Review: Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50YT-1 ‘LIMITED’ connected rugged watch
The $380 Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50 is stuffed with tech.
If you like outdoor pursuits like hiking, climbing, or camping, you may already know the Casio Pro Trek range of connected wristwatches. No mere timepiece, the rugged watches are more like toolkits you strap to yourself, filled with sensors to help you with things like route planning.
Today, we’re looking at one of the newest models in the range, the $380 Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50YT-1. It’s aimed at outdoors enthusiasts, who want information at their fingertips, without having to fiddle with touchscreens.
So, when is a smartwatch not a smartwatch?
No, I’m not the Riddler, trying to trap the Batman in some new insidious plot. You can stop trying to think of suitable joke answers. What I mean is, how much tech can you stuff into a watch without it actually being a smartwatch?
The PRT-B50 is stuffed with tech, although it looks like a normal manual watch with a secondary LCD screen at first glance. It’s got an altimeter, a barometer, a digital compass, a thermometer, a step counter, and can show you sunrise and sunset times for your location. It’s also got a handy twist-to-use lightswitch, so you don’t need a second hand to see the watchface at night.
That list increases once you connect it to the companion app, which automatically records altitude data from the watch along with GPS data from the smartphone. That gives you nice maps of where you’ve been hiking, or helps you find your way back to where you parked your car.
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The route logging feature is great, automatically plotting your whole trek. You can also put manual plots on, like when you stop for camp, or points of interest that you took pictures of. I love this, as when I used to go trekking regularly, we had to record all of this arduously by hand.
We’ve not been going out much since the pandemic started, but the PRT-B50 has been invaluable in supermarket car parks, with its Location Indicator function. This lets you save your current location in the watch’s memory, and then pressing another button makes the second hand point back towards that point, while the LCD shows the distance to travel.
Oh, and the main thing that really sets the PRT-B50 apart from smartwatches? A two-year battery life, from a normal button cell. Whew.
So, what’s it like to use?
For such a chunky watch, the PRT-B50 really doesn’t feel like it on the wrist. The lightweight resin used is hardy while still being light, so you don’t really notice the extra size. All of the buttons are oversized, so using them with thick gloves on isn’t an issue.
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The dial face is protected by a mineral crystal, which is fine since it’s more resistant to shattering than the sapphire crystal that luxury watches are covered in. The bezel is a bidirectional compass scale, that helps once you put the watch into compass mode. Once you’ve lined up the N on the bezel to the second hand, you can use the watch as a compass, which is really handy.
One of the coolest parts of this watch to me is the titanium alloy band. It’s super lightweight, with all the strength you’d expect, but there’s a hidden feature inside every link that makes it almost effortless to change the length of the watchband.
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Ever tried shortening a metal watch band yourself? It’s not fun, so Casio figured out how to make it almost automatic. Press the included tool into the hole in the middle of each link, and the pins holding it to the next link retract, so you can easily adjust the length. Nifty.
So, should I buy the Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50YT-1CR?
The $380 MSRP Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50YT-1CR packs most of the technology you’ll need off the beaten trail, with a battery life that can’t be beaten. The large housing feels light on the wrist and is plenty tough enough for that off-road lifestyle. It packs the best of Casio’s toolkit into a utilitarian package and it’s all the better for it.
Oh, and you can usually find it at a fraction of its MSRP, which makes it almost a steal.
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