After testing 17 laser distance meters in the past few years, Bruce Greenlaw concludes that there’s no such thing as a universal laser distance meter for residential and light-commercial work.

If you want extreme versatility, for instance, you can buy the Bosch GLM 100 C. At around $300, this unit can measure distances with a simple point and click, as well as measure indirectly around obstacles, read angles, and clamp into an optional rail to become a 2-foot electronic spirit level—and it’s an exceptional estimator, too. A built-in Bluetooth module allows you to pair it with an iOS or Android device and use a free app to store, manage, and share measurements.

There's also the uncomplicated compact like the two-button Spectra Precision QM75, which is strictly designed for installation work. Costing around $125, it can measure distances or take a continuous reading when moving toward or away from a target, period.

For Bruce, the Bluetooth-enabled Leica Disto E7100i, which costs about $150, might be the sweet spot. He put one through some tests and discovered that it’s unique.

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