Initial Impressions: Casio PAW5000-1

I am super excited to have recently received my first ABC watch. The PAW5000-1 arrived on November 28, after another excellent experience at CampMor. Hats off to them for getting it from NJ to AZ in 3 days…over a holiday weekend! Exceptional.

The watch is CLEAN. At first glance, you would never expect it to be crammed with all the features it has. It is very gorgeous, active, aware, and comfortable. I’m amazed at the weight and size, it is much thinner than I had anticipated. I was expecting a hockey puck, but the 5000 is more of a Snapple bottle cap. I had already been used to wearing paracord on my wrist, but what surprised me is that when I took it off to replace it with the 5000, I hardly noticed a difference.

I’ve been EDCing this watch since I received it, only taking it off for sleep and riding the moto. While I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with her so far, she definitely has her hidden faults, as every perfect woman does. Here are my initial impressions that caught me by surprise in my time with the 5000 so far.

  1. The atomic radio signal does not pick up until night, and even better after midnight. It’s so variable, that the watch would not sync with me holding it in the air on the roof of my house at 3 pm, but it syncs effortlessly next to my bathroom sink indoors at 1 am. Quirky, but hey, it still syncs ~800 miles from Ft. Collins, so I can’t complain.
  2. I did my research before getting the 5000 and was aware that the light would not work while the ABC functions are operating. I was surprised to find that the watch does not limit the light, but instead the function. So, if you are in compass mode, the second-hand starts swinging around to indicate north. I thought that if I was in compass mode the light would not come on at all, but it actually does turn on, and just ‘freezes’ the function in place. This is a lot more useful than disabling the light altogether, and I have come to appreciate it.
  3. The barometer does not correct for altitude or allow lock altitude, but instead, the barometer outputs absolute air pressure. This is somewhat of a bummer, as Suunto’s easily take altitude into account and output the air pressure corrected to sea level, which is somewhat of a standard. On the other hand, it’s not a huge deal for two reasons. One, you will most likely be using the barometer to track weather, so the exact numeric inHg or hPa output won’t really be relevant, so long as your watch acquires accurate data and plots it appropriately on a graph. Second, you can forcefully correct it by checking your local weather station, and manually putting in the local pressure. I don’t recommend manually correcting it, unless you will only be using your watch at one altitude.
  4. The compass isn’t very consistent. Well, it’s consistent in pointing between NE and NW, but it is only spot on at true N about 40-50% of the time.
  5. The “Adjust” button is commonly used for editing modes (hold down button) and switching between views (single press), but the button press functions aren’t isolated. For example, if you are on the main screen and press Adjust once, the green chart area will switch between a barometric graph and the day of the week. However, to enter into the editing mode, you have to hold down the Adjust button. If you hold down “Adjust” while on the main screen, it will first switch the chart area to day of the week, and then enter editing mode. This is a nuisance if you are constantly adjusting features, or manually editing altitude, as you have to switch the view back after you exit editing mode.
  6. I manually adjusted the altimeter, as recommended in the manual, but it has been a bit all over the place in response to the barometric readings. The altitude was adjusted to be within 10 feet on Monday, and 3 days later it is ~200 feet off. I’ve read praise of how accurate these watches are, but I’m assuming that is limited to short periods of time, with the altimeter adjusted frequently. The real test will be how it performs on a multi-day camping trip.
  7. The watch came with a medium charge on the internal battery. I put it out in the sun for a few hours that same day and it hasn’t dropped from a high charge yet.

All in all, this watch is awesome. It’s important to keep in mind that these are not accurate instruments, and I have had to remind myself that several times to avoid frustration. However, it will be important to test the watch strictly outdoors before claiming any issues with accuracy, as that is its intended environment. Still, I don’t have high hopes for accuracy on any Casio ABC. As many enthusiasts know, Casio ABC’s are time-pieces with ABC functions, while Suunto’s are ABC watches with time-piece functions. Until Suunto gets in on the solar and atomic game, I’ll be using the 5000.

This watch is a real motivator to get out there and really test its capabilities and accuracy. I’m excited to get vertical this weekend and really start pushing this ABC. Check back for the R3 in a month or so.

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