At the IFA Berlin 2018, Casio just announced that a new version of their ProTrek Smart outdoor watch is coming later this year, the Casio ProTrek Smart WSD-F30.
The Past: WSD-F20
I had a chance to try out the current WSD-F20, which added GPS to the first generation WSD-F10. I particularly liked the constant GPS tracking and the possibility to use maps, all on a watch with touchscreen and LED display.
Sometimes, admittedly, the best apps for navigation and tracking overburdened the processor a bit.
Battery life was also not the best, with a smartwatch-typical day of general, mid-intense use and a few hours with constant GPS tracking and navigation.
Still, not having to do a plethora of button presses to see full-color maps, location and the day’s travels had been a pleasure, on journeys and trail runs.
With all that Android Wear (now WearOS) offers for everyday use, in addition, I have to confess to my rather missing this watch. (I only had it on loan.)
The New Generation: Casio ProTrek Smart WSD-F30
Seeing how the new Casio ProTrek Smart WSD-F30 improves on that will be very interesting:
The dual-layer display has been improved in ways that should make quite an update.
The full-color display is now OLED rather than TFT. Its resolution is increased from 320×300 pixel to 390×390 pixel, now encompassing the full circle of the display. (The “flat tire”-look with a little black bar on the bottom is gone.)
This takes away two common criticisms, of the flattened look and not-good-enough resolution (which was a rather funny criticism to me, given how shiny and detailed the display is, compared to those of the sports/outdoor watches I otherwise work with.)
The display is still a capacitive touchscreen with anti-fouling coating.
(On the downside, it sounds like it’s still a plasticky screen that feels less solid and more scratchable than I would very much like it to be.)
This is a smartwatch standard and has distinct advantages in it being a real touchscreen, not just something to tap. By the same token, it is not made for extreme mountain uses while wearing gloves.
The monochrome “timepiece” display that can run for up to a month no longer shows only time and date (while disabling color display and smart functionalities), but works as a “multi-timepiece” mode that can show sensor data such as altitude, barometer or compass bearing as well.
This again sounds rather good, especially with the “extended mode” we will get to in a moment.
In terms of size and weight, with a new internal component design, the watch is a full 3.9 mm less wide and a very slight 0.4 mm thinner…
It’s less mentioned, though, that the smaller size is also achieved through the use of a display that is 1.2 rather than 1.32 inches in diameter.
Thus, the Casio ProTrek Smart WSD-F30 is now smaller, a little bit thinner, less obtrusive, and with ~83 grams versus the WSD-F20’s 92g, it is also lighter.
ood for smaller wrists, maybe good for wearability and everyday use as a smartwatch.
I do wonder, especially given that Casio also has a popular range in its G-Shock watches, if it was really necessary to make the watches smaller. In particular, it remains to be seen if that smaller size of the display, in particular, decreases usability.
At the same time at which the watch is that much smaller and lighter, runtime in normal (color display) use is (still) stated as around 1.5 days.
In addition, a new “extend mode” switches between standby mode, monochrome multi-chronometer display with internal sensor data, and full-color map display upon press of a button, to run with GPS for up to three days.
(In practice, depending on intensity of use, runtime is meant to be between 8 hours and three days, according to a careful footnote to the specifications…)
There is also a new algorithm for energy management running to extend battery life, according to the press conference.
Maps (not least, for use in that extension mode) are now downloadable for offline use… or so the announcement says.
Actually, there has already been some capacity to download maps, certainly using certain Android Wear apps, with the WSD-F20. Thus, it remains to be seen what exactly is meant, what type of maps from which source will be downloadable for offline use.
It is not clear from the press statement what exactly Casio means when they state that “up to five maps” can be saved on the watch for offline use, either.
Even with these questions remaining, (the) improvements in that area sound very good to me.
Of course, the watch will run up-to-date WearOS, continue to work with Google Assistant on a linked smartphone via its in-built microphone.
It supports GPS, GLONASS and Michibiki.
There are sensors for air pressure (altimeter/barometer), accelerometer, gyroscope sensor, and (magnetic) compass.
Water resistance remains at 50 m; the whole watch is built to MIL-STD-810G and should operate in temperatures down to -10C.
All in all, the changes are not the biggest, but the updates sound sensible and enticing.
Smaller and lighter, the watch may appeal to a bigger smartwatch crowd; it is still a typical Casio but does not completely scream “outdoors” (especially in its black or blue rather than orange color schemes).
Battery management and offline map improvements should still help get more use out of it in the outdoors.
Sports people might still dislike it for the lack of an oHR sensor, but that has never been the intended audience for a Casio ProTrek.
Between Casio G-Shock watches and Suunto outdoor/sports watches, I still think that the ProTrek Smart could have remained or even become bigger, but that seems to be a very personal opinion.
For the majority of potential users, a ProTrek Smart that can do more for outdoors activities while wearing like a normal, smaller Casio and thus fitting better into an everyday environment as a smartwatch seems a pretty good way forward.
I tend to miss the WSD-F20 for this combination of special outdoors features – Those maps! – and the everyday fun and use it provided as a WearOS (well, Android Wear) smartwatch.
Unsurprisingly, then, I very much hope I will get a chance to try out the updated WSD-F30… and then we’ll see how much of an update it is, in actual use.
[All photos © Casio, used with permission]