Black & Decker BDL100AV All-In-One SureGrip Laser Level - Review

I really wanted to like the B&D BDL100AV All-In-One SureGrip Laser Level. It has some really great features. The bubble level is lit with green and red LEDs. When the unit is level, the red light turns bright green. You can see the change from red to green from quite a distance. The unit also has an audio function that allows you to "home in" on level without even looking. It comes with a suction cup that magnetically attaches to the laser level. B&D unfortunately highly overrates the unit's "stickability" on common wall surfaces. While it stuck great to bathroom tile, it did NOT reliably stick to flat latex wall paint - only semi-gloss.
The "sticking" issues, while bad, aren't the big dealbreaker with the B&D 100AV. The real problem is that the audio and red/green - level/not level functions do not agree with each other. When the bubble indicates level, the red/green and audio indicators do not. Even worse, the audio, the red/green function and the bubble on the built-in levels do not agree with a manual 4' bubble level. There's no adjustment either. My unit is winging its way back to Amazon tonight after confirming with B&D that there's no way for the user to adjust the unit back to "true" level. To Amazon's credit, I just printed out a US Business "Smart" Reply label (no human readable address, just a barcode!), slapped it on the box and the mailman took it away today, postage paid by Amazon. I really wanted to keep it because the level had some great features. Just really bad execution.
The magnetic connection between the two halves doesn't lock and is easily disturbed. Just trying to use the unit (ignoring, for the moment, it's completely out of alignment) was annoying because the slightest tap would knock it out of adjustment. A slightly larger tap would knock it right off the wall. Fortunately I was testing it on the wall above the sofa so it came in for a soft landing. Other purchasers weren't so lucky, it seems.
The laser line only comes out of one side of the unit and only projects a foot or so, with the brightness of the rather thick line falling off rapidly. The laser level I intended to replace (no suction cup) projects a line a least three times as long, twice as bright and considerably sharper and more narrow. To use the B&D effectively, you have to turn out the stinkin' lights! The batteries that came with the unit were already half dead (perhaps why it was one of those Amazon "lightning deals") and I had to replace them with new alkalines to get an output from the laser.
What surprises me is how many people rated the unit 4 or 5 stars even after noting that it fell off walls and that the bubble, light and sound indicators did not agree. I wonder how many people even bothered to check the device against a real level? It's not PC, but I did notice a lot of gushing reviews were from women who may have never used a better tool or even thought to test whether the laser line was truly level. (-: A number of the reviewers agreed with my pet peeve about switches: B&D uses a center-off three position switch, just like my Dremel, and both require finesse not to keep bouncing between mode 1 and 2 when simply trying to turn the unit off.
A number of reviewers noted that once the unit came crashing off the wall, it either stopped working altogether or would no longer indicate level in any orientation. A unit that promised to stick on flat-painted walls for two hours without leaving a mark but does neither is not something I can recommend. With the weak suction and the magnet attachment point, this laser's going to go down at some point. Apparently when it does, it's dead. Not acceptable. A tool that's likely to get bounced around because of its design flaws should be more robust than the BDL100AV. I'm sticking with my old Zircon audio level and the no-name laser level that projects a strong, bright line on BOTH sides of the level. Too bad. The B&D had what might have been some nice features if only they were well executed. Price $21.90. Worth = zero. A level that can't indicate a true level line is worthless.
The battery door is totally detachable and thus very easy to lose. I was about to attach it with some monofilament fishing line but once I discovered it was not level, there was no point. There are no polarity markings in the battery compartment, just on the inside of the detachable door. My unit had a bulge in the plastic battery compartment requiring that one of the batteries be removed with needle-nose pliers.
-- Bobby G.
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I am not sure why I even read your review. My experiences with B&D ended several years ago. Maybe I was hoping for a change from my past experiences. Now I won't even pick up a B&D tool to even look at it.
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Actually, I don't think much of them but this was on sale and Amazon makes it easy to return so I took a chance on both this and a new B&D dustbuster, the CHV1410 Dustbuster 14.4-Volt Cordless Cyclonic Hand Vac was $39.89 with free SuperSaver shipping from Amazon, too.
The vacuum is actually turning out to be an OK tool. I'll write it up later. Still using NiCads but with a charger that they allege CAN'T overcharge (we'll see) and lots of interesting features like a flip down brush on the nozzle and an internal extension tube.
Good balance, good suction, a little heavy (14.4V battery pack), easy to empty, good switch position and feel. Someone either made it for them or they've learned something in the thirty years since they built the first one. B&D rechargeable tools have always failed before their time, usually due to a bad cell in the pack. With a 14.4V pack, there are still plenty of opportunities for a bad cell. I bought a unit with that voltage so I could power it from a 12VDC gel-cell or splice on a 12VDC car light plug and make it a car-based unit if and when the batteries fail.
Maybe this is the B&D tool that makes up for all the crap stuff I bought from them for years and years. I only bought it because the detailed reviews were quite favorable compared to a number of the other handheld vacuums that Amazon sells and because returning it would be easy. At $40 I consider it a "disposable" tool anyway. Almost all the handheld vacuums I've purchased in the last 20 years have died from bearing failures, not battery issues.
-- Bobby G.
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Review Snipped

re: " A tool that's likely to get bounced around because of its design flaws should be more robust than the BDL100AV."
That line made me chuckle.
Essentially what you are saying is that the engineers should have made the device stronger since the design of the mounting system was flawed.
I would submit that they should have designed the mounting system better and then they wouldn't have to worry protecting the device from falls.
You know, eliminate the root cause, don't just treat the symptoms.
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Can you re-calibrate it if you had to? If it ever loses its calibration and you couldnt re-calibrate it then it becomes garbage.
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Now it will come-up in Google search either way.
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What are you talking about?
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wrote:
<stuff snipped>

There might have been a way if I opened the unit but I didn't bother. My assumption was I would probably ALWAYS have to readjust it every time it got knocked around so I didn't see much point in it. I suppose it would have been interesting to see the sensor and electronics, but I thought I could find pictures of the innards on the Internet faster than I could take it apart and reassemble it. If it had been an anti-gravity device, I might have looked inside out but I didn't expect to see much.

Nope. That what I called to make sure about. There was a hole in the base of the unit that looked like it could be an adjustment port but the tech at B&D said it wasn't so I didn't investigate further.
-- Bobby G.
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