Following on from a thread about content on TWF I have decided to do some reviews of watches I own. Below is a review of the mighty Casio Pro-Trek!
N.B. Any technical mistakes will be down to my very non-technical brain so I apologise in advance!
Specifications of the watch:
The PRW-2500T-7ER (the T in the model number denotes that this is the variation with the titanium bracelet) is a radio controlled solar powered watch from Casio's Pro Trek range, watches designed for people who enjoy an outdoor life . To this extent the range generally includes functions such as barometers, altimeters etc.
The PRW-2500T-7ER specifically has the following functions: Alarm function, an Altimeter, Altimeter data memory, Altitude addition, Barometer with barometric trend indicator, Digital Compass with a physical uni-directional compass bezel, an Electro-Luminescent backlight that can be turned on by pressing a button or by tilting your wrist up and back,thermometer, tide graph and world time along with the usual stopwatch, countdown timer and 200 meters water resistance.
In this review I will look briefly at each function starting with the:
Alarm - this one is quite self explanatory although it is worth noting you can set up to five independent daily alarms. Another potentially very useful function is an hourly signal you can set, when set the watch will beep twice every hour on the hour. The hourly signal is particularly useful for keeping track of time when out and about, for instance when out walking, the beep acts as an auditory reminder to check the time, allowing you to work out when best to turn back etc.
Altimeter: One thing to note from the off with the altimeter is that it uses barometric pressure and pre-set values to determine altitude so will never be as pin-point accurate as a GPS based altimeter. However saying that I have found it fairly accurate, accurate enough to be used along with other sight-lines and or landmarks to establish your position on a map. I have always found it best to set the altimeter to a known reference altitude at the start of a walk, usually by taking the altitude of where I have parked or set out from off an Ordnance Survey map or similar. After you have set you reference altitude you can set the altimeter to take a measurement every 5 seconds or 2 minutes, in real life I have found 2 minutes to be more than accurate enough. The altimeter also displays an 'Altitude differential value' basically all this is is the difference in height between where you are now and the last altimeter measurement i.e. if the altimeter took a reading at 200 feet and you looked at the altimeter when you were at 230 feet the Altitude differential value would show as 30 feet, useful for working out roughly how fast you are climbing or descending. The altimeter can also record readings so you can look back over your ascent or descent.
Compass: Next up the compass, a function you will more than likely use coupled with the altimeter when out walking. Again one thing to note from the start is that you can not take a compass reading with the watch on your wrist, you will never get it level enough. Instead you need to remove the watch and place it on a flat piece of ground/ rock to take a reading, a bit of a nuisance but it is I assume a limitation inherent to any watch with an inbuilt compass. I have tested the compass against a normal walking compass and it seems to be fairly accurate - but like anything technical I would not rely solely upon the watch compass, I would have a spare map compass on me, just in case. When you take a reading with the compass you will have four arrows appear on the screen (well four groups of lines) three sets consist of just one line each, denoting East, South and West, whereas North has three lines, rotate the bezel so that it lines up with the correct arrows (so N to the North arrow) and use this to find out the direction of the bearing you need to take. Once you know which direction your chosen bearing is use the watch to sight up with something in the distance and away you go!
Barometer - The barometer is factory calibrated (along with the temperature sensor) and Casio strongly advise not messing about with the calibration settings! When you enter the barometer mode you are presented with a screen that gives you the current barometric pressure in hpa (this is the same as millibars) you will also have an arrow on the right of the face which is your barometric differential reading (the watch face has markings going from the three o'clock position up towards the one o'clock position showing 0, 5 and 10 indicating a rise of 0, 5 or 10 hpa (millibars) and then the opposite from 3 down to 5 showing a fall of 5 or 10 hpa (millibars) ) In the middle of this screen you may also have a U shaped arrow that either points up or down and this indicates a sudden rise or drop in air pressure (a possible indicator of bad weather approaching) although this arrow will not appear if there is no significant change in barometric pressure. On the left of the watch face you have a permanent green area that is used to show a barometric pressure graph, a series of dots that indicates the pressure as taken every two hours, with five dots you can at a glance see what the pressure has been doing over the last ten hours, any sudden jumps or falls in the line of dots can give you a quick visual clue to possible bad weather on the way. This graph is displayed on most of the time screens, so is usually readily available (and is always displayed on the home screen)
As you can see the compass and barometer are probably the two most complicated functions to get to grips with, but for someone who enjoys outdoor pursuits they are probably the two most useful as well, for this reason it is well worth learning how to use them both fully.
Thermometer - This simply measures the air temperature but an important note to remember is you can not take this reading while the watch is on your wrist as it will just be measuring your skins temperature, instead you need to take the watch off and leave it for a good ten to fifteen minutes (in my experience) before it starts to show an accurate temperature. If temperature measurements are important to you when out and about you may find it better to clip the watch to your outer clothing so that your body temperature doesn't affect the measurements.
Tide and moon data: When you go to the tide data screen you are presented with a display that shows 6:00 (denoting 6am) and a graph that will have a flashing section. The 6:00am is telling you what time this tide indicator is for today (so 6am on the current day) and the graph shows you the type of tide it is (a graph with a pronounced hump indicates a spring tide - so large differences between low and high tide, a graph with a more shallow hump denotes a neap tide which has a lesser difference between high and low tide) The graph will have a blinking section showing where about in the tidal movement you will be at 6am i.e. at it's highest point, mid point or lowest point. You can advance through the display hour by hour for your current day to see where the tide will be at any given time, but you can also check hour by hour for any day in the future. The tide data is automatically calculated using your home city time setting and may not be accurate for different parts of the country, but you can manually set it using a local tide table, future tide information should then be accurate for that particular area.
The moon data simply shows you what phase the moon is in for the current day or for any day in the future.
Home time, world time, stop watch etc. I think are self explanatory so I wont bore you with descriptions of them here. Although I should mention here once more that this watch is radio controlled so the time is set automatically every morning, which means very accurate timekeeping!
On to build quality/ comfort: The watch body is made from a composite/ resin of some sort - what I would call plastic. This isn't very easy to discover when looking at the watch online - the fact it has a titanium bracelet is trumpeted a lot, but the case material isn't divulged as readily. However the case seems to be holding up to everyday use without to much problem, although the paint has worn through on a couple of the high points of the bezel. The bracelet also seems to be holding up well, although again it has picked up a few marks along the way. One thing I will mention about the titanium bracelet is that it feels smooth to the touch, and light, which makes it an extremely comfortable bracelet/ watch to wear, in fact I think it is the most comfortable watch I have to wear full stop. The case of the watch is a whooping 50.6mm across, but surprisingly in use it doesn't feel or look that big at all, I think this is down mainly to the light weight material used in the bodies construction and the grey colouring of my variant, which means it doesn't stand out too much and helps to make it wear smaller than it actually is.
Overall I have found the Pro-Trek to be well suited for it's intended use - namely as a watch for outdoor enthusiasts, and is in fact my go to watch when going out for the day exploring, whether that be at a National Trust property or down the coast. The big display makes it easy to read at a glance when you are concentrating on your surroundings and the various functions help you to get the most out of your day (a rapidly dropping barometer might encourage you to head from the hills to a cosy tea shop before getting caught in bad weather!) And I have also found it an infinitely easy watch to wear thanks to it's lightweight construction and comfortable bracelet, in fact I forget I've got it on most of the time! And lets also not forget it is a gadget lovers dream with the myriad of functions to play around with.