Casio are a familiar name in the tech world, but you may be more surprised to hear that they’ve also been around the outdoor world for quite some time as well. They’ve been making watches designed specifically for the outdoor market for over two decades now. We took a first look at their brand new Pro Trek smart-watch, loaded with the ViewRanger app, while up at Lake Windermere recently.
The first thing to hit you when you see the Casio Pro Trek WSD-F20 other than that catchy name is the size of it. To accommodate the 3.3 centimetre screen, along with all the smart wizardry within, it’s pretty bulky.
Whether you think this is a good thing or not is largely down to individual taste, although a large watch does appear to be somewhat de jour right now. For me, the size and weight (91 grams) makes the Pro Trek feel solid, and durable, without being restrictively large or heavy.
At a glance:
Operating System: Android Wear 2.0
Display: 1.32 inch (just over 3.3 centimeters)
Water resistant up to 50 metres
- Touchscreen with anti-fouling coating
- Low energy GPS
- Pressure sensors, accelerometer, gyrometer, and compass
- Low energy Bluetooth V4.1
- Online Calder
- Alarm clock
- Contacts book
- Google translate
- Google Go
Being a smart-watch, the Casio Pro Trek is more of a wearable computer than something that simply tells you the time. This smart technology runs on the Android 2.0 Operating System, which for anybody under the age of 32, is the same thing that powers virtually every smart-phone that isn’t made by Apple. If, like me, you’re a committed Apple user, this can make the operating system a little less intuitive than for people more familiar with Android.
That said, after having the watch on my wrist for a morning, scrolling through the numerous functions became second nature.
Which leads us neatly on to the functionality of the Casio Pro Trek because, let’s face it, if you’re parting with £450 for a watch, you want it to be pretty handy. Happily, the Pro trek is. Everything on the watch is either a swipe of the screen or a press of one of the three buttons on the right of the face away.
There is a series of activity-based apps, that track your progress and statistics as you hike, kayak, cycle, ski, or whatever else it is that you like to get up to outdoors. All of these use the low-power GPS within the Pro Trek to accurately pinpoint your exact movements. I used the Paddle app while kayaking on Lake Windemeere and found it kept up with my location and activity fluidly.
Behind the Tool button on the watch are a number of digital, well, tools. These include a traditional compass, altimeter, atmospheric pressure meter, a tide graph and an activity graph. It also features a sunrise and sunset clock, which I particularly liked. Not only did it get both times spot on, but a swipe right while the app is open reveals a compass that gives you the precise location of the events relative to where you are, perfect for planning those instagram-ready sunset pictures.
Just like with a smart-phone, you can download new apps to the Casio Pro Trek via the Android marketplace, to tailor the functionality to your own needs. We found while trekking in the Lakes that the ViewRanger app, featured in our Outdoor Summer 100, compliments the watch really well. Optimised specifically for the Casio Pro Trek, it features a whole range of maps, routes, and trail information that you can access on the fly.
We especially love that the maps are accessible offline as well. That means, even if you run out of signal, you’re not stuck high-and-dry without a map. Superb. The maps look good on the Casio Pro Trek screen, and can also bee zoomed in and out with a pinch, but also using the Tool and App buttons, which would be super handy when wearing gloves.
One issue with the Pro Trek we found was the need to pair the watch with a smart-phone to do simple functions like change the time. It’s the kind of functionality that should be built into the watch itself. Furthermore, Apple users may be put off by the device running on Android, although it is worth pointing out that the Pro Trek can still be paired with iPhones via the free Android Wear app, available for free in the App Store, although you may need the help of somebody with a Horcrux tattoo to be able to show you how to do it.
While the screen on the Pro Trek is large, it did prove hard to see at a glance in particularly bright light. The brightness can, of course, be adjusted, although when brightness goes up, you’re trading it against battery life.
We had our hands on the latest Casio Pro Trek for a few days, and in that time, really grew to like it. It’s reassuringly sturdy, really feeling like a genuine piece of outdoor gear that will become indispensable within a few trips into the field.
Like many smartwatches, the Pro Trek is, to an extent, a vessel for a smart phone, the advantage being that you can just glance at your wrist to get the information needed, as opposed to having to stop and root through your pack or pockets for your mobile. The danger, of course, being the battery going while you’re still a long way from home, but this is the case across the market.
Both the inbuilt apps, and downloaded ones, such as the ViewRanger worked both well and fluidly. Using the watch quickly proved to be intuitive and easy, and with extended use it'll surely become second nature. The Pro Trek also looks good enough to wear to work, or on a night out around the city (although you may want to wipe the mud off it first).
In short, we think that the latest Casio Pro Trek is a real winner.
For more information see casioonline.co.uk