Tape measures are great, but for anyone who’s done layout work or estimated for a significant construction project, you aren’t going to get much joy out of dragging out a physical tape 200 feet tape measure. The new Johnson Level and Tool 40-6005 Laser Distance Measure is a tool that takes the walking and dragging out of the distance measuring game. It’s super compact in size, yet it has an incredibly useful range. But that’s all common features of a technology that’s commonplace now. Where Johnson attempts to distinguish itself is in its flexibility and speed. The Johnson Level 40-6005 can handle taking measurements from as little as 2 inches out to its maximum of 230 feet. On top of that, it’s lighting quick, thanks to a fast on-board processor that delivers results faster than just about any other similarly-priced laser distance measure we’ve used. Accuracy is also an astounding +/- 1/16 of an inch – even out at long distances. And, just to make sure that you are on target, a built-in laser pointer shows you exactly where you are aiming. Now let’s break down the features a little at a time.
Johnson Level 40-6005 Laser Distance Measure Features
The Johnson Level 40-6005 Laser Distance Measure comes packaged with the laser distance measure, a soft carry case, wrist strap, 2 “AA” alkaline batteries and a useful instruction manual. We actually found the manual more useful than most, since it gives easy to understand instructions, trouble shooting and application scenarios that make sense (specifically) for construction professionals. This new little laser distance measure is really compact in size. Measuring only 4.3 inches long by 1.7 wide and 1.2 inches deep, it weighs just over half-a-pound. The two AA batteries provide an impressive 10,000 measurements, certainly more than we could take in our review of the product – even after weeks of testing. We’ll just trust the engineers at Johnson Level are at least in the ball park on the exact battery life numbers. Part of what helps extend the usage of the tool so long is that, after 30 second of no use, the laser shuts off. Also, after 3 minutes of no use, the unit shuts off completely.
Contributing to the ease-of-use is a simple-to-read LCD screen and a front panel blister-style group of buttons that handles all of the tools functions. For tools like this, the graphically labeled blister-style buttons are a good choice, since they resist dust and other job site contaminants. The laser distance measure displays the numbers in both decimals and fractions, with further adjustments that allow measurement display in inches, feet, feet & inches and metric. At the heart of this tool is a fast microprocessor that delivers near-instant measurements and calculations. Measurements can be taken from the front end, back end or from the end of a flip out extension that lets you span over obstacles to help get a better measurement (which came in handy as you’ll see later). Some of the measurements that you can take with this tool include single distance, continuous measuring, min/max, countdown timer, area and volume and a stakeout function. It will also do 2 point, 3 point and 3-point partial Pythagorean Theorem calculations.
Testing and Use
As with any measurement tool, particularly one that employed modern electronic technology, it is smart to study the instruction manual. To be honest, the manual that was provided with this tool is fantastic. We found it well-written, easy to understand, and it even gave examples of how to use each function in the real world. It was obvious that the product developers at Johnson Level took some input from actual contractors and other building trade professionals to put this tool together. That or (more than likely) they have them on staff.
Out in the field, we quickly began to appreciate a few particular things about the Johnson Level 40-6005 Laser Distance Measure. One was the very bright red laser pointer. While using this tool in indoor conditions, we never had a situation where we could not see the laser dot with our naked eye, even out to distances of over 100 feet. The laser’s visibility did change some, once we moved outdoors into bright sunlight, but that is to be expected and there are red laser targets and detectors available to enhance your ability to correct align over long distances in bright light. One other very practical feature is the back lighting for the LCD screen which is activated by the push of a button. All those features are excellent, but, having used a number of laser distance measures, the most evident upgrade with this model is the fast processor speed. When, taking measurements inside one of our projects, Johnson Level’s 40-6005 Laser Distance Measure reported almost instant results. There was no waiting. You simply point the tool and press the ‘Measure’ button.
As far as accuracy, Johnson claims +/- 1/16″ of an inch over the whole measurement range. What we did to verify this was to use our trusty Stanley Fat Max 30 foot tape measure and test it our against this laser distance measure. After trying all different distances from a few inches out to 30 feet. We were not able to find any discrepancies The +/- 1/16″ as advertised is commendable, especially since we could not come up with even that small of a difference at 30 feet. Given that accuracy, for distances of up to 230 feet, it’s safe to say you can rest assured that you will have some of the most accurate take-off estimates for materials. There were some difficulties, however. While indoors we were able to get quick and accurate distance measurements, outdoors, we had a bit more difficulty getting accurate numbers. Part of this was because, at very long distances, it was tricky to see the laser pointer which made our measurements sometimes a little sporadic. As we recommended above, there are accessories that make this a lot more reliable for those looking to extend this tool to its furthest application.
The Johnson Level 40-6005 Laser Distance Measure comes with impressive specifications and, from all our time and testing with it, we found it to be spot on… literally. With an accuracy of +/- 16 of an inch, even out to its maximum usable 230 feet, you can be sure that your take-off for estimates will be dead on. We really appreciated its super fast distance measurement results – Johnson has all-but-eliminated the waiting time for both measurements and calculations. While this laser distance measure does cost a bit more than many models out there, there are features that should make this tool the building professional’s choice.