Johnson 48 Inch Digital Level Review
Up this time for review is the Johnson 40-6048 Glo-View Digital Level. This level is built around the Johnson Glo-View level body (reviewed here), but gets boosted into the digital age with a digital readout and all the goodies that goes along with it. Since I have already covered the analog parts of the level in the regular Glo-View review, today I will only be covering the digital parts.
Analog levels have served us well for so many years, why do we need to go digital? Well, I am not here to tell you what to need or do not need, but the Johnson 40-6048 has a few features that make the move to digital very understandable, like five different measurement modes. A standard vial level can tell you if something is either level or out of level, but it is difficult to get a measurement of the degree levelness. This is where the Johnson Digital level shows its stuff. With its five measurement modes the Glo-View Digital Level can go from simple leveling, to more complex degrees, percent of level. Even their simple leveling has options that can really come in handy, like telling you levelness in inches per foot, millimeters per meter, and even fractional inches per foot.
The readout has an easy to read display, and also has a built in light that can be turned on or off. I found the decimal in/ft setting to be the easiest for me visually. The buttons on the level are only on one side, but the display itself can be rotated more then 180 degrees to allow for viewing from both sides. Johnson has even cut a window out of the aluminum frame to allow for viewing from the top. If you can not see the LCD display for whatever reason, a Hold button on the unit can be pressed to grab the current measurement. Another option the level provides is audible level indications; a series of beeps can be heard, and as the measurement gets closer to level the beeps get faster and closer together. A final long beep lets you know when you have reached 0 or level.
As with anything digital, especially a tool that can be dropped or banged around, there is a worry about becoming out of sync, or in this case out of level. I haven't noticed this to be a problem with the 40-6048, but I am also very careful not to drop my levels, no matter if they are analog or digital. In case the level does read out of level, calibration on the unit is super easy. All you have to do is go into calibration mode, push a button to take a reading, spin the level 180 (being sure you place it in the exact same spot) and take a second reading. That is it, the level will adjust to read level. The same method is used for both vertical and horizontal calibration.
The Johnson Digital Level has a lot of cool features, but it also has its negatives. The first, is probably also the worst; it takes a good second or more for the digital level to settle into a reading. When you are all about speed, having a reading that is behind is never good. This also makes the beeping feature harder to use. You can go by what you hear, but again, it takes a while for the level to settle, then you have to readjust. My next complaint is about the beeping. A level is usually only an arm's distance away, so the beeping does not always have to be as loud as Johnson made it. I understand that Johnson was probably taking jobsite noise into account, but a second sound level option would have been a huge plus.
You know I love the analog Glo-View Level, and all of the feature of the Digital version are great, but the slowness of the digital readout really sets the level back a few notches. Unless you really need one of the five measurement modes the digital level offers, or the audible or Hold features, I would recommend just getting the standard Glo-View level.
The Johnson 40-6048 Digital Level comes with 3-AAA batteries as well as a soft carrying case and instruction manual. Johnson also sells a smaller 28" (not 24") version of the same level. Interesting, Amazon sells both versions for about $190. Other stores have the 28" model for $40 less.