When I received the Bosch Laser Distance Measurer in the mail from the manufacturer, it sat on the floor for awhile--like a coiled snake ready to strike. I envisioned complicated set-ups, menus, and a multitude of buttons, some useful, some useless.
How wrong I was. Within five minutes of inserting the included AA batteries in the measurer, I had measured the length of my house. Within fifteen minutes, I had learned most of the device's functions.
What Is a Laser Measurer?
To back up for a moment, a laser distance measurer is an electronic device that you point at an object no less than 2 inches and no more than 165 ft. away (in the case of this Bosch model, that is). Push a button and the device spits back the distance.
Do you need one? No, of course not. For long distances, you can always use a tape measure. For distances exceeding the tape measure, you can run the tape multiple times. Or you can just buy one of those 100'+ tapes that surveyors and house inspectors use.
But even those methods aren't 100% accurate. Splicing measurements is a method rife with human error. Long tapes can stretch.
Laser measurers provide a "mark point" showing where you want to measure to. And they do the job of calculating distance. Older and/or cheaper measurers don't always provide a laser beam spot. The result?
You have little confidence that you're hitting the intended spot. Is it hitting a different wall? A section of molding? It's hard to tell.
Bosch Measurer's Accuracy
Most laser measurer manufacturers, even while advertising things like "measurements down to 1/16th of an inch," further caution in the instructions that measurements may not always be accurate.
I suppose this is cover-your-heinie language, but why buy any kind of ruler or measurer that doesn't measure accurately? Makes no sense.
The Bosch, even after many tests of varying lengths, measured right down to the sixteen of an inch.
Functions and Ease of Use
The Bosch Laser Measurer allows you to make straight-line measurements only and calculate area and volume. For example, within 30 seconds I was able to determine that I would need 133 cubic feet of Strawberry Jell-O to fill my bathroom, floor to ceiling. You know, for those times you want to fill a bathroom with Jell-O.
I calculated my house's square footage in about one minute. Most of that time was spent walking down the stairs.
These calculations are easy because, as you scroll down the menu, the backlit display shows a picture of the type of measurement you are making: a rectangle for area, a cube for cubic feet, a triangle, and two pictures for straight-line measurements (one picture is for a fixed measurement, and the other picture is for a moving measurement, meaning you can walk forward or back to get the measurement you want).
Downside: Those Two Red Buttons
What I don't like about the Bosch are the two red buttons. One button controls the On/Off and Clear functions.
The other button activates the measuring process.
Different functions, nearly identical buttons. One button is a little bigger than the other, and they do have different icons.
But both are red. And to further complicate matters, both are bordered in red.
Several times, when I wanted to measure a distance, I accidentally cleared the display. It's more difficult to accidentally turn off the measurer, because you need to hold the button for about 3 seconds.
Bosch offers several laser measurers, several appropriate for construction professionals. The Bosch GLM-50 is priced just right for the homeowner, though. For me, it fits into the laser level category: great to have, not essential, but a lot of fun to play with.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.