Best Dive Computers for Beginners
Beginners Dive Computers
Eager, first-time divers, want to know everything about their newfound hobby. Thankfully, we’ve got the scoop for you on everything you need to know about dive computers. A dive computer is your digital writer lifeline, allowing you access to real-time information for the perfect dive.
Before jumping into buying the best dive computer for beginners, you should be aware of the standard features to keep an eye out for. These standard features include:
- Emergency decompression
- Ascent rate
- No stop time remaining
- Previous dive information
- No stop limits
- Low battery warning
- Enriched air (Nitrox) compatibility
Quick tips for purchasing a dive computer include:
- Being able to read the dive computer with your mask on.
- Is your dive computer going to be compatible with your equipment?
- Do you 100% understand the information you’re reading? If not, you’re putting your life at risk.
Navigation is Critical
Any qualified diver would never go down without having access to some sort of navigation equipment. The more pressure you find yourself in, the more disorienting it can be, and no matter how much you think you know, under the water is another story. Navigation is critical and owning a dive computer with an old-fashioned compass is pivotal in your safety. Without this, you may not know how to get to shore, or back to your boat for safety.
Life-Saving Depth Gauge
Without the life-saving component of a depth gauge, you may wander a little too far down to the point where you’re too disoriented to function and ask for help. A depth gauge works hand in hand with your decompression stops and calculates how much time you spent at a particular depth. If you’re left guessing, it will ultimately negatively affect your calculations for decompression stops.
The Perfect Calculations
When you’re at an extremely low depth, it can be hard or near impossible to make any sort of calculations yourself while functioning in the water world around you. Dive computers take out this stressful aspect for you and perform the calculations for you. These life-saving calculations work alongside decompression calculations, decompression stops, and for specific models – no-fly times for those who are diving on vacation.
It sounds morbid, but when you ascend in a plane after diving into a certain depth, the nitrogen in your body will expand because of the pressure. You may explode! (No, seriously, it’s a thing and a safety precaution). Some dive computers will let you know when you safely fly again.
Most modern dive computers will have an onboard memory feature for you to review all of the information stored away during your ascent into the aqua world. It’s a nifty little feature and can help you predict and plan for future trips down.
Activation of Your Dive Computer
Any dive computer bought will have to go through an activation process, much like a phone. Thankfully, you don’t have to activate your phone with water, though! Ultimately, there are two ways to enable a dive computer for beginners including manually or with water. The manual option requires the diver to press a button before going in the water.
If you’re new, you should be forewarned that many divers FORGET this aspect of preparation, causing companies to come up with a solution that allows instant water activation as soon as divers are in. Now that you’ve got the scoop on the different life-saving and data recording components, we’ll go over our top three picks (and our top recommendation!) for the perfect dive computers for beginners.
#1 - Cressi Leonardo
Not overly clunky and super fashionable, the Cressi Leonardo is one of the best on the market. Its design is sleek and not bulky/heavy, so you won’t be worrying about it in the water constantly, with features that include:
- Audible alarm
- Easy on button
- Air and nitrox modes
- Large digits for better reading underwater
- Backlit screen for night dives
Not only does this dive computer give you a readout for the different depths during your dive, but you can also read these numbers beautifully at night. The backlit screen function allows for safe tracking during dangerously dark dives. This device also has a data reset feature, which is perfect for rental companies working with beginners. This may be the only con, as beginners may accidentally stumble into this section and delete their hard-earned data.
Another significant aspect of this computer dive watch is the audible and visual automatic safety stop countdown at 15ft or 3 minutes. A wrist-held safety buddy, there’s no real reason why you shouldn’t purchase this as a beginner! This dive computer has a 24-month limited warranty.
#2 - Suunto Core
Visually different from our last, this device has simple readings but is with more of an old school style. We’ll mention off the bat that a lot of the numbers on this watch are rather small, which isn’t ideal for those with bad eyes. It’s not a deal breaker, as you may not be able to read larger numbers easily, yourself. This watch does have great features, though, including:
- An altimeter for vertical movement + a barometer
- Tracks the weather and sun
- Has a compass and depth meter
- Weather trend graph and storm review for 400+ locations
Beyond the standard functions that a dive computer for beginners comes with, it also comes with components that are pivotal in the safety of your dive. Many watches don’t come with weather reviewing options, which makes the Suunto Core a top contender in your search. No matter where you travel to or live, you can find real-time weather and storm information catered specifically for divers like yourself.
For products themselves, the warranty is two years, while accessories only have a one-year warranty. This warranty is limited, and starts the day of your purchase.
#3 - Cressi Leonardo Dive Computer with Download Cable and Watch Stand
If you were impressed with the Cressi Leonardo watch before, this bulk option is ideal for you. With the download cable and watch stand equipped in this bulk purchase, you’re able to take your data and upload it directly to your computer or storage device. Having a watch stand will allow it to stay in pristine condition when you’re not diving. Features of this watch are like you’ve seen before:
- Visible battery life indicator
- Standard features like air, nitrox, and gauge modes
- Download cable for log drives
As you’ve already learned, the download cable is convenient, with the battery life indicator easily readable underwater. With such a large backlit screen, the standard features can be seen with ease. If you already have a dive computer stand and cable, then you may want to opt for the standard package of this device.
We think the best dive computer for beginners is the Cressi Leonardo. While the version with the stand and USB connector are nice, it's not a necessity.
You might as well save yourself some money and go with the basic model without all the connectivity items.
You'd thought we were going to recommend the last one? While the added gifts are lovely, they aren’t essential to the current dive missions, and they can be purchased at a later time. For beginner divers, it’s important to feel out the piece of equipment instead of splurging on the biggest package possible. If you enjoy this watch and want those added features of a download cable and stand, those accessories are available online.
For beginners, this watch is fantastic. With large fonts, sounds, and all the readings you can hope for no matter the time of day, the Cressi Leonardo hits the nail on the head.