Who wants to have to mentally gruel through complicated dive tables to monitor and track nitrogen levels? Not me, that’s for sure.
Having dive computer on your wrist not only frees your mind a little bit so that you can enjoy the marine world below the surface but it’s also added safety.
Maybe you’re a new diver (like us) and you just don’t know which dive computer to choose (that’s what we struggled with…the sheer availability). Have no fear, the Snorkel Store is here!
There are so many different features on diving computers that it can get confusing.
Most Important Features of a Dive Computer Watch
- Mixed Gases Tracking and Capability
- Dive Log Ability
- Decompression Algorithm
- Batter Life
Let’s get into the good stuff and then we’ll come back to the importance of having a DC.
Best Dive Computers for the Wrist:
Dive Computers (Wrist) Reviews
The name “Cressi”, if you’re not aware yet, is synonymous with diving and snorkeling and they have been for a long time. With the Giotto dive computer, Cressi continues the great tradition of high-quality dive gear.
There’s always a concern with whether a dive comp is fully compatible with Nitrox and the Giotto is. Its 3 button interface makes everything a breeze and it basically does the thinking for you. Three operating modes include air, gauge, and nitrox. The buttons are on the face of the watch rather than the sides which makes operation, even with dive gloves, a simple operation (though if you’re new, be sure to practice a bit).
Getting a Reading
The Giotto has a hi-def, easy to read screen and that alone is a very large factor on why this product is so popular throughout the dive world.
Screen display also shows battery life and all other information in big, clear characters along with audible alarms to keep you informed through the entire dive…even when you may be looking elsewhere (which you probably are). The display is constant and gives all the info you need all of the time.
The Cressi Giotto uses the most modern and cutting edge RGBM algorithms for diving so that you have safe and accurate measurement of decompression times and depths for multiple dives.
It also logs and tracks different dive computations and consumption. For example, the computer will track intervals, nitrogen release/absorption, etc.
While there is no compass on the computer users still rave about this wrist dive computer and would choose it over many others.
Key Features of Cressi Giotto
- Compact: Easy to pack and travel
- First Mixed Gas Dive Computer Designed-and-Built Entirely by Cressi
- Altitude adjustable
- Replaceable batteries
- Dive History saving capability of up to 60 dive logs
- Switch units of measurement between Imperial (meters) to Metric (feet)
The Mares Puck Pro might seem a little more basic than the Cressi, but don’t let it sneak up on you. It’s actually a great, lightweight, and simple to use dive computer. This may be the dive computer that you’re looking for if a novice diver.
Mares is another leader in the SCUBA, dive and snorkel industries.
This is another fully functioning air/nitrox computer that is worn as a watch. We prefer these wrist computers for diving rather than something hanging off of us.
The “Pro” version actually has a larger face than the regular version and that makes it preferred in some cases because it makes it that much easier to read.
The original Mares Puck came out in 2008 and that was a very solid diving computer. With the Puck Pro, the company was able to improve on a device and product that was thought to have little room for improvement.
RGBM algorithm functional.
- Ultra sensitive and accurate readings.
- Intelligently placed info on the watch face allows easy, quick reference.
- Software enhanced so that you can keep the Puck Pro up to date with every Mares upgrade.
- Single button control of the entire computer. Super easy to use.
- The Mineral glass display is scratch resistant and designed so that display is easily readable in all dive conditions.
The Suunto Zoop is just a notch below the Mares Puck Pro as far as the perfect dive computer for beginners. So, while we prefer the Puck Pro, we can’t knock a completely outstanding dive comp like the Suunto. We really like that the Zoop has easy to use controls and readings for beginners and casual divers.
Two dive modes, just like most modern devices, of air and Nitrox and can be programmed for mixtures ranging from 21% to 50%.
The Zoop is also RGBM algorithm infused for easy and accurate decompression data.
This really our only knock on the Suunto. The face is a bit smaller than the Puck Pro or Cressi Giotto. However, what the face and display lack in size it attempts to make up for by having a LCD display of super bright phosphorescent light.
The Suunto also makes it easy and cheaper for you to download your dive data for future analysis. This is a great tool for beginners and seasoned vets alike.
The Suunto Zoop, in my opinion, is one of the better affordable, dive computers for novices. Highly recommended!
- Fits Suunto guage consoles and can be used as console computer in the same way.
- User interchangeable battery
- Dive planner already incorporated and built as an added bonus.
- Super easy to see and hear alarms for maximum depth and dive time
- Simple, convenient interface, which is great for novice divers and “ever so often” or recreational divers.
So, don’t hold it against us: We like Mares and their products. When it comes to water recreation/dive/snorkel gear then you can’t just wrong if you’re sporting Mares equipment. This is 2nd generation iteration of Nemo and Mares always does better when it puts out new equipment rather than just riding the coat tails of an already successful product.
New Mares tech allows for ultra versatility as you can track up to 3 different gas measures on a single dive. This Nitrox function easily sets the Nemo apart from competitors.
4 easy to use, see, and press buttons make operation and monitoring your dive information a snap and increases safety.
High contrast display with wide face for easy viewing. Also, large numbers and characters make it easy to see your dive watch even in limited visibility conditions. Plus, the tech on the Mares Nemo makes it possible to view from an extraordinary 170 degrees.
- Audible alarms
- Temp display
- Safety stop and deep stop functions.
- Replaceable batteries (this is big as early generations of dive watches didn’t allow this)
- Lens made from mineral glass; scratch resistant, easy to view
- Great log book function
- Air, nitrox and bt function modes, precautionary programmable
- 492′ depth Rating
The Oceanic Geo doesn’t get all the love it deserves as far as a popularity contest. However, the divers who use the Geo 2.0 absolutely love it. Need proof? Check out all of the 5 star ratings on the Amazon product page for this dive computer watch. One avid diver even says that the Geo is probably the best choice out there on the market for recreational diving.
While the Geo isn’t the best seller on Amazon, it may very well deserve to be. Oceanic’s Exclusive Dual Algorithm (trademarked by them!) can allow you choose between Pellagic DSAT or Pellagic Z+.
The face and display are big enough to see easily and operation is done via easy to access side buttons.
Single button access to “Last Dive” display (max depth & bottom time) – Data Retention – maintains calculations indefinitely when the battery is changed – Audible Alarm with flashing LED light – History Mode includes total number of dives, max depth, total dive hours, and lowest temp
A total of Four (4) operating modes: “Watch”, “Norm” (air and nitrox), “Gauge” (with run timer) and “Free” which tracks calculations to allow switching between Norm and Free. The “watch” mode offers alternate time, chrono, daily alarm, and countdown timer.
Which is Better: Wrist vs Console Dive Computers
Why Use a Dive Computer
Dive computers are still a common site in the dive industry to calculate levels of Nitrogen and to accurately determine how often or long a person needs as surface levels and how long of a time you can safely stay underwater. They ensure that a diver safely avoid decompression sickness. However, they are of the “older generation” of diving gear and, in comparison to new gear, they have limitations.
Here’s a short history about dive computers: They were never really intended for recreational divers to enjoy the underwater world. They were intended for serious, business only Navy divers. It’s important to note the difference because dive computers make it a more of an enjoyable, recreational activity for most people.
Naval Divers will usually dive to a certain depth and then complete a mission at that depth. Remember, we’re not talking about Navy SEALS, here. We’re talking about EOD and/or Salvage Divers. The SEALS probably have gills! LOL
Recreational diving is different, though. Many divers, myself included, will drop to a certain depth but then wander up and down as they check out different corals, rock formations, fish, wrecks, etc.
Bottom Line: There is no simple way for a recreational diver to compute this info with a dive table without precise planning. The type of tedious planning that makes any activity very unenjoyable.
To the recreational/novice diver a dive computer is the way to go. It operates safely and conveniently on you wrist and gives you all of the information and computing that you need: how long down, how much time left, etc.
Example: Diving Computer Use of Cressi Leonardo
Reasons to Use A Dive Computer for You
Diving equipment has developed at a truly phenomenal rate throughout the past decade. There have been significant advances in technology which allow divers to stay underwater for longer periods of time, dive with more safety than ever before, and dive to even deeper depths. One such piece of technology the dive computer which provides divers with the ability to use multi-level techniques.
You may have heard of a dive table before, however, a dive computer is a significant advancement. While the dive table remains static and uses depth and dive times for a calculation of decompression status, the dive computer allows adjustments in real time during a dive. The equipment constantly calculates a range of equations such as theoretical nitrogen uptake based on the dive profile. This allows a diver to descend to deeper depths than ever before and has led to dive computers replacing the static dive table around the world.
Dive Wrist Watch Computers vs. Console
Although most of today’s divers choose the watch-style dive computer, console computers still hold steady in their segment of the market. Here we’ll help you decide which is right for you, wrist or console dive computers.
Wrist or Console Dive Computers: The Basics
Essentially, dive computers function in the same way, regardless of where you wear them. A lot of dive-computer models are available as either a wrist or console unit, with the computer itself being identical. The only real difference comes down to how you wear one. A wrist computer is worn like a watch. A console computer sits in a designated unit, typically paired with your manometer and perhaps a compass.
In the early days of scuba, divers would wear separate depth gauges, bottom timers (typically a dive watch with a rotating bezel), manometers and compasses. For ease of use, and to free up some forearm real estate, manufacturers started putting all of these functions into a single console unit. This could be attached to the regulator first stage through a low-pressure hose, allowing the manometer to gauge remaining pressure in the tank. When manufacturers introduced dive computers, they simply replaced the depth gauge and bottom timer in the console with the dive computer, which combines the two.
However, the invention of the dive computer also meant that it was possible to move the depth gauge/bottom timer combo back onto the wrist. Today, both set-ups are readily available. So which is right for you? Both the console and the wrist computers have pros and cons.
Console computers are typically cheaper than their wrist-mounted counterparts, so divers on a budget might want to consider a console.
Info at a glance.
On a console, you can stick all of your gauges onto the same unit. This allows you to check your depth, dive time, remaining dive time, heading (if you have a compass), remaining gas in your tank, and possibly more — all at a single glance. Most of this information is also available in a wrist computer. But this usually requires costly extras — wireless gas integration, for example. You may also have to switch between functions, such as toggling between the depth/time info and the digital compass, if the computer has one.
Advocates of the console point to the fact that divers generally don’t drop their consoles mid-dive. They are, after all, tethered to the regulator. The same cannot be said about wrist computers. I’ve personally found three dive computers in my dive career. And the risk of forgetting your dive computer at home or on the boat is almost non-existent with a console.
On the other hand, a console is quite a bit larger and more cumbersome than a simple manometer, which many wrist-computer divers have in its place. Some divers find it annoying to perform an entire safety stop holding onto a large console rather than simply checking their wrist.
There is no difference in safety when it comes to wrist or console dive computers. They all run on comparable algorithms. Some divers point to the larger console as a potential entanglement risk. Properly attach a console to the BCD and stow it away to ensure a streamlined profile and you’ll face little risk of entanglement.
Here are six excellent reasons to use a dive computer over a dive table:
1. Constant Tracking of Decompression Status
A dive computer is designed to eliminate the risk of decompression sickness which is extremely common among divers. While both tables and computers track theoretical uptake (known as in-gassing) and elimination (out-gassing) of nitrogen, only the dive computer tracks these measurements consistently and in real time throughout the dive.
2. Multi-Level Diving Techniques
When a diver is performing a multi-level dive, the dive computer allows him or her to have more time underwater using multi-level diving techniques. For example, if one was diving on the wreck of the Duane in Key Largo, Florida, they would have a maximum depth of 122 feet and a bottom time of 31 minutes using a dive computer. In contrast, a diver using a dive table with an identical profile would be limited to a maximum time of 10 minutes underwater due to the entire dive being computed at the maximum depth of 122 feet. The dive computers real time analysis allows longer periods of time underwater when performing a multi-level dive as it calculates time spent in shallow water.
3. Accurate Recordings of Depth and Time
Recording accurate depth and bottom time is among the toughest challenges for a diver. In many cases these figures are inaccurately recorded leading to a failure in the calculations made with a dive table. However, dive computers maintain perfectly accurate calculations off both depth and time, allowing for correct calculations ever time.
4. Simple Dive Compression Status
Using a dive table can, in fact, be quite difficult. There are many calculations to make and information to input. However, dive computers perform all calculations in real time. While a dive is in progress, the computer is constantly making and adjusting calculations in regards to depth, dive time, and node compression time remaining. Dive computers can even help a diver in a decompression situation by calculating decompression time and ceiling depth. In addition, the computer is making surface calculations which automatically help to adjust a diver’s limits.
5. Ascent Rate Indicators
Divers learn to always ascend slowly and stick to the rate calculated by their dive table. While these rates vary from person to person and dive to dive, they generally fall between 30 and 60 feet per minute. While there is nothing that can help with the rate at which a diver descends, a dive computer features a warning system which tells the diver if they are descending too quickly and monitors the descent rate. This greatly help with reducing the likelihood of decompression sickness and increases safety in dives.
6. Air Integrated Computers
Another major advantage of dive computers is the air integrated computers. These provide specific information regarding the dive and also offer cylinder pressure and air time information. The air time is calculated on the diver’s depth, capacity or cylinder size, and air consumption rate. These calculations are essential as it can be difficult for any diver to accurately estimate how long they have before their air supply runs out under various conditions.
A great analogy to demonstrate the great need for this when diving is when one is driving a car with a full tank of gasoline. For instance, I drive a sports utility vehicle and from driving it quite often I know that I will get at least 360 miles out of a full tank of gas. When the gas odometer shows that I have a quarter tank left, I know that I can continue for around 90 miles. However, if we were to rent a car we wouldn’t be as familiar with the mileage as our own cars. This unfamiliarity makes it difficult to know how far you can drive on a full or quarter tank. This uncertainty remains even though the fuel gauge in the rental car is identical to that in pour own car.
The submersible pressure gauge (SPG) is similar to the rental car’s fuel gauge. It doesn’t provide exact information on when the air supply will run out at various depths and doesn’t take into account any other factors which may occur during the dive. There are numerous variations such as diving conditions, string currents, and deeper diving which can affect the length of time one has before the air supply expires.
The air integrated dive computer takes care of this problem by offering exact information on when the air supply will run our and on how long a diver has left underwater. This is essential information which can save lives and greatly increases diver safety.
Remember, it is essential to receive full and proper training before attempting to dive and before using your dive computer. We highly recommend talking to a professional dive retailer extensively prior to using a dive computer. It is also easy to forget how to use dive tables, particularly if one hasn’t dived for a long period of time. This is why dive computers are the future of diving – they eliminate that problem and make diving simpler and safer. Always remember the dive computer is a tool and should be treated with respect.