If you are thinking of taking up scuba diving, there are a few things you will need when you go down to look at the magnificent life that exists under the sea, and a dive computer is certainly handy in many ways.
If you are new to scuba diving, you may or may not have heard of dive computers. Basically, a dive computer looks a lot like a wrist watch, but it does so much more.
Today’s wrist watch dive computers are super easy to operate, usually with one main button providing a simple interface to scroll through your menus and see what you need to see at a glance.
Plus, not that a manta ray is going to judge your style down there, but these dive computers do incidentally look great!
Some dive computers will calculate no-fly times, which is essential for divers who rely on air travel at the end of their vacations.
After a dive, your body slowly releases nitrogen. By ascending in an airplane, any remaining nitrogen in your body can expand because of the lower pressure on your body as the plane ascends.
When your dive computer performs a no-fly calculation, it actually lets you know when you can safely fly next.
Diving can be an amazing experience, but you’ll want to make sure you are safe when it comes to when to come up, and a dive computer can help with that.
If it all sounds a little bit complicated, the best dive computers of 2016 have made it that much easier, as you will see shortly.
Dive Computer Basic Functions
All dive computers on the market these days offer a dive log function that allows you to review your completed dives.
In the past, dive computers only showed the most recent dive, but now, the newer models can record at least 10 dives.
Some dive computers can transfer your dive details to a personal computer, so you can keep a record of these details.
For more serious divers, having this information is more than just convenient – it can be used in a multitude of ways.
In addition to keeping track of your dives, there are many other features included with today’s best dive computers.
Most basic dive computers only show depth and time, so you will still need a pressure gauge and compass.
If you want to do more with your pressure gauge, choosing an air-integrated dive computer would be a better option, because it will allow you to run an air hose from your tank to your computer.
Air-integrated dive computers will give you info on the remained air time and your tank’s current PSI reading.
On To The Best Dive Computers
In this article, we have made a detailed list of some of the best dive computers that can make your underwater experience safe and pleasant.
With a price range of a couple of hundred USD to over five hundred USD, we are going to discuss the important information about quality made, superbly-designed, practical dive computers that are easy to connect to your personal computer.
A beginner or not, these five dive computers will make your next diving experience safer and even more thrilling.
Shows water temperature while diving, and in the dive log
Retains Nitrox settings
Starts a new dive when you descend
The Cressi Leonardo dive computer wrist watch is the de facto entry level model, and you can get it for around $200 if you know where to look.
It is excellent for beginners who are new to diving, and who would be more comfortable with a simple dive computer, and the one big main button on the front gives you that ease of use.
You have the option to purchase a USB cable and stand along with your Cressi Leonardo that can be connected with your personal computer, where you can transfer all of your diving logs.
Or, you can save a bit of money and buy them in one package.
This wrist watch dive computer comes equipped with air, nitro, and gauge modes.
The battery is clearly visible and, even more important, it has audible alarms that deliver critical information which will keep you safe.
The design of the Cressi Leonardo is super sleek, and it comes in a number of designer colors.
Some more advanced divers who are are going beyond simply diving for pleasure will suggest to you that you go with a more advanced model of machine, such as a Shearwater Research Stand Alone Dive computer, but it will cost you far more.
For the beginner, recreational diver, or simply someone who isn’t trying to break the bank, the Leonardo offers plenty of great features, and it is extremely easy to use.
Powered by Oceanic’s Exclusive Dual Algorithm – Your choice between Pelagic DSAT (Spencer/Powell data basis) or Pelagic Z+ (Buhlmann ZHL-16C data basis)
Computer Type Stainless Steel Wristwatch
Modes Norm (Air/Nitrox), Gauge, Free, Watch
Nitrox Mixes 2 (21100%) and Auto Altitude Adjustment
Custom Alarms and Algorithm Dual Algorithm
Traditional LCD display
The Oceanic OCL dive computer wrist watch is up next on this list, and it’s quite a bit pricier than the Cressi Leonardo.
But we think rightly so – this dive computer is jammed with great features that will make your diving experience easier and better.
Oceanic has been around for four decades now, so it is our opinion that they’ve basically mastered their craft in regards to dive watches – epitomized by the OCL.
For a start, you will get a dive computer powered by Oceanic’s Exclusive Dual Algorithm – Pelagic DSAT (Spencer/Powell data basis) or Pelagic Z+ (Buhlmann ZHL-16C data basis).
This easily adjustable and very stylish diving computer wrist watch allows you to customize your decompression settings to be either very liberal, or conservative, as the above video mentions.
The alarm for this dive watch is easy to customize as well, not to mention adjusting for altitude, or fresh vs. salt water.
The OCL by Oceanic also makes for an excellent free dive watch, adding even more value to this already great unit.
Rather than keeping track of your nitrogen based solely on depth, the OCL is sophisticated enough to use other calculations to monitor nitrogen, which puts it one step ahead of many other dive computer watches.
Buyers report that it is extremely comfortable to wear, and, besides its sharp looks, the OCL will give you all the vital information on the display.
There are six buttons to work with this time, but none of them are redundant – each button is there for a very specific reason, and, with a bit of playing around, you will have the Oceanic OCL figured out in no time.
First Mixed Gas Dive Computer Designed-and-Built Entirely by Cressi
3-Button Interface: Effortless to Program Air, Nitrox and Gauge Modes
Large Numerical Displays
Download cable makes it easy to log your dives
The clearly visible battery life indicator and distinct audible alarms deliver critical information as well as peace-of-mind during the dive
Replaceable protective display screen
An Aluminum watch stand makes it easy to display or use while connected to the download cable
At 6.4 ounces, the Cressi Giotto is a lightweight 3-button model of dive computer wrist watch which many divers agree is the best way to log your dives, as the Giotto is among the simplest to operate from the outset.
After a few minutes with the Cressi Giotto, you will no doubt have the hang of it.
Whether you’re an experienced diver or not, it won’t take long for you to familiarize yourself with the Cressi system, giving you the ability to keep track of the time and depth with just a quick glance at the large, organized screen.
Have a look at this video which gives a thorough overview of this particular dive computer, and you’ll see what we mean when we say it offers everything a diver could ask for.
The Cressi Giotto has a clearly visible battery life indicator and very distinct audible alarm system that delivers critical information, as well as peace-of-mind during your dive. The protective display screen is replaceable.
This dive computer wrist watch has a high-definition screen that gives large numerical displays in a computer that is still compact and travel-friendly. The Giotto can also be fully re-set after each use. This makes it particularly suitable for rental purposes.
It has a new algorithm created through a collaboration between Cressi and Bruce Wienke based on the Haldane model, integrated with RGBM factors for safe decompression calculations in repetitive multi-day dives and with mixtures.
You’ll notice that there are software handles of two different hyper-oxygenated mixtures, which can be selected during the dive.
The Giotto has 9 saturation half-times ranging from 2.5 to 480 minutes.
The aluminum stand also comes in the package, so you can put your dive computer on it while it is connected to the download cable, or simply when you don’t use it.
You can purchase this package, or you can simply buy the watch as a stand-alone unit as well.
Here is a quick video giving more information on the Cressi Giotto. It takes a closer look at its features and operation thanks to ScubaNation.
The Cressi Sub Leonardo Scuba Diving Wrist Computer Nitrox Compatible is another classic Cressi brand diving computer wrist watch, and so far is the most cost effective model on this list.
Just like the first Cressi watch we saw on this list, this one also bares the Leonardo name, with a large and easy-to-read display with clearly visible information (even for people with poor sight), and one single button below the display (short push changes function, longer push selects functions) and rubber wrist band easily adjustable for any wrist.
It has Air, Nitrox and Gauge modes, FO2 are adjustable between 21% and 50% while PO2 adjustable between 1.2 bar and 1.6 bar.
The Cressi Sub Leonardo offers a CNS oxygen toxicity graphic indicator. The 9 saturation hemi-phases go between 2.5 and 480 minutes.
Also it is equipped with Ascent rate alarm (10 m per minute), a log book for 60 dives/75 hours of information with 20-second sampling rate battery life indicator distinct.
You get an English or Metric Backlit display, built-in calendar and clock.
The Cressi Sub Leonardo instrument can be fully reset, which becomes practical if it used for renting.
Simple, practical and affordable, Leonardo is ideal for divers who “just want to dive” and are new to this sport.
3 Operating Modes: Air/Nitrox, GAUGE (with run timer) and FREE (tracks calculations to allow switching between NORM and Free)
3 Operating Buttons with intuitive interface
Switch between up to 3 Nitrox mixes
Great for “buddy” dives and deeper dives with countdown timer
Turns on when you enter the water
Adjust algorithm easily
Change the batteries yourself
The new AERIS A300 Persona Scuba Diving Wrist Computer – Powered by Dual Algorithm with Deep Stop & FREE Online Training is our last but not least computer diving watch.
Just like Cressi Sub Leonardo, this watch is available for a special reduced price while still maintaining high value in our opinion.
The AERIS A300 is one sophisticated, still very easy-to-use dive computer that was designed to be either an ergonomic wrist, or console unit.
The AERIS comes with advanced features for experienced divers, but it can also be set up to be comprehensible for beginners, or intermediate divers who still need to learn.
The AERIS A300 has a high resolution tissue loading bar graph which gives you at-a-glance feedback and lets the user control their dive on the fly, and regulate their dynamic conservative factor.
The A300 has green/yellow/red indicators that make it easy to monitor the dive.
Only essential information is displayed during the dive, and the large easy-to-read digits can be visible by anyone no matter how deep they dive.
This way you will always be informed about your depth, and for how long you have been diving.
The A300 is different from the competition because of its use of NORM and TECH modes.
NORM mode is selected by default as an out-of-the-box solution; it will provide all the important settings and information for beginners and for divers who don’t want to be bothered with extra info (extra info can be confusing for first time divers, which at a certain depth can cause panic, and that’s the last thing you want to happen).
Experienced divers can switch their A300 to a TECH mode and advanced features, and fine-tuning will become available.
The TECH mode is excellent for any experienced diver.
This dive computer has a 3-button interface which allows for intuitive forward and backward navigation through a host of personal settings and options, and packs advanced features including Dual Algorithm.
About the author:
Garth loves camping under the stars with his Arb III, scuba diving, snorkeling, and also tanning. His favourite snorkel spots include Alanya (Turkey), Koh Rong (Cambodia), and Maui (Hawaii, USA).
He also loves to visit the cenotes in Mexico and he recommends everyone reads the book, “The Soul of an Octopus”, because, he says “they are sensitive, just like me”.