Diving Tech Gear

Best Dive Computer 2017 – Guide for Beginners and Advanced Divers

Best Dive Computer 2017Doesn’t it just sound peachy to not have to spend precious time making dive table calculations?

Well, thank goodness for the invention of the dive computer – a diver’s best friend.

These nifty little devices, also known as personal decompression computers, or decompression meters, measure the time and depth of a dive so a diver can make a safe ascent profile calculation to avoid decompression sickness (not-so-affectionately) known as the bends – a diver’s not-so-best friend.

Don’t worry, if you’re a beginner and this all looks more like a foreign language to you, we’ve got a section in our buyer’s guide that explains exactly how these complex devices work.

Whether you’re a beginner just getting into the swing of things, or an expert commercial, or recreational diver, finding the ideal dive computer in the sea of dive computers on the market can prove to be a proper pain. Well, say no more, as always, All Things Waterproof is here to save the day.

We’ve siphoned through the countless products out there and narrowed the list down to the Top 17 Dive Computers Ideal for Beginner to Advanced Divers, and sure enough, our Editor’s Pick is the Aqua Lung i300 Wrist Dive Computer. Let’s see why…

Best Wrist Mounted Dive Computers

Aqua Lung i300 Wrist Dive Computer   Editors’ Pick

Our Rating: 5 Stars (5 / 5)

Aqua Lung i300 Wrist Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner

Air Integration: No

Pros:

  • Neat & easy to use
  • Aural safety warning
  • LED safety warning
  • Flexible operating modes
  • Water activated ON
  • Fresh/Salt Water recognition

Cons:

  • No compass
  • Sync cable sold separately

Here’s our Editor’s Pick, the Aqua Lung i300 – just the name alone is cool! The i300 is said to have a basic, uncomplicated and effortless approach earning its place in the dive world. It makes a great beginner computer for the basic diver, boasts an easy-to-use interface, flexible operating modes, built-in backlight, and user-changeable battery (with data retention capabilities).

It has 4 operating modes: Air, Nitrox, Gauge (with run timer), and Free Dive. Added safety features such as audible alarms, a high-vis LED warning light, and water activated ON switch are additional factors that have earned the i300 wrist dive computer its place as our Editor’s Pick. User updatable software allows you to keep your computer’s latest features upgraded (sync cable sold separately). When paired with a pressure gauge, the combination of instrumentation makes your dive simple and straight forward. But there are many other great models to choose from, let’s have a look.

Suunto Zoop Wrist Dive Computer

Our Rating: 4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Suunto Zoop Wrist Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner

Air Integration: No

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Big, easy-to-read display
  • Aural alarms
  • Replaceable battery

Cons:

  • No compass
  • No fresh water setting
  • No backlight

What stands out the most with the Suunto dive watch is its big, easy-to-read display. Similar to our Editor’s Pick, the Zoop is easy to use and makes a great entry level dive computer. Audible alarms, altitude setting, and a user-replaceable battery are bonus features with the Suunto Zoop.

Unfortunately, the deal breaker with the Zoop, especially if you’re big into night dives, is that it does not come with a built-in backlight. Additionally, it is not air integrated. However, still a great buy for beginners just getting into easy going day-time dives.

Suunto D4i Novo Dive Computer Watch

Our Rating: 4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

Suunto D4i Novo Dive Computer Watch

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: Optional wireless

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Easy-to-read display
  • Innovative apnea timer
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • No navigation mode

Another by Suunto, the D4i Novo can be classed as a dive computer for all divers – from beginner to expert. With four dive modes: Air, Nitrox, Free, and Off, the Suunto D4i is sleek and lightweight, with optional wireless air integration to keep track of current cylinder pressure and remaining air time.

The D4i also features an innovative apnea timer, as well as a timer in Air/Nitrox modes.

Cressi Newton Wrist Dive Computer

Our Rating: 4.3 Stars (4.3 / 5)

Cressi Newton Wrist Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: Yes

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Sleek & lightweight
  • Wireless transmit option
  • Flexible operating modes

Cons:

  • No compass
  • Display is a bit small
  • Battery change has to be done by service center

The Cressi Newton wrist computer features a compact design with a bold, easy-to-read display. It’s also a great tool out of the water, with the ability to deactivate the dive program and wear like an everyday watch.

It’s been described as a comfortable and light weight watch, with titanium metal components that can withstand the brutal torture of salt water. It comes equipped with an aural and light safety alarms that are loud and bright – perfect for safety!

TUSA IQ1204 DC Solar Link Dive Computer

Our Rating: 4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)

TUSA IQ1204 DC Solar Link Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: Yes

Pros:

  • Solar rechargeable
  • 4-mix gas support
  • Aural warnings
  • Free-dive mode
  • Depth interval alarm
  • Compass equipped

Cons:

  • Little to no negative remarks

Yup, you heard it right, as the name suggests, the special feature with the TUSA IQ1204 is its solar rechargeable function. Boasting the largest screen size in the DC-Solar Series, this wrist watch dive computer is easy-to-read and provides accelerated decompression in full scale – thanks to its 4-mix gas support. It also features an exclusive M value warning function to help you avoid the dreaded bends.

Additionally, out of the water, the IQ1204 enables you to use Bluetooth SMART to upload your dive log to your smartphone. With the downloadable app, you can automatically record entry time, exit time, dive time, maximum water depth, average water depth, water temperature, date, and other log data- pretty cool huh?

Suunto EON Steel Dive Computer

Our Rating: 4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

Suunto EON Steel Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: Yes

Pros:

  • Color ascent graph
  • Safety warning
  • Safety stop info
  • Rugged & durable

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Bulky compared to wrist watch style

Definitely, worth its weight in gold, the Suunto EON Steel Dive computer has been said to be one of the safest pieces of scuba gear to own. It’s relatively easy to use with a color bar graph that prevents you from ascending too fast – great for beginner divers. Once the graph is green then you’re good, if it goes yellow then you’re getting too fast, and of course, red means you’re ascending way too fast – pretty simple eh? It also features safety stop information.

A sender transmits tank pressure to the computer and senses Nitrox vs regular air. Made of steel, this dive computer is solid and rugged, and once you update the software from Suunto, it’ll serve as your underwater best friend for a long time.

Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer

Our Rating: 4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Expert

Air Integration: Yes

Pros:

  • Slim design
  • Large display
  • Multi-gas support

Cons:

  • No stopwatch
  • No depth alarm

A large display on a slim design, upgradeable firmware, and multi-gas capability are a few of the latest features Mares introduced with the Puck Pro. Rated #3 in Amazon’s Digital Gauges Category, this wrist dive computer features audible and visual warnings as well.

Unfortunately, while it does have some ideal features, a few users identified some drawbacks. It has no stopwatch feature, no depth alarm, and if you want to change the battery yourself, you’ll have to purchase O-rings or have a dive shop do this for you.

Oceanic Geo 2.0 Air/Nitrox Dive Computer Watch

Our Rating: 4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Oceanic Geo 2.0 Air/Nitrox Dive Computer Watch

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: No

Pros:

  • Functional & stylish
  • 4 operating modes
  • User-Friendly
  • Safety stop countdown
  • Fits nicely on a female wrist

Cons:

  • A bit roundabout to confirm the Nitrox mix

Said to be great for both recreational and professional diving, the Oceanic Geo 2.0 marries quality, function, and style. It’s small enough to be worn as an everyday watch, features 4 operating modes: WATCH, NORM, GAUGE, and FREE.

A user-friendly interface, allowing forward and backward navigation between menus, makes it great for both beginners and experts. Divers can also switch between up to 2 Nitrox mixes to 100% O2 without restriction. A safety stop countdown also keeps you in check and the battery is user replaceable and is said to cost around $6.

The only major reported downside to the Geo 2.0, is you cannot enter the Nitrox mix and confirm it was entered correctly – the only way to confirm your mix is to enter a separate menu. Other than that, it is a great beginner-to-expert dive computer.

Make sure you also check out our List of the Best Dive Watches – not only for divers!

Shearwater Research Petrel Dive Computer

Our Rating: 5 Stars (5 / 5)

Shearwater Research Petrel Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: No

Pros:

  • Large display
  • Air/Nitrox/Trimix capable
  • Easy-replace batteries
  • Bottom timer
  • Stopwatch

Cons:

  • No compass

40% smaller than the Shearwater Predator, the Shearwater Research Petrel dive computer still boasts a large, easy-to-read, full color, high-resolution display. Air/Nitrox/Trimix capable, the Petrel carries SAFT Lithium LS14500 AA batteries but can be replaced with standard alkaline AA batteries – this, of course, can affect usage time.

Mares Smart Wrist Dive Computer

Our Rating: 4.7 Stars (4.7 / 5)

Mares Smart Wrist Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: No

Pros:

  • Large display
  • User-friendly
  • Backlight
  • Safety stop countdown

Cons:

  • Watch alarm not very loud
  • no USB cable included

One of the top sellers in Amazon’s Diving Electronics Category, the Mare Smart wrist dive computer replicates the large, easy-to-read display of its counterpart, the Puck Pro – Mares nailed it with the display yet again!

Packaged into a slimmer profile, it’s user-friendly, has a mineral glass, segmented display, and comes with a safety stop countdown. Apart from its great dive features, it looks decent as a stand-alone wrist watch.

Oceanic OCi Personal Wrist Dive Computer With Transmitter

Our Rating: 4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Oceanic OCi Personal Wrist Dive Computer With Transmitter

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: Yes

Pros:

  • Functional
  • 4-gas capability
  • Salt/fresh water mode
  • Digital compass
  • Auto altitude
  • Free dive mode

Cons:

  • User manual is not very helpful

Oceanic packed the technology of their advanced OC1 and the style of their OCS in a recreational, wireless, air-integrated dive computer. It can handle up to 4 gasses and even calculate nitrogen in a free dive.

Additional features that make this a great wrist dive computer include; the ability to select between salt and fresh water, automatic altitude adjustment, customizable alarms, and a digital compass. If that isn’t enough, it functions perfectly as a normal wrist watch.

The only negative review on this watch pertained to the user manual – it offers no practical explanation, just really in-depth engineer-type material.

Scubapro Mantis 2.0 Dive Computer Watch

Our Rating: 5 Stars (5 / 5)

Scubapro Mantis 2.0 Dive Computer Watch

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: Yes

Pros:

  • LED transmitter
  • 4 dive modes
  • Time-keeping functions
  • HRM belt
  • Compass

Cons:

  • Little to no negative remarks

The Mantis 2.0 is a neat, wrist watch-style, dive computer that functions on four dive modes: Deco, Gauge, Apnea, and CCR. A sport-mode offers full topside time-keeping functions, and a LED transmitter offers an on-the-spot estimate of your pressure when the first stage is attached to a tank. In other words, you can tell if the tank has gas without even having to activate the computer.

LED flashing sequence serves as a safety function. More than 100 bar will trigger a slow, short blinking green light, between 100 & 50 bars will indicate a short, double blinking orange light, and a long, single blink red light will appear below 50 bars. The transmitter is powered by a user-replaceable battery, and it comes with a heart rate monitor belt. This wrist dive computer is said to be everything a recreational diver wants, and everything a technical diver needs.

Suunto Vyper Novo Wrist Scuba Diving Computer

Our Rating: 4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

Suunto Vyper Novo with UBS Wrist Scuba Diving Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: No

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Free dive mode
  • Backlit
  • Large display
  • Improved connectivity with PC

Cons:

  • No compass

Described as easy-to-use, the Vyper Novo, by Suunto, features four dive modes – including free dive mode, and 3-gas support. Its backlit, large, display makes it incredibly easy to read, and an improved USB cable makes it even easier to connect to your PC. The compact nature of this wrist dive computer makes it quite neat and comfortable to wear. Definitely great for beginners and experts alike.

ScubaPro Aladin Tec 3G Dive Computer

Our Rating: 4.4 Stars (4.4 / 5)

ScubaPro Aladin Tec 3G Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Expert

Air Integration: No

Pros:

  • 3-dive mode
  • Multi-gas & CCR support
  • Nitrogen bar
  • Replaceable battery

Cons:

  • Screen can be difficult to read

Targeted towards technical divers looking for multi-gas and CCR support functions, the Aladin Tec 3G features a bright, LCD segmented display with 3 dive modes: Scuba, Free-diving, and Gauge. However, it’s not restricted to technical divers, it’s also for recreational divers who want a dive computer that can help them develop in diving.

A built-in system calculates safe ascent profiles and a 3-color nitrogen loading bar assists in managing tissue loading, and a user-replaceable battery will offer two years/300 dives of life. Definitely a great buy for technical divers.

Console Mounted Dive Computers

Sherwood Vision Dive Computer

Our Rating: 4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

Sherwood Vision Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: Yes

Pros:

  • Digital compass
  • Altitude adjuster
  • 3-mode operation
  • Dive stop warnings

Cons:

  • relatively small display screen

The Sherwood Vision dive computer incorporates a 3-button design with a digital compass and an extremely convenient air-integration display. It has 3 modes: Air, Nitrox, and Gauge, and incorporates an automatic altitude adjuster up to 14,000 ft.

The screen displays dive time remaining, NDL, maximum depth, current depth, and surface interval time. Audible & visual dive stop warnings assist you in safe ascension and nitrogen unloading. Other features include pre-dive planning and repetitive-dive planning.

Aqua Lung i550 Dive Computer

Our Rating: 4.4 Stars (4.4 / 5)

Aqua Lung i550 Dive Computer

Price: Check Price at Amazon

Diving Level: Beginner & Expert

Air Integration: Yes

Pros:

  • Easy to read
  • Large display
  • 3-mode operation
  • Dive stop warnings
  • Backlight

Cons:

  • Alarm volume low

Aqua Lung really provided an easy-to-read, large display screen with the i550. Coupled with 3 operating modes: Dive, Nitrox, and Gauge (with a run timer), along with backlighting for low visibility, and an easy, user-replaceable battery, this console mounted dive computer is ideal for technical and recreational divers.

Tank pressure is said to be quite easy to read on the display screen, real-time calculations allow for accurate gas management, and audible alarms and high-vis LED warning lights contribute to added safety. However, it has been reported that the volume of the alarm is quite low and there appears to be no way to increase the volume.

Dive Computer Watch underwater

For the Beginners – How does a Dive Computer work?

So, you’ve just taken up diving as a hobby and you’re absolutely clueless as to the purpose of a dive computer and how it works? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered.

Essentially, a dive computer is a battery-powered computer within a watertight, pressure-resistant housing, that helps you measure time and depth of the dive. It calculates and displays a safe ascent profile so the diver can avoid decompression sickness. A dive computer continuously measures depth and time, and it is able to warn you of excessive ascent rates and missed decompression stops.

Other variables such as water temperature, gas composition, water surface altitude, and cylinder pressure can also be found in some models. Combine all these features into a dandy dive computer and you’ve got everything you ned to make a safe, fun dive free of decompression sickness.

Dive Computer Buyer’s Guide – What Am I Looking For?

Wireless Air Integration

This is a popular, highly sought after feature in dive computers. Air integration allows you to see how much pressure is remaining in the tank. Although they tend to be more expensive, air integrated computers enhance both safety and convenience.

Display

There are a few things to keep in mind in choosing a dive computer, whether it’s wrist style or console mounted. Let’s start with the display. If you’re into mostly recreational day dives, and next to no plans of night diving or low-visibility dives, then a dive computer with a relatively compact display might suit your needs just fine.

On the other hand, the old adage, “Be prepared” should, especially with diving, should be paramount. If it’ll run you a few extra bucks, it may pay off to invest in a dive computer with a large, easy-to-read display with backlighting features – should you unintentionally find yourself in situations of low visibility. In other words, we wouldn’t suggest you skimp on the display of your device.

Additionally, a segmented display has been described as being quite helpful and easy to use underwater. Yes, a dive computer might provide all the information you need, however, the layout of this information can make a world of difference underwater. So, keep that in mind as well.

Display Modes

There are various display modes that come with dive computers, and although they vary between computers, there are some basic modes to keep in mind when buying a computer.

  • Dive mode – usually activated automatically as soon as you descend – displays current depth, dive timer, remaining dive time, nitrogen levels, maximum depth, and ascent rate indicator.
  • Decompression mode – if you exceed your maximum dive time, the computer will automatically switch to decompression mode with an alert and audible alarm.
  • Scrolling mode – this mode is used to determine your adjusted maximum dive time for a specific planned depth.
  • Surface mode – as the name suggests, this mode is displayed while at the surface and provides information about your previous dive, including any alerts.
  • Log mode – this can be accessed while in surface mode and it’s useful for transferring your dive profiles and history into your logbook.

These modes are great to keep in mind when searching for the ideal dive computer.

Ease of Use

Equally as important as display is your dive computer’s ease of use. A few dive computers out there have been described as almost intuitive, making it super easy to just strap on and use. For example, our Editor’s Pick the Aqua Lung i300, Maers Smart, and Suunto Vyper Novo, amongst others, have been described as very user-friendly and easy to use.

On the other hand, a computer like the Oceanic OCi, has been described as a good computer, but with a manual that appears to have been written by an engineer. A straight forward, easy to use dive computer can mean spending more time in a breathtaking ocean or lake, as opposed to on dry land trying to figure a rocket ship assembly. Especially, if you’re a beginner, we highly recommend getting a computer that is easy to use.

Of course, we also understand that you only truly know if the computer is easy to use when you’re actually holding it, so pay attention to each one we’ve reviewed in this article, to save yourself time and money.

Visual & Audible Warnings

Quite a few dive computers we’ve reviewed come with visual and audible warnings that will indicate to you when it’s time to start making your way to the surface, and also give indications of your ascent profile. At All Things Waterproof, we always respect that safety is paramount, and if it means spending a little more for safety features such as these, then we say go for it.

Built-in Compass

If you can find a dive computer, like some of the ones we’ve mentioned in this article, that incorporate a digital compass, or a compass of some kind, then again, go for it. Maintaining good situational awareness underwater is obvious, but it’ll also enhance your dive experience if you don’t have to lug around a waterproof compass, or gauge mounted compass with you. That’s just one less thing that might get lost to wild blue.

Timer / Timing Functions

A built-in timer or timing functions in your dive computer can also enhance the dive experience you’re looking for. When the divemaster says to meet back in 1:15, you’ve got nothing to worry about if your dive computer comes with stopwatch capabilities.

Replaceable Batteries

In reviewing dive computer watches and console mounted dive computers, we’ve noticed a trend in complaints with regard to batteries. Most users preferred dive computers which carried simple, replaceable batteries like the Suunto dive computers, or the Shearwater Research Petrel that requires every day, household AA batteries.

Other models, like the Cressi Newton, for example, proved to be a bit of a headache to have the battery changed. It requires O-rings, for water sealing purposes, which had to be either ordered or fitted at a dive center. So, keep this small, but crucial, point in mind in your search for a dive computer.

Care Instructions for your Dive Computer

A dive computer can be a costly investment, and it can become even costlier when it’s not cared for appropriately. Here are a few steps to ensure you get the most out of your dive computer.

  • Rinse after use – especially in salt water environments where corrosion can be a real pain.
  • Store your dive computer in a safe, cool location, i.e not locked up in your car baking in the sun.
  • Clean your device if it has been sitting around for a while. Dust, dirt, and debris can become a pricey nuisance if they filter into the wrong places.

Conclusion

Well, you’re ready to jump in the water with your brand new, spanking dive computer. We’ve given you the best of the best that are on the market, and if you follow our Buyer’s Guide, you’re well on your way to safely exploring the great unknown the water has to offer.

Although they have the potential to carry a bulky price tag, with the right care, attention, and know-how, you can make the most out of your dive computer. At the end of the day, they increase the safety of a dive, so regardless of price tag, their uses to us are both beneficial and priceless. Now, stop reading and get out into the water!

Product images: Courtesy of the respective manufacturers

Best Dive Computer 2017 – Guide for Beginners and Advanced Divers
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