LAS VEGAS -- How smart can a regular watch get? Casio is one of the few "regular" watch manufacturers that's been dabbling in smart tech since introducing Bluetooth notifications in a G-Shock in 2011, and the Casio Sports Gear STB-1000 goes a step further, using Bluetooth and acting as a fitness-tracking conduit to four iPhone apps. I had a chance to try one for a bit here at CES 2014.
Paired with an iPhone, the Sports Gear will still get a variety of phone notifications and control music playback just like the Casio G-Shock GB-6900. The four fitness apps supported are Abvio's Runmeter GPS, Walkmeter GPS, and Cyclemeter GPS, and Wahoo Fitness. The watch will show running pace and distance, elapsed time, pulse, cycling speed, and pedal rotations, according to Casio's press release, but it doesn't look like the watch has its own pedometer: instead, it acts as a second screen for the phone's fitness tracking. At least it can swap between apps on the fly.
The Casio Bluetooth Sports Gear STB-1000 uses Bluetooth 4.0, so it only works with the iPhone 4S and later. And looks a lot like a G-Shock, even if it's not branded as one. The Sports Gear lasts an impressive two years on a single battery and has 100-meter water resistance, but no G-Shock-style shock resistance. Even though it looks like a G-Shock, the display is subtly different: many readouts turn into data from paired fitness apps, and the watch feels better attuned to being a smartwatch than the G-Shocks were. But it's a conservative design: the display isn't capable of full higher-resolution text and graphics like a Pebble.
Still, the deeper hooks in the connected supported apps thus far are impressive: the Wahoo Fitness app supports pairing with a heart rate monitor, which can display on the Sports Gear screen. The Abvio apps permit complete customization of all the buttons on the watch, letting you choose up to 120 different stats to push to your watch and how to access them.
It's a nice added step for Casio, but I really wish this one had a pedometer. Technically, it could: there's an accelerometer. Maybe next time. For now, it's a conservative but subtly powerful next smart step for Casio.