Reviews

We Tested a Popular Digital Tape Measure: See How Accurate It Is

We put this laser-focused measuring tool to the test—find out how it fared.
Glenda Taylor Avatar
DeWalt Digital Tape Measure Review

Photo: Glenda Taylor

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As technological advances sweep through the construction and remodeling industries, a few old standards are giving way to tech-friendly tools and techniques. One such tool is the digital measuring tape that’s currently available in dozens of makes and models. Along with a helping hand from my husband, John, who is a general contractor, I tested the DeWalt digital tape measure. It earned a spot on Bob Vila’s lineup of the best digital tape measures, and it deserved a special mention here as well.

The DeWalt DW099S 100-Foot Laser Distance Measurer: At a Glance

DeWalt Digital Tape Measure Review
Photo: Glenda Taylor

Rating: 8.3/10

PROS

  • Quickly and easily measures up to 100 feet
  • Accurate to within 3/32 inch, making it suitable for most projects
  • Bright LED screen is easy to see even outdoors on sunny days

CONS

  • The Bluetooth app doesn’t offer any additional features
  • Instruction booklet only features hard-to-decipher symbols and no text
  • Does not come with a protective case

Get the DeWalt digital tape measure at:

How does the DeWalt digital tape measure work?

The DeWalt digital tape measure emits a laser beam that bounces off a solid surface and reflects back to the tool. The tool measures the time it takes for the beam to return and gauges the distance accordingly. Light travels very fast, so the entire process happens in a tiny fraction of a second, but that’s long enough for the digital tape measure to get an accurate reading.

It displays the distance on an easy-to-see LED screen that features bright-white numerals on a black background. We tested the DeWalt digital tape measure and (using a high-quality steel tape) verified that it was accurate within ⅛ inch over a 20-foot distance. The manufacturer says it’s accurate within 3/32 inch.

DeWalt Digital Tape Measure Review
Photo: Glenda Taylor

Is the DeWalt laser measurer easy to use?

Measuring linear distance is simple on the DeWalt digital tape. To turn it on, we pressed the “Dist” button, and once the LED screen lit up, all we had to do was point its red laser dot at a wall or another solid item and press the same button to get a reading.

The tape has a few other functions that take a bit longer to learn—mainly because the instruction pamphlet contains no text. It only has symbols that resemble hieroglyphs, so we had to use trial and error to figure out how to use the functions.

By pressing the “Dist” button multiple times, we found that we could record and store two measurements and then calculate the surface area by multiplying the numbers. It was actually easier to find the volume of a symmetrical room (where length, width, and height are the same) by pushing the Cube button. The LED display walked us through taking measurements for the length, width, and height of the room and then multiplied them to find the volume.

The tool also comes with Bluetooth capability we could use by downloading the DeWalt Smart app on our smartphone. The app didn’t do anything more than we could do on the tool, but users can sync the digital measuring tape with some paid-subscription apps and use it in more complex CAD-type applications. We didn’t purchase a compatible app or test that feature.

DeWalt Digital Tape Measure Review
Photo: Glenda Taylor

How accurate is the DeWalt digital tape measure?

Our tests found the DeWalt digital tape measure to be accurate within ⅛ inch across a 20-foot span. Across a 6-foot span, we found it was accurate within 1/16 inch. Those are pretty accurate measurements, but users should ensure the tool is level to get the most precise results with either a manual or a digital measuring tape.

We found that the DeWalt digital tape measure was well suited to taking general measurements, such as those used to determine how much drywall or paint to purchase, but we’re still sold on using a high-quality steel tape for making cuts for finish work, such as trim boards and crown molding that require near-perfect measurements to achieve professional results.

Additionally, the DeWalt is advertised as measuring up to 100 feet, but we could only get it to register a measurement up to 94 feet. That could have been our fault, however, since some surfaces, such as shiny ones, don’t always work well with digital tape measures, and we measured from the side of our shop, which has steel siding.

Is the DeWalt digital measuring tape worth the price?

Currently selling for around $99, the DeWalt digital tape measure runs $20 to $40 more than some of the other digital tapes we tested.

We liked the visibility of the backlit screen—we could even see it outdoors on a partially sunny day. However, we weren’t impressed with the Bluetooth app, so we wouldn’t buy this tool for its connectivity alone. Plus, as technology improves, we’re drawn more to Wi-Fi capabilities than Bluetooth. The Bluetooth function on our smartphone was able to pick up the DeWalt tape within just over 100 feet of the tool. With Wi-Fi, we could have accessed it virtually anywhere.

We think the DeWalt digital measuring tape is slightly overpriced since other digital tape measures we tested cost less and were just as accurate—the only extra function on the DeWalt was Bluetooth, and we weren’t fans. If DeWalt were to switch from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi, we’d cough up a Ben Franklin in a heartbeat.

DeWalt Digital Tape Measure Review
Photo: Glenda Taylor

Is the DeWalt digital measuring tape right for you?

After extensively testing the DeWalt measuring tape, we think it’s best suited for those who want to get accurate measurements quickly. We’d recommend it for real estate agents who need to measure the square foot of every room in a house they’re listing or anyone else who needs to figure out surface area or square footage, including carpet layers, painters, and wallpaper hangers.
Finish carpenters who need more precise measurements or need to measure only short distances along a board or wall may want to stick with a traditional, high-quality steel measuring tape.

Where to Buy the DeWalt digital tape measure

Get the DeWalt digital tape measure at:

Meet the Tester

Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in construction, remodeling, and real estate. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.

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Glenda Taylor

Staff Writer

Glenda Taylor is BobVila.com staff writer with a background in the residential remodeling, home building, and home improvement industries. She started writing for BobVila.com in 2016 and covers a range of topics, including construction methods, code compliance, tool use, and the latest news in the housing and real estate industries. 

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