Buyers Guide to Finding the Best Dive Computers 2017


There is nothing more tranquil than plunging into the abyss and watching the rays of light wafting into the water above you. It’s just you and the never-ending blue. You have corals for company and the occasional Great White.

Scuba Diving is fun, its surreal, it’s ethereal and it’s dangerous.

Cressi Leonardo Dive Computer - White/Pink

If you are a first timer, you want to ensure that you spend more time awing at the many delights the ocean will throw at you, rather than fiddling with multiple pieces of equipment, trying to figure out how much time you have before you run out of air. That’s always the first timer’s most important concern, isn’t it?

On the other hand, if you are an experienced campaigner who scrounges the ocean floor for wrecks, you already know the importance of having a good diver computer. Those wrist-watched sized data crunchers that do all the hard work of computing a thousand different probabilities and displaying on a colorful screen that, ‘Hey buddy, it’s time to head back up. Civilization calls

Dive computers can be lifesavers. Not to mention that with a few schmany additives thrown in, you get some exclusive bragging rights in the scuba diving community. But if trying to select one off the shelf doesn’t make your head spin, then you are clearly not aware of the tech specifications and the gobbledygook that you will have to navigate through, just to get some numbers on the screen.

Thankfully, we help you pick the best dive computers for you, irrespective of your skill level or the tech that you are looking for. But before we wear our flippers and plunge headlong into it, let’s quickly take a moment to understand what dive computers are all about and a few desirable features that can make or break you, when you are submerged 100 feet under the ocean.

How to Pick the Best Dive Computer for Yourself

First things first, a dive computer is a computing device used by scuba divers that’s worn on the wrist, resembles a smart phone screen and does some lifesaving calculations for you. It calculates your depth (built-in depth gauge), time of the dive (timer) and then, it informs you about the amount of nitrogen that you have absorbed in your body. More the nitrogen, lesser the time left to ascend. This time is shown on a large and colorful screen that is easily visible under water.

Does that simplify things a little? Now it’s time to venture into more complicated turf.

How do you pick the best dive computer for yourself? Here’s how.

What’s your skill level?

Beginners should stick to the basics. Look for something that has a clear and visible screen and does what it’s supposed to do without you having to fiddle with it. There are a lot of good dive computers which do just that. Some of the standard features that you’d want in one are depth, time, no stop limits, ascent rate, no decompression limit (NDL) or no stop time, emergency decompression and information about the previous dives. More advanced or recreational divers may want additional features like open circuit air/nitrox/trimix compatibility.

Visibility

You want to see the data large and clear. So look for a big colorful screen with a backlit display. A dot matrix display works equally well too as long as it is visible.

User Friendly

As we said before, you don’t want to be fiddling too much with your dive computer under water. Look for something that’s as hands free as it can be. For the tasks that demand your fingers, look for models with large buttons. Remember that you will be wearing thick gloves.

Price

The average price for a dive computer with standard features is around $250-$500. Advanced ones will make you poorer by $800-$1000. Beginners can mostly do fine with entry-level computers.

Mount Style

You have two different styles to choose from. One is a wrist watch styled dive computer which once again has two different varieties, one that looks like a hockey puck and the other which resembles a normal wrist watch and can be worn on land too.

The second style is a console or boot mount styled computer that has all the features packed into a compact device.

Air Integration

Last but not the least, air integration is one of the most sought after technologies in the best dive computers. It allows you to connect your dive computer to the oxygen tank using a transmitter and it will display the amount of air time remaining and the PSI reading of the tank.

Mares Smart Dive Computer - White/Lime

The 5 Best Dive Computers in 2017

That’s about it. I think we are ready to see our list of the top 5 best dive computers in the market currently.

#1 - Shearwater Research Perdix Diving Computer

Shearwater Research Perdix Diving Computer

The Shearwater Research Perdix is one of the latest and flagship offerings from the Canadian manufacturer, who commands a cult following among diving enthusiasts, ever since they launched into the market with the ‘Predator’, their first dive computer.

The Perdix is an upgrade worthy of every accolade it is receiving. This is a smartly designed dive computer that can be taken along for anything from recreational dives to deep water technical dives. It is small, has a slim profile and a long lasting battery.

What greets you out of the box is a large 2.2-inch color screen display with ample space for displaying all the information that you’d ever need. You can see adaptive safety stops, the number of stops, the depth and the duration of stops that is tailored according to your dive time and previous dive history.

The Time to Surface is displayed clearly and shows you the most important information, taking into account all the necessary safety stops.

You can customize or choose from four different dive modes, OC recreational, OC technical, CC-INT and gauge.


Ideal for

Advanced divers, technical divers and rebreathers.

Display

Full color wide screen

Visibility

Clear and large numerical display as well as graphics.

Gases

Air, Nitrox and Trimix


Best Features

  • Large colorful display
  • Multiple modes including technical and closed circuit rebreather
  • Trimix compatible
  • Lots of customization options

What Could Have Been Better

  • Nothing. This is one of the best dive computers that you can invest in.

Summary:

The Shearwater Research Predix bridges the gap between a recreational dive computer and a technical one. It is a flawless package. If you intend to go beyond the average recreational dive or into deeper waters, this is what you need.

#2 - Suunto D4i Novo Dive Computer

Suunto D4i Novo

Suunto has upgraded their popular D4i wrist watch with the new and stylish D4i Novo and apart from the bright new colors, there are a few changes which make this a diver’s delight.

It has the same four button navigation as the earlier model and has an intuitive control panel that lets you tinker around and customize the settings easily. The buttons are not large but they are raised enough to allow you to press them easily if you are wearing gloves.

Here’s the interesting part.

When you are under water, here’s what the Suunto D4i will show you.

The current depth of water, the maximum depth, elapsed dive time and the No stop time (largest characters). If you activate the optional air-integrated mode, you also get access to the air time remaining and the psi is displayed in a numerical form and a graphical form on the left. A small bar graph shows the rate of ascent too.


Ideal for

Beginners looking for their first dive computer, seasoned divers looking for a feature rich backup and free divers.

Display

Dot Matrix

Visibility

Clear but not a color screen

Gases

Air and Nitrox


Best Features

  • Easy to use
  • Tons of customizations
  • Free diving mode
  • Wireless integration mode

What Could Have Been Better

  • Integrated compass

Summary:

With a clear display of the most vital information, a log presentation and great styling, the Suunto D4i Novo is one of the best dive computers for almost all types of divers.

#3 - Suunto Zoop

Suunto Zoop Dive Computer Orange

If you found the first two choices to be an overkill, then the Suunto Zoop will be right up your alley. This is an entry-level dive computer that has enough features for the recreational diver, without costing a pretty penny. Apart from the stylish colorful design, the Zoop features three different operational modes and two menu modes. So, you still have a lot of customization options.

It can be programmed for Air or Nitrox dives, (21% to 50%) but does not allow you to switch gas modes under the water.

The Zoop is water ready. This is a feature that beginner divers will appreciate because they do not need to switch on the dive computer before stepping off the edge of the boat. The dot matrix display screen is large and shows you the vital data clearly, without you having to strain your eyes under water.

The Suunto Zoop is also equipped with a log feature that allows you to store up to 140 hours of dive information. This gets auto activated the moment it comes into contact with water. You can choose from a wrist styled or a mount styled dive computer.


Ideal for

Beginners and Recreational divers

Display

Dot Matrix

Visibility

Clear but not a color screen

Gases

Air and Nitrox


Best Features

  • Large screen
  • Easy to read critical information
  • Nitrox compatible
  • Personalization
  • Auto-shut off to conserve battery

What Could Have Been Better

  • Air integration
  • Trimix
  • Navigational compass
  • Cannot switch gas modes under water

Summary:

The Suunto Zoop is an entry level dive computer and it is just perfect for that. It shows you all the vital information you need to make the right decisions while you are under water.

#4 - Cressi Leonardo

Cressi Leonardo Dive Computer - Black/Blue

One of the most important features that beginner divers look for, is to get access to important information when they need it the most, without having to fiddle through unwanted screens. That’s precisely what they get with the Cressi Leonardo. With a one button user interface to get information and customize the dive computer, it is one of the most user friendly models in the market currently.

You can toggle through the various modes and settings in the blink of an eye without getting lost while doing it. The Leonardo features a module design which allows you to use it as a wrist watch and also remove it and mount it to a console. It comes in a variety of color combinations.

It includes an air and Nitrox mode (up to 50%), has a large segmented dot-matrix backlit display which displays all the necessary information clearly. While it uses a conservative algorithm, it offers users enough options to tailor this level.

An in-built log stores data for up to 60 dives and there are critical audible alarms to sound the most important information.


Ideal for

Beginners

Display

Segmented Dot Matrix

Visibility

Clear. But the backlight is not the best.

Gases

Air and Nitrox


Best Features

  • One button user interface
  • Air and Nitrox compatible
  • Nitrox settings can be retained
  • Audible alarms for critical information

What Could Have Been Better

  • Poor quality backlight
  • No air integration

Summary:

This is a perfect beginners dive computer and also a great choice for a backup dive computer for recreational dives

#5 - Mares Smart

Mares Smart Dive Computer - Black/Red

Mares Smart is a minimalist but very efficient entry level dive computer that trumps a lot of higher priced models with its intuitive user interface and two button control. It may lack the bells and whistles that are typically advertised in bold. But it more than makes up for it with its well thought out dive mode screen and comprehensive data.

It has a stylish and sleek design with both the buttons and the bezel ring made of stainless steel. This also gives it a more solid feel unlike flimsy all-plastic models. The Smart can also double up as a sporty wrist watch when you are not diving. Additionally, it comes in a variety of colors to match your style.

The main display shows you the vitals such as NDL, water depth, dive time and temperature. In addition to this, there is an ascent rate indicator and tissue loading bar graph. There is an alternate screen which shows the gas mix, the average depth, the max depth, the current time and the oxygen toxicity.

The two button controls make it easy to modify the screen. The top button can be used to tweak the settings in the upper part of the display and the lower button allows you to navigate through the alternate displays.

It allows two gas mixes (21 – 99% Oxygen) and the Surface interval countdown is another stellar feature of the Mares Smart, which makes it a versatile choice at this price point.

There are visual and audible alarms for critical alerts and the backlight is excellent allowing clear visibility even in the dark. If you make the noob mistake of ascending too quickly, it sounds an alert with a large ‘SLOW’ on the screen.


Ideal for

Beginners and recreational divers or as a backup for professionals

Display

LCD backlit display

Visibility

Excellent. It is sharp and clear.

Gases

Air and Nitrox


Best Features

  • Two button easy navigation
  • Air and Nitrox
  • ​Dive log
  • Clear visible backlit screen
  • Audible and visible alerts

What Could Have Been Better

  • No air integration
  • No compass

Summary:

Priced at under $350, the Mares Smart offers enough features to make it a great buy at this price point. It may be considered as an entry level dive computer due to the innocuous appearance and lack of a colored display. But it packs a punch with its features and is even used by professional divers.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed browsing through our list of the best dive computers. We have tried to include a few entry level models, something mid-range and of course, something for the serious guys to play with. Always do your research and make an informed decision.

If you are just starting to scuba dive then you want to check out our guide to find the best dive computer for beginners.​

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