to the human eye than blue light. Wicked Lasers says that, watt for watt, the green Krypton is 20 times more visible than the blue Arctic, and we can anecdotally confirm a significant brightness difference.
Second, 445nm blue laser light is uniquely dangerous to the human eye. Any high-powered laser, regardless of its wavelength, can cause permanent retinal damage (and even blindness) if shined directly in your peepers at close range. But blue laser light poses extra risks, as exposure to beams in the 400nm to 500nm wavelength range can, as Wicked states on its website, “alter and have a diminishing effect on a person’s perception of the color green.” So, while both the Arctic and Krypton are dangerously powerful, the Arctic poses unique health risks even if a direct retinal hit fails to cause blindness.
Third, the 1-watt Artic is imminently affordable at $300. Any yahoo with a part-time McJob can decide “I’m gonna get me one of them there laser guns!” and proceed to cause sociopathic trauma. But the 1-watt version of the Krypton is $1,000, and at this price point, most units will probably be purchased by responsible laser enthusiasts, and not jackwads.
The Krypton comes in 300mW, 500mW and 1-watt versions for $300, $500 and $1,000 respectively. We received the $1,000 model, and found build quality to be superior to three Arctic units we tested last year. We used a Coherent LaserCheck power meter to test beam strength, and our results were consistent with the Krypton’s advertised operating range of 500mW to 1 watt. Many readings fell between 600mW and 700mW, but we also captured a few in excess of 950mW, with a peak of 986mW. Also, unlike the Arctic, which has a decidedly ellipsoid beam shape, The Krypton emits a sharp, tight, circular dot. This is the shape hardcore laser enthusiasts yearn for—you know, for critical paper-burning, match-lighting, and balloon-popping experiments.
To address safety issues, the Krypton comes with a physical metal peg that, once removed (and perhaps hidden in a gun safe), renders the laser inoperational. You’ll also find SmartSwitch 2.0, a system that uses button codes to unlock the laser, increase its strength from 20 percent to full strength, and switch among SOS and strobe settings.
The SOS mode is particularly interesting. Wicked says the Krypton’s beam is so powerful, it can hit a target up to 85 miles away. To this end, the laser promises utility in wilderness survival scenarios (“Hey, look at me! I’m over here!). Beyond that, the Krypton has limited utility, save use in legitimate science experiments—and blowing the friggin’ mind of anyone who sees it in action. Like any 1-watt laser, the Krypton is not a toy. It’s a serious piece of a technology that can cause permanent bodily harm. And you can even wind up in jail if you point it at person or plane. But there’s no denying its considerable wow factor. It’s science fiction made real. Amazing.
With a chassis modeled after a Star Warsian light saber, the Krypton, like the Arctic before it, can be mistaken for a toy. Don’t be fooled. It’s a Class IV laser that can start fires, burn skin, and cause permanent blindness. It should never be pointed at aircraft, or at any living thing. Luckily, every Krypton comes with a pair of safety goggles tuned for the laser’s 532nm wavelength. The goggles provide eye protection in the event of a direct hit to one’s retina (without safety goggles, it’s safe to view the beam of a Class IV laser—just don’t look into the laser, or even at its terminating dot). And, yes, the Krypton is legal for sale. There are no laws prohibiting Class IV lasers to Joe Public, but it is unlawful to disrupt aircraft, start fires, and burn and blind people.
FYI: For the nifty effect you see in the photo above, we used Wicked’s line effect lens, which is part of a $30 expanded lens kit, sold separately. The kit also includes lenses for a cross effect (two intersecting lines); galaxy effect (multiple mini laser beams); focusing effect (a concentrated beam for extra power density); flashlight effect (a diffuse, expanded beam); and floodlight effect (even more expanded and diffuse).
Brilliant, exceedingly bright green light. Improved build quality compared to Arctic. Redundant safety systems, plus SOS mode.
Quite expensive. Dangerous in the hands of douchebags.