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Review of Casio G-Shock 8900A-1ER, £65, Amazon
on 16 November 2012
This watch came today as a replacement for a 7 year-old Casio G-Shock GW2310(Tough Solar, not Multiband or Waveceptor) which I gave away.
Probably would've bought the same watch if it'd been available at a reasonable price, but only more expensive upgrades available with extra features I didn't need. So back to the drawing board.
Definitely wanted a Tough Solar G-Shock again as it worked so well on the last watch, and eliminates battery changes which just haven't gone well in my experience - they usually result in an unused or broken watch for some reason.
So given the available choices, I *really* wanted the 5610 1ER with its sharp design, reverse monochrome and proper-looking strap. Ultimately I just couldn't justify paying £115(on sale) for looks and very limited extras I didn't need.
So, excluding the uglier designs, I felt I *should* get the M850-1ER as it appeared to offer the best all-round functionality vs price. In the end I just wasn't crazy about the look of it, and once again didn't really need those extras.
Finally, out of the remaining contenders I settled on this 8900A-1ER because it has Tough Solar, all the features I actually need(see below), a good backlight and the overall design is pretty easy on the eye.
- stopwatch(inc' split)
- countdown timer(0 to 24 hours duration)
- 5 alarms(inc' snooze)
- hourly signal
- world time(48 cities, plus UTC(aka Coordinated Universal Time))
- electro-luminescent backlight(inc' auto-backlight when wrist/watch tilted up through ~40 degrees)
- power-saving mode - doesn't reset anything but effectively shuts display down when watch inactive, unmoved or out of light for a certain length of time. Reacivated by pressing any button.
- rubber strap with 2 pronged metal buckle
- flat(though slightly raised round middle) steel backing attached by 4 small phillips screws
- 200m water resistant
The only other thing I'd have wanted in this watch is a vibrating alarm as I find the alarms on all G-Shocks I've had/seen far too weak to wake me up. Couldn't track one down that had Tough Solar, was within my price range and didn't look ugly though so abandoned that idea.
Upsides/Downsides to the watch:
- I tried the auto-backlight earlier but couldn't get it to work despite repeated and thorough testing. As such, cancelled order with Amazon and asked for a replacement. Tried the auto-backlight again just now and it suddenly started to work. Very, very odd indeed - my guess is there's a mechanical component involved in this feature which can seize up after post-production storage. Who knows. I'm only really mentioning this in case someone else encounters the same problem and arrives here in desperation. Anyway it seems to be totally resolved now but will obviously keep an eye on it just in case. By the way, to enable the auto-backlight feature, hold down the light button until the right-most small circle in the plastic Saturn-like arrangement(on the upper left of watchface) turns from black to light grey/green. Instructions not too clear on that so I had originally thought it was the other way round(no - not why auto-backlight didn't work - I made sure I tried *all* possible permutations at the time, and it still didn't work believe me!!!)
(Edit: please see my comment for a possible explanation of this auto-backlight problem_
- Personally, I'm not sold on the big plastic Saturn-like arrangement on the top-left of the watchface. Obviously it wasn't a deal-breaker for me or I wouldn't have bought the watch, but I think the watch would be better without it. It's purpose just doesn't justify the real estate it takes up, and it looks a little tacky to my eyes. It comprises a larger central circle, flanked by 2 smaller circles, all framed by a raised(cheap-looking IMO) plastic frame. The larger circle is split into 10 segments corresponding to seconds ticking up(or down on countdown timer) - totally unnecessary bells and whistles IMHO. The other 2 smaller circles reflect whether power-saving or auto-EL are switched on - I think this would be better achieved with less space in line with the smaller snooze, alarm, sig & mute indicators. So for my money, Casio could scrap the whole plastic Saturn-like arrangement altogether and replace this with something more useful and less ugly. For me that would make this watch the best G-Shock available. I appreciate that's totally subjective though and it's really no biggie for me.
- While not a problem for me personally, I can totally understand why people complain about the contrast. The display is light grey/green on black so under certain lighting conditions it could be difficult to read, but of course you have that great EL-backlight which hopefully overcomes most adverse lighting conditions. Besides, I'm guessing that anyone who digs the reverse monochrome display, like me, is probably already aware of this common complaint and is nevertheless opting for style over visibility regardless. Also worth noting that there's no contrast adjustment setting on this watch, unlike some of the other reverse monochrome G-Shocks available.
- strap bit softer/more comfortable than the 2310. I have a 6.5" wrist and, if done up literally as tight as humanly possible, there's still 3 out of 11 rows of strap holes remaining.
- good EL backlight. No LED so whole screen equally lit - results in bluey/white characters on indigo background - higher contrast and brighter than usual. Better than the backlight on the 2310 I'd say. Not strong enough to be used as a torch though! (edited 20/11/12: on further inspection, there do appear to be 2 LEDs after all, *but* the overall effect is a very evenly lit watchface as opposed to the old bit-of-light-in-one-corner effect)
- buttons for mode/adjust/forward/reverse are large, flat***, square, plastic as opposed to small, round metal(e.g. 5600 / 5610). I personally find these much easier to find/press, especially when it comes to prolongued pressing.
*** OK so they're not exactly flat or square, more like a coat-of-arms shield shaped, folded by about 20 to 30 degrees down the vertical centre.
- If you're in a foreign country you can set the World Time screen to the foreign time, go back to the standard time screen and click the top-right button to display the foreign time permanently in the top-right window, replacing the date. Of course, you could alternatively adjust the usual time to the foreign time and display your home time on the top-right.
- Not too much pointless stuff printed on the screen like some G-Shocks, (e.g. 5610-1ER). Less is definitely more in a watch user interface.
- This is obviously massively subjective and probably not even worth mentioning, but ... the watch *feels* solid, and has a reassuring weight(not too heavy by any means though). Looks chunky on my wrist but not ridiculous - any bigger and it might just though!
Overall, I'm very happy with this watch for £65. Shame about the auto-backlight wild goose chase but I guess it's just one of those *weird* things (Yup still working!).
I know this review is somewhat on the long side but that was absolutely deliberate, as I struggled to find much useful first-hand information about this watch before I bought it. Hope it's useful to someone!
(edited 29/03/13: The watch lost exactly 19 seconds over the last 5 weeks. It lost a little more than that when I last checked though)