Review: The Casio G’zOne Commando – A rugged Android for rough environments

Casio Commando

If hiking an unexplored mountain trail sounds more exciting to you than sipping a latté in the urban jungle – the Casio G’zOne Commando from Verizon is the smartphone for you. While it doesn’t have the cutting-edge specs possesed by the HTC Thunderbolt, this Google Android powered device is for people who work in factories and rough environments, or who are active outdoors (hiking, running, biking, etc) – in other words, it better be tough.

Exterior

“Rugged” is the best description you’ll find for the tough looking and water-resistant Commando. The exterior includes exposed screws and gasket covers for the charging and headphone ports. It’s MIL-STD-810G certified – which means it meets military standards for water, shock and dust resistance (amongst other hazards). Sorry, during the week I had my demo unit, I did not drop it from the roof of my house, or throw it in the washer for a few spin cycles – so we’re going to have to take the promo literature from the Verizon website at its word. Based on the ‘feel’ of the Commando, however, I will say that it seems very durable.

As I noted, it does have front and rear-exposed screws – 8 altogether. I’m still baffled by them. Is it to look ‘tough’? Is it a function of ensuring water-resistance? I was put off by them at first – I think black would look better – but I began to accept them as somehow ‘necessary’ to achieve that MIL-STD-810G certification.

Coming in at 5.45 oz, the Commando is slightly more bulky – but lighter – than my iPhone4. The rubberized plastic edges give it a solid feel in the hand, and all the exterior buttons have a low-profile and provide a tactile response.

The 3.6″ touch screen (480×800 WVGA) is bright and typing on the virtual QWERTY keyboard is acceptable. Audio playback volume is above-average. To take photos or shoot video, it has a 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus and flash. It also has a dedicated camera key.

G-zGEAR applications

This is where the Commando sets itself apart from the pack…

By pushing a dedicated button, it’ll launch a screen full of apps specialized for the outdoors. These include:

  • Earth Compass
  • Walking Counter
  • Adventure Training
  • Thermometer
  • Tide Calculator
  • Trip Memory
  • Star Gazer

I suppose you could find apps in the Android Market that do similar functions, but Casio has built a smart collection that’s great out of the gate.

Final Thoughts

It’s a solid choice for people who enjoy outdoors activities or who might work on a construction site – and you won’t have to worry about getting an expensive case. You WILL want to invest in an extra charger however, since my unit’s battery drained quickly.

I was impressed by the Casio engineering. Before trying out the Commando, I probably would’ve only trusted Casio to build me a water-resistant wristwatch. But now, they’ve proven themselves capable of blending rugged design with hi-tech gadgetry – at an affordable price ($199 with 2-year activation).

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Author:Craig Berry

Craig Berry is a Catholic web developer and musician.
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