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NOVAlasers X175

enomosiki

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I've heard about how not a lot of people bought this thing, so I will write a review in hopes of helping anyone solve their dilemma. I've created a topic about it in the Green Lasers section before, but this is an actual full-length review.

I've purchased the X-Series X175 from NOVAlasers in February, which costs USD$529 just for the unit itself. And since TNT shipping is free once you hit the $500 mark, I went with that. I haven't heard of the shipping company before, so I decided to take the risk and it turned out to be alright, and they have delivered it within about three business days. Strangely, it was UPS that actually dropped off the package. The only downside of the TNT was that it did not provide a tracking number, which should hardly matter to anyone because the package would be at your doorstep by the time UPS even can register and enter the tracking number in their system. ;)

I have ordered just the unit. I did not get the aluminium case, so they've sent the pointer to me in small cardboard box with styrofoam cushioning inside to dampen the vibration to the unit.

Now, when most people think about X175, I'd bet that they are thinking that the unit will give off 175mW output, because it's even stated on NOVAlasers website. This isn't the case, as I've read about how the people with the X-Series reporting that their units have higher output than stated. For example, I've read somewhere here on LPF about someone's X125 blaring out close to 140mW. My X175 redlines at 182.4mW. Comparing the two data, it appears that the X-Series gets about 5-10% higher output than stated. This is a great thing, really.



So, when I got my first unit, (Keyword: first. More details below.) it had peak output of 182.4mW and average of 178.8mW -- 3.6mW difference between peak and average, which translates to a pretty damned stable pointer of this size. This is quite a contrast compared to other cheapo generic pointers, where they are mentioned to give certain amount of output at peak but drop down significantly after a few seconds. (For example, the 125mW Spymodex that I used to have -- gave it away to a friend of mine -- had about 125mW peak output, but would drop to perhaps 40mW after a few seconds of continuous operation.)

The good thing, as always, about the X-Series is that they take two standard alkaline (or even lithium if you want) AAA batteries that you can find and get from anywhere, from your closet drawers to shoe boxes to local convenience stores, which is good because other pen pointers of similar size either take the AAA or the CR123, which are very, very, very expensive and uncommon. (About $9 a pop. And that's if you can find them. Your neighborhood convenience stores aren't likely to have these, and the best chance of you finding a retail store having these in stock are larger stores like CVS, Rite Aid, electronic stores, etc. They are much cheaper on the Internet, however, although I would still prefer the AAA over them because they are cheaper even when compared to CR123 sold on the Internet, as well as having higher accessibility.) I honestly wouldn't recommend using cheaper zinc batteries, because the pointer burns through even the alkalines in a hurry.

The outer casing is made out of simple piano-black finish plastic with golden color caps and rims. The piano-black finish makes it look classy, although it also means that the thing is prone to attracting finger grease like a magnet. When I picked it up, I could feel the solid weight and it felt sturdy. The button requires firm pressure to press, more so than the Spymodex I had, which is a good thing because it would be bad for both you and the pointer if something accidentally crushes the button while you have the pointer inside your pocket and lead to accidental discharge while you don't even realize what's going on until your pocket feels nice and toasty.

Now, the recommended duty cycle for the unit is rated at 100/10 second on/off ratio. Even after passing the recommended cycle threshold, (I turned it on for about two minutes continuously; 120 seconds) most of the heat felt as if it had come from my hand, and not generated by the unit. It appears that all X-Series units are rated to withstand up to 500mW of output, thus giving it a very high stability and low heat buildup even during extended operation. The unit, as with all NOVAlasers products, came with IR filter, which is important because IR beam = bad. (Cheap pointers don't have IR filters, which can result in serious eye damage even without the user ever noticing it.)

The unit that I received had a perfect TEM00, and excellent distance/divergeance as far as my eyes could see. There was no flickering, and it just gave off a solid and stable beam. No mode shifting at all, even after sudden change in ambient temperature. (Proven when I carried the pointer for a while outside when it was snowing in NY in February and walked into Starbucks, which is a very humid and warm place.) I can see the beam even during daylight.

As for the unit's sheer power; I've stung people on their skins from about 5-6 feet away and burnt through black trashbags from thrice as much distance. Cutting through black electrical tapes was fun, too.

Now for the bad part. As with most other pointers, it does not come with any protective covering to protect the optics. I wished that NOVAlasers would make lids to prevent foreign objects from entering the hole and fouling up the lens, but they don't. It wasn't a big deal or anything, as I've improvised a solution and made a lid myself. (Perhaps I will post a video of how to make one in the future.) But I would just like to point this out to everyone as carrying this in your pocket without any sort of protection would lead to optics being dirtied or even damaged, which can seriously hamper the power output and play hell with the beam divergeance -- definitely not a good thing to happen for something that costs over half a grand.

Now... Here's the serious part. After about twelve days into receiving the unit, it started to malfunction. No, the unit did not die. I actually woke up at the morning and decided to play with the unit a bit, and found out that the unit's beam was off-center. The beam still came out and everything, but the beam was misaligned slightly to the side, which led to the front cap slightly blocking the beam and causing high amount of reflection. I unscrewed the cap and, yeah, that was it, as I could see the beam being emitted from off-center as I slowly rotated the pen. I've sent NOVAlasers an e-mail about it with a photo attached, (Which was, I admit, in bad quality.) but the techies couldn't figure out what was wrong with it because the quality of the photo was so bad. So the representative and I decided to file for warranty process, and she sent me the documents and instructions needed to do so. Filling them out was easy, but trying to ship the package out at the post office was the hard part, as the item needed to go to Canada and, thus, I had to fill out the paperworks needed for the thing to get past the customs. The shipping fee was about $22 for USPS Global Express, I believe. No problem. Sent it and the sales representative reported that the package has arrived two days later. About three or four business days later, she contacted via e-mail again, saying that either the unit was built defective or suffered from shock damage, and the repair costs will be covered by the warranty. I got the unit back about four days after they have dispatched it, and it appears that they have replaced the entire item judging by the different serial number, and it works great. They even bumped the spec by a notch; peak output of 183.4mW and average of 179.1mW for the replacement unit, compared to my original unit's 182.4mW peak and 178.8mW average. So, long story short: I'm very happy with the customer service, as they've been very responsive and have answered all of my e-mails accordingly.

Here is the link to the video of me cutting through the electrical tape.

Is the X175 the right pen pointer for everyone? Of course not. This thing is just way too powerful for people looking to merely impress their friends at night, and would be an extreme overkill if that is your main intent on obtaining a green pointer. But for serious people who wish to impress other serious people, nothing can get any better than this, unless you are trying to get something to cut through metal and/or provide illumination for guided anti-tank missiles from miles away. :D Even the cops that I've shown this to were asking me where I've gotten it from.

I hope the review helped somewhat. Thank you for reading, everyone. I will answer any questions about the unit, so just post them in here.
 

Laq

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This review couldn't be more complete ! nice job :)

AND a very nice laser indeed. congrats !
 

murrat

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Nice review.You can add some more photos and a distance balloon pop videos ;)
Happy to hear that you have a great unit. It performs like everyone wish a laser to :cool:
 

xJumper

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When I buy another laser soon I will be looking into Nova because they seem a very trustworthy company with good costumer service and good quality lasers.
 

lazerguy

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VERY nice review! I have the x-85, and i'm thinking of getting a more powerful green. But would the beam be much more visible on the x-175, or is it just a small difference?
 

electron

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Very nice review enomosiki, Question though; you said you got a different serial number when it came back, was that on the Laser itself of the box?

Thanks
 

Chad

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lazerguy said:
VERY nice review! I have the x-85, and i'm thinking of getting a more powerful green. But would the beam be much more visible on the x-175, or is it just a small difference?
It'll be a very noticeable difference, trust me. ;)

Electron - The serial numbers on CNI pens are located on the inside of the aperture cap.
 

electron

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So you would have to break the seal on the aperture cap to see the actual unit's serial number then I suppose?
 

Chad

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No, CNI pens have a screw-off aperture cap. It's like the battery cap, but with a hole in it. :p
 

electron

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Sorry let me clarify, the Laser warning label goes over the gold part some, so I thought if you unscrewed it, the label would tear; thats what I really meant. Are you familiar with the Nova X Lasers series? I guess you are, they put the Model & Serial number on the box, but no where on the Laser do they put the Model # nor the Serial number, at-least externally. I you bought 2 of them, how would you know which one is which?

Thanks
 
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On mine the label covers up the very top part slightly but when i unscrew it the label doesn't stick to it and it comes off fine.

Also check the battery cap, on one of mine the serial number was on there for some reason.

...lazer... ;D ;D ;D
 

IgorT

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Enimoski: Do you have a DMM? Would it be possible to measure the current consumption on your X-175?

I want to see if it is the same or higher than in X-150 and if the crystals are really the only difference and if they are all regulated. I'm trying to gather as much data as possible from different power X-series pens.


If you do, make sure you use the highest DMM current range (usually 20A), with full and slightly empty batteries.

Thanks!
 

Chicxulub

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Novalasers rates thier lasers by minimum output, not max. I've never heard of a NL putting out less than the advertised ammount.

For example, my x50 puts out 68mw peak, 61 average. :)
 

IgorT

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quadcam said:
Novalasers rates thier lasers by minimum output, not max. I've never heard of a NL putting out less than the advertised ammount.

For example, my x50 puts out 68mw peak, 61 average. :)
I'm trying to figure out who's question or statement you're answering, but i cant..


Otherwise you're partially right. But the average power is not the minimum power the laser ever reaches. If 68 is the peak and 61 is the average, that means, that it drops to around 54 in the 30 second measurement, or lower, if it kept the high power for more than half the time. The average power is a mathematical average of all the powers it reached in Nova's 30 second test.

For example a laser that peaks to 174mW, and seems to stabilise at 168mW, slowly drops to 162 towards the end of the first 30 seconds, but after 35 seconds, suddenly drops to 135mW and continues dropping to 125 towards the end of the minute, will still be clasified as an X-150 with 174mW peak and 168mW average by Nova standards.

That's because Nova Peak / Average measurement is now only one measurement of 30 seconds. They don't guarantee it will stay at a high power longer than that, in fact they can't even guarantee it will stay at the power listed as average during the 30 seconds. The simple fact that it is the average power means, that it drops lower than that. And you don't know what happens after their 30 second measurement, unless you have a meter.


The manufacturer for example doesn't even guarantee, they will stay above the rated power for longer than 15 seconds! They usually do, but you can't know for sure. These high efficiency crystals do not have a wide temperature stability. And a pen laser simply can not provide enough heatsinking, so it's actually amazing, that they are available at such high powers. But stability is always going to be an issue with this design. A big laser usually becomes stable in power after it warms up enough, that the heat doesn't change anymore.


Still, electron had an X-175, that both peaked and averaged above 200mW for 100 seconds! That was an amazing laser. Unfortunately it suddenly lost most of it's output.

With these crystals, the manufacturer really doesn't know what they'll get, until it's built and tested. Nova X-series above 50mW (or is it 75?) use the same power pump for example, and the only difference is in the efficiency of the crystals.
 

electron

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Nova Lasers has had my defective X-175 in their hands since 4/29, still no word back from them other than they received it.  :'(
 

IgorT

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electron said:
Nova Lasers has had my defective X-175 in their hands since 4/29, still no word back from them other than they received it. :'(
Did you write them an e-mail asking what is taking so long?
I think they will have problems finding a higher power unit for you... But they will take care of it.

I hope you measure the current once you get it back. Really want to figure this thing out.
 




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