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.

Suunto D4i Novo  - Review of Suunto's wristwatch sized scuba computer

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 scuba computers. Suunto was founded in 1936 and makes a range of dive gear.

Review Summary of Suunto’s D4i Novo

A watch style dive computer that can be worn day-to-day. The Suunto D4i Novo targets the medium experienced diver. It has very simple navigation and a good dot matrix display to show important data. Pricing is what you expect for the offered functionality.

What we liked

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

What we don’t like

  • Can’t change the battery yourself
  • Too small when you dive with thick gloves
Summary

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

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

Suunto D4i Novo Lime in the box

Its updated design allows wearing 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 is 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.

Suunto Diving Computer Capabilities

This Suunto watch is a compact and lightweight dive computer. It features four different modes:

  • Air
  • Nitrox
  • Free-Dive
  • Gauge

Wireless Air Integration

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.

D4i Novo - Black: One of the Dive Computers from Suunto

The optional air integration will typically not be necessary for an entry-level to the 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.

Display of the D4i Novo

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

Alarms

To keep the diver safe, the scuba 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.

Diving with fish

Technical Capabilities

The computer allows programming 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.

RGBM Algorithm

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 underwater. It’s a reasonably conservative algorithm that makes sure that recreational divers stay within their limits.

Dive Log and Connectivity

It has a built-in dive log that is capable of recording up to 140 hours of scuba diving 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 logbooks to share with others.

DM5 Software to analyze dive data

The portal also allows for planning 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 this scuba diving computer is a digital compass. This is provided in the next model up, the Suunto 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 from Suunto would be the only mid-range model that doesn’t have it.

A blue D4i Novo decompression calculator from Suunto - Dive Computers for the wrist

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.

Decompression warnings with a computer

How big is big enough?

There are lot of benefits to having a wristwatch sized dive computer. However, there’s not only good things about it.

The D4i Novo by Suunto is such a scuba computer that is sized for everyday wear. It combines the features of a decompression calculator with a watch.

While we do like the idea, it does bring with it some limitations. Specifically, with dot-matrix displays as the D4i Novo is using them. The display size is small underwater which can make it hard to read the numbers.

It’s not a problem in good lighting conditions but if the water around you is murky then it can become a problem. The backlight helps but it does not make up for screen size that’s simply not available.

The newest generations of wristwatch sized dive computers use OLED screens. These are in color and brilliantly bright and more than make up for the missing size.

Features/Specifications – D4i Novo

  • Easy to use with only 4 buttons
  • Adjustable alarms for ascent rates and maximum depth and time
  • Freediving 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 this one certainly isn’t either. However, it is a great scuba diving computer for the money and suits entry-level as well as medium experienced divers well.

Pros

  • A 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 a computer through included USB cable and extensive upload and log capabilities when used 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
  • The battery has to be replaced in a Suunto service center

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

Dive computer with air monitoring

Where to Buy the Suunto D4i Novo?

You can find it online at retailers like Amazon or at your local dive shop. You will find the widest variety of colors and prices online.

If the scuba diving computer doesn’t suit your needs then it’s easy to return at Amazon.com. Smaller retailers and dive shops might not have all the colors and might also give you some grief should you need to return the unit.

Dive Computer Customer Feedback

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

Diving with a wristwatch sized dive computer

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 it 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 like that.

Conclusion

The D4i Novo from Suunto is a well-rounded scuba 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 doing just that. At that time the D4i Novo basically upgraded to the semi-professional level and can hold it’s own when it comes to those offerings by Suunto.

Enjoying a dive and staying safe with a decompression calculator

Who is it 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.

This scuba computer watch 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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