The Best Scuba Diving Computer: Buyer’s Guide

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Back in the old days of scuba diving, you are required to use and wear several instruments to measure vital diving parameters. Instruments like a dive watch to measure underwater time, depth gauge to measure the depth and you need to manually compute and plan for your bottom time and surface interval using the recreational dive planner commonly called as the dive table. But now, all these apparatus and computations are integrated into one single digital instrument called the dive computer.

The early models of dive computers are integrated in the dive console. But with continuous research and product development, dive computers nowadays are a standalone instrument that is worn in the wrist and looks like a your regular timepiece.

In this guide to finding the best scuba diving computer we’ll cover:

  •  The best scuba diving computer: in depth
  • How to choose the best scuba diving computer
  • The benefit of owning a scuba diving computer

The Best Scuba Diving Computers: In Depth

1. Cressi Giotto

Measurement readings: depth, time, surface interval, temperature
Data storage: 60 dives
Max depth: 120 meters (393 feet)
Pros: easy to replace battery, large backlit display, software compatible with Windows and Mac, complete reset mode which is ideal for dive shops
Cons: no air integration, too large to wear like a wristwatch

Classified as the 2nd project design under the Cressi Elettronica series, the Cressi Giotto is a powerful mixed gas computer that features a new algorithm with an oversized screen. The sweet-looking pink color accents is highly recommended for female divers.

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2. Cressi Goa

Measurement readings: depth, time, surface interval, temperature
Data storage: 50 dives
Max depth: 120 meters (393 feet)
Pros: scratch resistant, extra-flat profile, easy to replace battery, 3 dive modes: dive, gauge and free dive (apnea)
Cons: optional safety stop mode, optional silent ascent rate alarm mode

The Cressi Goa is the 5th project design under the Cressi Elettronica series that features clock-format computer with modular construction that is extremely robust and reliable. While it has the black-grey, black-white and black-blue colors, we highly recommend the white-pink or white-lilac color combination for females.

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3. Suunto D4i Novo

Measurement readings: depth, time, all scuba-specific measurements, CO2/O2 tables
Data storage: 140 dives
Max depth: 100 meters meters (330 feet)
Pros: comfortable to wear, stylish design, air integration
Cons: high price point, no compass, numbers on display are small

The Suunto D41 Novo is a redesigned dive computer under the Suunto D series. It is lightweight with comfortable silicone strap with features including freedive mode and optional wireless air integration. It has gender specific colors where ladies can choose pink, white or lime color.

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4. Suunto DX

Measurement readings: depth, time, surface interval, deco stop
Data storage: 80 logged hours
Max depth: 150 meters (492 feet)
Pros: air integration, with digital compass, altitude adjustable to 3,000 meters (10,000 feet)
Cons: high price point

The Suunto DX is the world’s first watch-sized rebreather-compatible dive computer designed for both closed circuit and open circuit diving including trimix. Made from titanium case with sapphire crystal glass.

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5. Shearwater Perdix AI

Measurement readings: depth, time, surface interval, deco stop
Data storage: 1,000 logged hours
Max depth: 260 meters (850 feet); 152 meters (500 feet) with transmitter
Pros: large monitor, easy to read number, air integration
Cons: high price point

Suited for technical divers, the Shearwater Perdix AI has all the same features from its old Perdix predecessor. It has a large and easy-to-read screen which clearly displays your tank pressure. With its upgraded air integration technology, it can connect to one or two transmitters at the same time giving you the luxury to monitor multiple tanks in a single glance.

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6. Cosmiq +

Measurement readings: depth, time, surface interval, temperature, ascent rate
Data storage: 25 dives synchronized using DeepBlu app
Max depth: 100 meters (330 feet)
Pros: intuitive interface, clear display, easy to upload dive logs
Cons: only uses DeepBlu app for uploading dive log info

The Cosmiq+ is a redesign of the original Cosmiq model. It now features an advanced bottom time function for technical divers and multiple modes designed for freediving, recreational and technical diving.

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7. Mares Smart

Measurement readings: depth, time, surface interval, temperature, ascent rate
Data storage: 30 logged hours
Max depth: 150 meters (492 feet)
Pros: upgradeable firmware, simple design, mid-range price point
Cons: slight flaws in design, does not include interface and software for downloading to pc or mac

The Smart Mares is a full nitrox dive computer with 2 gas capability. It features bottom mode and a resettable average depth. It further features a decompression dive planner with extended surface interval function.

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8. Suunto Zoop Novo

Measurement readings: depth, time, surface interval,
Data storage: 140 logged hours
Max depth: 40 meters (130 feet)
Pros: large display, easy to read numbers, large data storage of up to 140 logged hours
Cons: no air integration, too large to wear as a watch

The Suunto Zoop Novo is a nitrox-capable dive computer ideal for beginners and recreational divers. It is easy to use where you can easily understand key dive data with just a single glance. It feature 5 modes: air, nitrox, gauge, free and off.

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9. Oceanic Geo 4.0

Measurement readings: depth, time, surface interval, temperature
Data storage: 24 dives
Max depth: 100 meters (330 feet)
Pros: large display, easy to read numbers, durable
Cons: not intuitive to use, confusing user’s manual

The Oceanic  GEO 4.0 has a redesigned user interface that features dual algorithm and deep stop option. Its user experience is highly improve with step back button that allows you to navigate forward and backward through the menus.

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10. Tusa Element II

Measurement readings: depth, time, surface interval, temperature
Data storage: 24 dives
Max depth: 100 meters (330 feet)
Pros: compatible with use in a dive console
Cons: bulky design

The Tusa Element II has a water activation function that can be used either as an air computer, nitrox computer, simple depth gauge or freediving depth gauge and timer. It has a large alphanumeric and backlit display with audible and visual alarms.

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What to Look for in a Scuba Diving Computer

You might be thinking, that at a single glance, all dive computers are the same. While it may be true when it comes to general functionality, there are certain features that are common to most dive computers, while some features are unique to a particular product. These features will help you decide the right dive computer for you with features that suits your needs and diving profile.

Display – assuming that you already know the principle of refraction where everything you see underwater is 25% larger and nearer, you can now neglect the display features of a dive computer. No, you should not. Remember, since most dive computers are wrist-type, their display area is pretty confined. With this, we highly recommend a dive computer that has an optimal screen size but with a large display of numbers. A manual backlight feature will also compliment the clarity and readability of figures shown in the display.

Depth Limits – all dive computers are water resistant, but they vary in depth ratings. Most dive computers in the market has maximum operating depth ranging from 100 meters (330 feet) up to 260 meters (850 feet). For us, the deeper the depth rating, the better. But this does not mean that you are going to exceed your maximum depth limits set within the recreational dive planner or your depth limitations specified in your particular certification level.

Ease of Use – otherwise known as user experience, the Ease of Use feature in a dive computer is very important since this will allow you to fully operate without encountering any difficulties. Some dive computers automatically switches from normal time mode to dive mode once it gets wet. Other dive computers features buttons to assist you in navigating to different modes and functions.

Memory – traditionally, we record the information of our dive through manually writing and filling up the pages of a dive log. With dive computers, every dive together with its vital information are digitally stored in its system and can be retrieved anytime you want. There are only 3 differences amongst different brands and models of dive computers: either you are required to retrieve the data through manual operation of the dive computer, digital transfer using bluetooth or USB toggle to a desktop/laptop using software. Regardless of what the data retrieving feature you choose, what we recommend is the amount of dive log it can store. The more dive logs, the better.

Air Integration – the air integration feature of a dive computer allows you to digitally monitor the air in your tank. This means that when you dive using a dive computer with air integration feature, you will have 2 ways to monitor your air, either through the submersible pressure gauge that is connected to your tank via high pressure hose or remote and hoseless through your dive computer.

Note: If you prefer this feature, then you need to choose a unit that has this feature since not all dive computers have this unique characteristic.

The Benefits of Owning a Scuba Diving Computer

Dive computers are expensive and that’s the reason why some of us goes out for a rental. We highly suggest that you should buy your own dive computer and enjoy the benefits, like:

  1. You are guaranteed that you are using a dive computer that meets your needs and matches your dive profile.
  2. You are guaranteed to be familiar on how to use and operate the dive computer.
  3. You are guaranteed that you can easily retrieve your digitally stored dive log anytime anywhere.

With renting, you will most probably be using a dive computer that you are not familiar with and this will be very difficult especially when it comes to operation and navigating to different menus. And lastly, you need to retrieve the digitally stored data after every dive since you will be returning back the unit.

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