Light It Up

These are all head-of-the-class, professional tools that can bring serious firepower to almost any interior estimator. With an investment in an accessory scope, the units also can provide similar might to an exterior estimator. For my work, I like the Trimble Spectra Precision HD150. It has the best combination of functionality, durability, and ease-of-use. Its user interface is well-labeled, intuitive, and simple to understand.

A very close second is the Hilti. It's a top-flight, super-smart device, but it's more complicated to learn and use than the Spectra and is best suited for a dedicated estimator who'll use it daily and get good at it. The Stabila is a fine instrument, too. The user interface takes more effort to learn than the Spectra, but the data acquisition rate is good. The Leica and PLS are professional tools, and while the data acquisition rate was a little slower, the user interfaces are well laid-out. The user interface on the CST/Berger was not as self-explanatory as I would have liked and the data acquisition rate did not seem as fast.

David R. Crosby is a custom builder in Santa Fe, N.M., and is a frequent contributor to Hanley-Wood's Tools of The Trade.

Sources of Supply

CST/Berger
LT1 Disto (56-DISTM): $359
800-435-1859
www.cstsurvey.com

Hilti
PD 28: $645
800-879-8000
www.us.hilti.com

Leica
Disto Classic5: $495
770-447-6361
www.disto.com

Pacific Laser Systems
PLS1: $495
800-601-4500
www.plslaser.com

Stabila
LE 100: $450
800-869-7460
www.stabila.com

Trimble Navigation
Spectra Precision HD150: $425
800-538-7800
www.trimble.com