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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Silva Outdoor Computer > Leesa Joiner > Test Report by Leesa Joiner

Initial Report
Silva Outdoor Computer
 March 1, 2007

Personal Information: Silva watch
Leesa Joiner 
Southwestern Maine 
45 years old                                                                     
5'7" (1.7 m)
160 lb (73 kg)

           My outdoor experiences include trips varying in length from one-day hikes to two-week trips.  Most involve my three children, while my style isn't as 'high adventure' as some, I do enjoy the time we spend outdoors.
    My load used to be HEAVY - think pack mule.  Now that the kids carry their own gear, plus the two oldest help carry the food, ect, my load is lighter.  I go for durability over weight when selecting gear.
    While outdoors, I spend time hiking, geocaching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and camping. I spend almost as much time outdoors during the winter as I do during the summer.

Manufacturer: Silva
Year Manufactured: 2006
Listed Weight: N/A
Weights as measured: Computer 1.07 oz (30g)
Color: Unit tested: Black module, Black band - other colors available - white module and green or orange band.

Product Description:

The Silva Outdoor Computer has features that include altimeter, barometer, digital compass, logbook, watch (with date, alarm and timer) and a stopwatch. The watch is advertised as being water resistant up to 30 ft (10m).   The watch has five buttons  - mode, light, option/-, start/stop and set/+.    The computer has a digital screen

The Silva comes with a wristband, lanyard and a small clip on attachment.  The wrist band is an adjustable, wristwatch type band made of pliable plastic.  The lanyard is a typical, woven material imprinted with the TECH4O logo.  The clip is designed to work like a carabiner type clip.   The computer is easily swapped between the different carrying options.  

Around the face of the computer are labels for the 5 buttons (mode, light, option/-, start/stop and set/+).  In the center of the face is the readout for each of the modes (log, comp, alti, baro and time).  The print is small and may be difficult to read if there is glare on the crystal.   I found it much easier to just look at the actual reading.

Initial Observations:

The package the Silva Outdoor Computer arrived in included the digital module, wristband, lanyard and caribiner type clip.  Upon reading the directions, I thought it would be very simple to set the time, date and to record information to the log book.   I found when I tried to set the date and time, I could set the month, and if I tried to proceed from there,  I would lose the date.  After trying numerous times, I called customer support.  They walked me through the set-up, but the same thing happened.  They then arranged for return shipping.  I mailed the computer back, and received the replacement (or repaired computer) in approximately two weeks.

I am happy to report that the outdoor computer works very well, and was very easy to set up.  The directions did not come back after being sent along with the computer for repair.  I found both a downloadable version, and a video tutorial on the website though, and found them both to be very clear and easy to understand.  The video tutorial is self-paced, with clear pictures.  Although the directions are very clear, I didn't find them to be 'intuitive'.  

While I haven't been able to test the outdoor computer in the field yet, I have worn if for a day in order to make sure it kept time, and adjusted for changes in temperature, etc.  So far, it appears to work well.  I will be taking it out this weekend and will put it to some real use.

Test Conditions:
Living in Northern New England, I have the good fortune of being able to experience at least 4 seasons (sometimes within days of each other!) and some of the best outdoor areas around.  During the next four months our temperature range will run from the current of 7 degrees F (-13 C) up to about 50 degrees F (10 C).   My hiking and snowshoeing areas range from improved trails to rough and rocky.   I believe this range of temperatures and conditions will allow me to give the Silva Outdoor Computer a great workout.

I am very interested in seeing how quickly the computer adjusts to different conditions.  I'd like to also see how it physically holds up to rainy weather and less than gentle treatment.  I hesitate to wear watches while hiking, because most watch crystals scratch and scuff so easily.  

Photo is from the Silva website  Thanks to Silva and for the opportunity to test the Outdoor Computer.   My field report will be available in approximately two months.

Field Report
Silva Outdoor Computer
 May 14, 2007

Field Use:

    The Silva Outdoor Computer has been used over the last two months on over 15 occasions.  Most times it was used while I was either hiking or snowshoeing.   I have had mixed results while using it, the temperature reading and time appear to be accurate.   The altimeter will show altitude, but not record to memory.  The barometer also provides readings that fluctuate over time. Unfortunately, I have not been able to work it so that the log holds the  information.    I have read and reread the directions and watched the video clips.  I believe that I am following the directions but have not had success.  When I spoke to customer service, they suggested resetting the computer, which I have done but continue to have the same problems.   Just to clarify - I am a technology instructor, not a 'geek', but am fairly comfortable around technology.  
    I took the computer on a couple of long weekend trips to northern New England.  The temperatures ranged from -5 to almost 32 F (-20 to 0 C).   The computer was very quick to display changes in temperature and barometric pressure.  The timer worked very smoothly - it was very easy to use.  I especially like the alarm feature as it reminds me when I need to start heading back in, or starting dinner, or whatever else I should be doing while I am distracted with something else.  

    The computer gets its main use as a thermometer, watch and timer, which is much less than it is designed for.  I also check the altimeter and barometer fairly often while out hiking.  Honestly though,  not being able to access or record to the logs was frustrating, and without those features, it becomes a fancy gadget, but not that useful.

     Another issue I have with the computer is the size and color of the readings. The information is so small that it is difficulty for me to see (I have fairly good eyesight).  There is not much contrast between the background and the print, increasing the difficulty of seeing the information.  

    I have only dipped the computer in snow - no water.  I was wearing it on my wrist and fell into a large pile of snow.  The watch came out fine - the snow brushed off without problem.   It was the only time I wore it as a watch, I find the carabiner much easier.  I can clip it to my backpack or a belt loop.  Wearing as a watch means it is usually covered by my coat sleeve.  I have worn it on the lanyard, and find it awkward while snowshoeing, but like it while hiking.  When snowshoeing it tends to bounce around and irritate me.  Of course, that could be due to the fact that I am not a graceful person on snowshoes!

    I will once again be contacting customer service regarding the logbook issue.  Results of that call will be reported on in my final report.  

    This ends my field report.  Please check back in July for my final report.

Long Term Report
Silva Outdoor Computer
July 17, 2007

    Over the last two months of use, I have used the Silva a couple of times a week.   It has been used on numerous day-hikes and 4 overnight trips.   All day hikes were in the 70 - 80 degree F range (21 -27 C).  I only had rain on two of the hikes.  The overnight trips were the same temperatures during the day, with night temps falling to approximately 50 F (10 C).  

I find that the clock feature is accurate, as is the temperature reading.  The compass setting appears to be accurate, but responds slowly to changes in direction.  I incorrectly thought I would be able to use it along the lines of a real compass or GPS to insure I was walking in a certain direction over a period of time.  This is not possible because it turns itself off after about 45 to save battery life.  This is not a defect, just a misunderstanding on my part.    Other features of the Outdoor Computer proved to be less usefull, while some were very frustrating. The altimeter and barometer seem to work fine, although I am unable to record the readings to the memory.

After contacting customer service regarding the log book (as mentioned in the Field Report), I was still unable to record information.  The customer service representative tried to be helpful, and was very curtious.  Unable to figure out the problem, she suggested I send it back. Since it was nearing the end of the test, I decided to hold off and finish testing.    The unit had already been returned right after it arrived due to a problem with being able to set it.  This new unit worked much better, other than the log book.   I had to reset the computer 3 times during the last two months.  It seems that if I try to record data, or get into the log book, the computer freezes up, or shuts itself off.  

I like the idea of the Outdoor Computer, but found it frustrating to use.   The time, temperature and compass features are nice - but it seems like they are the only ones that work well.  I would have used the log book to record temperatures and elevations while hiking, making record keeping much easier and was disappointed that didn't work out. The print on the face of the computer is also very hard to read - due to both the size, and the glare on the crystal.  All in all, the Outdoor Computer is a great idea, but for me it just didn't work well.

Thank you to Silva and for the opportunity to test this Outdoor Computer.

Read more reviews of Silva gear
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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Silva Outdoor Computer > Leesa Joiner > Test Report by Leesa Joiner

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