Suunto D4i Novo Dive Computer Review

Since dive computers were introduced they gained more and more popularity. There are many models out there targeting all levels of different divers with regards to their experience.

The D4i Novo is a mid-range computer with all the features you’d expect as a medium experienced diver. It is made by Suunto which is known to produce high-quality dive equipment and personal dive computers. Suunto was founded in 1936 and makes a range of dive gear.


Review Summary of the Suunto D4i Dive Computer

Experience Level

Targets the medium experienced diver.

STYLE

A watch style dive computer that can be worn day-to-day.

Ease of Use

Very simple navigation and good dot matrix display to show important data.

Price Level

Medium price range. In line with what to expect for the offered functionality.

We Like

  • Compact and Light
  • Ease of use
  • Multiple Dive Modes
  • Large Log Book

We Don't Like

  • Can't change battery yourself
  • Too small when diving with thick gloves

Summary:

The D4i Novo is a great every-day dive computer that can be worn as a dive watch. It offers everything you can ask for in a mid-range diving computer except for a compass.

Suunto D4i Novo

The Suunto D4i Novo is the follow-up model of the successful D4i dive computer. Looking at the technical specifications shows that there’s basically no difference between the two models.


Its updated design allows to wear it as a dive watch. It comes in a multitude of different colors: black, white, blue, grey, lime, ocean, pink, sakura and sun. It can be worn as a casual watch.


Besides the different colors, the biggest difference to the D4i model are the soft silicone straps and that the buttons are made of metal instead of plastic. The new straps ensure superb comfort and ensure a perfect fit.



Capabilities

The Suunto D4i Novo is a compact and lightweight dive computer. If features four different dive modes:

  • Air
  • Nitrox
  • Free-Dive
  • Gauge
Suunto D4i Novo Pink

Additionally, an optional wireless air transmitter can be purchased and connected to monitor the tank pressure and keep track of air remaining on the display. This air integration has to be purchased separately and the transmitter is added to the regulator first stage. The optional integration will typically not be necessary for an entry level to medium experienced diver. It does however provide the ability to increase its capabilities to grow with the experience level of the diver that owns it.

The display on the D4i is sufficiently large. It is a dot matrix display with a strong backlight. The watch screen shows the essential information including current and maximum depth, dive time, decompression time and current time as well as the temperature. It’s not a color display and it certainly doesn’t have to be!

When using the dive computer in free diving mode, it will sample the depth three times per second to provide an accurate real-time depth reading. This allows to store and track a free dive in the computer.

To keep the diver safe, the dive watch offers both audible and visual alarms for safety stops and depth as well as for time. This provides clear signals when to start the ascent.

Technical Capabilities

The computer allows to program nitrox mixes with oxygen levels between 21% and 50%. The PO2 limits can be set between 0.5 bars and 1.6 bars at the same time.

Its operational depth display ranges from 0 to 100 meters/0 to 328 feet. In Gauge Mode it will display and function down to depths of 150 meters/492 feet. The D4i is also altitude adjustable up to 3,000 meters/10,000 feet.

The algorithm used is based on the Suunto Reduced Gradient Bubble Model (RGBM). It is based on laboratory data as well as diving data. Suunto developed it together with Bruce R. Wienke and it is one of the best and most modern algorithms available. It allows for safe dives as it predicts dissolved and free gas in the blood and tissue based on depth and time under water. It’s a reasonably conservative algorithm that makes sure that recreational divers stay within their limits.

Dive Log and Connectivity

The D4i has a built-in dive log that is capable of recording up to 140 hours of dive information. It can be exported to your computer (both Mac and Windows) and then can be uploaded to the Suunto Movescount portal where you can track all your exercising from all Suunto watches including their dive computers. You can even add photos and videos of your dives to the uploaded log books to share with others.

The portal also allows to plan future dives based on historic data. Dive data from the log can be analyzed in depth and displayed in charts. This allows to make better choices and adjust alarms and dive times for future dives.

Missing Functionality

What is missing in the Suunto D4i Novo is a digital compass. This is provided in the next model up, the D6i Novo. It’s one of the features that can rarely be found on any mid-level dive computer so it’s not like the D4i would be the only mid-range model that doesn’t have it.

Another small downside is that the buttons can be hard to handle when diving in cooler water with thick gloves. This is overall an issue with any watch-style dive computer. Due to the size of the computer the buttons can simply be too close together when trying to press them while wearing thick dive gloves. This issue typically is not an issue when wearing no gloves or thin ones or when you have small hands.

Features/Specifications

  • Easy to use with only 4 buttons
  • Adjustable alarms for ascent rates and maximum depth and time
  • Free diving mode sampling depth information 3 times per second
  • Clear and precise dot matrix display with backlighting
  • Four dive mode settings including Air, Nitrox, free dive and gauge
  • Adjustable Nitrox settings between 21% and 50% with PO2 limits between 0.5 and 1.6 bars
  • Maximum depth display to 100 meters/328 feet
  • Adjustable Altitude
  • Both imperial and metric display options
  • Built-in dive log up to 140 hours
  • Lithium battery (CR2450)
  • RGBM (Reduced Gradient Bubble Model) algorithm
  • Built-in dive planner
  • Available in different colors
  • Compact design to be worn as an everyday watch
  • Optional wireless air integration
  • 2 year limited warranty

Pros and Cons

No product is perfect and the Suunto D4i certainly isn’t either. However, it is a great dive computer for the money and suits entry level as well as medium experienced divers well.

Pros

  • Compact and light design which makes it easy to use and wear even when used as a day-to-day watch
  • Multiple modes (Free Dive, Air, Nitrox and Gauge)
  • Optional wireless transmitter to measure tank pressure and display remaining air time on the screen
  • Simple 4 button usage with clear and backlit dot matrix display
  • Easy connectivity to computer through included USB cable and extensive upload and log capabilities when using in conjunction with Movescount.com
  • Safe and reliable RGBM algorithm
  • Easy adjustment of the strap to ensure a tight and safe fit

Cons

  • No digital compass
  • Not easy to use when thick gloves are worn
  • Battery has to be changed in a Suunto service center

The pros and cons clearly show that there’s not much negative to say about the Suunto D4i Novo. It has a lot of features for a mid-range dive computer and anything more than that would actually put it into the high-end category.

Where to Buy?

The easiest and typically cheapest way to purchase is through Amazon.com. You will find the widest variety of colors and prices there and you can trust the largest online retailer. If the dive computer shouldn’t suit your needs then it’s easy to return at Amazon.com. Smaller retailers and dive shops might charge more in the first place.

Customer Feedback

The overall feedback that can be found online and in forums is absolutely positive. People that purchased the SUUNTO D4i Novo are happy with the product and there’s barely anybody who has a complaint besides what was already mentioned in the cons above.

Besides that the only other complaint is that the battery can’t really be changed without bringing or sending the dive computer to a service center. This can be a major hassle when you want to use the dive computer just as the battery warning comes on.

Many people use this dive computer as their day-to-day watch. It’s compact enough and comes in such a large variety of colors that anyone can use it exactly as that.

Suunto D4i Novo Lime

Comparing the D4i Novo

The comparison chart below shows the differences between the Suunto D6i Novo, D4i Novo and the Zoop Novo.

Suunto Zoop Novo

Suunto D4i Novo

Suunto D6i Novo

Suunto Zoop Novo
Suunto D4i Novo
Suunto D6i Novo

Max. Depth

80 m / 262 ft

100 m / 328 ft

120 m / 394 ft

Nitrox Capable

Free Dive Mode

Gas Mixes

1 gas

(Oxygen 21 - 50%)

1 gas

(Oxygen 21 - 50%)

3 gases

(Oxygen 21 - 99%)

Connectivity

USB

USB

USB

Compass

Bezel

Composite

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Case

Composite

Composite

Steel

Log Size

~ 140 hrs

~ 140 hrs

~ 140 hrs

Visual Alarms

Audible Alarms

Battery Life (Avg)

1.5 years avg

1.5 years avg

1.5 years avg

Conclusion

The D4i Novo is a well-rounded dive computer that provides nearly every capability you might need. There's only one functionality you might be missing which is the compass but that will not necessarily be a problem if you are a recreational diver.

Other than that it simply fits the bill of what the beginner to medium experienced diver would need and expect from a dive computer. It is a reliable piece of dive gear that can easily be worn as an everyday watch.

One big plus is that the dive watch can grow with you. If you’re a more experienced diver and you’re going to do more sophisticated dives that require air monitoring. Adding the optional wireless transmitter allows to do just that. At that time the D4i Novo basically upgraded to the semi-professional level.

Whom is the D4i Novo not for?

If you are already a truly experienced diver requiring more capabilities of your dive computer then you should consider the Suunto D6i Novo instead.

Suunto is one of the leading manufacturers of dive gear and dive computers. They also have a wide range of exercise watches and a stellar reputation.

The D4i Novo is the redesign of the D4i and Suunto did a great job with it. They improved on the straps and made it overall more modern looking. If these are things you don’t put any value on then you might want to check out the D4i itself. You can get it cheaper and with basically the same capabilities.

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