After the look at basics – looks and functions – of the Casio Rangeman GPR-B1000, let’s turn to GPS and navigation.
The special feature of the Rangeman, after all, is that this G-Shock can receive GPS positional data and use it for navigation. Otherwise, looking at the rest of Casio’s lineup, only the ProTrek Smart does that.
Too bad it works with some advantags and quite a few issues…
When the GPS signal reception works well, it typically worked well within 2-3 minutes. At the start, you see the current position and/or track recording or navigation along the previously transferred route.
It does take its sweet time until enough GPS signals have been received and interpreted in order to calculate current position.
No GPS assist file seems to be available to speed this process up; nor can one see how things are coming along with the search for the GPS satellites.
Thus, when reception did not work out, there was only a short note popping up to show a GPS fail, and the watch was back in a display other than the one showing it as searching for GPS.
In cities in particular (or other places with obstructed views of the sky), the GPS reception on the Casio Rangeman easily fails to start
In the mountains, I have also seen issues. There, though, they occurred in a place where the Garmin Instinct also had its issues. (The Instinct ended up showing me quite a ways off from where I actually was; the Rangeman just showed a lost GPS reception straight on the watch.)
The quality of the GPS positioning, once found, seemed quite good, however, even in a city like Florence. Here, though, other factors come into play…
The Problem with the Casio G-Shock App
Some of the bigger problems of the Casio Rangeman in GPS/navigation use are not problems of the watch itself but of the app:
The app offers the possibility to plan a route to get it shown on the Rangeman.
However, only one type of map is used, and it is not particularly detailed. Major roads are visible, some side roads – but most smaller roads, let alone trails, are not on that map.
In addition, the app only allows one to pick start and goal points, then tap to mark points in between, on a route.
There is no automatic “Follow roads walking”. Even importing a GPX file of a route does not make it possible to immediately use that as a route, it only serves as an overlay along which one can tap-mark the route in the app oneself.
This takes its sweet time and, given how it’s all done on a smartphone touch display, it is not as exact as would be good.
Then, the route needs to be transferred to the watch (or a previously used route deactivated, then the wanted route chosen/activated and transferred).
It all works easier when only turning on navigation to record a route/track.
In “high accuracy” mode, position data are recorded every 4 seconds; in “low accuracy”, every minute; up to 20 tracks can be stored (and re-activated) on the watch.
Route Data in the App
The tracks recorded on the Casio Rangeman can also be downloaded, stored, and displayed in the app.
On the one hand, this is all rather nice:
There is a timeline for all the stored tracks. These can be (or are automatically) connected with photos taken with the smartphone during that activity. (But then, signs of such photos remain even once they have been deleted from the smartphone and thus cannot actually be shown anymore.)
A detailled view of the track on the map is available, as are altitude profile and photos.
There would even be a 3D view of the track on a/the map, which would be nice but typically didn’t load for me or only with a resolution that was not a joy to see.
On the other hand, tracks cannot be exported from the app; they are locked in there. This is also why I cannot show any comparison tracks from the Rangeman of the kind I produce for all the other GPS (sports) watches.
Stored (or currently active) tracks/routes can also be used to backtrack. This leads us to a – or the – major problem with navigation on the Casio Rangeman:
The Problem with Navigation on the Casio Rangeman
Once you have created and transferred a route and then start navigation, the Casio Rangeman starts the navigation along that route.
Or at least, that route would immediately get displayed; one can’t really speak of navigation along a route.
The Casio website shows the navigation in ways that look quite nice… but it’s easy to overlook what distances and scales they used for that!
The standard way that the Rangeman (and the promo photo) shows a route is with a scale of 40 km, so that the display could show a full 120 km of distance.
This looks nice because the promotional materials show a route of 101.4 km length… but try following that.
A Scale to See… Too Little
It is possible to zoom in for more detail – in to a 4 km or 2 km scale.
For navigating on mountain trails, that is too little detail by far.
Even for navigation on roads, it would not suffice to recognize the right road to take at intersections.
Maybe it would work for following a route in a helicopter, but even that could only be an approximation. On a mountain range, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Casio Rangeman’s navigation didn’t lead up the right peak, just looking at the route it would display.
Navigation Arrow and Backtrack
The navigational arrow that is supposed to lead to the goal and is available as an additional navigation display is not much of a help, either.
I had hoped that it would at least serve as a guidance pointer showing the path along the route (and there are parts in the video where this hope shows in my phrasing).
Actually, however, it only displays the direction (bearing) towards the end point one has set up. I was not even able to tell that, however, as it jumped around, pointing in opposite directions, in such a way that it was not clear what it was even meant to show.
A “backtrack” along a previously recorded route, then, is a theoretical nice-to-have but practically useless.
Conclusion re. GPS/Navigation
This is all quite a sad state of affairs.
If only the zoom factor for routes were higher and the route creation in the app easier (and if it were simply by taking an imported GPX as route immediately), the Rangeman would be considerably more useful.
This is all the more sad as it could be used in the mountains – especially considering its toughness and solar-assisted charging (on which I will say more in my overall conclusion) – as well as on city tours, for navigation and track recordings, quite well.
The Rangeman’s intended audience is sure to be a rather more special one, anyways.
Training data probably don’t interest them much. I am quite attracted to it, as a special timepiece, given the combination of ‘slightly’ extreme looks and special functionality.
It is not the watch from which to expect support for running training or route guidance arrows for the next ultramarathon, anyways.
Having the Rangeman marketed as a watch for survival in the toughest conditions while the much-too-low zoom factor in navigation could easily lure one up the wrong flank of a mountain, however, makes me doubt Casio a bit.
It does not measure up to the tough construction and the (otherwise) highly interesting mixture of functions.
Next up: My overall conclusion.