155mW. 532nm. 699. Green. All of those can be used to describe the newest addition to Wicked Lasers' product lineup, the Elite Series. As you might imagine, Wicked Lasers specializes in powerful and expensive exotic lasers. I wouldn't call them laser pointers as they are much more powerful than your typical red laser pointer. This Elite Series laser is classified as a Class IIIb laser product, as compared to the Class IIIa classification of regular laser pointers (< 5mW). The Elite series is the most powerful series before their 1k+ Spyder series. As for why anyone would ever need such a laser other than for pure geekery, I have no idea.
DetailsWicked Lasers' Elite Series comes in three flavors based on power ratings: Elite 100+ (499.99), Elite 125+ (599.99) and the Elite 150+ (699.99). Surprisingly for the power this laser has, it's not much larger than a typical pen-sized laser pointer. It's powered by 2 AAA batteries although I had wished it was going to be some crazy laser relying on the extra current from D sized batteries like those massive Maglights.
Regardless, the Elite is nothing short of bright as hell. Pointing it at something white within a few feet is enough to make you look away. Furthermore, it is recommended that you pick up a pair of red laser goggles when using this laser as it can cause permanent eye damage with direct beam exposures of less than 1/100th of a second. And yes, the beam is pretty much visible in most situations with the exception of extreme daylight or if you're in a clean room (no floating particles to illuminate).
Build QualityThe Elite laser is created with a rugged chrome finished brass body which looks great but does attract fingerprints like an iPhone. But one thing that brings up my suspicions is the warranty; it's only 3 months. For such an expensive gadget, I would think the warranty would last at least a year if Wicked Lasers was really behind their product. Similarly, when searching for hard drives I look for ones with 5 year warranties as it means the company trusts their hardware and can vouch for it that much. Just something to think about if you're considering purchasing a Wicked Lasers product.
A picture of the Elite laser burning through a black post-it note. The image is unmodified from its original form: no flash and a slow shutter speed.
PowerAt ~155mW of average output, the Elite laser is just strong enough to burn things. By just strong enough I mean that it can ignite, melt, and etch plastics and paper products that are colored dark. Since darker colors absorb more light energy they are effected by the laser much more. As such, I've been carrying a black marker around to color things I want to burn. For example, lighting these matches:
By the way, be careful should you ever take pictures of such a laser. While taking one of these pictures, the beam accidentally went into my Nikon D80 and permanently damaged the sensor.
ThoughtsThe Elite 150+ is quite a show-stopper. Your friends will no doubt be amazed, but whether that's worth 699 is all up to you. While such a laser comes in handy when pointing out at the night sky if that's your cup of tea, I honestly can't think of any other real uses and it's too bright to use in public settings.
Wicked Lasers isn't the only company selling exotic lasers. There's also Laserglow's Hercules line of high-powered lasers.
Verdict: Extremely cool yet extremely expensive. A laser that can light matches. Enough said.