Google’s take on smartwatches has not evolved in a while. And for users like me, the platform has remained stuck in time enough to be called boring. But it seems some companies are trying their bit to bring about some change and make WearOS devices a bit more appealing. I just spent a week with one such smartwatch, the Casio Protrek WSD F-20A.
Now, Casio has been known for its rugged watches. The Protrek series is Casio range of rugged smartwatches. And rugged we mean it is resistant to everything from shock to dust and water — in fact, it can be worn while you are on a swim. And again this is military-grade rugged.
The flip side of this is the fact that the watch itself is humungous and certainly not for people who, like me, don’t have an outdoor life. Yes, this is not a watch you would want to wear to the office. I did for a day and it did come in the way of everything I was doing. See, I’m not someone used to thick watches, not even metal straps. So this is certainly not for me.
The Casio Protrek WSD F-20A looks like a Casio watch from every angle. It has three buttons to the right. The one in the middle is the Home button that you click to get the watch to show you more than the watch face. The Tool button on top gives quick access to your compass and altimeter. Just below is an app button that, irritatingly, kept showing the tutorial for me. But when in the right mood this button opens up the GPS screen showing where you are. To the left is a port for charging the watch using the proprietary charger.
The watch sets up via the Google WearOS app on the phone. The app can be used to download more watch faces as well as to update the software. It would have been great if one could customise the buttons on the watch using the app.
The Protrek WSD F-20A offers you your GPS location on the watch face itself which is cool if you are on a trek, and almost pointless otherwise, unless if you are sloshed. But while on a trek this watch is exactly what you want, because there is a superb watch face that shows your altitude too. This is something I have not seen on any other watch, and trust me, I have used a few.
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You can also tap the tool button to show your precise location only on the screen. But this was a bit of a touch and go with me. There were times when it showed fine and there we times when all I got was a grid. Maybe the satellite above was on a lunch break. Anyway, you can zoom in and zoom out of your location and there is also the option to download a specific map when you have an internet connection available. The watch also lets you save a location and even make voice notes to tag where you were.
Casio has added a full folder of curated apps for outdoor people. There is one for fishing, one for golf and even a radar app, which is not available in India. But there is a lot here to ensure that you don’t get lost in the wilderness. And if you do get lost, to ensure you know where you are — getting back home will depend on your map reading skills. And this is primarily why you will buy this watch.
The Protrek WSD F-20A also comes with everything you get on a Google WearOS watch and that includes notifications for everything, Google Assistant on one tap and, of course, fitness data. However, there is no heart rate sensor here, despite the expensive price tag.
There are a few things I did not quite like about the watch. The tutorial keeps popping up at times and there has to be a way to tell the watch I know how to use it now. Also, there are these suggestions that keep popping up on the screen, often creating a hurdle. At times the watch does not do anything and you need to wait for it to snap out of its slumber.
One other issue is battery life. I couldn’t get the watch to stretch for more than 20 hours. You can switch to the battery saver mode and maybe squeeze a few more hours out of the watch. So if you are on a trek, you might want to be back in a day if you are not carrying a battery pack to charge the watch. Interestingly, the watch goes to an e-ink like the screen when the battery is low, showing just the time.
Overall, this is a good investment for those who spend considerable time outdoors. What this is a not, is a smartwatch for all times. Buy this if you think it is time for another trek.
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