In our last post we talked about the good, old-fashioned dive watch and why you might still want one. Now we’re going to talk about dive computers, which have replaced the dive watch for the majority of divers.
Dive computers take the guess work out of diving since they more accurately record your bottom time, the number of minutes at a specific depth, and allow you to get the maximum amount of time out of your dive.
They also can be useful it you end up developing decompression illness, your dive computer “remembers” your exact dive data, which can be helpful in a medical emergency.
With so many options on the market, it’s a good idea to some research and think about your typical diving scenarios.
As with most things, the more cool features a device has, the higher the price tag. However, depending on your needs, you don’t necessarily need to drop $1,600 or more on a dive computer. Basic ones start at about $300. They also tend to last a while, so you shouldn’t have to replace it often.
All dive computers monitor depth and time but that’s about all they have in common.
Wrist mount: Wrist mount computers look and feel very much like a dive watch. These are easy to strap on and hop overboard. Some include a wireless transmitter that can track your air pressure.
Console Mount: These dive computers mount onto your regulator.
Air-integrated: This dive computer has a way to attach to your regulator and can tell how many minutes of air you have left. If you currently or plan to use Nitrox, you’ll need one that can allow you to program the percentage of oxygen in your mix. Programmable ones are more expensive but can also be used for air-diving.
Stand-alone: These can’t track your air pressure, so you would still need a pressure gauge. They are less expensive than air-integrated.
Some dive computers include a digital compass, which is a nice-to-have feature as compasses are important. The main thing to consider is how easily you can read the information displayed underwater. Some dive computers display temperature, depth, remaining bottom time, descent meter, and maximum depth – nice, but if the display seems crowded, choose one with fewer display features.
Some dive computers allow you to download your data to a computer so you can easily review all of your dive data.
Being able to change the battery yourself is a nice option. You can bring an extra. Some dive computers have user-chargeable batteries, so you can easily charge it before and during a trip.
Others require either a shop technician to change the battery or have to be sent to the manufacturer to do it.
Many dive computers will tell you how many decompression stops you need to make at what depths. If you miss one or cut it too short, some will recalculate. Others even include information about how soon you can fly after diving, which is a nice feature if you’re cutting the time between your last dive and your flight home a little close.
Need some help deciding which dive computer to buy? Swing by Scuba Toys in Carrollton,TX or call us at 877-728-2243 and we’ll be happy to help! We also have a great online inventory of all types of dive computers.
Which features do you consider essential in a dive computer and which can be skipped? Let our readers know in the comments section below!