Today, green lasers reign supreme. They’re far brighter than red lasers, typically operating at 532nm in the Class IIIa range. Under 5mW, these lasers can be visible for thousands of feet in optimal conditions, which makes them completely viable for shining into the starry sky and more than capable of handling classroom pointing duties. When you move beyond 4mW, these things start to get a little crazy.
Red lasers started the whole pointer phenomenon, but with the emergence of better technology they’ve lost ground and now reside on the geek tech B-list. Of course, you should never point any laser at you eye, but red lasers lack the power and distance of newer models. But some red laser pointers actually make use of the diode-pumped solid state design that powers their hipper, brighter blue and green brethren. Looks like red pointers aren’t completely washed up, after all.
These suckers are still cutting edge, and have only hit the market in the past few years thanks to everyone’s favorite HD video technology, Blu-ray. Blu-ray actually operates using a violet laser, and while blue lasers typically operate at closer to 500nm, violet lasers barely make it into the visible spectrum at 405nm. If you’re looking for a more exotic laser, blue or violet is the way to go. But just like green lasers, powerful enough blue or violet light can be dangerous.
Though yellow lasers have been around for a few years, the complexity of converting the beam into visible light has kept them out of the realm of affordability. Most yellow lasers also cycle on and off, so don’t go expecting a constant, steady beam for long periods of time. But if you simply must have a yellow laser at 593.5nm, they do exist.