Portland Area Real Estate Appraisal Discussion

Leica Disto D810 Touch Review Portland Appraiser

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:

  • A digital viewfinder (also available on other DISTO models) is a handy video camera function to help you find the laser point in bright sunlight or at a distance.  Once you get used to using this feature, it is hard to live without.


  • Measure with a picture (exclusive to the D810 Touch) allows the appraiser to take a picture of a second floor outcrop and measure it on the screen.  On some homes, this feature can be quite valuable.  It avoids the need to use the more difficult polynomial functions (that are available on the lower cost DISTOs), or having to take measurements from the interior of the structure.


  • Smart horizontal mode (also available on other DISTOs models) allows a measurement to shoot on an angle and then obtain the level distance.  This feature is handy when the only target for the laser beam is a high overhang.


  • Lithium-ion battery (exclusive to the D810 Touch) allows your 810 Touch to be charged in the car and eliminating the need to carry backup batteries.  This is a great feature, but it only works if you are someone who will remember to charge it.  The cost of purchasing AA batteries for the other DISTOs can be significant over the life of the device (they go through batteries quick), but it might be easier to remember a pack of batteries in your car.


  • Bluetooth compatibility (also available on other DISTOs models) is a promising feature for sending measurements directly to your device.  Some techy appraisers might find this feature useful or fun, but most will not need or want it.


  • Plus and minus keys are standard on all DISTO models (that I know of) and are essential because they allow the appraiser to measure segments of a wall, taking advantage of more convenient targets that might not be available at the end of the wall.  I use the plus or minus keys on about half of all exterior measurements.

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:

  • The D810 is significantly slower when it comes to plus and minus measurements.  For example, I might shoot to a fence past the edge of the house, walk to the end of the wall that I’m measuring, and press the minus key to subtract the distance from the house to the fence.  With the D5 this requires only four keystrokes.


On the D810, this requires six keystrokes.


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.

  • The D810 touch screen is clumsy and I find myself accidentally hitting the screen and turning on the picture mode.  This happens most often when I’m reaching the DISTO around corners or holding it over my head.


  • The D810 is just larger and does not slip in and out of my pocket as well.

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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Thanks for reading,

Gary F. Kristensen


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