When I first started diving, I had no choice but to rely on dive tables. The technology simply did not exist to allow for anything else, well affordable technology at the very least.
Then dive computers began to become more reasonable for the average diver and began to become more popular.
I will admit that when other divers first started using them, I was a bit skeptical. Having gotten used to the dive tables, I didn’t really feel like I needed anything else.
After just one use, however, I was converted.
Since I know just how much such a device can do for you, I would like to introduce you to some of the best dive computers on the market.
Dive Computer Reviews
Suunto Zoop Novo Wrist Scuba Diving Computer
1 used from $ 285.09
- Operating modes: air, nitrox, gauge and freedom modes
- Programmable for 21% to 50% oxygen mixtures
- Imperial or metric programmable, decompression stop data, audible alarms
- Back Lite display, easy to read in low light & night conditions
- Maximum depth display: 330' (100 meters)
If you have ever researched dive watches, it is essentially impossible to do so without coming across the Suunto brand. This is because they have managed to do some truly revolutionary work in terms of dive computers. In particular, they are known for their very own RGBM algorithm.
This algorithm is geared towards managing dissolved as well as free gas in the blood and tissues. Which allows you to get a more precise idea of what’s going on with your body as you dive.
This is an algorithm that comes preset with the Suunto Zoop Novo.
- Five dive modes
- Customizable settings
- Dive planner
- Audible alarms
- RGBM algorithm
If you don’t want to use this algorithm, you can choose the Gauge mode from one of the five modes available with this computer.
The other ones that you can select from include Air, Nitrox, Free-dive, and Off mode. It has got a nice mix there that is good for a variety of divers.
The Zoop Novo is activated from the second that you hit the water and records everything including all of the information relevant to your descents and your ascents.
You also get to play around with new, exciting features such as adding a bookmark for the dive log as well as deep stop for longer dives.
When you add this to the fact that there’s an in-built dive planner, audible alarms, and an easy to read screen, the Zoop Novo is a steal.
If you are looking to get started with a dive computer, I would recommend this as you will be starting off with the best.
Shearwater Research Petrel 2 SA Dive Computer
- User Replaceable AA Battery
- Air, Nitrox, Trimix capable
- 3 axis, tilt compensated, digital compass
- Bluetooth Integration: Smart ready Bluetooth for communication with PC, Mac, iPod and iPad
- Dive Planning and Decompression
The Shearwater Research dive computers have become quite famous with divers all over the world. The Petrel is a bit of an older model but still one of my favorites. It has everything that you need and is easy to use.
- Air, Nitrox, Trimox capable
- 5 CCR gas diluent presets
- Constant PPO2 set point
- Logbook containing 1000 hours’ worth of dives
Therefore, if you do not want to be overwhelmed by various gadgetry, this is a great dive computer.
What I personally like about the Petrel is the large screen. Just one glance and I get all of the information that I need to know.
While it may seem quite bulky, it fit on my wrist quite well without being overly flamboyant.
Whether you are a recreational diver or a serious deep diver, the Petrel is going to come in handy.
This is because it is air, Nitrox, and Trimox capable.
It doesn’t matter what you dive with, this dive computer has got you covered.
It also boasts a constant PPO2 set point and allows you to choose from five CCR diluent gas presets.
It also records the last 1000 hours of your previous dives. This can come in pretty handy if you are the type of diver that is always learning and improving.
There is no denying that this is a pricey piece of equipment so it is probably more worth it for those who are technical divers.
For me this price is reconcilable only because I love how easy it is to set up as well as use underwater. There is no need to fiddle around to find what you are looking for.
All of the information is either simply there or easily found with a press of a button on this dive computer.
Cressi Giotto Wrist Computer
- The 3 buttons dive computer provides all the necessary information in regards to depth, dive times, possible need of decompression, ascent rate and all the surface intervals between dives.
- FDive program: full processing of dive data, including decompression if applicable, for every dive performed with air or nitrox.
- Full setting of FO2 parameters (oxygen percentage) and PO2 (oxygen partial pressure) with the option to set PO2 between 1.2 bar and 1.6 bar, and FO2 from 21% and 99%.
- Log book (70 hr or 60 dives) complete with dive profile. Possibility to download the data on the PC with the Cressi interface (not included).
- Deep stop can be turned on or off. Visual and auditory alarms. Built-in calendar and clock. Backlit display. Made in Italy.
There is very little that you will find that the Cressi company is not involved with when it comes to dive.
It appears that dive computers are no exception. The Cressi Giotto may be the second dive computer that the company has attempted.
- Mixed gas dive computer
- Air, Nitrox, and Gauge mode
- Three button interface
- 70 hour dive log
- Large display
However, it is the first mixed gas one that has been wholly designed by them.
The Giotto is a strictly entry level dive computer but it is incredibly good at what it is meant to do.
You can choose from Air, Nitrox, and Gauge modes.
They have also worked out a new algorithm that allows for the safe calculations of decompression dives.
This is especially targeted towards multi-day dives with gas mixtures. There are two main reasons for my placing the Giotto on this list. The first is that this is such an easy dive computer to use.
The three button design of the computer means that it is simple for anyone to understand, program, and use. The HD screen is crystal clear with all of the information displayed in large text and numbers.
All you have to do is look at the computer once to get everything that you need to do. The second reason is that despite the simplicity involved, there are still plenty of features available. For instance, you are able to log in about 70 hours’ worth of dive times.
If you are planning on sharing this dive computer with someone else, there is no issue. All of the information is easily wiped clean.
- A single button Dive Computer makes effortless to set Air, Nitrox and Gauge modes. Ideal for beginners in Scuba Diving. It is easy to use, easy to read all the information due to the high-definition screen that gives large numerical displays.
- FO2 adjustable between 21% and 50%. PO2 adjustable between 1.2 bar and 1.6 bar. CNS oxygen toxicity graphic indicator.
- Three levels of user adjustable conservatism. Visual and distinct, easy-to-hear audible alarms.
- User-selectable deep stop function. Adjustable unit of measure: imperial or metric.
- Battery life indicator. User changeable battery. Battery model: CR2430.
The Cressi Leonardo is the model that precedes the Giotto. This makes it the first dive computer to be completely built by the brand.
- Three modes – air, nitrox, and gauge
- Adjustable fraction of oxygen between 21% and 50%
- PO2 between 1.2 and 1.6
- Single button interface
- 3 levels of conservatism
- Audio alarms
It does mean that you are taking a step back in terms of both price as well as features.
That being said, this would be my top pick for divers who are using a dive computer for the first time.
In particular, it’s great if you have to use a dive computer but aren’t looking for anything serious. In the words of Cressi, this computer is strictly meant for those who “just want to dive”.
Even the most basic dive computers can sometimes get a little techy.
Not so with the Leonardo – the computer doesn’t even bother using abbreviations! It’s simply a matter of pressing a button until you get to the category that you are looking for.
So, what does the Leonardo have to offer?
Programming capabilities for PO2 from 1.2 to 1.6, nitrox up to 50 percent, three levels of user adjustable conservatism, and altitude.
This basically means that you don’t have to worry about getting lost among the modes, graphs, and other technological mumbo jumbo.
It’s all straightforward and to the point with the Leonardo. There are also both visual as well as audio alarms for deep and safety stops as well as for approaching decompression.
To sum it up what I truly like about the Leonardo is that it provides you with all of the information that you need while still allowing you to have some fun on your dives.
Aeris A300 Wrist Computer
- Powered by Dual Algorithm with Deep Stop
- 3 Operating Modes: Air/Nitrox, GAUGE (with run timer) and FREE (tracks calculations to allow switching between NORM and Free)
- 3 Operating Buttons with intuitive interface
- Switch between up to 3 Nitrox mixes
When it comes to the Aeris A300, appearances certainly are deceiving. It may not look like much but this dive computer is packed to the brim with everything that you could want.
- Dual algorithms
- 3 operating modes
- Three nitrox mixes
If you are a relatively new diver who feels as though they will progress further, the Aeris could be a good one-time buy.
It’s easy enough for novices to use but also has those features that experienced divers require. It’s got three operating modes – Air/Nox, Gauge, and Free.
The gauge mode comes equipped with a run timer.
You can also switch between up to three Nitrox mixes to 100 percent 02. There are individual PO2 alarms for these mixes.
The way that the information is presented with the A300 is a point of contention among some divers.
Yes, sometimes having to switch between all of those screens to find what you need can get a little annoying. This is more than compensated by the fact that all of the data is clearly displayed.
A great aspect of the A300 is the dual algorithms.
This allows you to dive both liberally as well as conservatively. You have also got a Conservative Factor setting.
This definitely improves the amount of safety provided by the computer.
The A300 also boasts three-colored bar graphs. This makes it a whole lot simpler to track your tissue loading and ascent rate. I also like the fact that it is nice and compact and fits on most wrists quite easily.
Really, what more could ask for?
Mares Puck Wrist Dive Computer
- DEPTH: 492 feet
- RGBM (Reduced Gradient Bubble Model)-algorithm
- Full Function Air/Nitrox Dive Computer
- Precautionary Program Settings
- Nitrox Programmable (21-50%)
The Mares Puck dive computer is yet another I would recommend to beginners. This is because the features of the computer are streamlined to make them simple enough for anyone to use and understand.
- RGBM algorithms
- Air, Nitrox, and Bottom Time modes
- Precautionary dive settings
- 38 hours memory capacity
It also has a nice, large screen which is good for those who want to absorb as much information as possible with just one glance at their computer.
The buttons are also easily accessible, even if you are sporting gloves underwater.
All of this makes it a very fuss-free dive computer to use – a top priority for first timers. It uses the RGBM algorithm for calculations, allowing you to reduce the formation of microbubbles while still maintaining dive times.
The dive computer gives you access to Air, Nitrox, and Bottom Time modes, more than adequate for beginner divers.
The Puck can also be used in both fresh water as well as sea water.
The user can decide whether they would like the data to be displayed as metric or imperial units. There are also precautionary program settings available. This means that you can choose more conservative dive profiles, depending on your physical condition.
The Puck also has a memory capacity of 38 hours. If you are not looking for bells and whistles but still want a good variety of features, this is the dive computer for you.
The deal is sweetened even more by the affordable price tag attached to the Puck.
The Types of Dive Computers
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on the two most relevant types of dive computers. I will also add in a little bit of information about some of the other options that you have.
To start off with, I would divide dive computers into how they can be mounted. The most common variations are wrist mounted and console mounted.
As you can imagine, wrist mounted is essentially wearing a watch-like dive computer on your wrist. This is a rather intuitive dive computer to have because many people are already quite accustomed to glancing at their watches every day. While this may mean that the screens are a little small, a lot of options available on the market today have found innovative ways to overcome this.
Then you have the console mounted dive computers. It is essentially a dive computer, pressure gauge, and sometimes even compass all rolled into one. These are considerably larger than the wrist mounted computers. They are attached to the regulator with a hose and are therefore connected to the rest of your equipment.
Although it has yet to really catch on, there are also dive computers that can be mounted on top of masks. Not a whole of companies offer this as an option. Also, many divers find it quite distracting to have a dive computer right in front of their face at all times.
You’ve also got air integrated dive computers. These are connected to your air source and sends information regarding your air pressure and breathing rate to the dive computer. For deeper or longer dives, this could be quite useful. It is also worth mentioning that these are quite expensive, however.
Choosing a Dive Computer
Now, that you know about the types of dive computers available to you, it’s time to choose one. Of course, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and just pick one from the selection above. Nonetheless, you should be aware of what you need from your dive computer.
Dive computers can vary quite drastically in price.
Now, if you are a seasoned diver who frequently heads down into the deep, it could be worth it to you to splurge on some serious equipment.
If you are a newbie, however, I would suggest starting off with one of the cheaper models. Once you are comfortable with that, you can move onto more sophisticated options later on.
I will say this, one thing that you should not skimp on is the Nitrox capability. This is easy enough as most dive computers are Nitrox compatible. More and more divers are opting for Nitrox because it helps your air supply last longer. Even if you are not using it now, you can be quite sure that you will be doing so in the future.
Therefore, do yourself a favor and get a dive computer capable of it now.
If you are not overly techy or don’t partake in technical diving quite often, stick with something quite basic. Avoid choosing computers that are overloaded with modes or features and just find something that you will actually be able to use. This becomes especially important once you are underwater. If you know what you are doing and like to have a lot of control with your dives, find computers that offer you a lot of adjustable custom settings.
I would also say the display is quite vital as well. Make sure that the information is clearly displayed as well so that you don’t get confused. You can’t afford any mistakes while you are diving. Alarms both audio and visual are equally as important to prevent any decompression sickness or other problems from arising.
How To Use A Dive Computer
Regardless of the dive computer that you have bought, there are some procedures that you will need to follow. This is to ensure that you use the computer properly and that you are kept safe at all times.
Here is what you need to know about using your dive computer:
- Always read the instruction manual – each computer is different and you should not get in the water with until you know how to use it. Don’t ever fall into the trap of feeling that you will learn as you use it. This is dangerous.
- Prep the dive computer properly – this means setting all of the necessary features, especially the ones that you will need to customize. This includes air or nitrox, alarms, the exact units you want displayed, etc.
- Always activate your computer. Some computers do this automatically as you enter the water while other require manual activation. Despite the features, make sure that the computer is working from the moment you enter the water.
- Take it on every dive. The only way that your computer can provide you with accurate information is if it is with you each and every time.
- If the computer stops working at any time during the dive, avoid continuing with the excursion. Instead, head to the surface to figure out what went wrong. If you cannot get it to work, you should get it fixed as soon as possible.
You are now an expert in dive computers and how to choose them. Use this information wisely and you will be able to come away with your ideal dive computer.
Best Dive Computer
For those who like to dive frequently, investing in a dive computer should be a top priority!
Suunto Zoop Novo Wrist Scuba Diving Computer
Shearwater Research Petrel 2 SA Dive Computer
Cressi Giotto Wrist Computer
Aeris A300 Wrist Computer
Mares Puck Wrist Dive Computer