It’s hard to say exactly what makes a great tape measure because they’re, well, very personal items. Some people like shiny, some like flat. Some like plastic, some like metal. This new tape from Irwin brings most of the standard features we’ve all come to expect, like a good friction lock, a blade brake (so the tape doesn’t break if you let it slam in unattended), and a 10′ standout — the distance you can extend the tape without someone else there to hold it for you.
The one feature that stands out a bit, though, is the tape’s “quick-mark tip” — a small bar of pencil lead hidden in the tip that allows you to mark distance by simply “swiping” the tip instead of breaking out a pencil.
Update: Look for a picture after the jump that shows the “quick-mark tip” in action. [Thanks Emery!]
Tape color is also a heated item among afficionados, so if you’re one of them, be warned that this tape is white. Like we said above, some people love white, and some love yellow. I’ve never had a strong preference, but I’ve known many who do. (Funny story: I once inherited a great tape — that I used for years before it finally gave up the Ghost — solely because it had 16th marks on the first four feet of it, and the poor guy who gave it to me couldn’t read it without his glasses.)
It looks like street pricing will start around $20, and you can expect to find this in all the big-box retailers soon.