Wrist Mounted vs Console Dive Computer
Which type of dive computer is better: Wrist or Console Mounted?
Technology enabled computers to get smaller and smaller. We are the point that a sophisticated dive computer is worn at the wrist. But is that the best way to use it? Or is it easier and better to use a console mounted dive computer?
You might think that there’s a clear answer to the question. But, when it comes to wrist mounted vs. console dive computers, there’s no answer that’ll tell you to do exactly one or the other.
What are the differences and similarities?
It’s pretty easy to figure out what a wrist mounted scuba computer is. It’s simply worn like a watch around your wrist. A console mounted version means that the computer is part of a console. Typically, there’s a second instrument like a pressure gauge or a compass being part of the console.
The dive computers do function and work the same no matter how you mount them. To make matters worse, you often can get the same dive computer either as a wrist mounted or console mounted device. In either case, it’s exactly the same computer with the same capabilities.
Before dive computers were available, a diver needed to have quite a few instruments and gauges to keep them informed and safe. Many of them were strapped to the forearms but every arm only has so much space. Thus, the console was invented.
The first instruments to go into the console were pressure gauges. They connect to the regulator first stage with a hose to measure the pressure in the tank. The invention of the dive computer allowed to combine at least the depth gauge and the bottom timer to be combined into this single instrument. This also freed some real estate on the forearm and the dive computer manufacturers started to design them to be worn like a watch.
That leads us to where we are today. You can have your dive computer either as part of a console or on your wrist. Let’s have a look at the two different mounting options and their advantages and disadvantages.
Console mounted dive computers have the second instrument (pressure gauge or compass) as part of the console so everything is in one place. In some cases you can even add another instrument so you end up having everything in sight when you look at the console.
A wrist mounted dive computer can have air integration as well as a compass but then you end up paying quite a bit of money. The air integration has to be wireless which adds a lot to the price. Additionally, you most likely won’t have all data in one screen but you will need to navigate through the dive computer’s menu to either get the compass or the remaining air, etc. On a console you can see all the data (in several instruments) in one view.
You might actually even save a few bucks when you buy the console vs. the wrist computer plus a console for the pressure gauge by itself. The difference is usually not much so it’s not really worth using this as a decisive factor.
When you need to travel to get to your dive location then it is easy to forget a wrist mounted dive computer at home. You’d be surprised how often that does indeed happen. A console mounted version is always part of the console and you won’t leave that at home.
The console is tethered to the diver and as such there’s really no way it could be lost during a dive. A wrist mounted dive computer can under certain circumstances slide off your wrist and be lost in the depth of the ocean. Now, the risk for that is very low but this mounting style does have the disadvantage that it can happen.
The console itself ends up larger than simply having a pressure gauge and a wrist dive computer. The size can be annoying to handle and that’s why many divers prefer to use a wrist mounted unit. It’s simply more convenient to look at your wrist during a safety stop instead of fumbling to get to the console and hold to the larger device to check the measurements.
Depending on what kind of diving you perform, it actually can be safer to have a wrist mounted dive computer. If you for example are a dive instructor then it would potentially be easier to be able to look at your wrist for data instead of trying to reach the console if you have to pull one of your students with you in an emergency. Admitted, chances are slim but it is something to keep in mind.
In theory it could also happen that your console gets entangled with an object underwater which could trap the diver. Again, that’s more of a theory as there’s barely a chance for entanglement if the console is property attached and stowed to the BCD. It’s not like you’d be dragging a fishing line behind you which connects you to the console…
Which is better?
Still not sure what mounting style is better? It simply comes down to personal choice. And the most important thing simply is that you know where your instruments are and you can find them quickly when needed.
Some divers for example prefer to wear the dive computer on their right wrist. That lets them inflate their dry suit or dump air while they look at their computer. Others would never wear the dive computer on their right wrist as they have their dive light in the right hand and need to shine it on the display to read the data.
It comes down to what you will be comfortable with. And most likely you’ll be able to simply pick one version and live happily ever after with that choice. You get used to whatever mount style you have.
The best you can do is either get a dive computer that you can switch from being a console mounted to a wrist mounted so you can try the different options with your own device. Or, simply rent the equipment in different style during a few dives to see what feels best for you. Then purchase this setup.
Entry Level Model
A great dive computer for beginners or for recreational divers is the Suunto Zoop Novo. It comes as either a wrist mounted model or as a console with a pressure gauge.
The wrist mounted variant comes in different colors. You can read our in-depth review of the Suunto Zoop Novo dive computer for more information.
The console combines the dive computer with a pressure gauge into a single unit. The capabilities of the dive computer are the same no matter how it’s mounted. Check out the Suunto Zoop Novo CB-2 Console by clicking on the image or the button below.