Excellent Laser Level
Right up front, let me state that this is a multi-function Line/Point laser, and you may not need the Point feature that provides additional plumb/squaring functionality. The SK104Z is Makita's cross-line (non-Point) laser whose line features should be 100% comparable to what I review below. If you feel that you'll use a cross-line significantly more than a point laser, you may opt to go with the less expensive Makita, with the option to add on a Bosch (or other less expensive) point laser in the future.
The Makita has full 180 degree horizontal spread, and 120 degree vertical spread -- and it's easy to overlook just how much this matters. Many other lasers I've tried are very good at projecting to the wall opposite the laser, but only extend slightly onto adjacent walls (if at all). This thing blows those out of the water. I can place the laser at a 45 degree angle in one corner of the room and literally get about 95% of all four walls covered with a crisp horizontal line. It's not quite a rotary laser, but it's darn close for my purposes. The line range is 50 feet on each side of the laser, and it maintains accuracy quite well over that distance.
Regarding exterior use, all red lasers are limited in heavy sunlight... but this one is better outdoors than others that I've used. The standard options of a detector, laser glasses, or the included red target, may help outside (depending on the sunlight). Or just do your layout work at dawn/dusk.
Compared to the versions you can get at home centers (Bosch, Stanley, etc), this thing is a beast. It is rated against water and dust intrusion, and the rubber-overmold feels extremely well-built. The glass panels are recessed and appear to have been placed in such a way that they will resist the forces of a drop. I really did think that other models I have used had pretty solid build quality -- until I got my hands on this one. Now those other units almost feel like toys, where the Makita feels like it was built to withstand jobsite conditions.
Other protective features include a lock-switch, a thick case, and an additional pad that you can velcro around the unit in its case for additional protection in transit/storage.
It comes with a tri-purpose mount that allows for tripod, wall, or magnetic mounting. The dial-screw on the Makita mount is more user friendly than other designs I have used. The one ding here is that the magnets on the mount are spaced too far apart for mounting to a narrow pole (such as a FastCap Third-Hand tool). There are, however, other third-party laser mounts that can serve this purpose. It also comes with a PDF manual and a target for added visibility (and/or drop ceilings).
I have used both the *excellent* Bosch Compact Tripod, and a magnetic pole mount with this -- it was very easy to perform accurate adjustments it in either scenario.
This is a four-point laser from a technical standpoint, but is a five-point in practice. The fifth is created at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical beams. The unit has five modes:
1) Horizontal line
2) Vertical line
3) Horizonal line + Vertical line
4) Four-point plumb laser
5) All On (Five-point laser + Horizonal line + Vertical line)
One feature I like is that modes 3-5 can only be "activated" when you've unlocked the laser, which is a nice indicator that you accidentally left your lock on (it also has a warning light for this). Once the laser is set to the mode you want, the lock can be reactivated in any mode -- allowing for things like angled lines for stair-rails, etc. When unlocked, the laser auto-levels very quickly (2-3 seconds), and does not bounce from the vibrations created when you walk around the room. The once exception is that tripod use on hard floors, where it will bounce for a second or two if you stomp around too much.
This uses 3 AA batteries, which is comparable to a lot of other units. It is superior to the ones that use 4 AA's or, worse, Ni-Cd batteries. As noted above, the ability to select just the lines or points you need is a nice power-saving feature. I've used it for about 8 hours so far on the factory batteries.
He loves it and is terrified of it at the same time.
My generic opinion of Makita is that they are rarely first-to-market with their tools, but when they do get around to building something, they typically deliver a well above-average product. Even with this mindset going in, they still blew my expectations away with their build quality, accuracy, and feature set. Again, if you don't need Point functionality, I'd recommend trying to catch the SK104Z on sale. If you DO need a point laser, the SK103P is superior to other combination line/point lasers that I've tried at its price point.
Regardless of which of these units you choose, you won't be disappointed.