About one month ago, I purchased a new Leica DISTO D810 Touch. I am a big fan of going mobile and of laser measurement for real estate appraisers. When it comes to laser measurement, the bright lasers, handy features, and rugged design of the DISTO brand put it above its competitors. It is hard to imagine appraising without a DISTO. Consequently, I never work in the field without a backup DISTO waiting in the car. Prior to this purchase, the older D5 and a D2 models were our tools of choice. If you have not found your favorite DISTO yet, maybe these thoughts and experiences will be surprising and helpful.
The D810 Touch offers some exciting features (some exclusive and some available on other models). Here are my thoughts on some of the aspects that are most relevant to real estate appraisers:
After using the D810 for the past month, I’ve decided that it should stay in the car as a backup (or in my back pocket for use on difficult properties) while I use my older D5. Here are my reasons:
DIST, MINUS, DIST, EQUAL
On the D810, this requires six keystrokes.
DIST, +/-, +/- DIST, DIST, EQUAL
The +/- key must be hit twice because a single key is used to toggle between plus and minus each time. The DIST key must be hit twice because the laser does not automatically come on when the +/- key is pressed, as it does with the D5 and other DISTO models. I’ve found that all of these extra keystrokes waste a significant amount of time in the field.
Based on these experiences, if I was buying another DISTO today, I would select the E7500i. This model only lacks the measure in a picture feature and the lithium-ion battery of the D810, but it is smaller, it is $250 less expensive than the D810 (which is 30% less than retail), it has both plus and minus keys, it has a digital viewfinder, and it features smart horizontal measuring. If you do not care about the digital viewfinder (some appraisers might not care), you can save a lot of money by purchasing the model D2. The D2 has separate plus and minus keys and costs $670 less than the D810 (which is 79% less than retail).
If you want a great deal on a DISTO, try www.distagage.com . Leica requires that this company list the same price on their website as everyone else. However, if you contact them and ask for a discount, their prices are unbeatable. My 810 Touch was 20% off retail.
Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation? Let me know in the comments below.
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In 2010 I quit using paper in my office and began using a tablet computer for field appraisal inspections. Work flow and efficiency improved significantly. My office and files are now easily accessible, no matter my location. Individual tasks of the appraisal are only done once. The strategy has changed my business dramatically (similar to how the digital camera changed the appraisal business), yet the majority of appraisers still print and store large quantities of paper and take field notes, which then must be inserted into an appraisal report after returning from the field. Below is a motivational list of the top reasons for appraisers to go both paperless and mobile.
If you haven’t gone mobile, here is a video of a class that I taught last year on the topic.