Having a dive computer will free you from having to worry about calculations of your nitrogen levels using complicated dive tables.
Being able to monitor all the information you need on your wrist will give you the confidence to stop worrying and just enjoy the dive, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
The big problem with trying to choose the best diving computer for you is there are so many of them with all kinds of features.
So we tested and evaluated the 8 of the most popular models and narrowed them down to 3 to make your decision easy.
These are our favorite dive computers that have won our trust because of their superior performance.
- Cressi Giotto Wrist Computer
- Oceanic Geo 2.0 Air/Nitrox Computer Watch
- Suunto ZOOP Wrist Unit Scuba Diving Computer
Here is an overview of the dive computers with full reviews and our buying guide below.
The 3 Best Dive Computes
Dive Computer Reviews
The Giotto dive watch/computer is Cressi’s latest offering in a long line of excellent quality dive watches. Cressi is one of the leading manufactures of diving equipment and has been around since the 40’s so they know something about diving equipment.
Air and Nitrox Compatible
The Giotto is fully compatible with Nitrox and the 3-button interface of this dive watch computer makes the functioning intuitive and effortless with three operating modes which are air, nitrox and gauge.
The Giotto’s wrist computer is one of the best diving computers on the market for a lot of reasons including its High Def screen offering excellent readability with the display of larger digits. Not only that, but the screen also displays battery life while the audible alarms providing the necessary information throughout the dive.
Giotto’s diving watch provides all the important information from the time and depth to the need of decompression and ascent rate, all the intervals between every dive and the absorption and release of nitrogen is also constantly monitored by its advanced electronics.
All of this information can be viewed on the large screen of the dive wrist computer through the ‘Priority Compartment Digit Display’ (PCD). This system makes it simple for you to get the necessary information from the computer, making certain that you have a clear understanding of the data along with high readability at any time during the dive.
Features of the Cressi Giotto Wrist Computer:
I found the Cressi Giotto Wrist Computer to be the best all around dive watch, having plenty of features at bargain price. In my opinion this is the best dive computer for the money, and is our top pick.
The Oceanic Geo 2.0 Air/Nitrox Computer Watch is an excellent mid-range watch style dive computer created with dual algorithms of the Pelagic DSAT or Pelagic Z+.
This dive computer watch is the perfect choice when you are looking to upgrade your dive equipment or a beginner who doesn’t mind spending a bit more so they wont have to upgrade to a better watch in the future.
This computer watch is redesigned with a step back system which makes forward and backward navigation underwater easier for you with the help of intuitive and easy to use menus and settings.
The Oceanic 2.0 has a redesigned display screen that shows clearly visible large digits while being compact at the same time. The backlight of the screen is quite powerful allowing you to see it when visibility is poor. The watch also contains an audible alarm along with a small LED flash light which actually came in handy on several occasions for me.
Air and Nitrox Compatible
The Oceanic is naturally 100% compatible with both air and Nitrox and gas mixes and allows switching between them with no restrictions.
The Oceanic Geo 2.0 allows the transferring of data to your computer and has a capacity of 24 on-unit dive logs. Oceanic unfortunately did not include the USB transfer kit and it is an extra charge so be forewarned.
The Oceanic Geo 2.0 dive computer watch operates in four modes which are: Watch (Chrono, daily audible alarm, alternate time and countdown timer), Norm (for nitrox and air), Gauge (with a run timer) and Free (the free diving mode keep a track of the calculation so that the diver can switch between the modes, Free and Norm).
Features of the Oceanic Geo 2.0 Air/Nitrox Computer Watch:
My only gripe with the Oceanic Geo 2.0 dive watch is the instructions are unnecessarily complex but overall its a very high end, capable dive computer with all the features you will need.
#3 Suunto ZOOP Computer Watch Review
The Suunto ZOOP Watch Diving Computer is probably the best dive computer for beginners. It has all the features that you need in a dive computer while at the same time not overly complicated with a bunch of features the beginner or casual diver needs.
The screen of the Suunto has a little smaller display than the other 2 dive watches I reviewed and features super-bright phosphorescent LCD display giving it exception readability.
Like any modern dice computer it is multi-mode versatile with its two dive modes Air and Nitrox. It can be programmed for Nitrox mixtures of 21% to 50% oxygen and can be adjusted for oxygen partial pressure of between 1.2 and 1.6 bar. It offers flexible decompression using the the RGBM algorithm.
Suunto ZOOP Diving Watch offers optional software and a data transfer kit that is cheaper than other manufacturers of dive computers.
It allows you to download all of your dive data for further analysis and to maintain a detailed logbook featuring graphical representation of all your dives plus locations of using GPS coordinates.
Features of the Suunto ZOOP Wrist Unit Scuba Diving Computer:
In my opinion the Suunto Zoop is one of the best budget dive computers, it offers most of the features of more expensive dive computers in a simple to use watch that you wont require you to spend hours trying to decipher the instruction manual.
How To Choose A Dive Computer
Originally dive watches were just that, an wrist watch created for underwater diving. An analogue dive watch is a depth rated watch which mainly performs the function of keeping track of the total time of the dive. Some modern dive watches are created with helium valves, making the dive easier for those swimming down to immense watery depths for longer time periods.
However, a strictly “dive watch” has been outdated with the advent of a dive computer that shows real-time calculation of the decompression along with an automatic time function.
Dive computers were originally created in 1960s – they have evolved considerable in the following decades in terms of accuracy and compactness. Today, professional divers don’t feel comfortable diving without a dive computer due to the functionality and countless benefits that come along the dive computers.
Why Use a Dive Computer?
Plus, it provides the functionality to keep the diver underwater for a longer time period while constantly re-calculating the air supply and depth of the dive.
Not only this but divers can easily complete their dives on multiple levels with an ease of altering the dive plan whenever they want without using the dive tables.
Although the dives can also be calculated and tracked through other equipments like a dive table, a dive watch or a depth gauge but most of the scuba divers prefer to use a dive computer as it is relatively easier to use.
A dive computer calculates all the information and sends it to the decompression model which then tracks the amount of nitrogen dissolved in your body throughout the dive by providing real time information on the screen.
It also keeps the diver continuously updated about the remaining time the diver can have a safe dive.
Types of Dive Computers
The types and categories of dive computers are not limited by any means and divers get a variety of options to choose from according to their respective needs. Whereas the three main types of dive computers are:
- Wrist-mounted computers
- Console-mounted computers
- Mask computers
Although these are the three kinds of dive computers that are created to calculate a dive but here we will discuss about the most commonly used type of dive computer i.e.
The Wrist Watch Style Dive Computer
This category of dive computer is mostly preferred by the divers because it is easy to wear and use as compared to others. This dive computer looks just like a regular wrist watch but it actually allows divers to carry a mini computer on their wrist. A wrist-mounted dive computer uses wireless technology in order to examine the air consumption and the remaining pressure in the tank.
The style of the wristwatch makes it easier for the divers to view the screen of the small computer while swimming deep in the ocean. Although dive watches and dive computers are two different things, still, people who are unaware about the actual difference often refer dive computers as dive watches because they are created in the form of a watch.
Features of a Standard Dive Computer
A standard dive computer contains the following features which makes it preferable for all the scuba divers.
- It has a display which is easily readable however the color of the display depends on the style of the dive computer.
- The display of a dive computer shows important information such as the total time of the dive, depth of the dive, no stop limits, ascent rate, no stop time remaining, emergency decompression, low battery warning and all the information regarding the previous dive.
- A standard dive computer is also enhanced to be air and nitrox compatible.
Features of an Advanced Dive Computer
Listed below are some other advanced and optional features that are included in a dive computer
- Dive computers are air integrated to show the amount of remaining air in the tank
- A dive computer can be incorporated along with a digital dive watch, all in one unit
- They can be manually and automatically adjusted for diving above the sea level
- Dive computers have rechargeable and replaceable batteries
- They can be connected with computers to download all the data of the entire dive
- Built-in thermometers and digital compasses
- Self-adjusting decompression models
- Some dive computers also have dot matrix screens which allow the divers to play games at decompression and safety stops (just to pass the time if they want)
How to Select a Dive Computer
Dive watches and dive computers have made a very significant place in the life of every professional diver because these equipments have made deep sea diving experience better than ever before.
However choosing the right dive watch also plays a vital role in the learning process of a new diver. Therefore we have got a few essential points that you should look for in a dive watch.
1. Determine your level of experience
First and foremost, you need to determine your level of experience in diving as that is the best step to begin the dive watch selection process. Analyzing the experience level is very important to select the right dive watch because unqualified beginners have different requirements as compared to the professional divers.
That is why it is not necessary that a choice that is best for one diver might be suitable for another as well. You can determine your diving level by analyzing a few points like the type of diving you currently do or plan to do in the near future and what kind of dive watch will connect well with your current diving equipment.
2. Plan according to your budget
Before moving forward on selecting a dive watch, you must consider your budget as well. Feel free to invest in a good dive watch because it will surely be worth the money in the long term.
However, if you are someone who is venturing into professional diving just now, then you can go for the beginner level watches and computers that offer good durability and advanced features being economical at the same time. But if budget is not a problem then sky is the limit for you!
3. A dive watch must be readable
The next important feature that must be considered while selecting a dive computer watch is the screen display. Any diver would never be able to gauge the depth, time and other necessary calculations under the water if the screen of the watch is not readable enough.
So make sure that the dive watch must possess the feature of good readability even when the mask is on. So what makes the screen of a dive watch readable? Back lit display, wide angle color screen and bigger digits!
4. Check for Nitrox Compatibility
There’s one more element you need to look for while selecting a dive watch if you plan to dive with nitrox i.e. the nitrox compatibility. Look out for nitrox integrated watches and see if the dive watch is compatible enough to operate with nitrox or not.
A dive watch including nitrox helps the diver to choose the level of nitrox for diving. It also regulates the depth limit and the time of decompression according to the percentage of nitrox used during the dive.
5. A Data Transferring Option is an Added Bonus
Many advanced dive watches are created with the feature of transferring the dive data to the computer. Divers can connect their computer watches with the regular computers and transfer all the data of their dives so that they can maintain a record of all the previous and future dives.
The data transfer system that is incorporated in the dive watch saves the dives in the form of graphs which shows the depth of the dive and the total time of each dive. Not only the time and depth but few modern dive watches can also download the ascent rate data, the percentage of nitrogen and the amount of air consumed by the diver.
6. Digital Compass
Although analogue compasses have their own beneficial features but the all the new age equipments are integrated with digital compasses including the dive watches. Now most of the dive computers and dive watches are made with digital compasses to calculate the time and depth of the dive and the percentage of air, gas and nitrox.
However adjusting the compass in the right manner is very important for smooth operation. Dive equipment manufacturers also recommend adjusting the compass every time it is exposed to any sort of magnet and also when the batteries are changed every time.
7. Batteries Must Be Replaceable
Digital compasses are no doubt a more advanced method of calculating all the dive data but we can’t deny the fact that digital compasses consume more battery power than the analogue compasses.
Not only this but all the highly advanced features incorporated in the new dive watches are prone to consuming more battery power. Many dive watches now comes with an option of replaceable or rechargeable batteries but that varies depending on different models.
Now that you know the basic essentials of selecting a dive watch, next we have got a detailed analysis on the three best dive computer watches that you can’t afford to miss! Also like to do some snorkeling? If so please see my guide to the best snorkel masks and fins.