If you’re considering switching from your trusty tape measure to a laser distance measurer, but still have some reservations or questions, I hope this review will be helpful to you. Whether your profession has you constantly taking measurements that have to be extremely accurate, or you’re simply fond of DIY projects around the house, a measuring device is an important tool to have on hand.
In this article, I’ve chosen to review two of the most popular laser measuring devices on the market today, to help you make an informed decision on which kind is best for your needs.
The Bosch DLR130K and the DEWALT DW030P!
Why should I switch from tape to laser?
It can be quite daunting to change to a hi-tech laser device after years of being used to a sturdy, no-frills tape measure. Often, people are reluctant to trust their new product, and will continue to check measurements on the tape measure anyway, just to be sure! However, rest assured, there are some high quality laser measures out there, and they do have quite a few key benefits.
- Only one person required
No more swaying precariously on a ladder as you try to measure from a window frame to a wall, only for the tape measure to buckle in the middle! Laser distance measurers enable a single person to take even long measurements quickly and easily.
Where a tape measure might bend or slip, a laser beam will not! And you don’t need to worry about clearing a path of obstructions (e.g. furniture) before you start measuring.
- Easier measuring
Some measurements are difficult to take with traditional tape measures – long diagonals, for example, or very high ceilings. Laser measures eliminate those difficulties.
- Longer distances
No more laying down a tape measure twice for longer measurements!
You don’t have to trust your own judgement and eyesight as you try to see whether the tiny line is marking an 8th of an inch, or a 16th. The laser does it for you and lets you read it on the digital display
How does it work?
There are numerous product variations, of course, but the general idea is this: from the starting point (where you would usually hold the end of the measuring tape), point the laser beam toward the end point. When you see the red dot at the point to which you want to measure, press the button, and – click! The device will measure the length of the laser beam, and display an accurate measurement on the screen. Generally (and for the two products I’m comparing here), you can choose whether you want your measurements in inches, feet and inches, or metric. Your laser measure will also calculate area and volume for you, making your job even simpler!
Which laser distance measurer is best for me?
The table below gives you a quick, at-a-glance comparison between two of the leading competitors: the Bosch DLR130K Digital Distance Measurer Kit, and the DEWALT DW030P Laser Distance Measurer.
Let’s have a look at how each one performs in a few important categories.
For professionals in particular, this is arguably the most important issue when choosing a measuring device. Is it going to give me accurate results? It can be difficult to trust a machine when you’ve been used to verifying measurements with your own eyes. However, rest assured – both of these products have overwhelmingly positive user feedback as far as accuracy is concerned. Results have been tested time and time again, and they are accurate. Note that while the Bosch product is accurate to within 1/16 of an inch, Dewalt claim their product to be accurate to ⅛ of an inch. A minor difference, but it could be a critical one to some! For that reason, Bosch takes the edge in the accuracy category.
Ease of Use
If you’re going to invest in a laser measuring product, it’s got to be as easy to use as a traditional tape measure – if not easier! I would describe the Dewalt DW030P as the more intuitive of the two products. The device is lightweight and compact, so it’s easy to hold, and it also has a much-praised LED screen with easy-to-read display. The buttons are big and easy to find without having to look for them every time – just lay it against a flat surface and press! However, one complaint about this product is that it has to be held extremely steady and still in order to take a measurement. If you shake it while pressing the button, or if it’s on a more uneven surface, it may not get a measurement, which can be frustrating.
The Bosch DLR130K doesn’t seem to have this issue, and gets measurements more easily – although its ‘bubble’-style buttons require a bit more pressure to activate. The buttons are smaller than the Dewalt version, making it a little less intuitive, but they are well labelled and easy to learn. One small problem is that the rubber grip casing means that the unit itself is not perfectly flat, so you lay it on its side, back, or front, you need to tilt it slightly to get a level laser beam.
Overall, looking at the pros and cons, I’d say it’s a tie for these two products in terms of ease of use, so I’m giving one point to Bosch and one point to Dewalt!
When you’ve spent the money on a sophisticated laser measure, it would be a total nightmare for it to shatter or stop working the first time you drop it! Fortunately, both of these products are well prepared for a little rough treatment and the occasional accident. The Dewalt model is protected by a durable rubber coat, and also comes with a tough carrying case and the useful addition of a wrist wrap, so that you can be sure not to drop it when on a construction site or down a manhole! And even if the worst should happen, the product is sturdy enough to survive drops of up to 6 feet. The Bosch model is built out of plastic, and has a secure, soft rubber grip, but has no protective covering and is less likely to survive such a fall. It is also minus the wrist wrap feature – but it does, on the other hand, come with a pouch which has velcro straps that easily fasten on to your belt.
For durability, Dewalt is the clear leader!
There are two main visibility issues with laser measures.
- Using the device in bright sunlight.
- Seeing the screen in dark areas
The major advantage that the Dewalt DW030P has over the Bosch DLR130K is its backlit screen. The Bosch product can be quite difficult to read in dark rooms or outside at night, and you may find that you need a torch. The Dewalt’s green LED screen is easier to read. However, outside in bright sunlight, both items seem to perform fairly equally, and the general consensus is that this is the area where a laser measure isn’t quite so useful! When it’s sunny, it can be tricky to see the red spot on the other end of the laser beam. Neither product seems to have gotten around this issue, although there are some things you can do about it if you’re having trouble. Amber-tinted goggles will help you to see the dot more easily, or you can get the help of another person and use white card to help with visibility. Neither product has an advantage on the sunlight issue, but the lack of a backlit screen on the Bosch makes Dewalt the leader in terms of visibility!
Both products perform well when measuring very short distances, which is a big plus. However, the Dewalt’s maximum range for long measurements is 100 feet, while the Bosch device has a range of up to 130 feet. A longer range gives Bosch the lead in this category!
Conclusion: which one should I buy?
Actually, it’s a tie! Three points each.
–>Here’s a quick summary:
+ Accurate to 1/16 of an inch
+ Easy to use
+ Range of up to 130 feet
– Some design flaws
– Bulkier and not fall-resistant
+ Intuitive and easy to use
+ Sturdy, durable, and fall-resistant
+ Backlit screen for clearer visibility
– Accurate to ⅛ of an inch (slightly less than Bosch)
– Range of up to 100 feet (less than Bosch)
They’re both high quality, good value products which are easy to use and provide fast, accurate measurements. For professionals focusing on accuracy, that 1/16 of an inch and the extra 30ft range of the Bosch device could well make all the difference. In my opinion, though, the Dewalt DW030P has a slight edge over the Bosch DLR130K because of its more intuitive, user-friendly operation, and the huge bonus of a backlit screen enabling it to be used in poorly lit spaces. I also like that it’s more durable and less likely to break if I drop it – but it’s also less likely to drop when I’m holding it in my hand, because it has a wrist strap!
The Dewalt is my choice: a simple, accurate, well-built laser measuring product.