A 4-digit multimeter is also called 9999 counts; and it is called 4-digit because all four digits can display numbers from 0 to 9.

A 3½ digit multimeter is called 1999 counts; and it is called 3½ digit because three digits can display numbers from 0 to 9 and the most significant digit can display only 0 or 1.

This multimeter on the other hand is described in its specs as 6000 counts. I guess this means the most significant digit can display a number from zero to 6 or to -6 (?). But in this case we cannot call it 4-digit because its most significant digit cannot display numbers 7, 8 or 9. We cannot call it 3½ digit because its most significant digit can display numbers 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Does that mean this multimeter cannot be named as "... digits"?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If we used a proper logarithmic scale, a 1999 count meter would be 3.3 digits, and 5999 count meter would be 3.85 digits. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Mar 25 at 16:25

The "3½ digit" term is very informal and doesn't have a precise definition. I've seen "3¾ digit" used to refer to 6000-count meters, but I've also seen it for 4000-count meters. Generally it's preferable to refer to it as simply a "6000-count meter". "3½ digit meter" is fine to refer to a 2000-count meter, but "3¾ digit meter" is too ambiguous.

Incidentally, I would generally call a 3½ digit meter a 2000-count meter, since it can display anything between 0 and 1999 (a total of 2000 different numbers, if you include zero). Similarly, a 6000 count meter can display between 0 and 5999; they don't generally display 6000 as far as I know.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But look at this first page it can display number 6 alliedelec.com/m/d/1ff95544fa5f6490684ba59eb0f7fd7d.pdf How about -6? Can it display that as well? \$\endgroup\$ – user1245 Mar 25 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Probably! like I said, this is just as far as I know. That said, the fluke meter shown there probably has the display photoshopped on; they always do that for promotional photographs. Determining whether it can actually display 6000 or not would be more effort than it's really worth, honestly. \$\endgroup\$ – Hearth Mar 25 at 16:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ My geetar amp goes up to 11 on the overdrive control. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Mar 25 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user1245 Of more significance is its accuracy (best case:0.5%). The least-significant-digit is mostly useless for many readings...so it might be viewed as a 600-count meter. Having many digits is good where you compare one reading with another soon after. \$\endgroup\$ – glen_geek Mar 25 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @glen_geek There's a difference between accuracy and precision. The fluke 114 that user1245 linked doesn't have a precision rating, but it's probably a bit better than its accuracy. Of course, making a handheld meter too precise/accurate is a bit of a waste of effort, given that they're generally used with unshielded leads in very noisy environments!... come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen shielded multimeter probes. Maybe that wouldn't be as useful as I'm thinking. \$\endgroup\$ – Hearth Mar 25 at 16:54

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