Being an underwater diver is no joke; it’s deep business, quite literally. An important device to have in hand before diving is a dive computer – a device that informs you of the real-time dive information such as the depth, temperature, dive time remaining (DTR), no decompression dive time remaining (NDC). It is an incredibly useful and essential device to have while diving. Here are some of the best options available!
Recommended Dive Computers
Best Recreational Level Dive Computers
Let’s first cover the bases of dive computers by starting off with people who look at diving as a form of entertainment. For this purpose, there’s no need for extremely advanced functions; basic dive computers work fine, too. Some of the best recreational level dive computers to get your hands on include:
Oceanic Geo 2.0
The Oceanic Geo 2.0 by Oceanic is a classy slate blue, lightweight design for beginners. The manufacturers claim that the device’s menu is easy to navigate through forward and backward movements. The computer comes with four modes, namely Alternate Time, Chrono, Daily Alarm, and Countdown Timer.
The computer offers two nitrox settings that can be switched underwater as required by the diver. It can even bump up the oxygen level up to 100%. It provides the option of audible alarms along with an LED light flash to alert the diver. Meanwhile, the history mode enables the user to maintain a log of their diving.
However, a flaw of the Oceanic Geo 2.0 is the irrelevant naming of the menus. As the user, you would need to explore the computer on your own to get the hang of the different menus and options provided by the computer. Other than that, the volume of the alarm is not very high, but the addition of flash at the same time covers up this fault. The Oceanic Geo 2.0 is a great product for its price if you are just starting out as a diver.
- Powered by Oceanic's Exclusive Dual Algorithm - Your choice between Pelagic DSAT (Spencer/Powell data basis) or Pelagic Z+ (Buhlmann ZHL-16C data basis)
- 4 Operating Modes: WATCH (Alternate Time, Chrono, Daily Alarm, Countdown Timer), NORM (Air and Nitrox), GAUGE (with run timer) and FREE (tracks calculations to allow switching between NORM and Free) …
The Seac Partner by Seac is available in two colors, red and black. The display is backlit to ensure better visibility for the diver. All the main information, such as temperature, dive time, surface time, depth, etc., is provided on the same screen for the divers’ ease. The watch has countdown and stopwatch functions.
Moreover, the watch is powered by a CR2032 battery that is water-resistant for up to 100m, which is more than enough for recreational diving. Manufacturers claim the battery life to be one year. They also claim that the watch logs information for up to 99 dives, which is, again, ideal for diving as a hobby.
The watch provides very accurate measurements for the external environment when one is diving. It also gives a very diverse set of options, all of which a beginner might not even need to use. However, the Seac Partner’s buttons cannot be used underwater because the watch is not entirely waterproof.
- Stopwatch and countdown function
- Records your freediving session up to 99 dives
- It works with a standard CR2032 battery and is 100 mt water resistant
- Backlit display
Advanced Dive Computer
Moving on to somewhat expert divers who are looking for a device providing more than a basic dive computer, here are some great options:
Aqua Lung i300C
The Aqua Lung i300C by Aqua Lunch is available in classic grey and black colors. It comes with the modern touch of built-in Bluetooth technology to help you stay connected to your mobile devices using the free application Diverlog+ on iOS as well as Android devices.
The backlit display helps with visibility even in low-light situations for the diver. The watch comes with four operating modes: Air, Nitrox, Gauge with a runtime, and Free Dive, which makes calculations when the diver is switching between dive and free. The diver also has the option to switch between three gases while underwater.
Moreover, you can change the battery, and the great news is that it will not affect the data present on your watch. All the data, such as the settings you kept as well as calculations, will be retained on your watch. The alarm is audible as well as visual with a red LED flash.
While people have complained about the design being a bit heavy on the wrist, it is still comfortable to wear. The screen is smaller than average, which has a minor effect on visibility. The buttons are a bit difficult to push underwater. Still, the Aqua Lung i300C provides great value for the money, and you won’t regret making the purchase.
- Wirelessly interact with your i300C via the latest Bluetooth Smart technology using your mobile device, the free DiverLog+ app (available for iOS and Android)
- 4 operating modes. Air, Nitrox, Gauge (with run timer) and Free Dive (tracks calculations to allow switching between DIVE and Free)
- User-changeable battery and data retention. Maintains settings and calculations between battery changes …
Best Technical Dive Computers
Finally, for people who mean serious business when it comes to diving, some of the best options to consider include:
Shearwater Research Peregrine Dive Computer
The Shearwater Research Peregrine by Shearwater has a 2.2-inch LED display with striking colors that enhance the visibility of the diver even in low lighting. You can also customize the menu according to your preference. The design is simple, with two buttons to make menu navigation easily understandable.
The watch provides four operational diving modes: Air which assists in recreational diving, Nitrox which gives the diver one gas up to 40%, 3 Gas Nitrox, where the diver can choose from a mixture of three gases as well as opt for Oxygen for up to 100%, and Gauge which provides functions of depth, time, resettable stopwatch.
The watch comes with the option of wireless charging through the manufacturer-provided USB pad. The manufacturer claims that the battery can last up to 30 hours if used on medium brightness. The watch has several languages built-in. The logging information store has not only calculations but detailed graphs as well. Moreover, the addition of Bluetooth technology means you can connect the watch to your device and view the dive information there as well.
The Shearwater Research Peregrine is less pricey than other technologically advanced watches and provides all essential features for a diver. Moreover, you get great customer support in case your watch shows defects.
- Multiple Diving Modes - Air, Nitrox, 3 Gas Nitrox, Gauge
- 2.2" LED LCD display with vivid, enhanced colour range and saturation
- Uses Bühlmann ZHL-16C with gradient factors. Shearwater dive computers never lockout for dive plan deviations.
- Two-button interface: simple to navigate, state-aware menu structure. 316 stainless steel buttons …
Shearwater Research Perdix Dive Computer
The Shearwater Research Perdix by Shearwater comes with a 2.2-inch display with vivid colored text to help with visibility in low light. The watch is made to be very sleek and lightweight without compromising on functionality.
The two-button user interface makes the menus easier to navigate. The menus are also customizable according to user needs. The AA battery is replaceable, while the built-in Bluetooth technology helps the diver to download their information on their device. It also has an air integrated feature to indicate the amount of nitrox or air in the diver’s tank.
The watch has received the best reviews out of all other watches. The Shearwater Research Perdix is more expensive than most, but it is absolutely worth the money. It is a must-have for experienced divers!
- High Resolution, easy-to-read display. 2.2" display with vivid, enhanced color range and saturation.
- Thin, Low-profile Design. 30% smaller in volume than the Petrel
- Two Button Interface. Simple to navigate, state-aware menu structure
- User Replaceable AA Battery. With a double o-ring to ensure a great seal …
Features of Dive Computers
Before making any choice regarding the purchase of a dive computer, you need to be well-informed of the features it provides in order to evaluate what you require. Typical features that dive computers have are:
Alarms are a very important and crucial feature in any dive computer. A diver will need to be alerted on several occasions to check on the external environment such as air, depth, bottom time, etc., according to the diver-selected operation mode. It ensures safety while engaging in an otherwise risky exercise. The alarm on the watch you purchase needs to be properly audible or visual according to your preference.
A dive computer measures the nitrogen for you, and if there is a danger of exceeding the particular amount stated, it sends you a warning or triggers an alarm.
Dive computers establish a wireless connection with transmitters in the initial stages of the dive. From that point onwards, it consistently makes calculations for you regarding how much gas pressure you have in handy.
Depending upon the rate at which you are consuming the air in the tank, the watch will also tell you how long you can last at your current depth in water. This is an extremely useful feature to prefer in a dive watch, especially if your diving is career-driven.
Gas mixes/Oxygen Exposure
Some dive computers can keep track of the amount of each different gas as well as the oxygen exposure in the gas mixture set by the diver. Some watches allow the divers to switch these gases in the midst of a dive as well.
Of course, a dive computer tells you the time as well. In an environment where you cannot take out your phone, you will need to know the time regardless of the condition you are in. The dive watch is multipurpose that way. It can be used underwater as well, making it a multi-purpose device.
Some dive computers have an electronic compass. Its accuracy may or may not be guaranteed underwater. It is not a very useful feature if you do not know how to read directions or if the compass is not entirely accurate. However, a built-in GPS in your dive watch will be very useful in tracking the direction you have gone previously or want to go. It will help you go back to your diving boat and ensure you won’t get lost underwater of all places!
Extended and sustainable battery life is essential and cannot be traded off for any other feature in a dive computer. The battery on any watch you buy should be long-lasting. Another feature to look out for is a replaceable battery. This will cost you a bit, but this price will be better than having to buy a whole watch again. Trust us when we say you do not want your battery giving away while you are underwater!
Things to Consider
Of course, you shouldn’t choose the first dive computer you come across. Before choosing one, make sure you consider the following:
Whatever your purchase ends up being, it needs to be worthy of the money you paid for it. Dive computers are an expensive device, in general, costing from $500 to over $1500. Some dive computers might cost even less than $500.
If you are into recreational diving, there’s no need to opt for a highly expensive dive computer with technical features. If you want advanced features or expert watches, you will need to set your budget from $800 onwards to make sure you get what you paid for.
How Often do You Dive?
If diving is a regular activity for you, investing in a pricier than most but expert model once and using it for an extended amount of time is the best option. However, if diving is only a holiday experience, your investment in a dive computer doesn’t need to be very heavy. You can even try rentals in that case and then finally come to the decision of buying a particular dive computer.
Your Diving Level
If you are just a beginner and take diving as a form of entertainment or are teaching beginners, you will probably not go very deep underwater. Hence, you will not need a very advanced and technical dive computer. You can make-do with dive computers that only log your activities, inform you of the real-time factors, and trigger alarms while you are underwater. You should prefer a dive computer with a conservative algorithm since you do not require actual use of the dive computer while underwater.
However, if you are at an advanced level of teaching, providing certifications, or competing, you will need a top-notch diving computer to fulfill your requirements. Advanced diving computers provide several algorithms to choose from for experienced and expert, allow switching modes underwater, and offer an air integration facility.
You can always choose to dive without a dive computer. But is it a recommended practice? Not at all! A dive computer is an expensive but definitely a worthy investment because this device ensures all safety precautions for you in an otherwise hazardous environment. So, take your needs into consideration, and choose from the top models we’ve reviewed above!