How is a laser pointer different from other lasers?
Surprisingly, there is no generally accepted definition of a laser “pointer”. In the U.S., the federal FDA/CDRH indicates that pointers are “hand-held lasers that are promoted for pointing out objects or locations” with output power less than 5 milliwatts. Promotion of lasers above 5 milliwatts “for pointing and amusement” violates FDA requirements and U.S. law. (Some may consider this to be a loophole. If a hand-held laser is not promoted for pointing or amusement purposes, then it can be sold.) In New South Wales (Australia), a pointer is a Schedule 1 Prohibited Weapon: “A laser pointer, or any other similar article, consists of a hand-held, battery-operated device with a power output of more than 1 milliwatt, designed or adapted to emit a laser beam and that may be used for the purposes of aiming, targeting or pointing.” If one wants to own a laser with greater power, it is easy enough to do so. There is the inconvenience of having to run off of mains (AC) power, but then again AC o