Sunday, March 14, 2010

#9: The G-7800, a basic G-Shock with a lot hidden under the Hood!

First of all, HAPPY PI DAY! If you haven't got anything to wear on this special day, have a look here for pretty cool matching gifts and appearal. With such a geek start, let's continue with todays article. Maybe the G-7800 can be considered a geek watch too.
From time to time the designers of G-Shock make watches that look different. It started with the DW-5500C, which was wider than the classic DW-5000C model and had those red buttons, which actually were button covers. In 1990 Casio came with the DW-6000, which already had about the shape of the later DW-6100, DW-6600 and DW-6900. It might have been a different G-Shock in 1990, but its successors were pretty popular.

In 1993 Casio released the DW-6200. A bit strange looking asymmetric G-Shock with an unusual display. It did not become a popular G-Shock. It still can be found for bottom prices 2nd hand on eBay. It however did not prove an asymmetrical design was wrong. Only three months later Casio released another asymmetric model. If you see the DW-6200 and the DW-6300 besides each other, you may be surprised how much similarity there is in design… Well, the DW-6300 became a pretty popular model. It even became so popular, that Casio last year released its 5th generation successor.
Maybe the weirdest G-Shock up to this date is the GC-1000, released October 2001. It was a G-Cool model that more or less looked like a bracelet. It didn’t even have the G-Shock text or logo on it.
From a more recent date are the G-8000 and G-8100. Somehow I associate the look with the 80’s science fiction shows, like Buck Rogers, Space 1999 and the original Battlestar Galactica series.
In November 2008 Casio released the G-7800. It was part of the “Ice White” series, a spin-off of the Men In Ice White series (also released November 2008). The first basic G-7800 was released 2 months later in January 2009. The G-7800 has a big square look. It actually looks bigger than it is. A DW-6900 is a few mm wider, but the big metal bezel somehow makes it look bigger.
You might associate square G-Shocks with the 5600 line, but this model goes beyond that. The 5600 line focuses more on functionality. The G-7800 focuses also on the look. Like the G-Cool series, and in my opinion also the G-8100, this model is a watch to be seen with.
The first G-7800 I saw in flesh were two white versions, worn at the “Shock The World” party in Barcelona. Two employees of Casio Mallorca were wearing this model. It was quite a flashy model. Easy to recognize from a distance. I was not sure I liked it. I’m actually happier with this G-7800B-1ER version.
It was released January 2009, along with a silver, a snakeskin and another black model with a silver metal part on the bezel. From all these versions I like this one most. It looks impressive, but also pretty stealth. It’s not really stealth, as the black metal part of the bezel is somewhat shiny.
I got this watch a week ago from my friend and fellow moderator of the G-Shock Forum, Tribe125. He bought it out of curiosity, rather than for keeping it. I pretty much like the last line in the note he sent me: “And now it's in the best possible sanctuary for stray G-Shocks!”.
The G-7800 looks like a pretty basic watch. The square shape may remind you probably a bit to the DW-5600E , but there is quite some stuff under the hood of this model. Some would actually be great ideas for future basic models, like the customizable display lay-out and the variable hourly chime (I never thought about that!). I will try to describe the functions of the watch, but here are so many features, that I might skip one. Feel free to add info as a comment.
The display of the G-7800B is a full ,matrix display. The display is a negative, or also called a reversed display. This means the digits are light green, while the background is black. Unlike early G-Shock models with a negative display, this display is very crisp and clear. If you are not satisfied, you an even adjust the contrast if you don’t like the standard setting (4).
Like all digital G-Shocks (as far as I know) you can toggle between 12 and 24 hour system. Different from other G-Shock models is that you can choose how the year, date and day is displayed. Not only the date, day and year can be shown, but the upper part of the display can show customized memos of maximal 14 characters. Tribe choose to pre-program it for me with my name in one memo and his in the other. It looks like a fun feature.
Like if this isn’t enough, you can change the font of the upper and lower display. It is standard set on a narrow font, but frankly I like the bold font. It adds a bit to the futuristic look.
Next to the Timekeeping function you find the Worldtime function. This function is pretty standard like other G-Shocks with Worldtime.
The 24 hour Countdown Timer has a lot of handy features. There are a lot preset timers for fast programming on board. These fixed times are 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes. The custom Timer can be set from 1 second to 24 hour. You can choose Three Count Down modes. First is a single countdown. Second mode is Countdown/Count Up. If the countdown is finished, it starts counting up, like a Stopwatch. The third mode is the repeat mode. When the countdown is finished, it starts a new cycle with the programmed time.
G-7800 has an 100 days Stopwatch function is pretty unique. The operation is pretty simple, like on most G-Shock's. Just Start, Stop, Split and Reset.
The G-7800 does not only have 5 independent multi function alarms on board (the 5th is a Snooze Alarm), these multi-functions are very extended. We know the multi-function alarms that can be set on a certain date, but there is much more. Alarms can be set daily, once, weekdays or for the weekend. Also the hourly chime can be set for daily, weekdays and weekend use, but there is even more. The signal can be programmed only to chime between certain hours. This way you won’t wake up by the beep at night. I think this is a very clever feature. I have the hourly chime set between 7:00 and 22:00.

The alarm sounds can also made visible with the Flash function. When an alarm sounds, 2 LEDs under the display flashes in red and amber too. This feature has been used on the G-8000 (one LED) before. I think this is pretty clever. It doesn’t only look great, but a LED used much less energy than the EL backlight. Since the Flash function is used for all alarm sounds, it will save a lot of energy on the battery, extending its life probably much longer than when the EL backlight would have been used.
I normally do not read manuals very thoroughly, but one thing in the 3163 caught my eye. It occurred to me the strap feels a bit different. It feels a bit like the strap of the MIMB Gulfman and Jurphaas his GW-5000. Something that also occurred to me is the construction in the strap near the case. The ventilation holes and the small compartments under the strap seem to be made to make this strap as comfortable as possible. Moist and sweat can dry easily, preventing irritation of the strap. According to the manual Casio uses a Bacteria and Odor Resistant band on this model. If the band is maintained well, it prevents formation of organisms and bacteria under the band, causing unpleasant odors. Maybe they use the same technology as used in cycling underwear, where the use of fabrics impregnated with silver(-ions?) prevents grow of bacteria during long trips and races.
Like I mentioned before, the display is very clear. I noticed this morning, when I woke up, I could easily read the digits in the bedroom, as the first signs of sunrise entered through the curtains. I think it is as easy to read as a normal display. In the past negative displays would have been very hard to read during this conditions. Because this clear display, you can do longer without the EL Backlight. The EL backlight itself is beautiful green. It discretely doesn’t light up the whole room, but it is very easy to read time with the dark.
The EL backlight can be set on Auto Light. This way the light will turn on automatically when the wrist is turned horizontally about 40 degrees (in other words the angle you use to turn your wrist to watch the time). I personally don’t recommend using the Auto Light function when not really needed. For instance when you drive a car, it will light at every turn, draining the battery. Casio has put also a function to prevent the battery draining too much by the Auto Light. The function will turn of automatically after 6 hours.
In summery I can say this is quite a special watch. I had not expected to discover so many features, before I got this watch. It was released as a pretty much basic model for 2009 with a somewhat fashion look. It’s also not a very expensive model, which you might expect with so many functions. It is actually priced as most basic G-Shocks, while there is quite a lot under the hood of this G-7800. All functions are worked out well. The extended Countdown function and specially the very extended Alarm functions are a real surprise to me. You would not hear me complain if these extended functions will appear on new G-Shock models too (Oh, yes, please, Casio, do!). Maybe the looks of the watch isn’t for everyone, the watch itself is a product of very innovative design. A big THANK YOU! goes out to Tribe. Without him this article would have been impossible.


Dewey said...

I'm impressed by your specific article. Story is long and photos are neat. I have this watch, too. It's really underestimated, but gorgeous watch.

Unknown said...

Hi, I found out that one thing is wrong in your great review..stopwatch are not 24 hours, but 100 DAYS(also very useful and special feature, no other G-shock has it I think)..For me G-7800 is completely the best G-shock ever made and I am sad that they are already discontinued, but I think if someone wants them, it will not be so hard to buy them at least in next few years:-)

Unknown said...

Hi Unknown reader,

Thanks for the correction. I normally thoroughly read through manuals of models that I do not now well. I must have overread the 99 days in the 3163 manual. 100 days is pretty unusual. I will correct the text now.