Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Casio PROTREK Adventure Titanium Triple Sensor Ver. 3 PRW 3000 T7, A Continuation of the Super Tough DNA of a Casio Protrek, yet Capable of Doing More by Virtue of its Smaller Electronics and More Contemporary Design, A Review

It has been a long time since I bought myself a digital watch. The last time it happened was back in August 2009 when I got my Suunto Heart Rate Monitor watch. If I recall, my purpose of buying that watch was to fulfill a need - to track my heart rate as I prepare myself for my first marathon.

In reality, I am not an anti-digital watch-hater that only appreciate mechanical watches. Far from the contrary, I love gadgets and the Casio Protrek series have been on my "must-have" list for a long time. The ability of a watch to locate accurately North has been one of my theme for my watch collection. Currently. I have six watches that could do that (using time and sun). The collage of the collection is provided below.

You will note that all are Seikos. Although I would like to have a watch that could do the same from another brand, the various Casio Protrek models that weree on offer were too big and garish for my liking.

Last year, during Baselworld 2013, Casio announced a new Protrek model with the reference number PRW 3000. This is a fundamental shift away from what has been launched previously as it is smaller, sleeker, improved sensors and at a reasonable price point.

This new Casio Protrek watch features an upgraded sensor for all its major functions, including compass bearing, altitude/atmospheric pressure, and temperature measurement. This is a major advancement since the last upgrade of the system in 2002. The "Triple Sensor Ver. 3" as it is known, features revised sensors, algorithms, and LSIs (Large Scale Integration). Now, the direction sensor consumes only 10% of the energy and takes up only 5% of the space of the previous sensor. These effectively provides three major improvements over the previous Protreks.

First; longer continuous reading of the compass bearing, altitude/atmospheric pressure, and temperature measurement from 20 second to 60 seconds. Second; processing speed and accuracy of the instruments from 5 second from the time you press any of the sensor buttons to just 1 second for a result to be displayed. Moreover, the accuracy of the measurements have been improved from 5 meter increments for the altitude measurement to just 1 meter increments. The third and final; smaller case size compared to the much larger examples previously (that was the deal-breaker for me earlier).

After six months from its global launch, Casio Malaysia received its first consignment. Although I was searching for it on the internet, the demand was so great that the discount that I could get via the internet is just slightly better than what I could get from an AD. It would just be better to purchase it outright from and AD; you get first class treatment and if anything does go wrong, you know where to bring it back.

Enough said. After negotiating with my friendly AD, I walked out with one.

The first thing that you would noticed is the utilitarian nature of the watch box. Conceptually, a Protrek is watch designed to be used in the most extreme of conditions. For those people engaged in all manner of outdoor activities, on mountain trails, in deserted places or trashing through swamps, a Protrek is considered an essential survival gear. In fact, a lot of military personal uses Protrek as their daily 'combat' watch.

But for many owners of Protreks, they use them for normal everyday activities where risking a very expensive watch is not an option.

The key functions that define a Protrek are the compass bearing, altitude/atmospheric pressure, and temperature measurement modules. Apart from these, the other features of the watch are as follows:

  1. Movement Solar Powered - Tough Solar Module
  2. LED backlight (Super Illuminator) - Full auto LED light, selectable illumination duration, afterglow
  3. Low-temperature resistant (–10°C/14°F)
  4. Dial Digital Display
  5. World time - 31 time zones (48 cities + coordinated universal time), city name display, daylight saving on/off
  6. Sunrise, sunset time display - Sunrise time and sunset time for specific date, daylight pointers
  7. Time calibration signal reception - Multiband 6 reception of six time calibration signals; Auto receive up to six times a day (Japan (2), United States, Germany, England, China); Manual receive
  8. Altimeter - Measuring range: –700 to 10,000 m (–2,300 to 32,800 ft.); Measuring unit: 1 m (5 ft.); Manual memory measurements (up to 30 records, each including altitude, date, time); Auto log data (High/low altitudes, auto cumulative ascent and descent); Trek log data (up to 14 records of high/low altitudes, auto cumulative ascent and descent of particular treks); Others: Relative altitude readings (–3,000 to 3,000 m), Selectable measurement interval: 5 seconds or 2 seconds; *Changeover between meters (m) and feet (ft)
  9. Digital compass - Measures and displays direction as one of 16 points; Measuring range: 0 to 359°; Measuring unit: 1°; 60 seconds continuous measurement; Graphic direction pointer; Bidirectional calibration and northerly calibration function; Magnetic declination correction; Bearing memory
  10. Thermometer - Display range: –10 to 60°C (14 to 140°F); Display unit: 0.1°C (0.2°F); *Changeover between Celsius (°C) and Fahrenheit (°F)
  11. Barometer - Display range: 260 to 1,100 hPa (7.65 to 32.45 inHg); Display unit: 1 hPa (0.05 inHg); Atmospheric pressure tendency graph; Atmospheric pressure differential graphic; Barometric pressure tendency information (arrow indicates significant pressure changes); *Changeover between hPa and inHg
  12. 1/10-second stopwatch - Measuring capacity: 999:59'59.9''; Measuring modes: Elapsed time, split time, 1st-2nd place times; Countdown timer; Measuring unit: 1 second; Countdown range: 24 hours; Countdown start time setting range: 1 minute to 24 hours (1-minute increments and 1-hour increments)
  13. 5 daily alarms (with 1 snooze alarm)
  14. Hourly time signal
  15. Battery level indicator
  16. Power Saving (display goes blank to save power when the watch is left in the dark)
  17. Full auto-calendar (to year 2099)
  18. 12/24-hour format
  19. Button operation tone on/off
  20. Regular timekeeping: Hour, minute, second, pm, year, month, date, day - Accuracy: ±15 seconds per month (with no signal calibration) 
  21. Approximate battery operating time: 7 months on rechargeable battery (operation period with normal use without exposure to light after charge); 23 months on rechargeable battery (operation period when stored in total darkness with the power save function on after full charge
  22. Original Casio Resin & Stainless Steel in Matt / Glossy Finish with Compass Markings on Bezel; Original Casio Titanium Band; Mineral Glass
  23. Water Resistant 330ft/100m
Phew! What a list. This means an equally hefty operating manual for this watch. When you open the cardboard box, this thick manual will drop on your lap. It would take you the whole day to go through it all.

The primary watch box is as plain as the main cardboard box. However, it is made out of raw wood panels with the Protrek logo and brand printed in green. For a watch with such capabilities and caters for the adventurers, the watch box is relatively small and simple, no reflection at all to the toughness that is in that box.

If you have owned a Protrek before, the unveiling of the watch is a non-event by virtue of its lightweight, slim and non-aggressive looking dial. To many past owners, the current rendition is a disappointment. With a case dimension of just 47 mm across (lug to lug is approximately 56 mm), coupled with a thickness of just 12.3 mm, the PRW 3000 looks like a baby Protrek. Without the bulging case design of the old Protrek, the PRW 3000 looks more refine.  

I actually love it. What stopped me from getting one previously has been the garish design and the "in-your-face" shape of the watch casing. Now, I can use the Protrek in many more occasions.

The PRW 3000 sub-model I got was the T7, the titanium version. Pricier than the typical rubber/resin strap models, the T7 has a much better long-term lasting quality as unlike resin/rubber, titanium will not disintegrate over time.

The legibility of the screen is what impresses me the most. The digits are the blackest and clearest seen on a digital display. I can truly appreciate the large font used, especially now with my failing eyesight.

There are six buttons that you can push to activate the various functions on the watch. Going clockwise, the first, at 2 o'clock activates the compass function. The second, at 3 o'clock activates the barometer as well as the temperature functions. The third, at 4 o'clock activates the altimeter function.

The fourth is at the 6 o'clock position. I only discovered this button on the third day of wearing this watch (this tells you how much I hate reading instruction manuals!). Unlike the rest, it looks like a plate and it activates the LED lighting.

The fifth, at 8 o'clock controls all functions that allow adjustments to be made. At 9 o'clock is the receiver/receptor that provides input to all the functions. Finally, the sixth, at 10 o'clock changes the displays options to the user's choice. 

The side profile where you will see three of the buttons.

The other side view that shows you the other two buttons as well as the receiver/receptor module. Below is the picture of the case-back. Information about the watch plus the Protrek mountain logo is sand blasted onto the flat metal plate.

I was made to understand that this new design is the most comfortable Casio Protrek currently in the market from other reviewers of this watch. Although I don't have any past reference to go by, I tend to believe this assertion. The super light weight of titanium makes it an easy watch to wear. The smaller size of the watch casing meant a smaller chance of banging it against something. Moreover, it is now a rea beater watch, able to be used in all occasions.

As I tend to be more involve in formal function and attire, the usability of this watch in such occasion allows me to use it more often. 

Below is a good indicator of the watch's ability to be used with office clothing. It does not snag on the cuffs.

The safety clasp on the bracelet is well designed with the Protrek logo etched on the safety lever.

The PRW 3000 is a universal watch that is at home on anyone's wrist. It does not overwhelm the wearer but instead compliments the wrist.

Overall, this watch (or a various of this watch) is one that every collector should try to get. It is a continuation of the super tough DNA of a Casio Protrek, yet capable of doing more by virtue of its smaller electronics and more contemporary design. I like it.

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