What’s this? A new bluetooth G-Shock? It’s not, but it might as well be with its nearly indestructible build and iconic design. The Casio Sports Gear STB1000 is actually a bluetooth connected sports watch that syncs to your iPhone. Once paired, the Casio will proudly display your fitness app data and phone notifications, it can control your music, and it will even find your iPhone.
The Casio STB1000 is basically a G-Shock. In fact, it’s almost the same watch as the G-Shock GBX6900B that we reviewed last year. It’s hard to say why Casio self-branded it, but at a more affordable price point, it’s hard to complain. To that effect, the design is ultra-durable, and it looks it too. It’s a unisex watch, but is quite large on small wrists. There’s two easy-press buttons on each side of the watch and a large button on the face. The face is divided into three portions for different readouts.
The STB1000 uses Bluetooth 4.0 with a battery that can last an impressive two years synced to your phone. Currently, it will only sync with Apple iOS 7 devices, and the only iOS devices with Bluetooth 4.0 are iPhone 4S and newer. The bluetooth connection is low energy and is able to stay connected to your phone all day and night without draining either batteries. The app handles the syncing, so you don’t need to go into iPhone’s settings to configure this bluetooth device.
The Casio Watch+ App allows you to control most of the Casio’s settings. When you pair devices, the Casio time will sync to your phone time. You can change timezones in a breeze without having to fiddle around with the watch. The main use of the app, once paired, will be to find your watch. If there’s a connection, you can use your app to find your watch via a high pitch alarm. Alternatively, you can use your watch to find your phone.
So how “connected” is the STB1000, really? Well, it handles notifications pretty well (push, email, text, phone calls), though you’ll only be able to see descriptions scrolling 4 letters at a time due to the small screen size. You can customize the notifications with the amount of detail displayed and the alert type (vibration, chime, both, or none). You can also customize the vibrate pattern. Similarly, your watch can even notify you when you lose connection with your phone. In addition to notifications, you can also control your music with the watch buttons (volume, track control, and play/pause). Unfortunately, music control doesn’t work on most third party apps, like Spotify, and there’s a 1-2 second delay.
The Casio STB1000 is marketed as a sports watch, which it definitely is. If any watch can withstand intensity, it’s this not-quite-G-Shock watch. There’s currently four apps that will sync: Abvio’s Runmeter, Walkmeter, and Cyclemeter, as well as Wahoo Fitness. The only one that’s free is Wahoo Fitness and it works decently well at displaying your pace, time, and distance. It will also log laps and can display heart rate readouts if you have a compatible heart rate monitor.
All-in-all, you can expect a G-Shock-like experience with the STB1000 – that includes comfort, ruggedness, accuracy with a lot of time-related features – that’s improved by the watch’s connected capabilities. The app is not the best, nor is the design intuitive. We’d also like better compatibility with other apps (like Runkeeper), but that can always happen through future firmware/app updates. And even if the Casio only see a few characters of a notification, we still love being able to glance down at our watch instead of digging for our phone. The Casio STB1000 is currently available from Amazon for $79.95. And that is a pretty good price to get your feet wet with a not-quite-smartwatch.
The Good: Comfortable, Vibrate/Chime/Text notifications, Lots of timer options, Can set/sync time and timezone from app, Displays fitness data with compatible app, Backlit, Find-my-phone and find-my-watch features, Music controls, excellent 2 year battery with low energy Bluetooth 4.0
The Bad: Notification screen only shows few characters at a time, Confusing to use connected features, Requires a phone/app to display fitness data, Only compatible with iPhone 4S and higher on iOS 7