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Wicked's Inferno isn't exactly a lightsaber, but who cares

We get hands-on time with the handheld Inferno and Lunar lasers, two powerful beams that can be used for all kinds of tricks.

Inferno laser
You won't get a glowing blade, but the Inferno gets more exciting with the lights off. Tim Hornyak/CNET

I've always wanted a lightsaber. It would come in mighty handy in a zombie apocalypse, robot uprising, or alien invasion.

There are many gimmicky toys out there that attempt to emulate the signature "Star Wars" weapon, and Wicked Lasers' Spyder series of handheld lasers truly look the part.

Wicked recently released the Inferno and Lunar additions to its Spyder lineup, and I had a chance to fool around with them.

The units themselves resemble lightsaber handles and are made of tough, aircraft-grade aluminum. The metal is cool to the touch and has remarkable heft.

When you turn them on, they don't produce a light blade that can cut through anything, but they do emit powerful lasers that can be seen from very far away.

That's especially true of the Inferno, which is billed as the world's most powerful handheld red laser. It shines a 750-milliwatt light and has a beam distance of nearly 5 miles at 0.25 lux, roughly equivalent to light from a full moon on a clear night.

While not as powerful as Wicked's blue-light 2-watt Spyder Arctic laser, the Inferno is extremely bright when activated. It can light up a small room or send a strong beam to illuminate a dark patch of wilderness.

It's a Class 4 laser product, meaning it can be quite harmful, so you don't want to aim it at anyone or anything, of course, especially aircraft.

There are all kinds of tricks laymen can try with one of these things, such as igniting matches, popping balloons, or reflecting the light through a series of mirrors. Once you get the hang of how to turn the lasers on (there's a button-pushing sequence to prevent unauthorized use) and handle them safely, they're almost as much fun as moving objects with the Force.

I contented myself with some laser photography, setting my dSLR shutter speed to 3 seconds, killing the lights, and then "drawing" in the air with the Inferno during the long exposure. One of the results is below.

Inferno laser
The Inferno can draw in the air with long-exposure photography. Tim Hornyak/CNET

The Lunar laser, meanwhile, is shorter and lighter than the Inferno and fires a purple light at 400 milliwatts. Its beam is much weaker than the Inferno's (it's a Class 3B product) and appears more like softly glowing neon than a laser beam.

Still, it has a beam distance of 7 miles at 0.25 lux, which could be useful for signalling.

Both the Inferno and the Lunar have nine modes including constant wave, strobe, and SOS. Wicked sells them for about $400 and $300, respectively, and they come with safety glasses, holsters, and rechargeable Panasonic batteries.

Would you buy one of these things? If so, what would you use it for?