Infotainment

Casio’s latest G-Squad is a surprisingly solid sports smartwatch

Casio’s latest G-Squad is a surprisingly solid sports smartwatch
Casio’s latest G-Squad is a surprisingly solid sports smartwatch 3
Casio’s latest G-Squad is a surprisingly solid sports smartwatch
Available in four colourways, theGBD-H2000 looks handsome from all angles. (Edwin Kee pic)

Casio’s G-Shock watches tend to offer ostentatious, bulletproof designs that come in a range of shapes and colours. Jumping aboard the fitness smartwatch bandwagon, the new G-Squad GBD-H2000 – the sports subset of the G-Shock family – is a great hybrid that does the job well without trying too hard to enter pure smartwatch territory.

Picking up from where the rather hefty GBD-H1000 left off, it leans more towards fitness tracking than smartwatch activities, boasting classic G-Shock durability while allowing for various improved sensors and connectivity.

Design and performance

The GBD-H2000 is of modest proportions, relatively speaking, featuring a 52mm-wide and 19mm-thin case. While this makes it larger than the Apple Watch Ultra, you’d be surprised by its mere weight of 63g.

Keeping environmentalists happy, this is one of the first few G-Shock models that is made from biomass plastics. The band is pleasantly flexible, allowing you to lay it flat on the table. It has a comfortable fit when worn, with plenty of holes for adjustment, and stays firmly in place.

Good news for those in tropical countries – the GBD-H2000 does not get sweaty at all. The only negative point? It is way too large to be worn comfortably overnight to have it track your sleeping patterns.

The bezel also takes the biomass plastic route, covering the carbon-reinforced case and case back. This timepiece is water resistant to 200m, with the back housing a heartrate sensor array and a small connector for charging via USB.

Five buttons dot the timepiece, while a Memory-in-Pixel LCD display protected by mineral glass makes for legible reading even under direct sunlight. That said, it would have been nice to see sapphire glass used here.

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With water resistance of up to 200m, you can be assured of functionality even while snorkelling. (Edwin Kee pic)

Numerous sensors within the GBD-H2000 allow it to keep track of various activities and health metrics. The aforementioned optical heartrate sensor on the back keeps score of your pulse and blood oxygen levels, while the accelerometer lets you know how many steps you have taken.

Love swimming? Not a problem, thanks to the embedded gyroscope. Meanwhile, the long-awaited built-in GPS ensures a higher degree of accuracy whenever you indulge in outdoor activities.

Other sensors include a magnetometer, barometer, and thermo-sensor that powers the compass, gathering information about the surrounding air pressure and temperature.

Casio has teamed up with Polar for fitness tracking, although you won’t be able to see the latter’s fingerprints at first glance as there is no Polar application. But you can be sure its technology works behind the scenes to deliver accurate data via the Casio Watches app.

Primary physical activities that can be tracked are running, walking, swimming, cycling, gym workouts, and interval training – the most common exercise forms. If you wish to dive deeper with more specialised sports, then there are other options out there.

Other essential health statistics are VO2 max (i.e. the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise), cardio load, running index, amount of energy used, plus training strain and recovery.

There are several watch faces to choose from that display important data at a glance. Each workout session is broken down into your average and maximum heart rate, cardio load, calories burned, and sport-specific information.

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Be still your beating heart: the GBD-H2000 allows for relatively accurate activity tracking across a range of sports. (Edwin Kee pic)

Thanks to Polar’s algorithms and technology, the GBD-H2000 is far more accurate than its predecessor, though do not expect much from the user interface. There is liberal use of big, bold graphics and text here, where you use the FWD, REV, and Enter buttons to navigate the menu.

This is not a touchscreen timepiece, so rest assured it is extremely accessible regardless of the weather.

It takes approximately 20 seconds to acquire a GPS signal when outdoors, but once the GBD-H2000 gets going, you can pretty much concentrate on your run. There are several display options for viewing your current sporting activity at a glance.

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If there is one drawback here, it’s that the GBD-H2000 misses out on third-party integration since your sporting data is stuck behind the Casio Watch walled garden, leaving no room to synchronise with apps like Google Fit and Apple Health.

The GBD-H2000 wears the mantle of smartwatch with caution. Yes, you can receive incoming notifications (messages, calls, emails), but the display is simply inadequate for long lines of text.

Alerts by vibrations and a beep make it useful when you are out in a noisy crowd, but otherwise it would be best to leave those disabled.

As for the Casio Watches app, it works with other compatible G-Shock watches and aims to be a portal of sorts. You can then access all your fitness and activity data from the app, or change the watch settings without having to physically press a button on the timepiece.

Data synchronisation does take a while to get going, but at least it does not fail or drop the connection halfway.

Battery life and charging

The coup de grace on the GBD-H2000 is the inclusion of solar charging. Outdoor enthusiasts who use the watch regularly will find that battery life is exceptional.

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The clip-on charging cable in action, although the GBD-H2000’s solar-charging capability means active users will hardly have to plug it in. (Edwin Kee pic)

While Casio provides a proprietary charging cable that clips to the device, the battery dropped by a couple of bars after two weeks of intense use: heartrate monitor enabled round the clock, Bluetooth turned on, and tracking three 40-minute runs each week on average.

For the less active user or couch potato, you could virtually keep this watch running forever if all you would ever use it for is tell the time.

The Casio G-Squad GBD-H2000 retails for RM1,995 and comes in four colourways: black and orange; black and yellow; blue and orange; and black and black.

All in all, those who are looking for a smartwatch will do better with Apple or Samsung’s offerings, but bear in mind those need to be charged on a daily basis for most users.

Learn more about the G-Squad GBD-H2000 by clicking here.

Edwin Kee dreamt of being a pro-gamer only to have circumstances mould him into a programmer in a past life. He has since moved on to write about consumer electronics and other topics.

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