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The Best Dive Computers of 2018 

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Photo: Alfred Minnaar

Dive computers are as ubiquitous as smart phones. Mark ‘Crowley’ Russell helps you pick the right one for your diving and inclinations

Dive computer history dates back to the 1950s when the first analogue ‘decompression calculators’ were tested by the US Navy. It was in 1983 though, that Swiss manufacturer Divetronic AG released the Hans Hass DecoBrain, widely credited as the first digital dive computer capable of displaying the information in the form with which we are familiar today.

In 1987, UWATEC’s iconic Aladin Pro took the market by storm. Using algorithms based on the work of Albert Bühlmann – the godfather of decompression theory – the chunky, grey, wrist-strapped box remains a nostalgic favourite of divers around the world.

During the 1990s, as technology rapidly advanced and scuba diving became a more affordable leisure activity, divers started to ditch their watches and dive tables in favour of computers. By continuously re-calculating no-decompression limits throughout the dive, computers significantly extended bottom time over the maximum depth-based calculations of tables.

In 1997, wristwatch-sized computers, as at home in the office as they are underwater, became available. The advent of air integration, first via the high-pressure hose and later by wireless transmitter, gave divers a complete source of information in a single device.

Nowadays, dive computers have become essential pieces of kit, with dive tables rendered almost obsolete in the recreational world as training agencies modified their courses to focus on computer usage. From entry-level devices retailing at under £200, to high-spec computers closer to £2,000, there is a huge range of options to choose from, many of which now come with customisable settings, colour screens and connectivity to devices such as smartphones, PCs and iPads.

Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best computers available in 2018, split into the broad categories of entry-level, advanced, and technical. There is some crossover between the categories and, as always, there are a number of considerations to make when it comes to purchasing a dive computer.

 

best entry level dive computers

These are the most basic computers, with the lowest price points, but will cover everything a recreational diver will need, whether that’s once or twice per year on holiday, or diving every other day. The only real downside is that if you choose to explore beyond the realms of shallow-water diving, you will need to purchase a new computer.

Aqua Lung i100

RRP: £155

aqua lung i100

Aqua Lung’s latest entry-level computer is the i100, a wrist-mounted computer designed to be as simple and user-friendly as possible, with a single-button operation. Unusually for an entry-level computer, it allows for the management of two gases, with nitrox percentages programmable between 21-100 per cent. The display is a simple, segmented LCD display but does not come with a backlight. Dive logs are transferable to personal computers via an optional cable and Aqua Lung’s DiverLog software (sold separately)

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge, free
Algorithm: Pelagic Z+ (Bühlmann ZHL-16C)
Max Depth: 100m
Air integration: no
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.aqualung.com


  

Cressi Leonardo

RRP: £203, £270 console with contents gauge

cressi leonardo

Cressi’s four-year-old Leonardo is described as a modular, rugged computer with a ‘user-friendy’ display. The multi-segmented LCD screen comes with an integrated backlight for night diving, which also activates with the sounding of any alarm. A reset feature allows residual nitrogen to be cleared for dive centre rental use. An optional interface with connection to the Leonardo is compatible with PC and Mac over USB. A console version is available.

Specifications 

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge
Algorithm: Haldane + RGBM
Max Depth: 100m
Air integration: no
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.cressi.com


  

Mares Puck Pro+

RRP: £199

mares puck proplus

The Puck Pro+ is the latest evolution of Mares’ entry-level Puck series of single button dive computers. The Pro+ version has a slimline case and the button has been repositioned under the face for ease of operation. Air- and nitrox-compatible, the Puck Pro + also allows for in-dive gas switching to higher oxygen percentages (up to 99 per cent) for accelerated decompression. Residual nitrogen reset is available for dive centre rental gear. Logbook capacity is limited to 35 hours but can be downloaded to a PC or Mac with an optional USB interface and the free-to-download software.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge
Algorithm: MARES-Wienke RGB
Max Depth: 150m
Air integration: no
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.mares.com


 

Oceanic Geo 2.0 

RRP: £269.95

oceanic geo 2

Offers the choice between two algorithms, the Pelagic DSAT or Bühlmann-based Z+. Unrestricted gas switching between two nitrox mixtures up to 100 per cent is possible, with an optional deep-stop setting. The interface is a standard segmented LCD with backlight and a four-button operation, allowing the user to ‘step back’ during menu programming, rather than cycling through all settings. Firmware updates and downloadable logs are available with an optional cable.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge
Algorithm: Pelagic DSAT or Z+
Max Depth: 100m
Air integration: no
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.oceanicworldwide.com


 

Scubapro Aladin One Matrix 

RRP: £185

scubapro aladin one matrix

Scubapro continues the Aladin’s legacy with an updated version featuring a new dot-matrix display and an improved two-button navigation system. The safety stop countdown now
activates automatically, as opposed to older versions which had to be manually triggered. Nitrox programmable from 21 to 50 per cent, with PPO2 setting from 1.0 – 1.6 bar, the Aladin One
Matrix also features a residual nitrogen reset for dive centre rentals, and now has Bluetooth connectivity for data transfer.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox
Algorithm: Bühlmann ZH-L16 ADT
Max Depth: 120m
Air integration: no
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.scubapro.com


 

Suunto Zoop Novo 

RRP: £205

suunto zoop novo

One of the most recognisable computers on the market, the Zoop Novo is the latest incarnation of Suunto’s entry-level computer. Similar in design to its predecessors, the Zoop Novo now includes gauge and freediving modes with an updated, dot-matrix display with backlight and four-button menu system. The Zoop is a single-gas computer, programmable to 50 per cent nitrox, and connectivity to Suunto’s DM5 dive manager is via an optional USB cable.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge, free
Algorithm: Suunto RGBM
Max Depth: 80m
Air integration: no
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.suunto.com

 


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best advanced dive computers 2018

For the diver who ventures deeper and undertakes limited decompression diving, where extra settings for underwater gas switching and deep stops are much more important. These computers are still suitable for shallow recreational diving and some cross the border into tech/rec. Most, however, are not suitable for advanced technical diving.

Aqua Lung i300C

RRP: £216

aqualung i300C

Aqua Lung describes the new i300C as ‘uncomplicated, intuitive, and rugged,’ allowing divers to focus on their dive, not their gear. Available in wrist-mounted or console versions, the backlit, segmented LCD display presents all the most important dive information with a simple, two-button operation, and the computer is capable of switching between three separate nitrox mixtures (up to 100 per cent oxygen) underwater. Bluetooth connectivity allows for easy data transfer to the free Aqua Lung DiverLog+ app without the need for additional cables or accessories. USB transfer is also possible with the use of an optional cable.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge, free
Algorithm: Pelagic Z+
Max Depth: 100m
Air integration: no
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.aqualung.com


 

Atomic Aquatics Cobalt 2

RRP: £999.95

atomic cobalt 2

Atomic Aquatics has concentrated its efforts into a single dive computer, rather than the broad ranges available from other manufacturers. The Cobalt 2 is an air-integrated console computer featuring a bright, full-colour, customisable LED display and 3D integrated compass. The comprehensive menu system is navigable through four magnetic buttons, with gas switching between up to six nitrox mixtures available. The rechargeable lithium ion battery provides up to 60 hours of dive time and 600 hours of detailed, graphical dive profiles can be stored in memory, or downloaded via USB cable.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox
Algorithm: Atomic Aquatics Wienke RGBM
Max Depth: 100m
Air integration: yes (hose)
User-replaceable battery: no,rechargeable

www.atomicaquatics.com


 

Cressi Giotto 

RRP: £272

cressi giotto

As with the Leonardo, Cressi’s Giotto is manufactured exclusively in Italy and, at first glance, is very similar in terms of size and display to its entry-level counterpart, with small but significant differences. The Giotto has three buttons, as opposed to the single button of the Leonardo, allowing for easier navigation of the menu system, and the Giotto allows for gas-switching between two nitrox mixtures (up to 99 per cent oxygen) during the dive. The Giotto also features a CNS toxicity meter, whereas the Leonardo does not. Also available in wrist or console version, data transfer is possible through the same, optional, IR interface as the Leonardo.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge
Algorithm: Haldane + RGBM
Max Depth: 100m
Air integration: no
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.cressi.com


 

Garmin Descent Mk1 

RRP: £999.99 stainless steel, £1,299 titanium

garmin descent mk1

Wearable tech specialist Garmin launched the Descent Mk1 as a fully-featured ‘everyday’ timepiece as well as a dive computer catering to recreational, technical and freedivers alike, along with a full range of profiles for other outdoor activities and the ability to view text messages, emails and other notifications. The Descent allows up to six gas mixtures, including Trimix and up to 100 per cent oxygen. The 3cm, high-resolution screen is LED backlit with a rechargeable battery lasting up to 40 hours in dive mode. Built-in GPS tracking can be used to store waypoints for water entry and exit, and dive profiles can easily be synced to smart devices. Stainless steel bezel or ‘premium’ titanium versions are available.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, trimix, free, gauge
Algorithm: Bühlmann ZHL-16c
Max Depth: 100m
Air integration: no
User-replaceable battery: no

www.garmin.com


 

Mares Quad & Quad Air

RRP: £272, Quad Air £318, Transmitter £182

mares quad

‘Magnificently clear display with jumbo-sized information,’ is how Mares describes the appearance of its latest computer, the Quad. With the most important information covered, the display allows for limited customisation to include optional deep stops or the position of the ascent rate monitor. Four buttons access the menu system at the surface but become two sets of ‘mirrored’ buttons underwater, allowing for ease of use on either wrist. Three gas mixtures up to 99 per cent oxygen are programmable for use during the dive. The Quad Air model priced at £318 features wireless air-integration through a separately sold transmitter. Data is downloadable through an optional Bluetooth or USB interface.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge
Algorithm: Mares-Wienke RGBM
Max Depth: 150m
Air integration: no (Quad) / yes (Quad Air)
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.mares.com


 

Oceanic OCi 

RRP: £439.95

oceanic oci

As with the entry-level Geo 2.0, the OCi allows the user to choose between the Spencer/Powell-based Pelagic DSAT algorithm or the Bühlmann ZHL-16C-based Z+, but in a much more advanced, all-round recreational diving package. The OCi features wireless air integration allowing the diver to monitor four independent transmitters (sold separately), with gas switching between four nitrox mixtures (21–100 per cent oxygen) available. Two free-diving modes allow for sub-100m dives and more advanced operation for freedives up to 150m in ‘TechFree’ mode. PC and Mac dive profile download is through an optional cable.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge, free and ‘TechFree’
Algorithm: Pelagic DSAT or Z+
Max Depth: 100m (SCUBA) / 150m (TechFree)
Air integration: yes
User-replaceable battery: yes (dealer pressure test recommended)

www.oceanicworldwide.com


 

Scubapro Galileo LUNA 

RRP: £399, £549 with transmitter

scubapro galileo luna

The LUNA is a trimmed-down version of Scubapro’s much-loved Galileo SOL, with a much lower price tag. The single-gas LUNA comes with a choice of display screens which can be flipped 180° so that the three control buttons are present above or below the display. Wireless air integration allows for ‘true’ remaining bottom time calculations, and the algorithm calculates intermediate stops based on dive profile rather than single depth. The ‘missing’ features from the SOL can be purchased as separate firmware upgrades and include the Predictive Multi-Gas upgrade, which allows gas switching between three nitrox mixtures, heart-rate monitor, which rewrites decompression profiles based on the diver’s workload, and Trimix upgrade. The freediving update is available free of charge. Log transfer and firmware upgrades are through an inbuilt IR connection.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge (standard)/ trimix, freediving (optional)
Algorithm: Bühlmann ZHL-8 ADT MB
Max Depth: 300m
Air integration: yes, optional
User-replaceable battery: yes

www.scubapro.com


 

Suunto EON Core

RRP: £599, Transmitter £260

suunto eon core

Suunto’s EON Core is a slimline version of its popular tech-oriented EON Steel, retaining many of the same features and the same sized screen, but less than half the weight of the Steel and a significantly lower RRP. The menu system is extremely intuitive and the bright TFT display is user-customisable to display preferred information in classic or graphical formats, and the screen can be flipped to place the three buttons on either side of the display. Out of the box, the EON Core operates in a standard recreational mode, but advanced modes for multiple gases (including helium) and rebreathers (CCR) can be activated as required by the user. Up to ten optional wireless tank PODs can be monitored by a single EON Core, and 17 languages are programmed as standard. Suunto’s DM5 software allows for dive log transfer, firmware upgrades and full customisation of the computer.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, trimix, gauge, CCR
Algorithm: Suunto fused RGBM
Max Depth: 80m
Air integration: yes, optional
User-replaceable battery: no, rechargeable

www.suunto.com


 

SEAC Guru 

RRP: £410, Transmitter £355

seac guru

SEAC’s Guru goes above and beyond the call of diving, with its watch-sized, dot-matrix interface capable of measuring steps, distance, speed and calories burned, along with a barometer and weather forecast function to check when it’s best to go diving. The Guru can handle two gas mixtures up to 99 per cent oxygen and can simultaneously measure the air supply from two of the separately sold wireless transmitters. A USB cable for both recharging the lithium ion battery and downloading logs to PC and Mac is included as standard. SEAC’s freediving computer – the Jack – was given a single-gas scuba makeover in 2017 and is available at the lower price of £339

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge, free
Algorithm: Bühlmann ZHL-16B
Max Depth: 150m
Air integration: yes
User-replaceable battery: no, rechargeable

www.seacsub.com

 

comp tech

These computers are geared towards technical divers, those who need to switch between gas mixtures (including helium) during a dive, make multiple decompression stops and perhaps dive with closed-circuit rebreathers. This does not mean they are unsuitable for recreational divers; all the models listed here are able to switch between recreational and technical modes of operation. They come at a price, but are the most versatile of dive computers.

Shearwater Perdix 

RRP: £728.57, Perdix AI £812.60, Transmitter £258

shearwater perdix

One of the most dominant dive computers within the technical community is the Shearwater Perdix, but the Canadian manufacturer is keen to point out that the Perdix is equally at home as a three-gas nitrox open-circuit recreational computer, as it is in the world of deep tech and rebreathers. The vivid, 5.5cm, high-resolution screen ensures visibility at all depths, with the display customisable to show data preferred by the user. Five open-circuit and five CCR gases are programmable through the adaptive menu system, which displays settings relevant only to the current mode of operation, with a two-button system for ease of navigation. Desktop connection is via a Bluetooth interface. A user-changeable AA battery ensures easy availability of replacements.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, trimix, gauge, CCR
Algorithm: Bühlmann ZHL-16C with GF / VPM-B (optional)
Max Depth: 260m
Air integration: AI model only, optional
User-replaceable battery: yes, AA

www.shearwater.com


 

Scubapro G2 

RRP: £735, £915 with transmitter, £980 with transmitter and heart rate monitor, £980 console version

scubapro g2

Scubapro’s G2 is an updated version of the Galileo SOL, the first dive computer on the market with the ability to calculate tailor-made decompression profiles based not only on a diver’s depth, time and air
consumption but also on their personal physiology and work effort through the use of an optional heart-rate monitor and skin temperature sensor. Wireless air-integration (with optional transmitter) is built into the solid design with support for up to 11 different transmitters. A choice of user-customisable screens with 19 languages accompanies the three-button navigation system. The G2 can be used as a basic recreational computer, or with up to eight gas mixtures, including helium. CCR capability can be activated when needed. Data transfer is via Bluetooth or USB to Scubapro’s LogTRAK software. An air-integrated console version is also available.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, trimix, gauge, CCR, free
Algorithm: Uwatec Predictive Multi-Gas ZHL-16 ADT MB
Max Depth: 120m
Air integration: yes, optional (wrist), standard (console)
User-replaceable battery: no, rechargeable

www.scubapro.com


 

Shearwater Teric

RRP: £975.60, Transmitter £258

shearwater teric

Shearwater’s latest model, the Teric, does everything the Perdix does – and more. Above the surface, the Teric is a timepiece with a customisable watch face and will follow the diver from the boardroom to the water for use as recreational, deep tech, or CCR dive computer. The display is smaller than the Perdix but is of a much higher resolution AMOLED design, with the ability to increase font size to make it easy to read. All of the Perdix features are present, with the addition of a new freediving mode, user-configurable audible and haptic alarms, and a wirelessly rechargeable battery. Air integration is standard, with the wireless transmitters an optional extra, and Bluetooth connectivity allows data transfer to all smart devices.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, Trimix, gauge, CCR, free
Algorithm: Bühlmann ZHL-16C with Gradient Factors
Max Depth: 200m
Air integration: yes, optional
User-replaceable battery: no, rechargeable

www.shearwater.com


 

Suunto EON Steel 

RRP: £849, Transmitter £260

suunto eon steel

Suunto’s EON Steel is functionally identical to its EON Core derivative but designed to withstand the rigours of technical diving or recreational diving where conditions are more challenging than fair-weather resort-based holidays. The bezel is constructed of brushed stainless steel with a tougher, Xensation glass screen, and the addition of an optional rubber boot and bungee adapter complete the package. The intuitive, three- button menu system is user-customisable and designed for ease of use with thick gloves. As with the EON Core, menus for tech or rec or CCR diving can be activated or deactivated at the diver’s leisure, with up to ten gas mixtures programmable, and support for the monitoring of up to ten optional wireless tank PODs. Connectivity to Suunto’s DM5 and Movescount log-sharing software is via Bluetooth.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, trimix, gauge, CCR
Algorithm: Suunto Fused RGBM
Max Depth: 150m
Air integration: yes, optional
User-replaceable battery: no, rechargeable

www.suunto.com


 

Ratio iX3M Pro 

RRP: Easy £599, Deep £725, Tech+ £799

ratio ix3m pro

The Italian Ratio iX3M can be used in a range of modes from a basic, two-gas recreational computer, to a ten-mixture technical and CCR device. Unlike other computers, however, the iX3M Pro Easy (the most basic version) can be bought for a lower price point and converted to the ‘Deep’ and ‘Tech+’ modes through separately purchased firmware upgrades as needed, or the higher-spec, higher-priced versions can be bought for immediate operation. A high-resolution, colour display with a four-button navigation system provides all the necessary information relevant to the current mode of operation. Optional colour-coded transmitters flash green, yellow or red to provide a visual indication of tank pressure. The iX3M’s Sidemount mode keeps track of both tanks on the same screen, seamlessly switching between transmitters when the diver swaps tanks. The iX3M can be turned into an oxygen analyser with an optional accessory; data transfer and battery charging is via USB. The higher-priced Ratio iX3M Gps series features in-built GPS functionality and the possibility of adding an optional CCR sensor board.

Specifications

Modes: air, nitrox, gauge, free, trimix, CCR
Algorithm: Bühlmann ZHL-16 B / VPM-B
Max Depth: 300m
Air integration: yes, optional
User-replaceable battery: no, rechargeable

www.ratio-computers.com

 

comp tips

What will you be doing?

The general advice of ‘buy to your budget’, may not be best for dive computers. A high-end computer will do everything an entry-level diver requires, but may be disadvantageous to divers without the requisite training and experience. If you don’t plan to dive beyond shallow recreational limits, then a basic computer is all you will need – and don’t be sold on unnecessary features. Those with an interest in deeper, decompression or full technical diving will, of course, need a much more advanced computer. Some of the latest models are designed to ‘grow’ with your diving experience, with more advanced settings disabled until they become necessary.

Nitrox

All the latest models of computer are compatible with recreational, 21–40 per cent ‘enriched air’ nitrox. Advanced and technical divers require ‘mixed gas’ computers that are capable of ‘gas switching’ between mixtures that fall outside of these limits, or involve the use of helium, during a dive.

Air Integration

Some people love it, some people don’t. On the plus side, all the information you need is in a single device, with remaining dive time calculated and air supply detailed. On the minus, battery failure means that you will be unable to dive unless you are able to change or charge the batteries. Having a backup analogue pressure gauge is advised.

Wrist-mounted, wristwatch or console?

Mostly down to personal preference. Consoles can bash into things, wrist-mounted computers can fall off, wristwatch-sized computers may be hard for some divers to read. Wrist-mounted models with large displays are most common. The choice is yours.

Algorithms

Haldane, Bühlmann, RGBM (and others), algorithms are the mathematical models used to calculate nitrogen exposure, based on your depth and time underwater. Technical divers may have a preference, but for most recreational diving it really doesn’t matter. There will be small differences in when decompression stops kick in, and surface interval credit, but don’t listen to people who say their computer is ‘better’ because it allows them to stay at depth for longer.

RTFM!

Computers do not make your diving safer. Read The FULL Manual before you jump into the water, and don’t expect that your buddy or instructor will know how to work your computer. Dive computers will not prevent you from doing stupid things, such as making ‘sawtooth’ dive profiles, an easy way to end your vacation in the chamber. Remain conservative, don’t push limits, adhere to safe diving practices.

 

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