Bird Watching (UK) - - Gear - Re­viewed by David Chan­dler

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.

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