CASIO PROTREK WSD-F20ABU SMART WATCH, £349
This addition to Casio’s Protrek range was launched in May 2018. It’s smart as in smartphone, not sartorial elegance, and is “designed for total appeal to outdoor enthusiasts”. While not aimed primarily at the wildlife world, it does have features we could find useful, and at £349 is more affordable than other watches in the series. It’s substantial, but not too weighty (92g). Here, I’ll focus on some functionality of particular interest to birders. There are multiple faces, and choosing is easy via a gentle ‘right swipe’ on the screen. I liked ‘Location’, where the hands rotate around your location on a small scale map, and your northing and easting is displayed in degrees, seconds and minutes. Pushing the ‘TOOL’ button takes you to a digital compass (which you can correct from magnetic to true north), then an altimeter, a barometer, sunrise and sunset information, and tide info. The altimeter can be calibrated manually or by using location information (if you’re on Android). I’d suggest using this to measure an ascent/descent, rather than as a precision altimeter. The F20A tells you sunrise and sunset times (useful for dawn chorus and Nightjar sessions), and tide info for a coastal location of your choice. You input your chosen location from a worldwide list, including Antarctica. Push ‘APP’ and a map appears, accurately showing your position. Mostly, this worked well, but there were occasions when the position was accurate but the map fuzzy. If you’re offline, you can download a chunk of map in advance. Again, this worked well, but you have to move the map manually to find your position if you move away from the core area. This watch is at its best paired with a Bluetooth-capable smartphone on Android 4.4 or higher (not the Go Edition). If you’re an IOS user you’ll need an iphone 5 at least with IOS 9.3 or later, and functionality will be limited. You’ll need to install Wear OS by Google onto your phone. Setting up takes some time, and it doesn’t come with a comprehensive manual. A lot of the operation becomes intuitive, but it took me a while to sort things out. Battery life depends on usage – from just six hours on a charge, to over a month in ‘timepiece mode’. Quoted charge time is two hours, and charging is via a magnetic-tipped cable, which disconnects easily – a bit of care is needed.