The range of G-Shock models available today is enormous. It's practically mind boggling to the person considering their first G-Shock. "Which one do I get?" Not only is the current production enormous, but there's a huge legacy from the past... plenty of older models kicking around on eBay, looking for a buyer.
One of the most common models recommended for a first G-Shock is the venerable DW-5600E. It's a small square digital watch with a design that hearkens back to the first G-Shock model produced back in 1983 (the DW-5000C). It's a classic design with very simple functionality. It doesn't do much, but what it does it does well.
Not everyone feels the appeal of that old square design, though. The next watch recommended that isn't a square is usually the DW-6900. This has a rounded appearance and is one of the most celebrated models ever (a grand total of 187 variants), with a majority of collaboration models having been based on this watch even up to recent times (see Undefeated). If you're up for more functionality, you can step up to the solar/atomic GW-6900, for about 30% more in price.
Yet, if you're on a budget and you don't want to spend more than around $60, the basic DW-6900 may leave you feeling a bit limited. And that's where the G-2900 can step in. You can find it for as little as $55 shipped at that famous shopping website (the big "A"). And that also means you can find used examples on that auction site (the big "E") for less.
This model was first released in 2002. There were 3 variations initially, two black and one dark blue. The next year a bunch more variants were created, for a grand total of 11 (see Watch Shock for details). Eventually most of them were retired. But the G-2900F, all black with dark grey "G" light button, is still made today. As you can see from the feature list, it's packed with functionality. The watch size isn't huge, but it's still a bit chunky. You definitely get a rugged feeling from it, without it being too overbearing on the wrist. It's very comparable to the G-2000, which was one of the more popular screwback models that was released in the year 2000.
The first thing you may notice is that this isn't a particularly heavy watch. It is light, yet doesn't feel cheap. The resin cast bezel and straps have a nice rubbery feel to them, pliable and yet strong. I find the watch wears very comfortably.
Aside from basic time keeping, dual time mode, alarms (5), and timers (both countdown and stopwatch), this watch also has a data bank feature. This isn't the first G-Shock watch to have it, however with the G-2900 there's a full 315 character memory for up to 63 records maximum. And it has full character support, so you can enter in e-mail addresses. Granted, the display for handling this isn't all that smart. You have the large digits in the wide open time display area indicating the record number, then a very small text area above where the data scrolls. It feels rather ironic that they didn't put the large data in the larger space. But this was done for cost purposes, as the dot matrix LCD segments would have to be produced in a much larger area, making for a more complicated display (each segment needs to be individually controlled). Still... the good thing is that the data scrolls at a reasonable pace, so it's readable. There's also a 4 digit pass code you can supply so that your data is somewhat protected.
Thanks to Sedi for pointing this out, something I forgot to mention: each alarm can have a label set that appears in the same "data window" area. What's great about this is that in time keeping mode when your alarm goes off, the label scrolls on the display. Thus if you set an alarm for a specific task, it goes off and you remember what you're supposed to do, like "Buy wife b'day present!". Interestingly enough, after the audible alert finishes (10 seconds), the label will continue to scroll on the display until you push a button. So you can keep the reminder going for a while, to assist your memory. This is a very unusual feature, which is available in only one other G-Shock--the G-7600.
There are some graphics employed in this watch that... well, are a little more eye candy than usable. There are two prominent "sail" shapes that count off the seconds in 10 second groupings. They also count in 1/10 second increments in stopwatch mode. And to the left of them is a circle cut into pie sections that is used to count minutes in 10 minute groupings. What's nice about this graph is that when you do a countdown, it displays a graphical representation of the time you've selected and gradually ticks off segments as the time counts down. This provides a nice graphical display of how much time is remaining.
Last but not least is the usability of the basic functionality. Rated at 200M, you can take it swimming and snorkeling without a care in the world (and yes, some people successfully dive with 200M rated G-Shocks that aren't dive certified). The buttons are a bit small but they press easily with decent feedback. The alarm tone is at a nice level that is strong enough for outdoor use in most cases, although it probably won't wake you up if you're a sound sleeper. The back light is a bright blue-green color that illuminates the time well. The date digits are a bit small, so they're a little harder to see in dim lighting. And the battery is a beefy CR-2025 that coupled with the efficient processor provides for an estimated 10 year battery life. That's quite a bit better than the commonly estimated 2 years you see on a lot of other G-Shocks that use the CR-2016 battery (like the DW-5600E).
I bought my watch used in near new condition and paid about 60% off MSRP. No regrets at all. Despite being a smaller G-Shock, it is easy to read and use, plus feels comfortable on my wrist, more so than a DW-5600E. If there's anything I could complain about, it's the polished metal inner bezel. I'd have preferred a black IP coated ring for a more stealthy look, but thankfully it is recessed enough not to get frequent fingerprint blemishes. And lastly, there are the red graphics over the LCD display (which includes the slogan "10 year battery"), which are on a layer that is raised up about 1mm. The issue for me is that these graphics are translucent and cast a red shadow onto the LCD background, making a kind of "double exposure" effect. It's only noticeable in really bright light though, and thankfully you eventually overlook it.
It's small but not puny. I definitely recommend getting one. An excellent value G-Shock.