September 28, 2010

Bosch GLL2-80 Laser Level - Reader Review (Eric F.)

We've been impressed with most of the laser review thus far, but this one brings 'thoroughness' to a previously unseen level. Reader Eric does a nice comparison to a few other models on the market. He also explains the economics behind Bosch not including a receiver with the level (a criticism levied by a few other reviewers). Read on for a little head to head to head to head level action...

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Introduction
In my current occupation as a Energy Auditor and Home Consultant I don't have the need to use lasers as much as I did when I was a draftsman or carpenter but I did put the Bosch GLL2-80 features to the test and compared them to what I have experienced in the past. My first experience with a dual axis rotary laser was years ago when I purchased a Porter-Cable/RoboToolz RT-7690, the Porter-Cable is one of 3 tools I compared the Bosch laser to; the other two a DeWalt DW082 mainly for size comparison, and lastly a ZipLevel by Technidea for what a laser level can't do.

GLL2-80 Review
Like other reviewers I was amazed by the tiny size of the Bosch laser in comparison to others that I have used. The small form factor makes it a tool that I will be more likely to leave in my work vehicle, whereas in the past the Porter-Cable only left home on special occasions. The beam is calm, bright, clear, less annoying than a rotary laser, and nominally different in size from the one made by the Porter-Cable. Unlike a rotary laser, it is completely silent (except for the out of level beeping). The inclusion of both 1/4" and 5/8" tripod mounts on the laser, and stand, are a sweet innovation that I have not seen on other lasers. The stand included in the case is also a nice addition; it is well-designed, the pull out legs provide decent support, the adjustment is smooth, the magnets are plenty strong to hold to sheet metal or to a pipe column. I tried it with my Porter-Cable receiver, and as reported in a previous review about a DeWalt receiver, it didn't work with the Bosch laser. That was until I read the Bosch directions and put the laser in pulse mode, and am happy to report they now play well together.


bosch_laser_EF3.jpg bosch_laser_EF5.jpg

One feature missing from the Bosch GLL2-80 that I find helpful with the Porter-Cable is the "dither" feature. A simple back and forth motion that creates just a portion of the 360 degree line(s). I found this feature helpful when wanting a slightly brighter line or when using it near eye level.

The only function of the DeWalt DW082 is a laser plumb bob. I kept trying to figure out how I could replace the need for the DeWalt with the Bosch GLL2-80t and got nowhere. Bosch does make a 2 point, 3 point and 5 point laser level, my suggestion is creating a hybrid of the GLL2-80 and at least the GPL2 (a 2 point) laser plumb bob.

bosch_laser_EF4.jpgWhat is in the cases
Bosch: The laser. The stand, a simple target plate, user manual and space for spare batteries and optional accessories
Porter-Cable: The laser, remote/receiver, receiver stick mount, red glasses, target plate, user manual and ac adapter.
DeWalt: The laser, user manual and space for spare batteries.

What is left out of the cases
Bosch: I was surprised that glasses weren't included as a simple, fairly inexpensive accessory that is usually standard and very helpful when using around any decently illuminated work space. For a $300 price point laser I was not surprised that a remote receiver was not included. Adding a $130+ receiver to the package would just make the initial cost of laser to high for some prospective buyers. As for comments that a tripod was not included, 99% of lasers don't come with one, either they think you may already have one or don't need one, in this case a collapsible camera tripod is more than sufficient.
Porter-Cable: The case was full, I bought tripod and elevation stick separate.

The cases
The Porter Cable case holds everything and is quite bulky. The Bosch case has the space in it for accessories without making it to big (similar size to other Bosch tools such as the 12vMax Multi-X). The DeWalt case is so small it almost a negative, a manly man might feel a bit silly carrying it like a purse, I could easily see it being misplaced; falling behind another tool.

bosch_laser_EF2.jpgBosch GLL2-80 in the field (Literally)
I was hoping to have a wide variety of projects to try out the GLL2-80 laser on, but lately mostly what projects I have had a chance to use it on are outdoor projects. Great at night, or in the afternoon shade, pretty much useless in direct sunlight conditions without a receiver. For a grading project, my father-in-law wanted to dig a trench 4' straight down into a hill side; I thought of my options, remembered the laser, brought it out and couldn't be a better marker while digging. Better than a string line (didn't get in the way), better than a chalk line (didn't go away with the dirt removal) better than a plumb bob, (no rechecking) better than just guessing.For a preliminary grading, fence and shed layout the Bosch laser worked great to give an quick understanding on what demo needs to happen and what elevation works right.

bosch_laser_EF1.jpgUseful project for laser levels
Projects which in the past I have found a laser level important for in the prior to the Bosch and will likely use it for in the future: Finish carpentry; hanging cabinets, and placing chair rail. Measuring elevation changes in grade. Checking a foundation wall for plumb and monitoring it for movement over multiple visits.

Side Note - ZipLevel
One tool worth mentioning, while is not a laser level, is great level for doing many things you might try to do with a laser level and get frustrated. The tool I am referring to is called a ZipLevel by a company called Technidea. In my opinion line-of-site is the biggest limitation of laser levels, the ZipLevel takes this away by using a pressurized hydrostatic altimeter instead of a laser. They have two models, one super accurate/short vertical range, one slightly less accurate/much broader vertical range, the later is described here. The ZipLevel has 1/8" accuracy with a vertical range of 40' and a 100' radius from the base. While there are some obvious projects I wouldn't bring it to there are many tasks that are much easier, if even possible using a laser that are simple with this tool: Simple and quick one man grade measuring. Measuring settling of a house in finished areas (place the base centered in a typical 3 bedroom ranch, zero the tool, and you can pretty much touch any point in or on the house). Accurate floor to floor (to ridge and everything in between) elevation measurements. (And no I do not work for Technidea, unlike infomercials try to sell you one tool that replaces the rest, I just appreciate the fact is that there is a right tool for every job.)

Conclusion
In conclusion the Bosch GLL2-80 is a great laser packed into one small device. It works well, feels rugged for a laser and has great features; I give it an 8/10. It is a nice addition to the Bosch tool lineup (I can't wait to get my hands on a Bosch Axial Glide miter saw and the Powerbox 360D) keep up the great innovations. Lastly a big thank you to ToolSnob.com and Bosch Tools for the opportunity to use, review and keep one sweet little laser.

Eric F. works for Mosby Building Arts,
Ltd.

At Amazon.com

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at September 28, 2010 1:00 PM

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