We had our first tryst with Casio’s rugged Pro Trek ticker back at last year’s CES unveil.
We’re no strangers to the brand’s attempt at putting your average smartwatch through military training. However this latest iteration of the idea comes packing multiple headline acts that include on-board GPS from three different satellites, and even Android Wear 2.0!
This means that you not only get a raft of new features right on your wrist, it’s all neatly wrapped in an impenetrable package. With credentials as solid as those, we had to take it to a location befitting the resume. So, here’s what happened when Casio’s mighty mettle met the mountains.
TOUGH AS NAILS
Stepping outdoors involves suiting up correctly for the occasion. Luckily the Pro Trek has the mitts to match and not for a moment will you forget of its existence on your wrist. It’s a chunky monkey this, and not one without purpose. At 15.3mm deep, it sits relatively high, but it’s the 56.7mm width that’s more noticeable.
Then again it merely complements its rugged surroundings like a jaguar in the wild. Enter indoors again, and you’ll be announcing to the world your outdoorsy intentions loud and clear. The relatively tiny 1.32in digital face shines through when it’s got juice to go. Its water-resistance and certified military grade standards mean it’ll perform way past your own point of huffing and puffing.
PLENTY OF SENSORS
There’s anything but hollow spaces beneath those chunky exteriors. There’s an air-pressure sensor, accelerometer, pyrometer and magnetic compass inside. Hit the dedicated (but remappable) ’Tool’ button to fire up the app of the same name and you’ll be able to cycle through readings which, when you’re halfway up a hill and out of breath, is actually quite handy. Better still, there’s low-power GPS for phone-free route tracking and pinpoint accuracy. The smartwatch even includes full-colour offline maps for added functionality.
Sadly, the function is a bit fiddly if i’m honest. It doesn’t quite download routes unless you manually hover over the area and wait for it to load. Countering its limitations is the excellent Location Memory function that lets you plot relevant coordinates and even save voice memos to those for later. It’s all a bit hit and miss so you’re never quite confident enough to rely on it entirely to take you back home safe and sound.
With great power comes great responsibility, yes? Try great battery drain instead. Max out on its skills and you’ll be lucky to get a full day’s use out of a full charge. Stick to more regular daily usage for things like a casual walk, app syncing and such and you’ll get closer to its promised two day battery. It does have a very functional trick up its sleeve though. Wait till you see what’s under its screen.
Its 1.32in, dual-layer LCD screen does help a little, switching off the main colour display in favour of a second, low-power monochrome screen when resting or running low. It’s attractive and doesn’t interrupt interactivity too much - but it’s a necessity in order to squeeze a little more life out of the Casio, rather than a useful option.
Bringing it back to life once it’s out of juice is done via a magnetic charging socket that’s a doddle to use. However, it comes undone just as easily which isn’t ideal considering you can’t handle the device while it charges.
Given all its grandeur, it’s a shame the Pro Trek comes missing a heart-rate sensor. We’ll let this one slide considering it displays info that may be more critical to your average outdoor junkie. However, it’s when you dig for info that you feel a bit shortchanged post all your efforts. For example, once you stop an activity notifications are exclusively available through the home screen. Dismiss those, and the data simply goes poof without trace.
You could alternatively use other Play Store apps but that defeats the purpose of the wealth of info stored through the various sensors onboard when you can view it only once. The absence of a native app is felt quite hard here. The user interface in general feels a bit confusing combining a bunch of button presses and touchscreen swipes without much intuitiveness.
You do get to ogle at some truly awesome watchfaces but it all feels a bit superficial without a substantial app backing up the whole experience.
After two weeks of trekking, splashing and striding with the WSD-F20, then, there are more than a few frustrations. There’s no denying how much this watch would fit right into the Expendables cast with its military grade toughness and GPS skills. But, it’s an experience plagued by niggles throughout and ones that are hard to escape with prolonged use.
The battery life needs a serious boost so someone camping outdoors can make full use of its suite of skills without feeling any charging rage. Then there’s the dodgy logged data scenario that seems oddly elusive considering that wealth of data the device is capable of logging.
In conclusion, it’s a worthy companion if you like your Android Wear experience to come clad in shining impenetrable armour. However, for dedicated outdoor tracking abilities, you’re better off with options from Garmin’s stable such as the fantastic Fenix 5.