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Not even remotely on par with the good ol' Casio Data Banks, IMHO...
on 22 August 2012
I have been using Casio calculator watches for my entire life: since the very first old, ugly, matchbox-like models with wobbly rubber keys sticking out like micro-pencil erasers, through the elegant, ultra-thin, Sci-Fi-like, double-body ones with the flat keyboard, up to modern Data Bank models...
I always knew that calculator watches might look geeky, unfashionable and cheap (as they usually were), of course, and nowadays smartphones should have spelled doom for these little, humble devices that can barely do basic math operations and store very limited information...
Nevertheless, the reason why I kept buying them, year after year is very simple: safety and ubiquity.
First of all, a plastic calculator watch would never draw the attention of any mugger, unlike any other even-remotely-costly-appearing wristwatch, and this is peace of mind at your wrist, these days...
Moreover, I don't know about you, but I would never be able to memorize all those essential, life-saving small bits and pieces of information we need to use in our daily lives (phone numbers, appointments, important dates, codes (e.g. unending bank codes such as the IBANs), and any similar information that you might never be able to remember at the right moment, which you can convenientely split and store in multiple phone memory pages of watches like these, just in case...
You might be thinking: who cares? We have smartphones! Well, as practical as it might be to store any such vital information in a cel phone, have you ever considered how _easy and dangerous_ it can be to just _lose_ those precious and costly devices with all such data on it, while on vacation, in a restaurant, at a cinema, in a cab, at the seaside, etc., not to mention the possibility of having it stolen?
And do you really have your smartphone _always_ at hand, at any given moment? What about places where it cannot be used? (Some banks do not even allow such devices through their security doors, for instance.) And what if the battery dies just when you are looking for that life-safing data, and there is no way around to charge it, or the delicate touchscreen simply _breaks_ at the wrong moment? (I-falls, anyone?)
On the other hand, a wristwatch like this can be literally _on_ you at all times, even when you have no pockets or bags, and in any place (except in water), it is almost undestructable and impossible to lose, you never need to charge it, and you might probably end up buying a new one before the battery dies... ;-) This is an invaluable plus, in my opinion.
So, I have been using for years the old DBC models from Casio (310, 610, etc.), which had almost _everything_ you could possibly need, including a beautiful EL backlight and a shared memory that you could use either for phone numbers/data AND for appointments...
Nevertheless, in recent years Casio decided to discontinue them, maybe due to their excessive price and the low demand for this kind of product, and the new line is the only one still available around the world.
Unfortunately, - probably in order to cut costs - Casio decided to pare down the functions offered by these watches, removing some very important, extremely useful features that - in my opinion - made them ideal for all sorts of situations, and offering very few new ones in exchange, which - in my opinion - make this specific series of Data Bank watches much less useful than the old ones, even considering the better price/performance ratio.
So, in case you are a "vintage" Casio Data Bank fan as I am, and you are considering buying one of these, instead, here are the pros and cons I could find in this new line, so you can decide for yourself if it is still good enough for you (it is definitely NOT for me, unfortunately...)
-Larger display (this is really a good idea, since the old one was way too small for all the data it could display, and might get unreadable soon for any person over 40...
-Better-designed, larger, apparently more "sealed" side buttons (the weakest point in the old series, in my opinion, were the small, slightly wobbly side buttons, with too much space around them, allowing all sorts of dirt and crud to accumulate inside their receptacles, which could not be cleaned properly, until they did not work at all and forced you to buy a new watch...)
-Stronger alarm (the old model's one was rather feeble, and in some situations you might not hear the alarm ringing at the date of an appointment or at a specific moment)
-Multiple alarms, but with NO SCHEDULE DATA DISPLAYED! (see below)
-10-year battery life, according to Casio (the old model might deplete a battery in just one year, depending on how often you used the wonderful EL backlight)
-Sturdier, thicker and possibly more durable resin wristband (the old one would invariably break in less than 2 years of everyday use, costing almost 1/3rd or 1/4th of the entire watch, if you bought the genuine replacements, or forcing you to buy cheap imitations that lasted even less...)
-NO EL BACKLIGHT! The wonderful, luminous, mesmerizing and perfectly readable Electro-Luminescent blue backlight is gone, unfortunately, probably in order to spare energy (since it was very energy-consuming) and reduce costs, and it has been replaced by a _very_ dim, old-style amber led in a corner; although the display is still readable, it looks terribly outdated, and it is less brilliant and much less effective than the EL (you could _find your keys on the floor with the EL_...!)
-No schedule alarm! (And no calendar with upcoming 2-weeks scheduled events either.) One of the most useful functions of the old model has been removed; now you can only memorize combinations of numbers/data, and even if you have 5 alarms, you get NO indication of what they refer to!
-No hourly-alarm: another useful function was the double beep that could sound at every precise hour, a very practical and unobtrusive way to always keep track of the passing time, even without looking at the watch.
Following a comment by another Amazon customer, I found there _is_ actually a hourly-alarm like the one in the old series, but it is buried deep under the _fifth_ alarm setting of this watch, for unknown reasons: so, in order to activate it, you need to select the alarm page, select the fifth alarm and then activate it with a button press. In the old model, you could activate/deactivate both the alarm and/or the hourly alarm very quickly by just selecting the alarm page and pressing a single button multiple times, which made the option easier to set (and to find...), in my opinion. By the way, the old model offered the option to flash the EL backlight at each alarm sound, as a sort of "visual alarm" in the dark or for people with hearing problems, which was perfectly visible even at far distances, the new one does not.
-No countdown alarm: the repeatable, programmable countdown alarm is also gone; this was another _extremely_ useful function for all those cases where you had to perform a repetitive task at the same time intervals (such as multiple temeperature or pressure readings, changing positions of something regularly, and countless others.)
-Larger, thicker and slightly heavier case: the older model was smaller, more lightweight, and easier to wear, hence less obtrusive and geeky-looking than the new one, IMHO, although the latter has a nicer, more modern and less blocky overal design, in my opinion.
-Much less responsive and hard calculator keys: the original hard-rubber, flat, responsive keys have been replaced by larger, _much_ harder rubber keys that barely respond even to strong pressure, especially since they are _tilted_ at such an angle that makes them more difficult and unpleasant to operate, in my opinion...
-Much harder and larger wristband, that can be difficult to wear especially during hot Summers.
-The dual time indication does not show anymore the names of major world capitals for the various time-zones, so you now have to know exactly what the time differences are, and set them yourself.
The calculator and chronograph functions are unchanged, in case you are wondering.
In my opinion, these cons definitely outweigh the few pros, but apparently, to quote a legendary pointed-ear character, also the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; so, evidently this is what people need today from a data-bank watch; should Casio, in the future, decide to put back the exact same features of the old models in the body of the new ones, even with the worse new keys, I would buy it again immediately, but I am afraid this will be the last Casio Data Bank I will ever buy...