The Best $30 G-Shock Alternative is still a Casio

The Best $30 G-Shock Alternative is still a Casio

Sometimes I’m not sure what the guys over at Casio are thinking. While every other brand has been increasing prices, Casio seems to be doing the opposite by creating ultra-affordable watches that not only compete with other brands, but also with more expensive watches in their own line up. Today we’re taking a look a G-shock killer made by Casio themselves in the DW-291.

Watch the video review

When it comes to Casio’s digital options many might think first of Casio’s G-Shock models, which also happen to be the toughest watches on the planet. They have a distinct utilitarian look, they’re totally waterproof and they offer a ton of useful functions. At the entry level you can pick up a G-Shock DW-5600 for around $50, making it quite a bargain. But you could also save $20 and pick up a watch with a similar look, feature set and level of ruggedness in the Casio DW-291. It’s not actually a G-Shock, but it almost might as well be.

Similarities to the G-Shock Line

The Casio G-Shock DW-5600 ($50) on the left, and the Casio DW-291 ($30) on the right

Great Durability

Let’s start by talking about some of the features that this watch has that people typically look to the G-Shock line to get. The most obvious being durability. The DW 291 features a large impact resistant resin case with an impressive 200 M of water resistance. Casio typically reserves this level of water resistance for its G-shock watches, and given that water damage is one of the most common dangers a watch faces it’s a welcome feature at this price point.

Premium Mineral Crystal

Normally I’d never consider a mineral crystal premium, but in this case, when you’re talking about a $30 digital watch, it definitely is. Far more common you’ll find a plastic crystal that will scratch very easily while a mineral crystal is something Casio usually saves for their G-shock models.

Looks like a G-Shock

To top it all off this watch even also copies the G-Shock style. Its bulky, rugged aesthetics and large size will cause most people to do a double take if you told them it wasn’t actually a G-Shock.

Better Digital Module than Many G-Shocks

Not only does the DW-291 share many of the features found in G-Shocks, it even out does some of the entry level G-shocks when it comes to the functions it performs. Inside it houses a modern Casio digital module that in addition to the standard time telling, stop watch and timer functions, also features a World Time function typically only found in the more advanced G-Shocks costing around $100. This digital module also boasts an easier to read display than the one found on entry level G-Shocks, making it one of Casio’s easiest digital watches to read.

But still not quite a G-Shock

Despite all of these similarities and even advantages that the DW-291 has over entry level G-Shocks, it’s still falls behind in a few areas. As durable as the DW291 is, it’s still not on the same level as an actual G-Shock. But that’s kind of like saying a tank is a lot more durable than a Humvee. Unless you’re planning on running the DW-291 over with a truck, you’ll most likely find it to be plenty rugged enough.

Backlight could be better

One other area where the DW-291 falls behind the G-Shock line is it’s LED backlight. G-Shock watches come standard with a cool full screen electroluminescent backlight that results in better after dark legibility than the uneven amber glow found in the DW-291. The DW-291 isn’t bad in this area, but it’s a step down from what you get with a G-Shock.

It’s a Big Boy

Beyond these objective differences, there are also some stylistic choices here that we also need to talk about. The first is when it comes to size. At 47mm across, the DW-291 is a big watch, comparable to some of the largest G-Shock models. If you have smaller wrists, or want a watch that won’t be too noticeable, you might want to look elsewhere.

Easily Accessible Buttons

Buttons can be accessed even while wearing winter gloves

Another major difference is the accessibility of the buttons. Most G-Schock models feature recessed buttons that help to protect the module from impact. This often means that they can be difficult to press, especially if you’re wearing gloves. By contrast the DW-291 has very big very easy to press buttons. While this can be a downside, as accidental button presses can be common, it also makes using the functions of the watch much easier. Even while wearing gloves the buttons can be easily accessed, which when combined with the high level of water resistance makes the DW-291 an excellent choice for those engaging in winter sports.

Conclusion: A Great Budget find

All this makes for a great watch for $30, and an excellent cheap alternative to the Casio G-Shock line. It’s obviously a very casual, very sports oriented watch, but when it comes to pure functionality for the price this is one of the best values out there.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *