Casio’s STB-1000: Smart Watch, Not Smartwatch
At this point, there are a lot of smartwatch platforms that are starting to dominate the market. Android Wear, Pebble, and Tizen are probably the most widely-adopted or popular ones out there, but they all have one major thing in common. They all require the entire face of the watch to be consumed by an OS of some sort that replicates the look of a traditional watch on some sort of screen. Whether it be an LCD, LED, or e-ink display, they all are just a big screen on your wrist with information pouring out of them. For some people, that’s great, but others prefer a more traditional approach, and that’s where the Casio OmniSync STB-1000 comes in.
STB-1000 First Impressions
When I first took the STB-1000 out of the box, I thought it looked just like any other normal watch sold by Casio. It has the time, the date, the day of the week, an alarm, a back light, and a stopwatch. Nothing out of the ordinary. If you scroll through the modes, you’ll feel like you’re using any other ordinary digital watch. You’ll notice that there’s a mode that gives you information about a world time, giving you an additional clock for some other part of the world if you have business or family overseas, but again, nothing crazy.
Finally, some flags will start shooting up. Why can’t I figure out how to set the time? Why is there a mode that says “Setup” that doesn’t seem to do anything that I can understand? Why is there the word Bluetooth written across the top of the face? Wait, Bluetooth? You quickly grab the instructions to learn more about what’s going on and find out that this watch is special, it can do more and do it better than your average
Install, Pair, And Go
So, you’ve now made the realization that this watch can be paired to your phone via Bluetooth and you’re eager to figure out why and how. The app, which is currently only useful for this watch on iOS, is called Casio Watch+. The app is available for Android, but currently only works for the EQB-500 (Europe, only). I have been assured that Android support for the STB-1000 is in the pipeline, but I wasn’t able to get any kind of confirmation or even a prediction as to when.
If you’re a user of Blackberry or Windows Phone, I’m sorry, but you knew the ecosystem was barren getting into this, maybe you can sideload it. Another important note is that apparently iPhone 6/6 Plus has issues with pairing when Casio’s applications are running in the background, they’re working on it, but be wary of that if you’re intending to buy the STB-1000, or any other Casio connected watch.
In any case, the app is actually super simple, even a caveman could do it (Geico, please don’t sue me). All you need to do is install the app and tell it to find your watch. You hold down the big “power” button on the bottom of the watch to turn on the Bluetooth radio and they will find each other instantly. Once the phone and watch are paired, the time will sync from your phone to the STB-1000 and you will have the correct current time (which will also sync seamlessly when you change timezones).
From the app, you can set which city you want the World Time Mode to be synced with, set a multitude of alarms, set the amount of time that you want the timer to start at (a surprisingly handy feature), and configure a bunch of other settings for the watch. It’s a one-stop shop for all things involving the STB-1000, except one, it doesn’t control the fitness functionality.
Once everything is set up, you’re good to go. Notifications are very customizable, allowing to show the sender, subject, or the entire message. I opted to just get the sender since the notification display is about a centimeter wide and 1/3 of a centimeter tall.
It works with pretty much any app, so it told me when I had a Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Inbox, or SMS Message (apps with push notification privileges), but on the iPhone at least, only the stock Messages app was able to give the sender information to the Casio application. That might be different when the Android functionality is finally supported, but that remains to be seen.
Because this is a Casio watch, you can expect all of the normal Casio watch durability. The STB-1000 is rated for 10 BAR or about 100 meters of water resistance and it’s a very rugged design, though it should be noted that this isn’t a G-Shock, and isn’t completely waterproof or ready to be run over by monster trucks.
The other great thing that sets this watch apart is that it uses a standard watch battery that is user replaceable. Not only does that mean that the battery should last you about 2 years (no charging involved), but because this is a smartwatch, it will warn you when that time is near.
Fitness bands are all the rage these days, particularly FitBit, though there are a lot of better alternatives. If you’re a watch wearer and you also want to wear a fitness band, your wrists are going to start getting a bit crowded. The STB-1000 can pair with a whole myriad of fitness apps that are available on your iPhone, 10 different apps to be exact. I chose Runtastic, because that was one that I was familiar with, but there are also apps by MapMyFitness, ABVIO, and Wahoo Fitness available for your perusal.
I simply can’t go through and test the watch with every app that is available, but I can say that my experience pairing the STB-1000 to Runtastic was a pleasant one. All I had to do was go into the settings of Runtastic and click “Pair a Smartwatch.” Once there, I had the option to pick a Pebble or the STB-1000. You need to buy the pro version of Runtastic to pair the Pebble, but you just needed to flick a switch to pair the STB-1000. Once I did that and clicked start in Runtastic, I could begin my workout.
The watch essentially acts as a fitness band and tracks your movement to more accurately report your distance traveled, calories burned, etc. It also displays how long you’ve been working out, so if you plan on running for a certain period of time (for me that’s usually 45 minutes) then you can just keep an eye on that by looking at the watch rather than having to pull out your phone every few minutes.
My biggest complaint was that when you’re paired with the app, the watch is in “control” mode, and when you’re controlling the Runstastic app, it gives you stats about your workout. That’s all well and good, but my gym (and the outdoors) don’t have easily accessible clocks and one of the reasons I would wear a watch is to know what time it is (go figure). However, when you’re using the watch paired with Runtastic (I can’t speak with any of the other apps, but this is probably applicable to all of them given the nature of the pairing/control) you can’t look at the time without disconnecting from Runtastic and therefore ending the workout. I wound up accidentally doing that about 5 minutes into my run and having to stop so I could reconnect the watch and start a new workout in the app, which was a huge pain.
On the bright side, I then knew how to end my workout without having to take my phone out of my pocket, so there’s a silver lining to every story.
In addition to all of the other features of the watch, I also mentioned control mode when talking about fitness tracking. However, this isn’t something that’s exclusive to fitness tracking. You can also use it to control the music playing on your phone.
This feature is pretty straight forward, you turn on control mode (either on the watch or on the phone) and then the buttons on the watch become assigned for certain functions on the phone. You can control volume, forward/reverse tracks, and play/pause. You can configure which buttons do what within the app, but I found that the default setup was fine with me.
The STB-1000 is the best smartwatch I’ve used or seen, at least for me. For anyone that wouldn’t mind additional functionality from their watch, but doesn’t want to compromise the classic look offered by a Casio digital watch, the STB-1000 is top notch.
Of course, you need to consider its compatibility with your current smartphone. As of right now, it’s only officially supported on iPhone 4S and up, and Casio has run into problems with the app running in the background on the iPhone 6/6 Plus.
If you have a compatible phone and something like this interests you, I highly recommend it. It does everything that a watch normally does, adds some notifications, fitness band functionality (with your favorite fitness app), and controls your music and it’s the same price as the original FitBit (which has less water resistance and needs to be charged weekly), $99.
The fact that you can’t tell time while you’re working out is a bummer, but for me it’s not enough to make me dislike the watch and something like that might be fixable via a firmware update in the future.
Bottom line, I love this watch, and I can’t wait until I can use it with my Android phone as well. If you have any additional questions about the STB-1000, or you have used it before and want to share something that I missed, go straight to the comment section and I will do my best to answer your question or respond to your comment!