At one time, the idea of an average person owning a laser of any type surely seemed far-fetched, but after the advent of the first laser pointer, these futuristic objects became popular, and now they are everywhere. They are used by executives looking for an efficient way to highlight areas of a professional presentation and amateur astronomers who want to point out their favorite constellations. No matter what the task at hand, there is an affordable that can do the job.
Laser Pointer Features
Since the boom in laser pointer popularity in the 1990s, there have been countless makes and models of laser pointers put on the market. Each different has its own features that are suitable for different situations and needs, including the power of the laser, the size of the pointer, and of course, the cost of the pointer. There are companies offering high-power, military-quality lasers as well as simple lasers that operate on the lowest power, which are better suited for short-distance pointing.
Laser Pointer Powers
The power of the laser in a laser pointer is the most important measure of how the laser performs and the type of tasks for which it is suitable. Laser pointer power is measured in milliwatts, which is denoted with "mW" in laser pointer descriptions. The mW rating measures the output of power from the laser. The following chart lays out what the different power ranges on laser pointers mean for their use.
The typical laser pointer that is used for presentations is under the 5mW limit. These types of are by far the safest and most common. A laser beam above 100mW can cause severe optical damage, and 300mW laser pointers can cause instant blindness if shined directly into someone's eye. Class III beams, which have up to 500mW of power, should only be used by professionals or those extremely confident and capable of such a major responsibility.
Laser Pointer Size
When choosing a laser pointer, it is also important to decide on the right size. Some people choose to carry keychain that are easily portable and can be kept at the ready. For instance, some hikers or outdoor enthusiasts keep this type of burning laser pointer on their person or in an emergency kit. This way, in the event they become lost, they can use the laser to signal people at a great distance who may be searching for them. Pen laser pointers are popular for use in offices since they can easily be stored with actual pens and slip easily into a pocket. However, their slightly bigger size makes them more comfortable to hold during a presentation. Finally, the most powerful laser pointers that are portable and available for the average consumer are the size of a large flashlight and are known as handheld laser pointers. These are the higher power lasers that are legally not for use out of doors. The average person would not want to carry around this size of laser pointer, but some laser enthusiasts may not have an issue with the extra bulk. The size of the laser pointer may also affect the type of batteries that are used, so be sure to check that specification before buying a laser pointer.
Laser Pointer Costs
The price of a depends most heavily on the power of the laser. In general, the higher the wattage, the higher the cost. There are many compact red laser pointers available for very low prices with some costing less than $10. These can be perfectly acceptable for presentations and light workloads. On the other end of the spectrum are large and powerful handheld laser pointers that can cost hundreds of dollars and must only be used while wearing safety goggles. The vast majority of consumers do not need to spend more than $100 on a high-quality laser pointer that lasts for many years.