A diving computer keeps one updated about the depth, the time of the dive, and other crucial information. And that’s why most divers consider it an essential part of the diving gear.
Modern dive computers have become so extensively intelligent that they can even track the nitrox level in your tank so that you can reckon the total gas left inside it. Furthermore, these computers have got more compact and handy that you can wear a full-fledged device on your wrist.
But do you know how to choose the best dive computer?
Since there are multiple models available, choosing the right one can be challenging. But with this dive computer buyer's guide, you can make a rewarding choice quickly.
So you don’t know what a dive computer exactly is? Well, you are missing something good!
A dive computer is an advanced device with a plethora of sensors and functions to track the diving details. The computer takes account of the dive depth, dive time, and other such crucial information you should know while diving deep into the abyss.
In some cases, a dive computer can turn out to be a lifesaver as some intelligent devices can track the nitrox amount.
Lastly, a diving computer also offers some other features that are extremely imperative for the divers to make the dive safe and smooth.
You can go for a dive without a computer so do you really need one?
Since the inception of smart dive computers, most divers are using them for their preciseness. Diving computers are a lot better than the conventional dive tables, as these intelligent devices can calculate the actual dive time and dive depth to warn you about the bottom-time and max NDL (No-Decompression Limit).
Moreover, a reliable dive computer keeps track of other details, such as calculating the amount of gas mixture left in the tank. With a dive computer, you don't have to carry some heavy gauges, and that's enough to buy a smart computer.
However, you shouldn't buy a dive computer on a whim, as it is necessary to look for some essential features before you press the Buy Now button.
Dive computers are advanced than ever, and they have a lot to offer if you are a diver. For your ease, we have classified the guide into multiple factors, so that you don’t have to struggle while selecting the best diving computer.
Here are some essential considerations you should make before hopping on the list to choose a dive computer. You should select a dive computer based on your skill level, and frequently you will be taking a dip into the sea.
If you are a beginner, then there's no benefit in going for a highly-advanced dive computer. Using a dive computer can be taxing as they have loads of features. Instead of fiddling with an ultra-advanced device, you should go for something that's easy to use.
Look for dive computers with a bigger display, so that you can clearly see the details on it. However, if you are a professional, going for advanced dive computers will be a great idea.
Advanced computers have features like nitrox compatibility and smart algorithms that help you decide the ascend rate with ultimate precision.
Dive computers with smart features are expensive, as these have multiple sensors and algorithms to make your dive experience good.
The choice will depend on how much budget you have! Dive computers are available at a myriad of prices starting from a few hundred dollars, and the price can even surge to a thousand dollars for fantastic computers.
Beginners can go with budget dive computers, but professionals should choose a computer with all features as it is concerned with your health.
You can make your budget based or skill level and how frequently you will be going for a dive.
Always have a look at the warranty before getting a dive computer. Most manufacturers offer a one-year warranty, but there are some prominent names that are offering a two-year warranty on the computers.
Having a device with a warranty will help you in getting it repaired in case of any damages that should be covered under warranty.
Let’s get back to what factors you need to look for in a reliable dive computer.
A good dive computer should be easy to use so that you don't have to struggle to learn about its features. Check whether the computer works with gloves, and how large are the buttons. Also, make sure that the menu is easy to navigate, and you can activate the right feature on time.
Generally, most dive computers are handy and easy to use. Still, we suggest learning about its features before you take a dip with it. Knowing about the features will ensure a smooth experience, and you don't have to worry about spending your time and energy underwater to check for the features.
The performance of the dive computers is entirely dependent on its display as if you cannot see anything the device is of no use. Bigger and colorful displays are always better as you can clearly check the required information on the computer.
Most divers recommend checking the DOT Matrix display as it is highly visible underwater. Also, there are some latest computers available with an OLED display with brilliant clarity and color. Below mentioned are some other factors to check to select the display correctly.
Usually, dive computers have a bigger screen so that you can check the readings and other details with ease. Some divers believe that smaller screens are god, but if you want to go deeper, a bigger screen should be your choice.
Check if the screen is readable and big enough to take on a dive. However, there’s no ideal size recommended yet, as every diver has their own preferences.
Using a torch every time to check the dive computer seems daunting, and it really is! You should choose the models that have backlit support so you can quickly have a look at how much deeper you can go.
Nearly all smart dive computers come with backlit support, and the backlit color varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
However, there’s one common problem associated with backlit supported dive computers, and that’s less battery life. The backlit consumes a significant part of the battery life, so you should also go for a computer that has a long-lasting battery.
If you hate carrying multiple gauges to monitor the air pressure inside the tank, then a dive computer with air integration should be an excellent addition to your diving gear. These computers come with a transmitter that fits on the gas tank to give you real-time updates about the pressure, and how much gas is left.
Moreover, the computers can even calculate how much time is left for the dive based on your breathing rate and how quickly the tank is getting empty. Now there’s no need to carry heavy gauges to get details about the pressure if you have a smart computer with air integration compatibility.
This feature is available in high-end models only, so you should be ready to spend some more money to experience ultimate ease.
A Pro Tip: If you are a professional diver or a diving teacher, look for computers that can fetch real-time details for multiple users. You can use many transmitters to get the details from your fellow diver about how much gas is left in their tank.
We highly recommend going with the dive computers that have replaceable batteries. Modern dive computers come loaded with a plethora of features. It is natural to impact battery life if you have many diving sessions throughout the day. Going with such computers will be a wise decision.
You can replace the battery quickly, and the computer is ready to serve you on the next dive.
Nitrox diving is gaining a lot of popularity. You should check whether the computer is nitrox compatible if you are also interested in nitrox diving. These programmable dive computers work well when you have a nitrox mixture in the tank.
These smart dive computers offer dive modes that enhance your experience while you are deeper into the abyss. These modes are ideal for professional divers to get different gas blends depending on the type of dive.
You can look for different diving modes before selecting a dive computer.
So you have set everything on the computer based on your needs and diving regime? What about you have to do it before every dive?
A diving computer with a memory function will save you from the hassle. When you replace the batteries, all the settings will remain as-it-is, and you don't have to spend time to correct them again.
Memory function is available with nearly most dive computers; you should still have a look before buying anything.
Go for a dive computer that connects with your PC so that you can create a log of the essential information. Generally, these computers connect with the PC using a USB cable, but you will find some models that connect wirelessly over Bluetooth.
You have to decide whether you need a wireless or a wired compatible device, but make sure to check this feature. It will help you a lot in storing the log, and you can compare the data accumulated by different dives i.e., air consumption, the dive time, and other such details.
A dive computer with a digital compass will eliminate the need to carry a separate compass. Additionally, it allows you to track the direction proactively, so you can get rid of the hassles of tying an analog compass on your wrist.
A Pro Tip: If you choose a dive computer with a built-in compass, keep it away from the magnets. Strong magnets can impact the compass and it may get faulty.
An ideal dove computer should have warnings and alarms to let you know about the max limit you can push up to. There can be multiple warnings and alerts like desired depth limit, safety stop countdown, desired bottom time, and the ascend rate.
The computer should tell you about these essential details as these are crucial for you to know. These alarms and notifications can be in the form of vibration or blinking of light.
It ultimately depends on you whether you need a wrist-mountable computer or if you are comfortable mounting it with your SPG console. The wrist-mounted devices are good and highly preferred by scuba divers due to the ease of use.
Furthermore, you can quickly check the warnings and other such information in seconds while removing and attaching the console computer is a bit challenging.
There can be some severe comfort issues if you choose the wrong dive computer. It depends on whether you are wearing a diving suit or not. Go for a comfortable material like rubber or silicone if you aren't wearing a suit.
On the other hand, if you are wearing a diving suit, then there won't be any issues related to comfort, as the suit will protect your skin.
A: No matter whether you are a beginner or a professional, having a dive computer will make you feel safe while you get real-time updates about the depth and bottom time.
Also, there are some other handy features available for beginners like alarms and warnings, and a digital compass. As a result, you don't have to rely on the guesswork as these computers offer accurate details.
Lastly, there is no need to maintain compression tables when you have a reliable dive computer.
A: It depends on multiple factors, including the brand and the model of dive computers. Some advanced dive computers have bigger batteries, so you can expect a prolonged time with them. Also, it depends on how many features you are using and how many times you are using the backlit feature as it can consume a lot of battery.
A: You will find some good dive computers starting from $200 (approximately), up to $2,000, or even more based on the brand and specifications. Cheaper models are fit for beginners as these have limited features, whereas professionals should go for high-end models as it can make the diving experience more safe and sound.
A: A dive computer keeps you updated about multiple details like the depth, the bottom time, the ascend rate, directions, and much more. In a nutshell, an excellent dive computer will tell you most of the essential details you should know while diving.
You can also ditch some regular equipment like compass and gas gauges if you have a dive computer with these features.
A: Yes, air integrated dive computers can calculate the pressure inside the tank, and you don't have to rely on the regular gauges. These devices have high accuracy, and you can count on them to get real-time and correct details about how much gas is there inside the tank.
Some computers can even calculate how much time you have left for diving by calculating your breathing rate based on the gas left in the tank.
In a nutshell, air integrated dive computers are excellent, and you should buy one for your next dive.
A: Well, there's no scale to calculate the accuracy of a dive computer, but these are highly accurate, and it has been proven. When you buy a branded dive computer, you will get the assurance of superior algorithms and built-in devices that can calculate every detail with ultimate precision.
In short, a dive computer will tell you highly precise details provided that it isn't faulty, and you are using it in the right way.
A: There can be many reasons behind this, as the low battery of the computer is damaged! If you face a complete failure of a dive computer while diving, it would be better to return to the boat.
We don't suggest continuing diving with a failed computer, and you should make a quick decision to get back. Also, if there are some fellow divers with you, then you can use their computer to get details like depth, bottom time, and ascend rate.
A: Some manufacturers provide a screen guard or coating with the dive computer to protect the screen from getting scratched. Generally, the dive computer screens are sturdy and durable, but there can be various cases when the screen gets damaged due to any reasons.
You should check it beforehand to ensure that the computer you are purchasing comes with screen protection.
A: The weight of the computer isn't something big to worry about as deep into the water you won't feel the bulk. Still, you should consider it to be on the safer side. Avoid buying dive computers that are bulky to cover your entire hand.
Go for compact and lightweight computers to experience ultimate ease while diving.
A: Nitrox refers to a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen inside the gas tank, depending on a specific percentage. The reason why nitrox diving is getting popular is due to the longer bottom tomes, reduced post-dive exhaustion, shorter surface intervals, and prolonged repetitive dive times.
To get the exact details about the nitrox mix on the tank, you need a nitrox compatible dive computer. There are a lot of dive computers available that offer various dive modes and nitrox compatibility.
You can even use a nitrox dive computer for regular diving, so it is a versatile device.
A: A reliable dive computer will tell you about the ascend rate, and whether you should take a halt before reaching the surface. There are multiple benefits of knowing the ascend rate, like lesser chances of bends.
The computer will let you know with a warning sign if you are ascending too quickly.
A: Both dive computers have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Also, it depends on your needs and how much you are willing to spend.
Some divers believe that wrist-mounted computers are good due to their compactness, and handiness. On the other hand, some think console mountable computers are best as they offer more details and can have superb features.
You can choose any of these dive computers, depending on your preference.
There's nothing more exhilarating and fun than diving, but having the proper gear is a must! You should incorporate a dive computer to your gear as it is a matter of safety. With this dive computer buyer's guide, it will be easier for you to select the best model under your budget.
We have mentioned even the minutest of factors so you can buy a perfect computer in all aspects. Make sure to check the considerations mentioned in the article to choose a computer based on your skill level and budget.
Lastly, having a dive computer holds paramount importance, so you should get one at the earliest if planning for a dive.
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