LAST UPDATED: November 04, 2020

The Best Digital Tape Measures (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice The Best Digital Tape Measures (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021 Leica DISTO D2
Best Value The Best Digital Tape Measures (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021 eTape16 Digital Electronic Tape Measure
Premium Pick The Best Digital Tape Measures (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021 Tacklife HD60 Classic Laser Measure

There’s a difference between getting a job done, and doing the job right. When you’re on a job site or doing a home improvement project, having the right tools makes all the difference. However, those tools and all of your expertise are only as good as your measurements.

Once you start dealing with greater distances and more complex measurements, a tape measure can be a real hassle. They bend, become crooked, don’t retract smoothly, and aren’t very easy to read in a lot of real-world conditions.

That’s when we’d rather reach for a digital tape measure. Not only are they more accurate, but they’re also easier to use and eliminate the guesswork. When you want precision and accuracy without foregoing efficiency, nothing beats the power of technology.

Best Digital Tape Measures

If you want uncompromising quality, the Leica DISTO D2 is the digital tape measure for you. This tool’s Class II laser carries an impressive accuracy rating of 1/16 inch as far as 330 feet away. Try that with a roll-up tape measure. The intelligent display lets you choose how you want measurements to be displayed, including meters to three decimal places, and feet to two decimal places. The memory function stores the last ten measurements, so you don’t have to scribble numbers down while holding a tape. A Pythagoras function even calculates height or width indirectly. Best of all, Bluetooth connectivity allows you to upload measurements to your phone or tablet. Two AA batteries will provide power for 10,000 measurements. 

While it is a very useful tool, it can wear down over time and some of the functions may not work as well. Store it carefully and be gentle when using it to prolong the overall shelf life.

Key Features
  • Includes Bluetooth connectivity
  • Precise to within 1/16-inches
  • Clear display for easy reading
  • Works in imperial and metric
Specification
  • Brand Leica Geosystems
  • Model 838725
  • Weight Four ounces
PROS

Efficient and accurate measurement

Powered by AA batteries

Includes a memory function

CONS

Subject to wear and tear

Drains batteries faster as it ages

Measurements require precise tape placement

Like conventional options, the eTape16 Digital Electronic Tape Measure uses a roll-up metal tape with legible measurement markings. Unlike those older tools, though, it has a digital display like you’d find elsewhere on this list. There are no lasers or calculations, just a handy screen that takes the guesswork out of counting tiny hash marks on yellow tape. Easily switch between metric and imperial units to make on-the-fly conversions easy. Three memory functions store measurements and a large side button wheel makes scrolling through your saved data easy. The polycarbonate plastic body is water-resistant and strong enough to handle life in your toolbox. This tool uses one lithium metal battery (Type 2032) capable of providing up to 64 hours of continuous use.

Though this tape measure is useful, there are some downsides, particularly in terms of the battery replacements. It can be tricky to find Type 2032 batteries, so plan and make sure you have backup batteries.

Key Features
  • Small screen that’s hard to break
  • Trip of memory storage functions
  • Large controls for quick measurement
  • Converts between metric and imperial
Specification
  • Brand Etape
  • Model Gen-2
  • Weight 10.4 ounces
PROS

Tough, water-resistant design

Lightweight and compact

Enables a long battery life

CONS

Lacks laser and distance measurements

Fairly small screen makes reading harder

Small batteries may be hard to replace

The Tacklife HD60 Classic Laser Measure may not be the distance champion of the group, but it’s chock full of features to help you work smarter. The laser is accurate to 1/16 inch at 196 feet, and two bubble levels help keep your measurements precise. Use a handy unit button to easily switch between meters, feet, and inches. A backlit LCD screen is great for dark environments. The tool’s computer is capable of using linear measurements to calculate area and even volume. Like other options, this can use two remote measurements to calculate measurements you can’t reach, using the Pythagorean theorem. The waterproof and dustproof body is constructed using shock-resistant materials that can handle life on the job site.

Despite being highly effective, the advanced features of this digital tape measure may be fairly complex for beginners. To make the most of this measuring tool, apply it to demanding projects that require in-depth measurements.

Key Features
  • Incorporates remote measuring
  • Includes large LCD display
  • Can calculate volume
  • Long-lasting power supply
Specification
  • Brand Tacklife
  • Weight 7.2 ounces
PROS

Works well in dark settings

Waterproof and resilient structure

Powered with standard AAA batteries

CONS

Screen subject to cracks and damage

Can be complex for beginners

May be difficult to change between metrics

The DBPOWER Digital Laser Measure strikes a great balance between capability and price. Even as one of the least expensive options available, it still manages to offer high-end functions you might not expect at this price point. The laser measures distances up to 197 feet with 1/13-inch accuracy. The LCD display shows live measurements as you move, and lights up for use in low-light environments. Minimum and maximum modes let you sweep an area to find a true plum or diagonal measurement, so you don’t have to guess on where to place your measurement. A Pythagorean mode allows this tool to calculate hard-to-reach distances using two remote measurements. A bubble helps you keep your measurements level, and you can toggle between back and front reference point modes.

Despite its overall efficacy, the laser feature of this tape measure can be easily interrupted with stray objects or debris. Keep both the tape measure and the area clean for the best results.

Key Features
  • Laser pointer for distance measuring
  • Capable of calculating complex formulas
  • Bright LCD display for easy reading
  • Measures at diverse angles
Specification
  • Brand DBPOWER
  • Model TD0425
  • Weight 7 ounces
PROS

Priced affordably for any budget

Uses AAA batteries for power source

Easy-to-use controls on the face

CONS

Laser can be interrupted easily

Fairly demanding maintenance needs

Controls can be complex for beginners

There’s something to be said for tools like the Bosch GLM 20 Compact Blaze, that provide all the functions we need, and none that we don’t. With this digital tape measure, you can measure distances up to 65 feet with 1/8-inch accuracy. Choose for measurements to be displayed in meters, feet and inches, or inches only. Constant operation means you can see measurements in real-time as you move the tool — which is great for planning construction sites. Single-button operation takes out all the guesswork, so you can bypass functions and menus you don’t need. An illuminated display keeps measurements clear, even in dark places. The small, 3.2-ounce tool fits easily into pockets and tool belt pouches.

Even though this is a powerful tool that lets you measure on the move, sometimes those readings aren’t as accurate. For best results, keep it steady while you work and wait the extra second for the measurement.

Key Features
  • Single button control for ease
  • Crisp LCD display for measurements
  • Measures to 1/8 inch accuracy
  • Lets you move tape while measuring
Specification
  • Brand Bosch
  • Model GLM 20
  • Weight 3.2 ounces
PROS

Dynamic function ideal for work

Bright screen for dark environments

Runs on accessible AAA batteries

CONS

Screen cracks upon impact

Slight lag when moving the tape

Dynamic readings subject to error

If you’re looking for a way to make the most of traditional measuring while improving accuracy, the Tacklife Laser Tape Measure is a solid option. It runs on batteries and uses an automatic shutoff feature to preserve energy. Since it has a relatively small display, it pulls limited power at any given time. The tape extends easily and pulls back in safely. To add ease during the measurement process, there is a dynamic magnetic hook to let you control the tape. The unit itself is very compact, fitting into any existing toolbox setup. Petite yet powerful, it runs on a duo of AAA batteries (easy to find and replace).

Bear in mind that the unit does have a laser, meaning it is vulnerable to dust and debris. So long as you wipe it down before you get started, it can improve your accuracy and precision.

Key Features
  • Magnetic hook for added stability
  • Crisp and compact LCD screen
  • Accurate to within 1/16 inches
  • Eco-friendly energy conservation
Specification
  • Brand Tacklife
  • Model TM-L01
  • Weight 10.4 ounces
PROS

Automatic shutdown for power saving

Converts units of measurement

Easy to pull and retract the tape

CONS

Small screen can be tricky to read

Laser can get clouded with debris

Belt clip subject to breakage

If you’re experienced with measuring tapes, the Bosch Blaze GLM Backlit Measuring Tool may be the ideal way to go. It touts advanced features, including the ability to perform complex measurements at the drop of a hat. With a strong laser that gives you a reach of 165 feet, you can address projects of all different sizes. The tape is fairly compact, fitting into a standard pocket or tool kit. Worried about scratching the display? The measure comes with a carrying pouch to insulate it from danger. The automatic shutoff feature that engages with inactivity protects the batteries and lets you use it for longer. Balancing advanced abilities with user-friendliness, this is a popular measuring tool.

Bear in mind that, while technically a measuring tape, there is no actual physical tape. The device relies on the laser, meaning you must practice proper maintenance to ensure the product’s longevity.

Key Features
  • Durable structure with bold screen
  • Capable of advanced calculations
  • Includes Bluetooth hookup abilities
  • Range of 165 feet with laser
Specification
  • Brand Bosch
  • Model GLM 50 C
  • Weight 3.2 ounces
PROS

Precise to within 1/16 inches

Compact design for easy storage

Comes with protective case and lanyard

CONS

Bright screen drains power quickly

Controls have a steep learning curve

Class 11A laser can be dangerous to eyes

Whether you’re just starting or prefer things simple, the Meterk Laser Measuring Tape lets you get the job done with ease. Despite the compact structure, this tape measure holds a lot of power. It runs on a rechargeable lithium battery that plugs in via USB for quick charging. When in play, the tape extends readily and holds in place easily. For added precision, there is a laser pointer to help you be sure of your lines. No time to do complex mathematics? This tool can help with that. The screen at the top rotates to let you always see the metrics clearly. Switching readily between imperial and metric, it is a highly effective option.

Of course, there are some downsides to the recharging abilities (since you can’t just swap out batteries). To avoid any downtime, make sure you charge the unit fully before you start work.

Key Features
  • Performs complex measurements
  • Precision measuring abilities
  • Works in imperial and metric
  • Simple controls for easy changes
Specification
  • Brand Meterk
  • Weight 15.2 ounces
PROS

Rechargeable USB battery

Effective laser pointer

High level of accuracy with tape and laser

CONS

Tape itself can be hard to control

Draws a lot of power to small screen

Tiny LCD display may be hard to read

The DTAPE Laser Digital Tape Measure extends to 16 feet and offers precise readouts to within 1/16 of an inch. The laser is there to enable you to get precise lines without the guesswork. Sending the messages to a crisp LCD display, you can quickly and easily get a readout. The controls are located at the sides, easy to use thanks to the simple design. While the default is metric, it takes only a push of a button to switch it over to imperial. By operating on a rechargeable battery, it lends an economical edge that takes away the need for replacement batteries.

Bear in mind that, though the USB charging is handy, it takes a bit of extra time between uses. Check the charge (indicated on the screen) before you get to work to prevent any nuisances.

Key Features
  • Includes rechargeable battery
  • Sleek and compact design
  • Incorporates a laser for precision
  • Advanced spool for easy retraction and pull
Specification
  • Brand DTAPE
  • Weight 14.4 ounces
PROS

Nylon exterior for water-resistance

Powerful yet eco-friendly laser

Crisp LCD screen for dark areas

CONS

Automatic shutoff feature may engage prematurely

Only extends to 16 feet

Defaults to metric measurement

When the top priority is getting an exact reading, the Mileseey Digital Tape Measure is a worthy selection. It incorporates a large, bright LCD screen that takes any guesswork out of measuring things in the dark. It’s powered by a set of AA batteries, coming with a set to let you get right to work. Reaching to 165 feet away, it is easy to tackle large projects. For the times where you need to run calculations, this measuring tool is right there with you. From hypothesis to the hypotenuse, you can quickly glean anything from volume to angle. Swapping from metric to imperial in a jiffy, the precision capability and standard power source (coupled with an automatic shutoff) make this a well-suited workplace tool.

While this tape has comprehensive features, it can be a bit bulky to store (especially since the screen can scratch). To avoid these pitfalls, keep it away from sharp objects and ready for the next task.

Key Features
  • Large LCD screen for clear readings
  • Measures in multiple metrics
  • Accessible controls on instrument’s face
  • Range of 165 feet
Specification
  • Brand Rockseed
  • Weight 5.6 ounces
PROS

Accurate to 1/16 inches

Able to calculate complex formulas

Water and dustproof design

CONS

Vulnerable to impact damage

Fairly advanced controls

Laser loses power over time

Best Digital Tape Measures Buying Guide

When you’re on the hunt for a digital tape measure, there are a few important things to keep in mind before you choose the one to buy. The first thing to consider is your desired balance of analog and digital. Some tape measures have both a physical tape and a laser, whereas others focus entirely on the laser aspect. Decide if you need both and go from there.

Next, you want to determine the level of accuracy you will need. There is a surprisingly massive difference between standard deviations of 1/8 inches and 1/16 inches. Be sure of the precision as you move forward. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the kinds of calculations you will need. For instance, do you have to measure volume? Sure, you can use paper and a pencil, but more advanced digital tape measures can do the work in a jiffy.

Of course, you also want something that comes from a reputable brand that has a proven track record of success. So long as you identify your priorities and focus on options that adhere to those values, you can find an ideal option.

What Is a Digital Tape Measure?

A digital tape measure is a tool used to accurately determine distance. Instead of using physical tape exclusively and requiring the user to eyeball the measurement, it relies on technology. By including sensors, either magnetic or light-operated, the measuring tape registers the distance and displays it on the screen.

In standard functions (width, length, etc.), the function is in line with an analog tape measure. However, digital options have more advanced features as well. They can convert between measurements. Even the most basic options include the ability to shift from inches to feet, to metric. Battery operated, digital tape measures are powerful tools that enable a level of accuracy that the human eye simply cannot achieve alone. 

Benefits of a Digital Tape Measure

There are many advantages to using a digital tape measure, ranging from ease to efficiency. The top virtue is range since lasers can shoot out far further than a physical tape can achieve. This lets you measure larger areas without having to compound physical measurements. Another key benefit is the precision offered by technology. Instead of relying on sight alone to guess where the mark lies, the LCD screen will display the reading to (usually) within 1/16 of an inch. This ensures that you don’t compound measurement errors and that all your pieces add up correctly. 

Offering measurement capabilities beyond the linear, digital tape measures usually includes a memory feature that lets it store your previous settings and details. This means you can switch between imperial and metric without worry. Plus, more advanced measuring tools are able to go far beyond this. By using straightforward formulas like those to calculate angles, hypotenuse length, and volume, you can save a lot of time and effort. 

  • Easy to read screens that enable you to measure in dark settings. 
  • Precision measurements that limit the standard deviation to roughly 1/16 inches.
  • Waterproof and dustproof to promote overall longevity.
  • Powered by batteries to make it easy to keep them working. 
  • Converts your digits from imperial to metric (or vice versa) with the touch of a button.
  • Laser offers reach unattainable with standard tape measures. 

Types of Digital Tape Measures

There are several different types of digital tape measures, each with their own virtues. By understanding how each of them works, you can determine which is best suited to your specific needs. While all tape measures are capable of reading distance in a linear fashion, there are advanced selections that take utility far beyond this point. Ultimately, it is a matter of figuring out the sort of task you plan to use the tape measure for. So long as you identify the type of digital tape measure gears towards those needs, you can more easily complete the task. 

  • Exclusively Digital

This type of tape measure focuses entirely on the abilities of the laser and includes no analog tape function. The light beam operates as the tape instead. This offers a wider range than can be achieved with a standard tape since most laser parts can go as far as 165 feet. 

Included with this type is either a replaceable or a rechargeable battery. This sort of digital tape measure is far more likely than others to have rechargeable capabilities. Additionally, there is usually a larger screen and more functions. Typically, this type of digital tape measure can perform advanced calculations like volume and area.

  • Hybrid

With these digital tape measures, there is both a physical tape and a laser. While sometimes the laser has less of a range than exclusively digital options, it gives the benefit of having an analog backup. This way, if batteries die during a project, you can keep working. Though this type tends to be a bit smaller and somewhat heavier, there is still a digital display. It may be more petite, though it offers accurate readings to within the same standard deviation as other options.

You can find hybrid selections in various sizes, though more often than not they are powered by a set of replaceable batteries. The unit will likely be able to convert your units and store values in its memory. Sometimes, you can find a hybrid selection able to calculate advanced formulas. Useful for those who prefer to titrate in technology, these continue to be popular.

  • Compact

A handy option for those with overflowing tool kits, this type of digital tape measure takes up less space than other options. You can find compact digital tape measures in both exclusively digital and hybrid styles. Often, the unit will include a carrying pouch to protect it against damage.

Powered by batteries and with a very small LCD display, this type of measuring tape usually features a long battery life. Typically, it will have an automatic shutoff with activity. The laser takes limited power since it’s used for short periods. Given the size of the screen, it also extends battery life. While it may be less crisp and often isn’t backlit, these are a very hardy type of tape measure.

digital tape measure

What to Look for When Buying Digital Tape Measure

When you’re looking for a digital tape measure, there are a few necessary things to keep your eye on. The first is the type of tape. Ultimately, if you aren’t comfortable with the functions, then you are less likely to use it. Choose something that works for you. The next thing to look for is range and precision. Especially if you need accuracy, choose something with at least a precision of 1/16 inches. Opt for at least 165 feet of range with the laser to give yourself the chance to measure larger areas. Finally, you’ll want to ensure that the power source is accessible to you. Whether you’ll rely on batteries or a USB cord, the most important thing is the ability to keep it charged.

How We Ranked The Digital Tape Measures

When assessing these digital tape measures, there are a few things we kept in mind. Broken into a couple of categories, we looked primarily at function, structure, and power. By assessing each of these parameters as noted by the description, we were able to identify the top selections. First, we looked at function; finding the selections with the most ability (digit conversion, accuracy, range, memory).

The next step in our analysis, provided the tape met the standards for function, is looking at the structure. Is the screen properly sized? Are the buttons accessible? Is it easy to read? Provided these lined up, we moved forward to the power section. All digital tech requires a power source. So long as the power was accessible (strong USB port or replaceable batteries), it made the cut. From there, we looked at the products repute and track record before making our final recommendations.

The Most Important Features of Digital Tape Measures

As with any tool, there are some essential features to make your experience a successful one. Sure, some are more critical than others; but, when you find a tape measure that has all these features and more, you can rely on it to work. Prioritize the features and, from there, you can identify the best digital tape measure for you. 

  • Display

What sets digital tape measures apart from their analog counterparts is the LCD display. This feature lets you interpret the results achieved by the digital component. Sometimes the screens are a few square inches and sometimes they are quite small. Within this component, you can find a lot of other features, too.

For instance, larger screens can display more simultaneously. They also enable you to see more clearly, especially when the screen is backlit. This is where to keep an eye on resolution and waterproof abilities (especially if you work in humid areas). So long as the screen is well-placed and large enough, you can achieve the desired results.

  • Tape

While tape may be a loose term, the reach of the measuring tape counts for a lot. Sure, some options have both a physical tape and a light beam. However, even if the tape is just a laser pointer, it can work equally as well, if not more precisely. The idea is to identify the quality of the tape and how it relates to the measurement sensors.

With lasers, you can expect a range of roughly 165 feet while a tape will have drastically less reach. However, lasers only work when the unit has sufficient power. So long as the laser interfaces well with the display, it is a good way to go. 

  • Measurements

Naturally, your tape measure needs to perform the key job: measuring. However, not all readings are made alike. For one, you need to keep an eye on the accuracy. Reasonable expectations require a precision of plus or minus 1/16 inches. So long as this can be achieved, you are getting the full benefits of the digital features (since human readings at this accuracy level are subject to flaw). 

You also want measurements that work in multiple metrics. This way, you don’t need a conversion chart and a calculator and can keep working steadily. Ideally, it will be able to complete formulas, saving you time. You can find selections that measure volume and readings according to the Pythagorean theorem (right angle triangles). 

  • Power

Finally, you need to be able to run the measuring tape. There are two options within this category, both viable and more a matter of personal convenience. The first is replaceable batteries which are the most common designs on the market. Usually, it is either an AA or a AAA battery, though you may find smaller units in compact tapes.

The other option is a rechargeable battery that uses a USB cord to recharge the internal system. Provided you have access to a laptop, a PC, or a wall adapter like those found with cell phones, this is a viable option. However, when you take it on the road, you may want something with a replaceable battery backup.

Care and Maintenance for Digital Tape Measures

Just like with any tool, digital tape measures have specific maintenance requirements. While this is fairly straightforward, prudent scheduling of preventative upkeep can drastically improve the shelf life of your measurement tool. As with most things, it comes down to both storage and cleaning.

So long as you keep the measuring tape in a safe area where it won’t be scratched or crushed, you are off to a good start. The idea is to keep it in prime condition for when you need it. As such, keep it reasonably charged and promptly take out spent batteries. Wipe down the surface of the screen, the magnetic attachment, and the laser’s eye to ensure that it can function properly. When you practice proper maintenance, your readings are more reliable and the part lasts longer.

  • Remove dead batteries promptly to prevent acid leakage. 
  • Keep the tool in a dry, dark setting to prevent damage from surroundings. 
  • If it comes in a carrying case, keep the measuring tape safely inside of it. 
  • Avoid dropping the measuring tape to prevent impact damage. 
  • Wipe down the screen with a microfiber cloth to prevent scratching. 
  • Don’t shake the measuring tape during (or after) use to avoid circuitry issues.
  • Keep the eye of the laser clean and free of debris for more accurate results. 

digital tape measure

Best Digital Tape Measures FAQ:

Digital tape measures are a relatively new piece of technology. Naturally, this means that owners and operators have a fair share of questions. To address the most common inquiries, we’ve provided answers that can help you get back to work more quickly. 

Q: What is the most accurate tape measure?

A: The most accurate measuring tape is one with a range anywhere from 1/16 to 1/32 of an inch. This level of precision is next to impossible with the human eye alone, adding value to the digital interface. A regulated measuring tape falls under certain guidelines which can be consulted for more details. 

Q: What is the red dot on a tape measure?

A: The red dot on a tape measure is where the laser sits. Sometimes, this part is used in the place of the physical tape whereas other times it functions as a straight edge or a level. This part should be kept clean and free of debris to prevent damage to the tape measure’s function

Q: How do you use a digital tape measure?

A: Turn on the tape measure and set the metrics you desire. Activate the tape (whether physical or laser) and place its end at the second spot (stand at the first). Interpret the measurement on the screen and jot it down. If necessary, set the function for the desired formula and get that readout too. Should you need the same reading later, store it in the memory. Though many have an automatic shutoff feature, you can save power by turning it off right away. 

Q: How do you calibrate a tape measure?

A: Most options come pre-calibrated, adding ease by letting you get back to work. Otherwise, you will have to manually calibrate it. This involves investigating the measurement readouts against a predetermined setup. There are calibration tools available to make this easier and prevent any errors from compounding. Set the readings as a baseline and get back to work. 

Our Top Pick

After lengthy consideration, we’ve declared our top pick as the Leica DISTO D2. It is durable, powerful, and very user friendly. With accessible power and an interface that’s easy to control and interpret, this is one of the leading selections on the market. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve learned the nuances of digital tape measures, you can make your choice. Perhaps it’s the Leica DISTO D2 for efficiency and ease of use. You may want our value pick, the DBPOWER Digital Laser Measure for cost-effectiveness, and accuracy. There is no shortage of excellent selections, ready to enhance your construction and creating experience.