Most helpful positive review
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
A lot of features, displayed well
on September 8, 2009
I think this is the best all-digital watch out there right now. It has no unusual features, but it's the least expensive watch to offer a countdown timer, which is what I wanted most, and in a small package. The Casio W71 is the other option. All the rest either lack the timer, have analog hands, or are much larger and heavier. The timex "classic" model, despite some product descriptions, does not have a countdown timer.
What puts this one ahead is the size of the display, the alarms, and the extra two (fwd/rev) buttons. The size allows for larger numbers in the main time display, but the sub-displays are most useful in the other modes. In timer, stopwatch, 2nd-time-zone, and alarm-set modes the time of day is still displayed in the lower left. No need to switch out of stopwatch or timer to check the time. The fwd/rev buttons make setting any anything much easier as you can always adjust both ways, and never need to guess which buttons change the number and which move to the next field.
The alarm functions are much better than the usual. There are five, and the first one can be set to repeat up to 10 times at 5 min intervals - much more likely to wake you up than the normal mode. Like all watches, the alarm does not sound very long, but this way it will try again every 5 minutes. They call this "Snooze Alarm Mode" since you can silence the alarm early each time by pressing any button. To stop it completely you need to go to alarm mode and press one button to disable alarm 1 (press twice more to enable it for the next day). All five alarms can optionally use the month and/or day to have an alarm sound every day on a particular month, or on one particular day each month. You can't set it to "first tuesday", or only on weekdays/weekends. Using all five, of course, you could have a weekdays-only alarm. There is a hourly signal available, and if it's set then SIG appears in tiny letters at the lower right.
The countdown timer is a simple one. You set a time, it counts, it alarms, that's it. Some (always larger) sports watches offer repeating timers (as does the Casio W71 mentioned above), or even multiple timers that can run in sequence for interval timing. The only other small one I know of is a women's watch, the LA670, and is unique in having very easily set common times (5,10, etc.), but may lack an adjustable timer.
The databank feature, if you have a cellular phone, is more a throwback to the '90s than anything useful. I assume it's the main reason for otherwise useful features though: all the extra digits on the display, the big 3-letter day-of-week indicator, and the fwd/back buttons. It can hold 8 alphanumeric characters (they scroll) and 15 numbers per record. Maybe you can think of a use for it. Special characters are available if you set the watch to other languages (and stay even if you change the language setting). Holding FWD at the main screen shows the last-viewed databank entry.
The international language feature is unusual, great if you want it, and doesn't get in the way if you don't. Also useful for international use could be that the second time zone only shares the seconds with the main time. Most watches have it share the minutes as well. This way you can easily set it to be a half-hour off, which is needed for some oddball time zones. Holding REV shows the 2nd time zone from the main screen.
The cons are: DST, light, and band.
First, let me address the 12/24/DST issue. Yes, the lower right button changes 12/24 if pressed briefly. If your wrist is such that you're accidentally hitting that button (mine, fortunately, is not) then that could be disconcerting but you can always press it again, or just read the time in the other format. It is possible that you might accidentally hold the button down for a second, which would toggle the DST setting and thus display a time that's an hour off. I'm not sure why they made DST so easily accessible and consider that a design flaw. You may not like this watch if that happens to you, but I want to make clear, to correct an error in another review, that the watch DOES INDICATE DST STATUS. It's a small "DST" next to the day-of-week display. Yes, it's small, but if you know it's there it's easy to see whether it is lit. (Reading the the SNZ, SIG, or DST as letters takes squinting or 20/10 vision, but it's not hard to see whether the indicators are on or off).
The backlight is a green LED, which is better than the old incandescent ones, but not as nice as the evenly lit blue electroluminescent (EL) backlights on most other watches. Still, it does the job. Not sure if it uses less power than EL, but Casio claims you'll get the 10-year battery life (a CR2025) if you use it once a day, and half that if you use it 15 times a day. It'll probably outlast the watch's case, as the crystal is plastic (though you can polish out scratches with Novus, or iPod-screen polish). Notably, to maintain the 50M water resistance (enough to swim with it on), you should have the rubber seals replaced every 2-3 years, so if you do that, use the backlight all you like.
The band. What's to say, this is a $20 watch with a plastic band. It's functional, and on the plus side it's fairly thin and lightweight compared to other watchbands, especially for men's watches. Also, the center pin on the buckle is plastic, not metal, so it's less likely to scratch your laptop, if you can stand using a laptop while wearing a watch. But, if you want something more comfortable, budget for a replacement cloth, leather, or black metal band. The closest similar watch (small, has timer) with a cloth/leather band is the Timex "Expedition Classic", but it has that "sports" look to it.
I'm rating this 5 stars since there are a huge number of pros, I'm not having a problem with the 12/24/DST issue, the LED backlight is fine, and I don't expect a better band at this price. If you don't want specialized features, I find this watch perfect. The excellent alarms and the databank are nice extras. It looks better (IMHO) and displays more, more clearly, than any other watch in it's class.