The usual disclaimer first: This watch was provided to me, on loan, for free, by Casio (or to be exact, its PR agency in Germany). No money changed hands, no influence on my work was exerted.
What is the Casio ProTrek Smart WSD-F20?
Casio’s ProTrek Smart WSD-F20 is the second generation (after the WSD-F10) of Android Wear smartwatches from the maker of the popular G-Shock, and many other, watches.
Aside from the ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass) sensors that are pretty common on their watches, this model also has in-built GPS (which the first generation ProTrek Smart was missing) and Android Wear 2.0
As a ProTrek, the watch is meant to be focused on outdoors pursuits, and so location data and maps, as well as outdoors-relevant data, are among its major features.
At the same time, as an Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch, it has all the app-based potential and smartphone interaction that goes with that – but also the barely-a-day battery life typical of Android Wear watches if used fully.
For that, however, one gets a display with a resolution that is great. The way such a smartwatch works, given it is that, not one of the usual sports/outdoor watches I look at otherwise, is typically Android, all built around apps (which will be a topic of their own posts)…
About the Display
The greatest advantage and problem of an Android Wear smartwatch like this Casio ProTrek Smart is the display, as just mentioned.
Here, LCD displays are used. They give an extraordinary brightness and color range (for watches), the likes of which we are now used to from our smartphones. For maps, as on this watch, that is a pleasure, and especially when coupled with a touchscreen.
One has to pay for it with a battery runtime that makes such a watch hardly suffice for a half-day’s hiking (with an app for that running) or a full day with regular location tracking and notifications.
No such problem with a Suunto or Garmin – but those don’t offer quite the range of functions or the shiny displays…
Casio at least addressed that issue somewhat by using a dual-layer LCD.
In standby mode (or the dedicated Dual-Layer Watch Face – or when the battery runs low or when one uses the watch in pure “Timepiece” mode, in which all the smartwatch functions are deactivated) only the ‘simple’ layer drawing little energy is used.
Only when changing to normal use (again in one of various ways, manually activating it by a button press or using “Tilt-to-wake” to activate that by tilting one’s wrist, or setting the display to “Always-On-Display” to never go to standby) is the full-color layer with its high energy requirement in use.
There are two basic models, only differentiated by their fully-black or partly-orange accents.
At Basel World at the beginning of 2017, a WSD-F20S was also introduced, featuring sapphire glass display, blue anodized(? – “IP processed”) buttons and other parts, and blue accents. This model hardly seems available, though – and the standard models are somewhat hard to come by already.
Winter 2017 saw the introduction also of a F20X model differentiated only by its coming with the usual polyurethane strap or a longer interchangeable cloth band. This model is meant to be for winter/snow sports (hence the long band, to be able to wear it over a thick jacket).
Who is the Casio ProTrek Smart WSD-F20 for?
Casio fans looking to get into the Android Wear game; Android Wear fans (do those exist, really?) who want to go with an established watch brand like Casio rather than an electronics (or increasingly, luxury) business getting into watches only now.
Android Wear of course means that you get lots of interaction with your (Android) smartphone and Google Account, such as notifications, agenda, Google Assistant – as well or sometimes problematically as that works.
Outdoor and location data with maps, coming from Mapbox and thus also usable without a mobile data connection (if properly prepared in advance) add interesting functions to the mix.
So do at least some of the Casio apps and, potentially, additional apps you could go for, which further improve the capabilities of this watch for outdoors use – and I feel it needs mentioning that the Casio ProTrek Smart is one of rather few Android Wear watches meant and made for outdoors use, not so much for sports and quite definitely not just as a fashion accessory.
Who is it not for?
If you need a sports/training/fitness watch, like so many Android Wear watches are or try to be, then the Casio ProTrek Smart is not the watch for you; it really is much more focused on hiking, and maybe paddling or fishing or other such outdoor pursuits than on fitness, running, or the like.
Part of this is that it looks like one of the recent breed of Android Wear smartwatches that are made for fitness-oriented people, but it does not, in contrast to those, include an optical heart rate sensor.
If you need a watch that can record outdoors adventures for day-long hikes or ultramarathons, Android Wear including this ProTrek Smart is not going to be for you; you’d have to recharge on the go (which works quite well) and probably encounter problems with the long-term stability of apps, to boot.
I would also, in spite of the advances supposedly made in making Android Wear 2.0 usable with iOS devices, be hesitant to even try and use a watch like this, i.e. with an iPhone. Similarly, if you don’t use a Google account and all the various services offered by Google, an Android Wear watch is likely to be much less useful for you.
Start-up and Set-up
Starting up and setting up an Android Wear watch like the ProTrek Smart is a lot like starting up another Android device such as a smartphone. I.e., you’ll need to take some time for it.
Install the Android Wear app to the phone you want to use with the smartwatch, follow the instructions, set up the Google account(s) you want to use with the watch… and give it all its time.
And then, when you start using various functions, you’ll probably need to still give them the appropriate permissions, just like you would have to do with a smartphone and apps there. And/or there are still more updates coming, making for a bit more of a set-up and start-up one needs to do…
On this watch, with its GPS and location features, I’d highly recommend turning on its location tracking (at 6 minute interval to not suck the battery dry even more quickly than it gets reduced anyways) and to use/activate one’s “timeline” in Google Maps.
If this would make you feel uncomfortable about all the data you’re giving Google… read the “Who is it not for?” again 😉
I’d also include the installation of apps among the things that a setup here requires; they can be found on the watch (on the Play Store there) or by way of the Play Store on a PC – and all that in a few different ways…
Basic Functions / Watch Faces
The big difference between regular watches and Android Wear-Smartwatches quickly becomes clear when I just want to show the basic functions the way I usually would… What basic functions?
Depending on the watch face, hardly anything but time and date can be shown, or a whole lot more, all the way to current surroundings on a map.
All further/special functions, however – and that, starting from such standards as alarm, stop watch, timer – are built into Android Wear as apps… and those are a topic for another post.
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