Casio has been slowly bringing a small subset of their watches into the smartwatch/fitness watch realm of things. They started small, went big, and now are applying some really interesting stuff to some of their less expensive watches. One of those is the new GBD200.
I snagged one to see how it stacked up to my Garmin Instinct Tactical, and then quickly replaced and sold the Instinct in favor of this GSHOCK. It’s everything you love about a GSHOCK, with some nice little upgrades that don’t destroy what makes a GSHOCK great to being with.
Well done, Casio.
Display and Battery
These are the two biggest items in my book. The display is the newer (to GSHOCK) MIP display. Gone is the LCD that is stagnant and rather strict in it’s layout. In, is a MIP display which is incredibly high contrast both in the dark with a backlight, and in direct sunlight. And with this, Casio can completely redraws the layout between different views so you can get really nice looking watch displays. This display is exactly what I want in a digital watch.
And then you get to the battery life. I have huge problems with the battery life on most smart-ish watches. The Instinct would run for about 5-6 days before needing to be charged by me again. It was fast to charge, but you still had to do it, and that’s annoying. Apple Watches take you into the 1-1.5 day charging span, which is egregious.
Casio rates the battery on this at approximately 2 years off of a single CR2032 battery. Yeah, 2 years. Your move, rest of the activity watch segment. (Obviously I have no way at all to test this, but I can’t imagine they are off by too much, so even if this gets me a year, I would be so happy.) And, packing an extra CR2032 in case of emergency will take less room even with a small screwdriver, and that backup CR2032 will have a 10 year shelf life. Look, you can’t beat the battery life on this watch with any other ‘smart-ish’ watch out there. This is fantastic stuff.
Tracking & Time Keeping
There’s two parts to this watch, the watch part and the activity tracking part. So you have to break these two apart because they are very different. The easy part on this watch is the time keeping parts.
For the most part this is a standard Casio quartz watch, nothing special there. It is something like +/- 20 seconds a month in accuracy, but in practice it’s never wrong. Because this watch pairs with your phone over bluetooth, and keeps itself perfectly in sync with accurate time. So the time keeping is perfect in practice. It updates everything without you needing to worry about it. Simple, effective and I love this — no digital watch should be missing this.
The only part of the time keeping that leaves a lot to be desired is the alarms. You can set four of them and do so in the app, or on the watch. But the alarms are limited a stupid amount. You cannot set a custom repeating schedule or even weekdays/weekends only. You only can set: on, off, or on with snooze. That’s incredibly lame. And to make it more complex, it’s a huge pain in the ass to turn these on and off on the watch itself (it’s easy on the phone). If you need to adjust the alarms, don’t do it when you need the watch backlight, because it turns off the light instantly when you select things — there’s a lot of frustration involved in doing it on the watch when you climb into bed.
And while we are talking about bad things, there is no timer. You cannot set something like 20 minute countdown timer. You can set stopwatches, or timers for interval training. But that’s all you get. A weird miss. Anyways, there’s some other smart watch functionality but I don’t use any of it so I cannot comment. I will say that the bluetooth connects well, and is pretty snappy — much better than what the Instinct offered, while being less dependent than the Apple Watch.
But really you buy this watch for the activity tracking. This watch does all this without heart rate sensors, or GPS. It uses your phone, or learns from your phone how far you walk based on the accelerometer and uses math to apply that when you phone is not connected to the watch. And the thing is, it works really well. Comparing data from the watch to my iPhone, and my Garmin GPS watch, they are all pretty close.
It would be extremely rare for me to wear this watch to work out and not have my phone nearby, but when I did test that (using my phone without bluetooth, but recording my GPS track) the watch was within an acceptable margin of error. What’s even more astonishing is the caloric consumption metrics. I always got frustrated with the Garmin and the heart rate sensor not really being accurate, but the GSHOCK has none of that, and guess what? It’s basically the same data. The calorie burn count was identical over the week I tested both together (yes wearing to watches for all of you). It was shocking to me, and made me question why a HR sensor is even needed.
The only data I am not getting from this watch, which I did get with the Garmin: altitude measurements. That’s the only thing I miss. (This watch won’t do sleep tracking, and the Garmin did, but it didn’t do it that well.)
To me, this is the perfect activity tracking. It offers me my pace, and distance, and records that to the GSHOCK app. That is all I need. It does it with great accuracy, and no fuss. (I should note: it does not tie into the Health app on iOS, which is bullshit.)
I loved the Instinct because it was so simple and clean. This watch takes that up to the next level of simplicity, which brings us to wearing it.
This watch is very comfortable to wear. It has a very classic design. It sits really well on your wrist. And on top of all of that, it wears better and lighter than any watch I have had. Wearing this watch is perfection.
It’s a GSHOCK, and you get that look, but you also get that comfort. And that’s hard to oversell. It also doesn’t look like anything but a GSHOCK, which I find appealing.
Ok, this watch is $150. Even before I used it, it was a bargain. Just for the MIP display, the bluetooth time keeping, and the vibration alarms — this watch is a bargain at $150 and is is one of my favorite GSHOCK’s.
But then you remember that this watch tracks your work outs too, and you feel like Casio mislabeled the price so you better get it before they realize they under priced it by $50 or more.