Ease of use:
- Is the meter intuitive to learn how to use?
- Documentation: are the manual and other documents comprehensive and easy to understand?
- Is the meter able to store and/or hold readings?
- How fast can the user obtain consecutive readings?
- Is the battery easy to install without tools?
- For pin meters, are the pins easy to install?
- Is the temperature compensation automatic or require the use of a table?
- Is the meter casing likely to break with normal use?
- What type of case or carry pouch does the meter come with?
- For pin meters, is it likely that the pins will come loose?
- For meters with cable connections, how functional is the cable?
- For pin meters, how likely are the pins to break or bend?
- Ergonomics: how does the meter feel in the hand related to shape, size and materials?
- Transportability: does the meter include a carrying case, belt case, and/ or fit in a pocket?
- Does the meter have a large enough display to read from a distance?
- Button quality
- Modes: does the meter offer both pin and pinless modes?
- Species settings: is this programmed or require the use of a correction table?
- How easy is it to view and record data when working in tight or awkward spaces?
- High and low: can the meter take measurements when moisture content is at the high (30%) and low (5%) end of the range
- Does the meter feature an alarm?
- Precision: does the meter read to the nearest 1% or better?
- Does the meter indicate when the battery is low?
- Can the meter store data?
- Can the retrieve individual readings?
- Is the meter capable of retrieving statistics (average, maximum, minimum)
- Can the meter hold the current reading?
- Does the meter offer download of data to a computer?
- Is the meter capable of calibration by the manufacturer?
- Can the user verify whether the meter is within calibration specifications?
- Manual: Are the manual and all required conversion charts available online?
- Warranty: Is the warranty greater than, less than or equal to one year?
- Email response: How fast is the response to questions and inquiries submitted by email?
- Telephone response: How fast is the response by telephone?
- Service repair: Does the manufacturer offer a service center for repairs?
In the Meter Features Test we rated meters based on a number of features, applications, and even intangibles such as quality and customer service that we think are important to most users.
We realize, however, that not all of these features and applications will hold the same level of importance to everyone. So, for instance, while one person may consider “comfort” or “price” important, another person may not.
Nonetheless, in reviewing the Meter Features Test, one can get a good overall picture of how a particular meter compares to other meters in terms of several factors, including usefulness, added features, price, quality, and customer service.
- Evaluate ease of use utilizing experience gained from the above tests.
- Evaluate comfort/ergonomics utilizing experience gained from above tests.
- Versatility: List intended applications, and evaluate the meter’s potential in each situation.
- Record if the following features are included, and evaluate:
- Species adjustment – Digital, Correction Table Needed, Not Available, or Automatic?
- Temperature compensation – Needed or Not Needed, Digital or Lookup Table? (Accuracy is evaluated in the Temperature Test listed separately.)
- MC range – e.g. 5-60% displayed, not accurate over wood fiber saturation point of 32%
- Data Storage – Yes or No, and how many readings?
- Precision of Display – e.g. 1%, 0.1%, etc. Link to repeatability test (for example, a meter that’s only repeatable to 1% MC has no need of a 0.1% MC display precision, and it can actually be misleading.)
- Download-capable PC connectivity – Yes or No, Included or Optional?
- Meter Software – if applicable, evaluate ease of use
- Computer Software – if applicable, evaluate ease of use
- Backlight – Yes or No, and is it bright enough, too bright, or too dark to use effectively in low-light conditions? Is it adjustable?
- Alarm Triggering
- Audible Alarm – Yes/No, evaluate ease of use and ease of programming
- Visual Alarm – Yes/No, evaluate ease of use and ease of programming
- List if the meter is pinned, pinless, or both. Also mention if it has connections for an external probe.
- List the price.
- Research and evaluate online/offline availability.
- Quality of Manufacture – visually inspect the meter casing and circuit board, and evaluate workmanship as the very last test.
- 4’ drop test on concrete – is the meter able to take a reading afterwards (after all other tests except the Origin of Manufacture test)?
- Power Usage – how long do the batteries last? What type of batteries (i.e., rechargeable)?
- List how the manual is printed, and if it’s easy to read and understand.
- Evaluate the availability of online documentation and its ease of use.
- Call customer support and ask for help with a SG issue (bamboo). At the end of the call, ask them where their support center is located and record.
- The overall availability of support
- The speed at which the support can be accessed (use a stopwatch to time it, from the moment the phone is dialed until the question is first being answered)
- How knowledgeable the support staff seemed to be
- If the issue was resolved or not
- Check for other support avenues, such as online chat, email, or a forum. List these.
- Check if meter service/repair is offered and what the turnaround time is.
- Find out if the meter has a manufacturer’s warranty and if so, how long it lasts.