Casio Edifice EQB-500

Are you a watch-wearer? I have become one, again, converted by one of the gadgets we reviewed last year — the Withings Activite Pop. But while the Pop is a slim and subtle activity-tracker, Casio’s appropriately-named Edifice is a watch of weight, designed to be noticed.

A weight worth wearing

First things first, the Casio Edifice EQB-500 is a good looking piece of wrist-wear. The combination of shiny blue and stainless steel gives a 21st century edge to the classic dial. Solar power keeps it ticking and there are three additional dials, as well as a date window and Bluetooth indicator — more on that shortly. Two of the dials are ‘world time’ dials that can be set to track the time anywhere around the world. The third shows your speed. Sort of…

All you need to know at this point is that aesthetically, the Edifice won’t disappoint.

It was respectable in the 80s…

Functionally though, that’s a different story. The EQB-500 pairs with a smartphone app to enable many of its features. Like the ability to automatically set itself to local time when you land. Nice.

The problem with this is that the app is pretty horrible, not least in the way it complains constantly if it loses connection to your phone. I noticed significant battery drain when running the app — no surprise if it is constantly trying to connect, even with Bluetooth Low Energy.

It’s not just the app that is the issue. As a child I took pride in learning the complex sequence of button presses required to make my watch do various functions. But as an adult I have become accustomed to well-designed interfaces that make everything intuitive.

The Casio EQB-500 and its associated app are anything but intuitive.

Manual override

I lost count of the number of steps required, alternating button presses and data entry on the phone, in order to capture and share speed data. Sometimes single presses, sometimes holding buttons for half a second, sometimes for two seconds. Why? My phone does all this automatically. Why would I use a watch as a retro timer and calculator?

Casio’s manual looks exactly like the ones I received with my digital watches back in the 1980s, which seems appropriate. Because the experience that the manual describes is also very 1980s. Casio makes a great looking watch. But if it is to survive, it needs some serious investment in more functional technology and most of all, user experience design. Especially if it wants to shift only semi-smart watches at around £300.

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