Top positive review
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Very nice product with a few flaws.
on August 12, 2009
Review of Bosch DLR130K Laser Distance Measurer
This handy little device is slightly smaller, and lighter than my trusty 25 foot tape measure. It won't replace your tape (for example there is no quick, convenient way to hook the edge of a board to measure off a cut), but it will do many of the same measurements, often better and quicker (for example finding "inside" distances such a a window interior or from one wall to another). It will also take measurements that a tape simply cannot (assuming just 1 person doing the measuring), for example picture yourself on a ladder, trying to find the distance from a window frame to the wall when your tape cannot reach it without collapsing, or checking the height of a soffit that's more than 15 feet above you, ....
Do you need a laser distance measurer? I can't answer that, however I can tell you that it saves me a significant amount of time because I do a lot of carpentry / renovation work which involves many, many measurements.
Here's what I like about this new DLR130 from Bosch:
o It does fractional measurements in inches to an accuracy of a sixteenth of an inch. For example 98 - 3/16 inches. The previous laser from Bosch would only do feet & inches combined (e.g. 8' 2-1/16"). This is a really important new feature for me because my feeble mind doesn't deal well with the feet-and-inches style output - it causes me to make all kinds of stupid cutting errors. Thank you Bosch for adding this pure fractional inches only mode.
o It is small and light (smaller than me 25 foot tape measure) weighing just over 6 ounces with all four AAA batteries installed. It is 4 inches long, 2-1/4 inches wide and 1-1/4 inches thick.
o Measures things really close to the unit starting at 2 inches. Older lasers (such as my TLM100) do not work at less than 24 inches. Although it may not seem like a big deal it makes the measurer much more usable in practice.
o Good feedback - when the laser completes a measurement it provides both audible and tactile feedback in the form of a "clunk". At first I though this was kind of weird - why not just a beep? - but then I realized the subtle beauty of the design. If you are wearing hearing protection or are in a noisy environment you can "feel" when the measurement is complete. The clunk sound is generated at such a low volume that it is unlikely to disturb anyone more than a few feet away.
o Has a ¼ inch threaded hole for tripod mounting (of course an inventive person could use this for other attachments as well....).
o Comes complete with four AAA batteries, and they last a long, long time (30,000 individual measurements or 5 hours of operation in continuous measurement mode with 1.5v alkaline). You can also use rechargeable batteries such as 1.2V NiMh, although they won't last as long, due to their reduced voltage. This is another technical improvement over the older lasers which required a 9v battery.
o Comes with a nice pouch (apparently) made of ballistic nylon with a Velcro strap to hook over your belt. One minor problem here is that the strap is a little bit too small to fit securely over a wide 2 inch work belt. It does it, but there isn't much Velcro left holding it in place.
o Continuous measurement mode is a nice touch. Allows you to use the laser more like a tape measure in certain applications (for example, when you want to mark off every 16 inches along a wall to show where studs should be). Most of the time it updates the display very quickly - about 2 times per second. The manual states that in certain unfavorable circumstances this could be reduced to as little as 1 update every 4 seconds but I have not experienced this slowdown in my applications.
o Sighting pins help one to see where the laser is over long distances or in bright light conditions. These are nothing more than slight notches on the right side of the case. Not a hugely important feature for my work, but I suspect those who take really long distance measurements might find it useful.
Here is what I do not like:
o Reference point (measure from the back or front) is not saved when the unit is turned off. It always restarts with the back of the unit as the reference point. In practice this does not bother me, but other people may feel differently.
o Memory display is only in decimal feet or decimal meters. This can be a little bit irritating for people who like to operate in pure inches mode. It's more than a little inconvenient to take a measurement like 95 - 5/16 inches, save it to memory, recall it and see it displayed as 7.942 feet.
o Display is not back lit. This would be a nice feature to have, especially for those of us with tired old eyes.
o Laser beam is not parallel to the unit. If you press the unit flat against a wall, or floor or any plane surface, the beam rises off the surface at an angle of about 1 inch every 8 feet. To overcome this one has to lift the back of the laser just slightly off the surface to keep the beam parallel. This wouldn't be a very big deal, except that pressing down on the measure button with holding the unit off the surface make for a wobbly, inaccurate situation. I would say this is the biggest problem with this device, and the only one that gives me pause in recommending it highly.
I talked to Tanya at Bosch customer service, who promised to look into it and get back to me. At first I was impressed with the service, but a week passed with no call back. I finally called Tanya again, and she not only did not apologize for failing to call back, she indicated that she thought this was a problem and that more recent versions do not have this defect. She promised to call me back when she knew more (heard from engineering) but it has now been another week and I've heard nothing. I was invited to send my unit to the repair center at my expense, and ask for a "recalibration" but I'm not sure it is worth the trouble or expense (and it's not certain that they will indeed correct this problem).
I would have given this product five stars except for the poor customer service and the non-parallel laser beam. I do have an early version of this product (March 2009), so perhaps other purchasers will have better luck.
Also note that you can peruse the manual for this product online at[...] if you want more specific details about it.