Easiest to Control
Black & Decker AutoTapeIf you work in fear of recoil, or if weak hands leave you struggling to operate a standard tape's lock, use this 25-foot-long battery-operated version, which you can extend and retract slowly with a button.
To buy: $19.50, homedepot.com.
Lightening the workload: Because the AutoTape can be operated entirely one-handed, it's especially useful for solo jobs―when your other hand is writing down multiple measurements, for example, or holding a hammer or an object to hang. It also couldn't be easier. "Just push the button and it rolls out," says Home Depot merchandising manager Joe Di'Orio. "You could measure every part of the room from one spot."
Scaling a high wall: There's no need to drag out a rickety ladder. Instead, starting at floor level, run the tape up the wall (it should lie flush against it) until it naturally bends at the ceiling. Look up and find the measurement that is closest to where wall meets ceiling; you'll be within 1/4 inch of the exact height.