The Casio Rangeman GPR-B1000 is a big watch for big adventures
The Casio Rangeman GPR-B1000 is comically large. That’s the first thing you notice about it. Based on the G-Shock design, this massive watch is 20.2mm thick and about 60mm in diameter, a true dinner plate of a watch. Inside the heavy case is a dense collection of features that will make your next outdoor adventure great.
GPR-B1000, which I took for an extended trip through Utah and Nevada, is an outdoor marvel. It has all of the standard hiking watch features including compass, barometer, altimeter, and solar charging, but the watch also has built-in GPS mapping, logging, and backtracking. This means you can set a destination and the watch will lead you and you can later use your GPS data to recreate your trek or even backtrack out of a sticky situation.
This is not a sports watch. It won’t track your runs or remind you to go to your yoga class. Instead it’s aimed at the backwoods hiker or off piste skier who wants to get from Point A to Point B without getting lost. The watch connects to a specialized app that lets you set the destinations, map your routes, and even change timezones when the phone wakes up after a flight. These odd features make this a traveler’s dream.
The watch design is also unique for Casio. Instead of a replaceable battery the device charges via sunlight or with an included wireless charger. It has a ceramic caseback – a first for Casio – and the charger fits on like a plastic parasite. It charges via micro USB.
It has a crown on the side that controls scrolling through various on-screen menus and the rest of the functions are accessed easily from dedicated buttons around the bezel. The watch is mud- and water-proof to 200 meters and it can survive in minus 20 degrees Celsius temperatures. It is also shock resistant.
The $800 GPR-B1000 is a beefy watch. It’s not for the faint of wrist and definitely requires a bit of dedication to wear. I loved it while hiking up and down canyons and mountains and it was an excellent travel companion. One of the coolest features is quite simply being able to trust that the timezone is correct as soon as you land in Europe from New York.
That said you should remember that this watch is for “Adventure Survival” as Casio puts it. It’s not a running watch and it’s not a fashion piece. At $800 it’s one of Casio’s most expensive G-Shocks and it’s also the most complex. If you’re an avid hiker, however, the endless battery, GPS, and trekking features make it a truly valuable asset.
Casio Chairman Kazuo Kashio dies at 89
Casio Chairman and CEO Kazuo Kashio passed on June 19, 2018 at the age of 89. The cause of death was pneumonia.
Kashio was the third eldest of the four brothers who founded Casio Computer in 1957. Their first product, the all-electric 14-A calculator, led to the release of the Casio Mini calculator in 1972, a product that brought electronic calculators into the mainstream.
Casio’s biggest claim to fame was Kashio’s own idea. The CEO looked at quartz watches in the 1980s and saw that they were delicate and easy to break. With a little extra outer cladding and some internal shock resistance systems, however, he was able to create a watch that could truly stand up to heavy wear. The first G-Shock, released in 1983, paved the way for truly rugged watches and the company recently celebrated the 100 millionth G-Shock sold last August.
The company, Kashio Manufacturing, began in 1947 with a unique product: a cigarette clip that let users smoke the last bit of each butt. In the 1970s, the Kashio family saw the move to electronic counting machines and brought some of the first portable and pocket calculators to market alongside the ultra popular F-91W LCD watch and the Cassiopeia PDA. The company also created the first LCD digital camera, the QV-10 and the popular Casiotone keyboards.
He is survived by his son, Kazuhiro Kashio, who is the current Casio president.
The ONE Smart Keyboard Pro lets you tickle the ivories with ease
While the ONE Smart Keyboard Pro doesn’t have a sweet demo tune nor can it play barking dog Jingle Bells without some help, it can teach you or your kids how to play piano. The elegant keyboard has 88 weighted keys that simulate a true mechanical piano and connects to your phone so you can learn to play at your own pace.
The Keyboard Pro costs $799 and is essentially a compact teaching keyboard. It can connect to your iOS or Android devices via an oddly shaped USB B cable and once it’s paired with the app you can run through simple songs – think Greensleeves – and more complex sheet music. This keyboard is weighted but not progressively which means that each key offers the same resistance, a consideration that might be important to some more experienced players. Further, you can connect a USB cable and connect the keyboard to your computer to use it as a MIDI controller.
Again, this is a very austere keyboard. It doesn’t do much aside from teach you how to play which, in the end, is what most of us need. Because it doesn’t have the expansive bells and whistles of a Casio and because most of the smarts are in the app itself, it’s a bit of a hard sell for most people. However, if you’re looking to learn, the ONE works.
This larger and more complete version of the One Smart Keyboard offers quality workmanship and design. The entire system is surprisingly sparse with nothing but a power button and volume on the front of the keyboard. There is an input for a sustain pedal as well as a few output jacks for headphones and that’s about it. Don’t expect to pick out instruments or pitch shift with this keyboard. Once you fire up the app you have access to teaching exercises and games that let you follow along on the LED-lit keyboard as you run through songs and scales. Finally, you can buy sheet music for $3.99 or so that you can learn to play on the ONE. There is also free sheet music available for those who want to play a little classical.
I found the entire system to be quite usable and my kids, once they figured out how to slow down the music, jumped right in learning little songs. Nothing can quite teach you how to play piano like a human teacher – there aren’t enough smarts in this app to make adjustments based on your skill – but it’s the electronic equivalent of buying a Teach Yourself Piano book and sitting down in front of grandma’s old upright. I’m especially pleased with the quality of the keyboard. I’ve already had a few MIDI keyboards over the years including models from Casio and Yamaha and this one is on par with those. The teaching feature is the main draw here, as I noted before, because there is little else you can do with this keyboard right out of the box. However, if that’s what you’re looking for in a keyboard and you don’t want to sample bodily noises so you can play Farting Clair De Lune at the school talent show, this might be the model for you.
Learning to play on the One piano. pic.twitter.com/Ec2CVkmDEw
— John Biggs (@johnbiggs) April 26, 2018