The Casio G’zOne Commando‘s main specs are definitely one of it’s weakest points — which is a bit ironic, considering that not too long ago, its specs would have been cutting edge. But sporting an 800 MHz processor, 512 MB of RAM, 330 MB of internal storage, and a bundled 8 GB MicroSD card, no longer puts you at the top of the pack.
The Commando’s performance is generally positive for most uses, including Internet, mapping, and GPS. But it started having problems when trying to run heavy media software on it, such as streaming video. I’m not entirely sure if this is due to the processor or some other aspect of the device, like it’s GPU, but it’s also possible that future updates could fix it. No matter what the case, at the moment, it’s not quite a multimedia powerhouse.
Fortunately, that’s not one of it’s primary roles. Yes, it would be nice if you could sit back at the end of your day-long hike and stream a movie, but that’s not necessarily what the Commando is built for.
The Commando matches most of Verizon’s current smartphones, in that it stocks an EV-DO 3G connection, plus Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. As always, your Internet connection speed will vary based on your location, but in three tests, the device averaged 700 Kbits download speed and 525 Kbits upload speed, with a latency of 257 milliseconds. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth implementations are 100% stock Android, so you needn’t jump through any extra hoops to work with them.
There have been some complaints about poor call quality with the Commando. While I’ve experienced a little fuzziness now and then myself, in several test calls for the most part, quality has been comparable to another Verizon phone making calls to the same number, from the same location. When I did encounter quality issues, they were mostly in the form of “fuzzy” audio, lacking definition and sharpness, but the call was certainly still intelligible. It’s also worth noting that call quality issues can often be fixed, or at least improved, using software updates, although that depends on the manufacturer and the carrier.
Thanks to Verizon’s marketing deal with Microsoft, the Commando actually comes pre-loaded with Microsoft’s Bing search tools, rather than the more common Google search, voice search, etc. I admit, I’m not much of a fan of Bing for search, although its aerial photos are much better than Google’s for my area. But fortunately f
or all Google fans, you can quickly and easily download and install most of the normal Google apps, including Maps, Search, etc.
Besides Bing, the main other software pre-loaded on the Commando is the aforementioned G’zGear. Although it’s treated as a single app, G’zGear is actually about eight different mini apps bundled together: a compass, pedometer, a jogging trainer, thermometer, tides calculator, sun/moon calculator, and a stargazing applic
The compass on this smartphone is, in my experience, notably better than the electronic compasses I’ve found in some other Android phones: it holds a more accurate heading, and displays less “jitter” or interference.ation not too dissimilar to Google Sky Map. As you can tell, they have an overall theme catering to outdoorsy types, as befits a rugged device.
On the other hand, there’s the thermometer. As much as I love the idea of my gadget measuring the temperature, I wouldn’t put much stock in the Commando’s internal thermostat. It seems to vary from completely accurate to completely inaccurate, frequently registering as much as 5 degrees above or below other digital thermometers I have access to, and sometimes as much as 10. I’m not sure what the pattern is, as it doesn’t seem linked to whether I’ve been holding it or not, or whether it’s been in use, etc. Either way, unless this can be made more accurate in a software update, I’d use it mostly as a vague guideline than a definite measurement.
The good news is that Casio has made the specialized software for the Commando open source, meaning that not only can other applications take advantage of features like the compass, but independent programmers can tweak and improve the built in applications.
Other than the G’zGear apps devoted to hiking, there’s not really anything here. You can set it to record and measure your hikes, speed, number of steps, etcetera. Or compare your jogging against various records, or your hikes against nature trails from all over the world. But these are of very steeply limited value both for entertainment and for real comparison. Still, you have the entire Android Market available to you, so if entertainment is your goal, you can definitely find some apps, from games to eBook readers and more.
The Commando’s 5 megapixel camera is about what you would expect. Not of excessive quality, but more than good enough for an occasional snap, whether you’re preserving the landscape or a piece of paper.
I did notice that it seemed to perform somewhat better in moderate light than some other cameras I’ve used. Many cheaper smartphone cameras need daylight type levels in order to take a good quality picture, and perform poorly on ordinary indoor lighting. But the Commando holds it’s own even on regular “low” levels of light found indoors at nighttime. It’s not ideal, but it’s slightly better than the average.
The battery performance of the Commando is surprisingly good. Even with Wi-Fi on, it would go a couple of days of light use, or could do a long day’s hard use and still have power left. While the 1460 mAh battery is larger than average for a smartphone, it’s certainly not so much larger that I would expect excessive life out of it. So this is definitely a positive on the device’s part, although some of that improved power use can be attributed to having a slightly smaller screen.