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5W 445nm & 4W 470nm Sanwu Laser Rangers, plus Review of Most Sanwu Accessories

dreaming

Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
52
Points
18
Before we proceed to the review, I wrote you all a poem about whales and laser safety and peanuts that are painted to resemble those little seashells that get sold on beaches in Mexico by older men who wear distinctive yet silly hats, then I removed the parts about whales and peanuts and seashells and men and hats and Mexico. So here you go:

Always wear laser safety glasses.
Never take them off.
Let them carve on your tombstone "They died with their laser safety glasses on"
Or else you are not dedicated enough
To laser safety,
And if you are not dedicated,
If you ever, ever take your
Laser safety glasses off,
You probably smell funny
And you will certainly go blind.
Your eyes,
The little, fried, unpleasant things,
Will never see boobs again
And people will mock you
And call you names, like "stupid"
And "jerk"
And "stupid blind jerk"
As you walk into walls
And cars
And houses
And orangutangs (which is rude).
You will be known
As an idiot
Of the highest caliber,
A "person"
Who was not fully-dedicated
To laser safety,
And you will be frowned upon
Most heavily
By everyone here
On our committee
Of very serious people
Who don't take kindly
To folks who don't take
Laser safety
Seriously.

Thank you! It's meant to be read at funerals and Bar Mitzvahs. Now whenever you need to post a safety warning on posts here you can simply copy & paste this poem! In fact, if you're truly a fully-dedicated laser safety warrior, you might want to paste this poem at the beginning of all your posts from now on, on every forum you go to, even if they have nothing to do with lasers!

IMG_20210313_173349_682.jpg
Not actually a fully-dedicated laser safety warrior, only a cunning facsimile, as he is not wearing True-and-Honest laser safety glasses. This was a test to see if you could spot the difference in a real-life, live situation. If you realized this wasn't really a fully-dedicated laser safety warrior, you deserve a fully-dedicated laser safety cookie. If you couldn't tell the difference, boy, you've really got some fully-dedicated laser safety studying to do!

Anyway, on with the review!

I wasn't planning on doing another review, however there's not a whole lot of information out there about these Sanwu Laser Ranger hosts, or Sanwu accessories in general.

This review will mostly avoid discussing wavelengths, spectography etc, and instead will focus on the Laser Ranger hosts and accessories. I'm also going to post a little about beam visibility vs. power output to help people who are debating on how powerful a laser to buy.

Note: If this is your first laser you shouldn't buy anything powerful. Start with something well under 100mw and spend at least a month getting used to it. Far better to make stupid mistakes with something weaker. And remember to always wear your safety glasses!

s-l300.jpg
Be somebody, don't be somebody's fool. Take Mr. T for example, he's famous, and he always wears his safety glasses. Mr. T knows that, just like injured nerves, emotions, and hymen, injured eyes don't always heal.

I picked up a 5W 445nm and a 4W 470nm, both in Laser Ranger hosts, and I have to say I'm tremendously impressed with them.

IMG_20210314_153254_529.jpg
Various Sanwu hosts for size comparison. Ink pen included for reference.

I had written to a few people on the forums about having custom pointers made. I requested:

1: Small size, generally pen shaped.

2: Momentary and constant on/off switches.

3: The ability to switch between ~400mw and full power.

4: Long duty cycle.

5: Focusable

6: Durable enough to be used outdoors or in slightly wet conditions.

7: Something like a clip or bump on the side to keep it from rolling when placed on a table.

8: Blue wavelength diodes.

I was willing to pay in the neighborhood of $1000 for such a complex build, and I was ready to compromise heavily, but no one I contacted on the forums was interested. Once I'd added an (admittedly rather ugly) flashlight clip, the Laser Ranger satisfied all of those requests except the momentary on/off switch for $400, shipping included. Quite a bargain!

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Le Outpút:
The 445nm with G7 lens tests at 3.8W on my cheap, possibly unreliable but generally accurate-ish LPM. The 470nm tests at around 3.5W. For this review I will refer to these lasers' outputs as ~4W, which, if you slept through Algebra, means approximately 4 Watts of pure burn-y satisfaction. Podo says they can't push the wattage too high in these tiny hosts due to the limited room for the heat sink, so if you really need as high an output as possible you are better off buying a Striker host instead. For my purposes, I feel it's worth it to sacrifice 1W to have the dimmer and small host.

As far as the 5W 445nm diode, I definitely should have gotten the 3W 445nm instead, as it has better beam specs. I'll replace the 445nm with a 3W at some point, in a Ranger host. Podo says the 3W 445nm Ranger can hit around 2.8W - 3.2W with a G7 lens, and that's after the ~10% reduction from the lens.

The 470nm is not the color I was looking for as there is very little if any visible difference between it and my 462nm/465nm, it's mostly straight-up blue, not so much light blue. The visibility is very nice, though, if your primary focus is on finding a high-visibility wavelength. As others have noted, at ~4W to 5W it's comparable to a 1W green, which means it is highly visible.


Operatión y Dimmér:
I always choose single-mode operation, as from what I've read it's less likely to bug out and require maintenance than multi, plus I don't like fiddling with half-press buttons. I was surprised to find that the Rangers have a true dimmer switch, not just low/med/high settings. When turned on at the lowest power there is a brief bright flash, then a <1mw dot. Once given about 1/10th of a turn the output jumps to about 1/10th of maximum, then slides up evenly to full power as you continue twisting.

There is a nice amount of resistance as you twist. If you are wondering if you can keep it under 500mw, the answer is "somewhat". If you turn the ~4W Rangers on at the lowest setting you get an output of around 350mw. If you keep it there, no problem, but if you turn it past that point it can very quickly hit 1W+, so it can be very easy to turn it up further than intended.

This means you must treat this pointer with respect even while operating it on low power as it can ramp up dangerously if you are careless with the dimmer. There is no built-in way to lock the dimmer to a particular setting or output, but you could probably improvise something that would work. Wrapping a few thick, heavy-duty rubber bands around it and the host would be safe as it would not impact your ability to power off the pointer. Done properly, this would also have the added benefit of giving you a better grip on the host. Make sure to fully power off the pointer when adding or removing lenses or modifications, and always wear your safety glasses, even while bathing. Do not bathe with your pointer.


El Hóst Super-Magnífico:
There are 9 different styles of the host to choose from, and they are generally the same other than cosmetics. As far as I can tell from the pics on the Sanwu website, all the Ranger hosts have only one tritium slot on the dimmer switch. The lack of contours for thumb control here seem like a bit of a glaring omission. Even just putting more tritium slots on the dimmer switch would offer enough leverage that the switch could be manipulated with just a thumb, allowing easier one-handed control of the output. You can still find ways to do it with one hand by using two or more fingers, but it takes a little more effort and reduces stability.


El Trítiúm:
I did not order any tritium with these. I've had tritium on gun sights so I'm familiar with it, and it is nice at night, but unfortunately the violet/purple tritium is too violet to match the 445nm well, the light blue tritium is too light blue to match well, and the dark blue tritium is not very bright, so it's difficult for most people to see even at night.

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I didn't buy these to show off to people (since everyone within a mile radius of one of these ideally needs to be wearing multiple pairs of safety glasses for safety). If I were buying this as a gift for someone else, or if I wanted to wow people with it, I would probably get at least a few vials of tritium.


That Big Fat Chónky Laser Butt:
The Ranger tailcap is recessed further inward than the Guardian/Challenger II tailcap.

IMG_20210314_153239_920.jpg
The scientific nomenclature for every pointer's posterior constituent is "that big fat chonky laser butt" but noobies and peasants often call it a "tailcap". In England it's traditionally known as "'at screwy wobbly clicky bit wot makes it go pchoo-pchoo an'alla'at innit, simple as", while in Michigan it's known simply as "Joe", or sometimes "Billy-Joe".

In addition, the Ranger tailcap is slightly larger in diameter and thus surprisingly (and disappointingly) not interchangeable. The Ranger tailcap also does not have cutaways for easy thumb access like the Guardian/Challenger II tailcap has. This makes the Ranger power button slightly more difficult to press, but also makes the laser safer to carry with live batteries inside of it (although that's still not a good idea unless you want everything you're wearing to be on fire).

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There are worse philosophies you could follow, for instance sitting at a desk all day your entire adult life, then dying without ever having truly lived, like a scene out of an inverted and unpleasant Hallmark card.

I prefer having the thumb cutaways for ease of access, but I will concede that not having them is an acceptable safety measure on a powerful pointer like this.


Báttery Extensión:
A small spring-connector and host extension are included for using 18650 batteries: Just drop the spring-connector piece into the head-end of the battery compartment with the spring pointing away from the head, then screw the host extension on. Drop the battery in with positive facing the head, close it up and you're good to go. All types and brands of 18650s that I tried fit the host well, but the higher-powered Rangers perform best with super-high-amp, super-high-drain, unprotected flat-tops. The protected button-top batteries that I tried (Sanyo NCR18650GA 10A) worked at low outputs but died instantly/failed to power on when set to max. The power output did not vary noticeably from changing batteries: high-drain 18650s and 18630s gave near-identical output readings.

IMG_20210314_153237_539.jpg
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Looks kinda like spaceship modules. Of doom.

Being able to use ~5000mah 18650s is great, as high-wattage at full power chews through even the highest-mah 18630s in minutes. The smaller batteries work well if you stick mostly to lower outputs, though: With light use on mostly lower outputs I usually only need to change or charge them once every couple days.


El Outpút vs. Las Beams:
Speaking of outputs, if you are buying lasers just to look at the beams, but don't own anything powerful yet, it can be frustrating, as people often end up buying a more powerful laser than they need, then not using it much because it's so powerful that it frightens them, like little babby that cannot frigth back. After testing, I find around 1200mw - 1500mw is my lowest personal ideal for 445nm-wavelength beams. Anything less than that and the beam will be somewhat ghostly and under-defined, even in darkness, unless I use fog or similar, while anything over that will make the beam brighter but not much more well-defined.

So, in my opinion, if all you want a Sanwu pointer for is to look at the beams (peeking carefully over your safety glasses like the Mr. T-certified fully-dedicated laser safety warrior you truly are) or shine them in the sky (risky these days), 1.5W - 3W will most likely satisfy you, anything under 1W - 1.5W will probably leave you wanting more unless you use fog or similar, and stuff over 3W will just be adding brightness, which in the case of Sanwu's currently-available 445nm and 470nm diodes, will come at the expense of beam specs. It would probably be worth it if you could get something around 10W - 15W, as that would be a big jump in brightness, but that is outside the range of conventional non-combined pointers (or at least conventional affordability) as far as I'm aware. Not to mention, a 15W laser would require you to wear so many pairs of safety glasses that your nose would buckle under the pressure unless you were maybe Greek or Turkish or Italian.


En Conclusión:
Overall, between this and the Pocket, Guardian, and Challenger II hosts, the Ranger is the best Sanwu host I own by far. I very much enjoy watching the beam fade into and out of view as I twist the dimmer like the ultimate fidget spinner. Although it is larger than a Guardian when in 18350 configuration, and larger than a Challenger II when in 18650 config, it is still small enough to be pocketable, while the ability to dim the beam makes it versatile and useful in many more situations.

I really see no reason at all to buy a Pocket, Challenger I or II instead of this other than price, and while I personally find the Guardian host's size-to-capability ratio to be tremendous, for anything over 800mw - 1W you're probably much better off getting a Ranger, unless you only care about maximum output, in which case you're definitely better off buying a Striker. The only other reasons than price that I can think of to get a different host would be wanting something with bigger batteries, and/or if you'll only be operating your pointer on max power.

Yes, you could just get a host with multi-mode operation instead, but the dimmer switch is so very satisfying to control that it completely blows Sanwu's multi-mode half-clicky-button away: Pointing up at a cloud-covered sky with no aircraft in sight, twisting the knob until the ghost-like beam suddenly sweeps into view, then solidifies to max output, then slowly fades back into empty air as you wind it back down, is just an incredible effect. You can sit back leisurely creating and disappearing beams until you get bored or run out of batteries. Very different experience from full-power-only pointers, and very worth it, in my opinion.


Mí Verdíct Fínal:
Diodes: 4 out of 5.
Minus 1 due to beam divergence, but that's expected with these higher-output diodes, so this is an inherent limitation of these particular diodes, not something Sanwu is at fault for.

Host: 5 out of 5.
No serious issues, and except for the lack of countours on the dimmer switch and the lack of something to keep it from rolling, no major suggestions for improvement.

Regardless of whether or not you are a Mr. T-certified fully-dedicated laser safety warrior, this is probably one of the coolest non-vehicular gadgets/gizmos/whatsits you could blow your worthless non-gold-standard fiat slave-currency on. I had no intention of buying anything like this, ever, but now I actually carry a pointer with me almost everywhere I go, which is great in a way but also a bit weird and I really need to socialize more. That aside, this is an expensive but neat way to briefly take your mind off the widespread financial corruption, degeneration and mental enslavement of our countries, world and species that is so hip and popular with the young and young-at-heart and corporations these days.

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At least we can still buy fleeting moments of happiness in the form of electronics from China. Not legally, of course, but whatever.

Accessories reviews coming in next post.
 
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dreaming

Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
52
Points
18
1615692946663.png
And this bird you cannot chaaaaaaaange...

Accessories Reviews:
As far as Sanwu's accessories go I picked up several different things just to try them out.


3x Beam Expander:
The 3x beam expander is great, a must-have for anything powerful. It has been reviewed repeatedly elsewhere by people more knowledgable, so I won't go into detail on it.


Starcaps:
The starcaps are decent quality but a bit pricey. You can find them cheaper elsewhere, but not all the ones sold elsewhere will fit.


Lightsaber:
The lightsaber I was sent is disappointing: It has no bubbles or lines inside it's shaft to catch the light as other sabers like this sometimes do, so all the light collects at the very end-tip and at full power it's WAY too bright to look at safely with the naked eye, making the lightsaber dangerous to use with any laser hitting 500mw or more, and painful or at least uncomfortable to look at with blue & green pointers starting around 200mw - 300mw+.

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The beautiful blue glow that emanates from the peak of Mount Stupid. Here you see a Class IV "safety wand" that blinds people, like an ironically cursed artifact from a game of Dungeons & Dragons.

Un-Safety Wand of Blinding.png
Who needs a Black Lotus when you can just wreck yourself.

The lightsaber is said to require a steel adapter so total cost is around $35, which is pricey. I've read that the steel adapter will tear up copper hosts' threading over time, and the same probably goes for the steel attack and honeycomb heads, so fyi.


Honeycomb and Attack Head (Rap Duo):
The honeycomb head looks cool if you're into that sort of thing, but is otherwise skippable. I think it really looks good on a Guardian host combined with a low-powered diode: Too much power and you can't look at it safely due to it possibly catching reflections, and the extra half-inch gives the Guardian a little better grip in my hand, something I've felt it needed anyway. It looks great on a 100mw 488nm, like a little glowing blue alien device or something.

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However, the honeycomb doesn't work well with the line/cross lenses Sanwu sells, as they reflect off of the head, making them look wonky.

IMG_20210314_153249_351.jpgIMG_20210314_153252_895.jpg

The honeycomb head is also missing the lip that holds the lens in place, so the lenses can fall out the front. The attack head has the lip.

IMG_20210314_153244_516.jpg

So if you get a line/cross lens, get the attack head, not the honeycomb head, as the attack head doesn't reflect like the honeycomb head does.

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Here you see the line and cross lenses on the attack head easily covering a 20-foot room.

I will note that these are both apparently real, combat-ready attack heads, not replicas. They are a little sharp and very ragged and would quickly redecorate someone's face if used in self-defense. They will also tear your pockets or pretty much any fabric, cloth or random bits of human flesh to shreds very quickly, so even though the honeycomb head looks good on my Guardian, I still usually leave it off unless I'm carrying it in a case that will hold it firmly in one place.

Accessories review continues in next post.
 
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dreaming

Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
52
Points
18
Cross Lens:
At ~4W the cross lens makes a HUGE, somewhat dim but visible, hundreds-of-feet or more across, cone-like effect in the sky. It has rained every day here for weeks, so I've been unable to take a rain-free sky pic of these.

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It really does look this psychedelic in the rain (assuming you can keep it dry), but those reflections are unsafe to look at with your fleshy and vulnerable, quivering and exposed, awaiting penetration like a honeymoon bride, naked eye.

At ~4W it's maybe not quite bright enough to be awe-inspiring, but it certainly has potential, and the effect really is that immense; I have a large yard and literally have to point it almost straight up to keep it from hitting my neighbor's property. It's an almost-annoyingly-oversized-big-giant-mclargehuge effect, especially outside.


Line Lens:
The line lens looks okay, it's a little less noticeable in the sky but perfect for "sea of light" type effects.

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A higher power output would make these stand out more in the sky but I can't imagine what it looks like from a pilot's perspective (lol). I took these sky photos while it was heavily overcast with no aircraft below cloudcover, to be safe.

Note that doing the "sea of light" effect properly will require a "fog chiller", not an ordinary fog machine. It may also require specialty fog juice, but I haven't experimented with or researched this yet, so I'm not 100% sure.

If you're curious what happens to the dot when you stack a cross lens and a line lens, the result is just a dim messy blob with no appeal whatsoever.

IMG_20210314_153229_028.jpg
The laser equivalent of a Rorschach painting. I can almost make out the form of my parents screaming at each other.


Final Verdict on the Accessories:
3x beam expander: Yes, absolutely unless you only have something with very low output/visibilty.

Star caps: Yes if you like them or to show off to the easily amused or whatever. Otherwise don't bother. I wouldn't pay $15 for them either way.

Lightsaber: Not good for blue/green pointers over 200mw - 300mw, or other pointers above 500mw.

Lightsaber adapter: Only if you get the lightsaber, obv.

Honeycomb head: Only for the looks. It creates unnecessary risk while offering no real benefit, and reflections mess up the cross and line lens effects.

Reflections also mean you can't safely use it on anything powerful, so it's really only suited for lower-output pointers.

Attack head: Yes, if you want to use a line or cross lens.

I guess both the honeycomb and attack head could be used for self-defense, but so can a fist, a car key or a bottle opener, so I'm not sure why you'd use an expensive and breakable pointer that could blind someone if it turned on while you were hitting them with it.

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It might be difficult to argue justifiable self-defense when you've maimed someone for life with a powerful portable energy-beam device of grey-market-at-best provenance, youknowwutImeanVern?

Line lens: Yes, if you want sea of light effects.

Cross lens: Yes, but needs a very powerful laser for sky effects. Works fine up close. Shining this and the line lens in the open sky may be especially legally hazardous in terms of hitting aircraft due to the massive coverage area.

Reminder that any of these screw-in steel attachments may potentially mess up copper hosts' threading if inserted and removed repeatedly over time.

Tripod: Yes. It's just a microphone stand with a mic clip, but it's inexpensive and works fine. Almost a must-have for burning and doing inscriptions and doodling as it helps hold the pointer steady. Also good for pointing at large, far away and still/slowly-moving objects like stars or Amy Schumer or the state of Texas. You could probably save ~$5 by buying it in parts from ebay or Amazon. Note that common microphone and camera connectors are usually different sizes, so you would probably need an adapter to put a mic clip on a camera tripod. I have no idea if such an adapter exists, although I would guess it does.

Tritium: Only if you can afford it, or if it's a gift for someone you really want to impress or care about. If you buy an RGB it would be a very good idea to use tritium to color-code the dimmer switches so that you can tell which is which in the dark.


There, that's it, review over. Now get out, because nowhere on your admission ticket does it say that you can sleep here!


This review is dedicated to the LED Museum guy/girl/non-binary-demi-genderfluid-kin/whatever, for his site and being a fun read in general. I really enjoy it, it's hilariously thorough in unexpected ways.


Finally, a small shoutout to laserhobbyist.com. Glad to see it's back up! Be well!


Thank you to those of you that are kind to newcomers! Most of you here are very helpful! Have a nice day!
 
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gazer101

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 23, 2020
Messages
662
Points
63
Honestly one of the most comprehensive and humorous laser reviews I have ever read... you are a blessing to LPF!
 

dreaming

Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
52
Points
18
There was finally a break in the rain, so I was able to take some rain-free sky pics of the cross and line lenses on the 470nm Ranger at full power.

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Cross lens.

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Cross lens with moon.

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Line lens.

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Line lens with moon behind clouds.

As always, digital cameras make this look more visible than it is in real life, but this is pretty accurate. It's just a little dimmer than this in person.

I said before that the 470nm isn't a light blue, but to be more accurate, it's a wavelength where blue and light blue meet, just as a 445nm is where violet and blue meet. People have called it ice blue and electric blue, and those are accurate descriptions. I still prefer the 445nm for the violet streaks, but the visibility of the 470nm above 2W is very nice and bright. It is unfortunate that the extra wattage comes at the expense of beam specs.

Honestly one of the most comprehensive and humorous laser reviews I have ever read... you are a blessing to LPF!

I was given a useless answer on r/lasers a month ago and something inside of me snapped. I'm glad someone liked the result!

---

An anonymous person read this review and asked:

You said in your latest post "It is unfortunate that the extra wattage comes at the expense of beam specs." Do you mean beam divergence?

Yes. The currently-available high-wattage sanwu diodes (4W and above) have twice the divergence or more in some if not all cases. I wouldn't buy them if you care about beams. The high-wattage beams begin to look like junk starting around 10 - 15 ft from the host, even with a G7 lens. A beam expander will give you a dot, but will also spread your beam out, making it larger and less visible near the host, then solidifying towards the dot. You may or may not personally find that desireable, plenty of people do and plenty don't.

I suggest emailing Podo before you make your purchase by emailing Sanwu support. Consider compressing your questions into as few emails as possible if you want quick answers. Dude has to read a lot of emails lol.
 
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QiQi

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2017
Messages
61
Points
8
Dreaming, so would you pick the 465nm 2W over the 470nm 4W?
The 465nm 2W will have better beam divergence but the 470nm 4W beam will be brighter and more visible?
Thanks in advance
 

dreaming

Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
52
Points
18
Dreaming, so would you pick the 465nm 2W over the 470nm 4W?
The 465nm 2W will have better beam divergence but the 470nm 4W beam will be brighter and more visible?
Thanks in advance
I suggest you ask Podo directly to make sure by emailing sanwu support.
 
Joined
May 28, 2021
Messages
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Points
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“The laser equivalent of a Rorschach painting. I can almost make out the form of my parents screaming at each other.”

I actually LOL’d (L’dOL? 🤔) at this. Informative and entertaining. Thank you.
 

julianthedragon

Active member
Joined
Jun 3, 2020
Messages
116
Points
28
I still come back to your reviews months later for a good laugh. (Not at the actual review of course but the poem, pics, captions, commentary, random bursts of multilingualism). "Energy-beam device of grey-market-at-best provenance" is hilarious
 
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