Wearables

Casio ProTrek WSD-F30: Smartwatch with a few extras

Casio's ProTrek WSD-F30 has a digital compass, barometer and altimeter - features not often seen in smartwatches

The Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 is the improved version of the 2017 WSD-F20. It is the third generation of Casio's rugged ProTrek outdoor smartwatch, which runs on Google's Wear OS smartwatch operating system.

The F30 has been tested to meet the United States military standard of ruggedness. It is water-resistant to 50m and can withstand temperatures as low as -10 deg C.

It has a built-in digital compass, barometer and altimeter - features not often seen in smartwatches. It also features offline maps.

In terms of design, the F30 does not differ much from its predecessors.

It has a sturdy metallic watch case (available in black, blue and orange - the version tested) with a black resin bezel and black rubber strap. The strap feels very comfortable and features more holes for greater adjustment and fit.

On the watch case's left, there is a charging port and the barometric/altitude sensors. On its right, there are three buttons - for Map (top), home/back (middle) and Tool (bottom).

The F30's watch case is 1.2mm shorter, 3.9mm narrower and 0.4mm thinner than the F20's. The F30 is also 8g lighter (inclusive of the watch strap). Nonetheless, the F30 is still big compared with other smartwatches. And its rugged looks mean it is not a watch to wear to black-tie events.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $749, available from Friday

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    COMPATIBILITY: Smartphones running Android 4.4 and above or iOS 9.3 and above

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 83g


    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2.5/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

The F30 continues to use the series' unique dual-layer screen of monochrome (for time-keeping) and colour (for smartwatch functions) LCDs, though its 1.2-inch screen is slightly smaller than F20's 1.32-inch (320 x 320 pixels) screen.

But the F30's display has a higher resolution of 390 x 390 pixels that shows maps in finer details.

Furthermore, it is a full round touchscreen and no longer sports the "flat tyre" design (or the dark area at the screen's bottom) of the F20.

Pressing the Tool button toggles the display for the digital compass, barometric readings, altitude readings and sunrise/sunset timings.

The digital compass pointed to the same north direction as my military compass, while the altitude readings were pretty much spot on. I drove to the peak of Mount Faber to get a reading. And I found the F30's reading to be 112m - not far from Mount Faber's height of 105m.

Pressing the Map button will activate a colour map of your location. While it took about 20 seconds for the F20 to load and show the map of the user's current location, it took less than five seconds with the F30.

You can mark the map with icons along a route. For instance, you can mark your start point with a star icon, so you know how to make your way back. You can also add a voice memo to remind yourself about a particular location you have marked.

Unfortunately, like its predecessors, the F30 lacks a heart-rate monitor that is standard in most new smartwatches. So you will not know how hard your heart is pumping when using the watch to track your workouts. It is a shame as the F30 could have doubled up as a fitness watch.

In terms of steps tracking, the F30 counted about 8 per cent fewer steps than my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4. But it was more accurate in tracking my runs via GPS. On my usual 5km jogging route, its readings were only 100m less than the actual distance.

Battery life is rated at 11/2 days in smartwatch mode.

However, in my tests, with the watch constantly paired with a smartphone and with notifications turned on, there was still 30 per cent battery by the end of the second day.

Pretty impressive.

You can also switch to Multi Timepiece Mode, which shows altitude and atmospheric pressure readings in monochrome, but with a supposedly one-month battery life.

However, I am disappointed that the F30 lacks solar-power capability, since it is targeted at the outdoorsman.

The biggest downer, though, is its price. At $749, it is on the high side, especially when an Apple Watch Series 4 smartwatch starts at $599.

• Verdict: If you are looking for a rugged outdoor smartwatch, the Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 is a great choice. If not, there are cheaper and better options in the market.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'Smartwatch with a few extras'. Print Edition | Subscribe