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The press release for Bosch’s new GLM 80 laser distance measurer lists a ton of features, like the fact that it’s lithium-ion powered, that it has an automatic backlit display, and that it plugs into an accessory to become a digital level. But what you really want to know about it is that it payed a lot more attention in geometry class than you did. That plus a built-in inclinometer means that it can perform 90-degree height measurements with just one laser sight. Or it can give you the height of, say, a distant window without you being level with the bottom of it. Just point it at the top, click, point it at the bottom, click, and you get the height.

In 90-degree mode, you can shoot any point on a wall and the GLM 80 backs into the 90-degree measurement based on the straight-line distance and an assumed 90-degree angle. No more shooting once at (hopefully) 90-degrees and again at your measure point. It’s a big time-saver, and seems more accurate than putting the device on the floor.

Like other laser distance measurers, it offers length, area, and volume calculations as well. And it offers four reference points to make measuring easy: the front, the back, the tripod mount, and the corner pin. Snap it into the R60 accessory — which looks like an aluminum level with a cutout in it — and it switches to level mode, displaying angle and offering standard digital level features like angle memory. When in level mode, the display automatically flips to stay right-side-up however you position the level. The backlight clicks on whenever the GLM 80’s light sensor thinks it’s dark.

All in all, this looks to us like a pretty slick little unit. It’s actually not that exciting to use, which is the whole point: you just push the button and it does its thing. We figure the jobsite is kinda like airline travel, in that less excitement = a good thing.

Look for it in the July timeframe at an MSRP of around $250.


16 Responses to Preview: The GLM 80 Knows More Geometry Than You

  1. Mrten says:

    I hope it works better than its blue studfinder companion…

  2. fred says:

    @Matren Says:

    Can you say more about your experience. We were thinking about buying a Bosch GMS 120 – selling for about $66 at Amazon – based on the positve review it got in Fime Homebuilding magazine. i see that there are only 3 reives on Amazon and they are equally divided between 5, 4 and 3 stars.

  3. kyle says:

    Although it may do it faster I doubt that that can do any geometric calculations that I can”t do with a calculator, pencil, and paper. Im 15 and will be a sophmore in the fall.

  4. Rob says:

    This is the kind of tool that I don’t want a lithium-ion battery in. I’d want it to last a very long time if I bought one because it’s so expensive. But the lithium-ion battery it uses is probably going to lose at least 10-25% of it’s remaining storage capacity every year, beginning from the moment it’s manufactured. A replacement battery is likely to be expensive and someday you may not be able to find one.

    An alkaline battery powered model would be less expensive and you wouldn’t have to worry about carrying another charger around.

  5. Tony says:


    Time is money and let’s face it, most builders aren’t that bright.

  6. Kyle says:

    I’m just saying that the capabilites of this are’nt that impressive, so what it does trig

  7. Rob says:

    I can understand your perspective on this, Kyle, but I’m afraid Tony is right. What you’ll find is that high-school math fades surprisingly quickly. And most people had little grasp of it in the first place.

    Even so, my experience of these tools is that their capabilities are more than adequate but their UIs truly and totally suck. The few buttons they offer are multi-purposed with no evident direction, and trying to make use of the “higher” functions is effectively impossible beyond the one or two features that you use *all* the time. Those can be committed to memory, but everything else is wasted because it’s unavailable in practical terms.

    So advertising based on features is understandable, but *buying* based on them is a mistake. Most “features” of these devices do not turn out to serve useful purposes because it’s just baffling trying to apply them through the 6-button no-feedback interface.

  8. satish says:

    calculators took away our calculation ability,
    Phoon book in mobile took away our number memory,
    this will take away Pythagoras even from the engineers,

    however i am also buying this..

  9. Got one of these delivered yesterday to replace a DLE150 which had been dropped once too often. The device is tiny in comparison, whether is this a good thing or not remains to be seen. Anyway, been having a play about with it in the office to familiarise myself before taking it out on a job. The basic ‘point and shoot’ measuring is just what you would expect (quicker, more accurate, longer distances, one man job, etc compared to a tape). I was more keen though to see just how accurately the inclinometer would function, and how that would tranlate in resolving vertical sizes.
    What I found is that (once the quite straightforward calbration process is done) indirect measurement, both horizontally and vertically, is reasonably accurate, say +/- 5mm/m (or more like 1 or 2mm/m when using the timer function as this lets you hold the device still while it measures), this is providing that there is something solid to hold the device against.
    I found it very difficult to get reliable double indirect height measurement ‘freehand’. Holding the device steady and ensuring that the it is measuring from the same reference point height for both clicks is very difficult (something like +/-20mm/m).
    However with the device on a tripod, double indirect heights are as accurate as single indirect measurement, this would mean lugging a tripod around though. A monopod might be a better compromise?
    It also seems to help accuracy if the unit is ‘barrel rolled’ about 45degrees while measuring, I assume this may have something to do with the inclinometers on both axis being read??
    I’m actually quite glad to see it has the Li ion battery, being able to charge in-car or from USB will be handy.
    BTW the headline about it knowing more geometry than you is true, unless you happen to have a head full of trig tables!

  10. Lorne Hillier says:

    Just ordered the GLM80 from Amazon. Was wondering if anyone knows where replacement batteries can be purchased and how much they cost?

  11. Mark says:

    Can this unit measure horizontally indirect>

    In other words, from a distance away from a wall, can I get it’s width?

    • sweetbob says:

      no, it can’t find the width of a second story window, but it can find it’s height, or if you were to make a custom staircase to it, the diagonal length up to it, the total rise, and the (horizontal) total run. It can do those 4 measurements in about a minute without a ladder or tape measure, and record the values.

  12. Devasis says:

    Fantastic gadget. Really knows more geometry than human.
    B U T. The makers have missed to develop the vital point of the gadget. VERY POOR INFRA RAY. DOES NOT WORK IN DAY LIGHT. VERY POOR AT OUTDOORS IN NIGHT TOO

  13. rajeev says:

    How to change unit measurement ft to m.. help??

  14. Saheed says:

    can a use a GLM 80 to check tower verticality?

  15. Saheed says:

    Can one use the Bosch GLM 80 to check verticality?

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