At Home with Tech

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Tag: Casio Watch

3 Holiday Gifts to Buy a Tween Boy

Our son is eleven, and It’s unavoidable that technology is at the center of what he’s asked to receive. Here’s how I handled this complicated gifting terrain.

It’s that time of year again, and I must admit it’s been hard to figure out which gifts to get our eleven-year-old boy this holiday season. He’s simply aging out of traditional kids toys. (Time really flies!)

Of course, now he’s on the cusp of wanting major technology like an iPhone. But my wife and I are waiting as long as we can on that one. He does have access to the ‘family’ iPad, which he now dominates. (He loves playing Minecraft.)

But the iPad is not enough. His growing interest in traditional consumer tech is unavoidable. And I know he’s not alone in his age group. For better or worse, it’s today’s perceived path to growing up.

If you have a similar shopping dilemma for your tween, here are three gifting decisions I made for our six grader that might be helpful to hear about.

Casio Watch
Recently, our son has become enamored with my Apple Watch. So much so that he’s hesitantly suggested that it would be really cool to have one. But it’s clear he knows it’s a stretch request.

I like the idea of my son having some kind of smart watch, but an Apple Watch is just too fragile (and expensive) to survive on his wrist for long. And there isn’t another option out there for tweens.

That said, he definitely needs a new watch. The band on his cheapo ticker that I bought him two years ago broke recently. He still loves that watch, but it can barely count off a minute without losing a couple seconds. My boy would often call me over to resync the time on his watch with my Apple Watch.

It was clearly time to move him to an adult-level timepiece.

I grew up wearing Casio watches. I got my first one when I was in high school. Though I haven’t bought one in over a decade, I’m still sweet on the brand. Plus, many models are relatively inexpensive.

I think Casios are a smart choice for any age group, and many models contain interesting features behind the standard alarm, timer and stopwatch (though still nowhere near what a smartwatch can do).

After doing a little research, I identified this Casio which sports a digital thermometer and compass.

  • Casio Men’s SGW-100-2BCF Twin Sensor Digital Display Quartz Black Watch
    $41.99 on Amazon

My boy loves figuring out technology settings, and I expect this watch will be a perfect time keeper for him.

Click.

Apple HomePod Mini
Let’s recap which Apple products we’re not getting our son:

  • No iPhone
  • No Apple Watch
  • And no AirPods… He’s still absolutely fine with wired headsets.

But I wanted to find another way to give him his own access to a piece of the Apple ecosystem.

He loves talking to Siri and Alexa on my devices. So I thought about smart speakers and an Apple HomePod Mini ($99)

A voice-operated speaker for his bedroom seemed like a reasonable bite into Apple for our tween. Plus, I can give the HomePod Mini access to my new Apple Music subscription (six months free with my new AirPods 3).

Click.

Nintendo Switch OLED
Our sixth grader’s main ask for a holiday gift this year was a Nintendo Switch. (No, he doesn’t have a video game system yet.)

It’s a huge request, and he knew it. (He’s familiar with the Switch, because a close friend has one.)

Actually, he didn’t really know how big an ask he made. He understood that a Nintendo Switch is expensive, but he seemed unconvinced when I told him that they’re mostly out of stock. (I think he may feel that our broken global supply chain is just an excuse I used.)

Plus, there’s the new Nintendo Switch OLED model out there, which is even harder to find and costs $50 more. Our son wasn’t aware of the newer model, and when I brought that detail to his attention, he said he didn’t care which model he might get. He was more focused on the when as opposed to the what.

That said, this daddy is inclined to impose his own technology purchasing strategies on this decision… Newer tech usually lasts longer.

Against all odds, I did spot the Nintendo Switch OLED in stock online at GameStop on Thanksgiving morning at 6am. But there was a catch. The system cost more, because it was packaged with a few items I might not otherwise have bought (including a screen protector and case).

Well, at least I was getting something for the added cost, as opposed to paying over list price for the base system. (Sadly, Walmart has been offering that terrible option.)

Click.

At Home with Expensive Tech
There’s no way around the fact that this is an expensive group of gifts. And I need to admit that I drove the forward momentum on these choices, not my wife. Of course, I’ve tried to rationalize these purchases.

  • Every kid needs a decent watch. So, the Casio was an easy decision.
  • Yes, there are less expensive smart speakers out there, but I like taking advantage of my Apple Music subscription.
  • As for the Nintendo Switch OLED, you could say that a video game console is unavoidable for this generation.

No?

Okay… I spent a lot of money. That’s what happened. I acknowledge that I didn’t need to do it. But I did. For now, let’s leave it at that.

Happy Hanukkah. Merry Christmas.

And a big thank you to the greater universe that my family is safe and healthy, and that we have the means to afford this tech for our ‘not-so-little’ boy.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Your Next Watch Online

Are you searching for the perfect watch to wear to work? If so, you’re going to have to look further than the timepiece images glowing from your computer screen…

Are you searching for the perfect watch to wear to work? If so, you’re going to have to look further than the timepiece images glowing from your computer screen…

I’m overdue. Months. Maybe even years… Let me just say I’ve been wanting to buy a new watch to wear to work for quite a while. But life gets busy… right?

I’ve needed a new ticker for my wrist to share the daily burden with a silver Casio I own. I’ve relied on my trusty Casio WVQ-500 since before the financial crisis. That’s longer than any of my previous Casio watches have survived.

Usually the watchband would give out, and the replacement would never be quite as good as the Casio original. Or I’d be too lazy to drive to a jeweler and replace the battery when it gave out. (Casios weren’t that expensive back then. So I’d move on to the next model…)

But my current stainless steel-banded workhorse has benefited from its solar-recharging battery. And it’s waterproof.

And it’s still going strong…

My Casio Watch

But the charm of my Casio’s cutting-edge tech from the pre-smartphone era has worn thin. I don’t need its four alarms or timers anymore. Nor must I know what time it is in 37 cities around the world.
(I’ve got my iPhone 6 Plus for all that.)

And though the ‘Wave Ceptor’ tech that keeps it synced with the time calibration signal transmitted from Fort Collins, CO is nice, it’s not perfect…
Especially on the two days a year when our clocks spring ahead or fall behind.

I used to be a wizard at understanding every which way to use the four side buttons to enable the 84 (or so) functions. But honestly, I’ve forgotten most of them, and now, it’s more than a little frustrating to get the watch to follow my most basic directions.
(Apple’s UI design is much more user-friendly.)

I’ve been wearing Casios all my adult life. Three decades later, I was finally ready for something different…
Believe it or not, what I actually wanted was a watch to simply tell me the time. No gimmicks. It didn’t have to be made for James Bond. Nor was it going to be an Apple Watch.
(That’s a different conversation to address a different ‘need’…)

Another Online Rabbit Hole
So I began my research online. But the choices quickly became overwhelming. Every ‘expert’ has a different point of view. Plus, you can spend 100 bucks on a decent quartz watch or ten times that amount for a quality timepiece. Then double that. And the choices will keep appearing…

But I wasn’t in the market for a luxury watch. I just wanted a solid, everyday watch for the business casual environment at work. And something I wouldn’t cry over if I whacked my wrist into a doorknob.
(which I’ve done many times)

But I still wanted my timepiece to look sharp…

You Need to Try On the Watch
I finally narrowed my search down to three manufacturers:

  • Citizen
  • Seiko
  • Victorinox

Online, all watches seem beautiful. But unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, I eventually came to the conclusion that buying a watch online is a completely flawed proposition.

First off, you don’t know how the watch is going to feel on your wrist. And just as importantly… how is it going to look?

I originally figured I’d save some money by doing a deal on Amazon, but then I got a little freaked out regarding the potential for ‘fakes’ or whether I would be buying from a non-authorized dealer. That’s supposed to void the manufacturer’s warrantee.
(If it’s all a marketing scare by the manufacturers, they’re doing a good job.)

I finally came to the conclusion I needed to go old school:
Schlep to a brick and mortar store and try on a bunch of watches.

A Man Who Doesn’t Know What He’s Looking For
So I drove down to my local Macy’s and was pleased to see there was a sale going on.
(What a coincidence)
And then I rolled up my sleeve and got to work…

Granted, I didn’t have access to the full online lineup, but there was a sufficiently representative selection of the manufacturers I was interested in.
(The nice saleslady was exceptionally gracious when I admitted I was one of those men who didn’t really know what he was looking for.)

And do you know what I discovered?
I wasn’t at all excited by what I saw.

Half the watches had hands that blended in too closely with the coloring of the face. The other half had ‘complications’ I didn’t really need, which also interfered with the readability factor.
(I should acknowledge I wear reading glasses… so younger eyes might not be as challenged by the littered landscape of some of these watches.)

Finally, I realized I didn’t like ‘big’ watches. I’ve grown used to wearing a 40mm diameter face, and everything else looked huge on my wrist.
(Though I might be able to handle a timepiece with slightly more heft)

I have to admit, I was drawn to Victorinox’s ‘Night Vision’ watch, which looked super sharp and had a built-in LED min-flashlight.
(good for reading menus in a dark restaurant)
But it’s a pricey watch, ranging from $600-$700, depending on the band. And last I checked, my birthday isn’t coming up anytime soon…
Plus, I’ve got some other home tech projects to focus on that require funding.
(Can you say, ‘time for some Sonos speakers?”)

Citizen Eco-Drive
I was ready to walk out in defeat, but then I spotted a relatively simple-looking Citizen watch in the corner of the display.

It was a ‘Men’s Strap’ model AU1040-08E with a MSRP of $175.

Citizen Men's Strap Watch

It had a black leather band, and its uncluttered 40mm face was easy to read. There was little window for the date, but nothing else to obscure the time.  A big bonus with this otherwise minimalist watch is its solar-powered ‘Eco-Drive,’ with a rechargeable battery that can provide a six-month power reserve.
(If you choose to spend the next six months in a pitch-black environment)

One downside: It’s only splash resistant. So no swimming or full submersion during my four year old’s bath time.
(But you probably wouldn’t want to get a leather band wet anyway)

As I peered down at the watch, I suddenly experienced my very own “Charlie Brown Christmas” moment… By most accounts, this was the plainest watch in the display case. Who could possibly want it?!

That said, I wasn’t thrilled with any of the other watches, most of which were drizzled with bling.

No, this simple watch didn’t absolutely blow me away either. But it had this solid, clean look.

It didn’t cost a boatload. Yet, it looked great on my wrist.
I think the apt descriptor is ‘elegant.’

And it would be appropriate for either business or business-casual settings.

I said to the patient saleswoman, “I’ll take it.
She smiled, and I think I detected a small sigh.
(My lengthy selection process had taken her past her lunch break.)

There is No Perfect Watch
Yes, I’m satisfied with my simple Citizen watch, and I’m psyched it comes with nifty solar-charging tech.

But it’s not perfect… I’ve still got to manually adjust the date every month if it doesn’t have 31 days.
(I haven’t had to worry about that since way before Y2K.)

Honestly, the entire watch is a very retro experience…
But I think that’s exactly what I need in this moment of my life. A break from too many complications. I don’t want it to answer my email. I just want it to point to the correct time of day…

Eventually, I’ll probably want go back to the future…
(Hello, Apple Watch?)

The reality is I’m not done with my search. My Citizen is a solid addition to my wardrobe, but man cannot live by two watches alone.

My Casio that can't tell time anymore

(I also own a sporty weekend Casio with a rubber black band.

But this waterproof WVA-470 recently suffered some sort of circuit stroke, and now it’s off by three hours and five minutes. And I can’t figure out how to reset it.)

I’m not quite sure how I got this far in life surviving only on Casio tech.

I think I wore a couple of forgettable dress watches in my 30’s, but they’re long gone.
(the watches and my 30’s)

Now I’ve dipped my toe back into the infinite watch-verse and finally moved forward in my journey to build out a more diversified watch collection.

I’ve got two respectable work watches, but my weekend Casio is essentially useless.

Any suggestions on a replacement…?

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