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Welcome to Dive Gear Reviews, a comprehensive guide to scuba diving equipment. Scuba diving is an expensive pursuit, so looking up reviews for a particular article of equipment is a wise precaution before investing any hard-earned money in it. However, consumer reviews may or may not be written by an experienced diver, and magazine reviews could be suspect due to the advertising ties of the publication in question. Dive Gear Reviews provides cross-referenced reviews assembled by an expert, making it possible to see at a glance what multiple sources said about a particular piece of scuba equipment. If one magazine loved a scuba regulator or a dive computer, but the consumers hated it, that information will be found here.
05
October

Computers

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Computers Posted in:

The minimum research for a review at Dive Gear Reviews is one review published by a credible magazine, a sampling of consumer commentary from both forums and online retailers, a sampling of pricing and insight from a diving expert. For an entry to appear on this dive computer reviews page, it must exceed that minimum. The reviews below are therefore the most extensively cross-referenced reviews for this type of gear on the website. For all of the dive computer reviews at Dive Gear Reviews, click here.

Aeris XR1 NX Dive Computer Review

The XR1 NX is the upgraded nitrox version of Aeris’s venerable, entry-level XR1 dive computer. The no-frills design is simple and ideal for beginners, although it does have some drawbacks.

Aeris’s XR1 NX has only one button, so punching through the different displays is straight forward. The computer activates on contact with the water and manually. The display has big, easily read digits and bar graphs using color-coded indicators around the periphery of the display, and the XR1 NX provides all basic data a diver might want, such as dive time remaining, current depth, maximum depth and water temperature. As you scroll through the display options by pressing the button, current depth and elapsed dive time usually remain fixed, while the other data displays change. The dive computer has an automatic three-minute safety stop timer. It can log up to 12 dives in its internal memory, and can switch back and forth between imperial and metric measurements.

The main drawback of the XR-1 NX is the battery compartment. A special key is used to open the compartment, as opposed to the much more common coin slot system. While using the key is simple, it is one more tool that must be brought on trips, and if you lose it you must either order a replacement or struggle with a pair of calipers to open the computer up. The placement of the battery cap must be done just right, or the o-ring won’t seal properly and the battery compartment will leak. Finally, the contacts for the battery are fragile and easily damaged. XR1 and XR1 NX owners complained about these issues repeatedly, and the bottom line is that replacing the battery must be done very carefully.

At the time of publication the basic XR1 had been phased out by Aeris in favor of the XR1 NX, although the original XR1 remains widely available in dive shops and through online retailers. As a result, the XR1 is cheaply available due to clearance sales, but scuba shoppers should think twice about choosing the XR1 over its nitrox-capable cousin. The price of the XR1 NX has fallen as well, and for just a little extra money you can get a beginner’s dive computer with some growth capacity, making it a better bargain in the long run.

The Aeris XR1 NX is available in wristwatch, console and console with compass formats.

Average Price: $320 for the wristwatch model, $380 for the console version, and $420 for the console with compass version.

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Mares ICON HD Dive Computer Review


British underwater photographer Charles Hood called the Mares ICON “the iPod of dive computers,” and rightfully so. The computer earned massive plaudits from reviewers. Scuba Diving magazine named it a 2010 Tester’s Choice, Dive gave it a strong review with an 8 for value and a 9 for performance, and LeisurePro users rated it with 4 Flags.

This wristwatch-style dive computer has a strikingly clear full-color liquid crystal display. The name of the computer is derived from its computer navigation system, which is based on using the four control buttons to pass through graphical icons, just as in any modern computer operating system. The result is a dive computer packed with features while remaining completely intuitive, while the color-coded data displays provide tons of safety information at a glance. The Mares ICON HD is also air-integrated, has an audible alarm, and supports regular air plus three different Nitrox blends up to 99%. However, that Christmas Tree of a screen comes at a cost, and the Mares ICON HD’s battery lasts only to a maximum of six dives before running out of power. Yet this is only a minor drawback, as the dive computer is chargeable via both an AC adapter and through a USB port.

Average Price: $1,200

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Mares Puck Dive Computer Review

Mares makes three variations on the Puck. The first is the classic wristwatch-style Puck, followed by the latest version of their console-mounted computer, the Puck 3. Mares also came out with the Puck Air, the most advanced of the Puck computers due to its all-digital, air-integrated design (I.e. no separate gauge for tank pressure). All three versions of the Puck share a single button control interface, the use of which “is quite obvious once you have used the Puck for just a few minutes” according to Dive magazine. Scuba Diving praised its dot-matrix display as “crisp” and “easy to see.” The computer’s algorithms were rated as conservative, and the device can accommodate Nitrox mixes between 21 and 50%.

In terms of aesthetics, the wristwatch and console versions both have the clunky, practical look so common to dive computers of either type. The Puck Air, however, is sleek and has what reviewers called an “Italian” look to it.

Pucks in general are good dive computers, with Dive magazine rating the wristwatch version 9/10 and calling it a “credible alternative” to other dive computers in its class and “definitely worth consideration.” One thing to consider when choosing between Puck consoles, however, is that the Puck Air console does not have an electronic compass and the older Puck 3 console does. That is a serious oversight in an otherwise solid package, since adding the compass ruins the sleek design. Leisure Pro users gave the wristwatch version a strong 5-flag rating, but thought less of the consoles. The Puck 3 earned 4-flags, while the Puck Air merited only a 3-flag rating in the eyes of that website’s consumers. The main complaint for the latter was that the computer could not download log data directly into a computer.

Average Price: $550

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Oceanic OC1 Dive Computer Review


The OC1 from Oceanic is a wristwatch style dive computer that, unlike so many wrist-mounted number crunchers, actually looks like a wristwatch and a fairly attractive one at that. The dot-matrix display uses reasonably large numbers for a real wristwatch screen, although obviously not the huge numbers one might expect from a big-and-clunky dive computer. Just like a modern digital wristwatch, the dive computer’s features are controlled by a set of buttons found around the rim, and while reviewers thought the system fairly intuitive, making full use of the computer requires some serious study of the OC 1′s manual. However, that has a lot to do with how many features are available. The dive computer has an electronic compass, air-integration and can hand Nitrox mixes of up to 100%. Divers can also switch between a liberal and a conservative diving algorithm. However, because the OC1 is so compact, the buttons might prove hard for cold water divers with thick neoprene gloves to manipulate. The Oceanic OC1 received a 4-Flag rating from LeisurePro users, and was a Sport Diver Editor’s Gear Pick for 2009. Oceanic also has a “Pioneer” version of the OC 1, which is housed in titanium and usually costs an extra $200.

Average Price: $1,700

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Oceanic VT 4.0 Dive Computer Review

Building on the VT 3.0 and VT Pro, Oceanic’s VT 4.0 is a cutting edge wristwatch-style dive computer. The number cruncher gives the user a choice of two different algorithms, Pelagic Z+ and Pelagic DSAT, rather than the usual feature of one algorithm with the option to dial the conservatism up or down. DSAT is a fairly liberal recreational algorithm, while Z+ is a conservative recreational/liberal decompression model. In addition to the usual air, nitrox and gauge modes, the VT 4.0 also has a freediver mode, enhancing its flexibility. The system is air-integrated and can display data from up to four different transmitters, a winning feature for dive masters and instructors. The VT 4.0 also has a digital 3-axis compass with full tilt-compensation.

The data displays and settings are customizable, and a big plus for this computer is the read-out format. Instead of turning through page-like displays by pressing buttons, with the VT 4.0 the user basically scrolls up and down instead. Combined with the customization, you can set up your own style of display placing the data you want to see the most at the top, the least at the bottom and everything else in between. Mind you, setting the VT 4.0 to use the settings and displays of your choice instead of the computer’s defaults is a major chore, but it can be done. On the downside, however, Oceanic programmed much of the read-outs using uncommon abbreviations, and some owners complained about how cumbersome it was to learn how to read those abbreviations in the early days of using their new VT 4.0.

Scuba Diving gave the Oceanic VT 4.0 their 2011 Tester’s Choice Award, and overall this seems to be a computer that pushes the limits in terms of just how much functionality can be squeezed into a compact wristwatch design.

Average Price: $1100

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Scubapro/Uwatec Galileo Luna Dive Computer Review

The Luna is the latest addition to Uwatec’s Galileo line of dive computers. This is a hoseless air-integrated number cruncher, meaning that the unit puts a transmitter in the HP port, which sends tank pressure data straight to the wristwatch style computer. Divemasters and instructors might be interested in the upgrade which allows the Luna to receive data from up to four different transmitters, so a dive leader can keep a close eye on the remaining air for a small group of divers. The screen is big, so while no one will ever mistake the Galileo Luna for a sports watch, it can put plenty of data out in big, easy-to-read dot matrix characters. The dive computer is designed to integrate with both a heart rate monitor and your personal computer at home. The Luna’s algorithm is thought to be a balanced one (neither conservative nor liberal), but it can be modified through six programmable “micro-bubble suppression levels,” making it a flexible number cruncher. In terms of gas mixes, the Luna can handle three profiles of up to 100% at the same time. The digital compass can be used at a 90-degree tilt, so it will basically work whatever position you hold your wrist in.

The computer came out as Scuba Diving’s 2009 Tester’s Choice and received a 5-Flag rating from LeisurePro users. Divernet, however, was a little less enthusiastic, and gave the dive computer an 8-star rating. While that is a strong rating, the reviewer was less than thrilled with the dive computer’s price tag and docked it accordingly. Dive Gear Reviews concurs. The Galileo Luna is packed with functionality, but some of the features (such as reading from multiple transmitters) are of little or no use to the typical recreational diver, and the price tag is as high what many a diver spends on her entire set of gear! While the Uwatec Galileo Luna is an excellent computer, a diver can do as well with a unit that costs much less, so this is certainly not the choice for anyone working on a budget.

Average Price: $1,350

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Subgear SP-10 Dive Computer Review


Scuba Diving magazine described the XP-10 as “a complete dive computer for all levels of adventure,” and Sport Diver named it a 2010 Editor’s Pick. Subgear is the re-branded Seeman Sub company, a German manufacturer of scuba gear that specialized in blending good quality and reasonable price tags. Two features of the XP-10 stand out, especially given the dive computer’s middling price tag. First is the adaptive algorithm, which adjusts its decompression computations for factors like cold water and quick assents. The second stand-out is the Nitrox setting, which ranges between 21% and 50% and allows the diver to set the precise level in 1% increments. A lot of dive computers that cost more than this simple-looking unit with its chunky digital display only allow for Nitrox to be computed only for a few commonly used pre-settings, but not the XP-10. It has a replaceable battery, all the typical dive computer functions, and the maximum depth for the computer is 120 m (393 feet). Subgear’s XP-10 comes in wristwatch and console formats.

Average Price: $249 (Wristwatch) $349 (Console w/Compass)

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Suunto Cobra 3 Dive Computer Review

Suunto’s Cobra 3 is a complete console dive computer. It is air-integrated and has an electronic compass that can handle 45 degrees of tilt, making for a compact, handy console. The display is a dot matrix with two-color bar graphs for tracking depth, no-decompression limit and ascent rate. The latter feature gives the computer a leg-up on standard dot matrix computers. Suunto’s Deep Stop RGBM algorithm was rated as conservative and the computer is Nitrox-capable. Safety settings can be altered to cover eventualities such as high-altitude diving, and personal alarms can be programmed into the device. The only real minus is that Scuba Diving thought retrieving data from the computer while on the surface was overly complicated. The computer earned a 9 from Dive for performance, but its price tag cut it to a score of 7 in terms of value. Scuba Diving gave the computer a Tester’s Choice award in 2009, and Leisure Pro users gave it 4 flags.

Average Price: $800
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Suunto D4/D4i Dive Computer Review

The Suunto D4 is the most basic of Suunto’s wristwatch dive computers, and Dive described it as the company’s introductory model to its more advanced D6 and D9 number crunchers. The screen is efficient and displays most of the necessary data on the basic page. Depth and no-decompression time occupy the center, an ascent rate graph is situated to the right and a nitrogen graph to the left. Smaller texts on the bottom of the display give out other data, such as water temperature. As for other features, the computer is controlled through four buttons, can be set for Nitrox or free diving, and has three altitude settings. The computer’s basic algorithm is semi-conservative, but by playing with the settings this can be adjusted to an either more conservative or more liberal footing. Leisure Pro users were quite satisfied, giving this basic computer a 4 1/2-flag rating.

In 2011, Suunto introduced an air-integrated version of the D4, the D4i. The only real change is that tank pressure data is sent to the wristwatch computer from a wireless transmitter attached to the regulator. The computer uses that data to provide read-outs of not only tank pressure, but also an estimate of remaining air time.

Average Price: $500

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Suunto D6/D6i Dive Computer Review


The D6 is Suunto’s middle dive computer entry, placed between the advanced trimix-oriented D9 and the functional D4, making it a sporty wristwatch computer with advanced recreational/basic technical diving capability. The computer is nitrox-capable and programmable for two mixtures of up to 99%, and can switch between gas profiles in mid-dive. The data crunching is based on the Reduced Gradient Bubble Model (RGBM) model, and the computer offers a choice of the basic RGBM and the more liberal RGBM50 algorithm. Past that, the computer has all the usual features one expects from a high-end dive computer: safety stops, deep stops, altitude adjustment, ascent alarm, temperature display, dive time and bottom time read-outs and a battery power indicator. Consumers and field testers report that the read-out, while small, is easy to read and the computer has back-lighting. The buttons are easy to manipulate, even in gloves. The D6 also comes with an electronic compass so easy to use that one owner described it as “idiot proof.”

Battery life for the D6 is supposed to be between 1.5 and 3 years. The computer is rated for a depth of 150 m (492 feet), and Suunto has introduced a D6i version with air-integration. The latter uses a wireless transmitter to send tank pressure data to the computer, replacing the tank gauge and adding a computer-predicted read-out of remaining air time.

The Suunto D6 got high marks from Scuba Diving and Divernet, with even a commercial diving school weighing in on the D6 as a back-up computer and predicting it would set the standard for recreational dive computers. Among consumers, the only complaints about the D6 have hinged around the elastomer watch strap, and those were far from common. It should be noted the D6 and D6i also come with a stainless steel strap. Overall, owners of the D6 or D6i have loved their dive computer

Average Price: $750 for the standard D6 and $900 for the D6i.

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Suunto D9tx Dive Computer Review

The D9tx is the most recent evolution of Suunto’s top-end dive computer. Billed as the world’s first tri-mix wristwatch dive computer, the D9tx is everything one might expect from a premium Suunto data cruncher.

Using Suunto’s fairly liberal Technical RGBM algorithim, the D9tx can handle up to eight gas mixtures, maxing out at 92% helium. That algorithim can be dialed up or down to fit the safety standards of the diver. The watch has a four-button control system and features four display modes: watch, air, mixed and gauge. A feature that improves on Suunto’s previous big tec dive computer, the HelO2, is the tilt-compensated digital compass. The computer has backlighting and a reasonable dot matrix display and a complete set of wing-dings, such as thermometer, low power warning display, audible alarms, safety stops, and digital dive planning tools. Air integration (including the wireless transmitter) is optional.

On the plus side, the Suunto D9tx offers everything a tec diver could ever want out of their computer. The D9tx is clearly optimized for demanding tec dive use, and with a depth rating of 200 m (660 feet), it can go on just about any dive that isn’t about setting new records. It met with rave reviews, with Scuba Diving calling it “the Ferarri of dive computers” and Diver giving it a 2011 Product of the Year award.

That said, the Suunto D9tx is extremely expensive. If you are a hardcore tec diver, all that expense is worth it. If you are a moderate tec diver or a recreational diver with zero or moderate interest in tec diving, the D9tx is more computer than you need and the price tag is very prohibitive.

Average Price: $1,995

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Suunto Vyper Air Dive Computer Review


The Vyper Air is more or less the wristwatch-style counterpart to the Cobra 3. It comes with the same dot-matrix screen with big digits and the same handy two-color bar graphs for no-decompression limit, ascent rate and depth. It uses the same algorithm and even has a built-in electronic compass (a rarity for wristwatch dive computers) with an easy-to-read compass that can take a 45 degree tilt. The Vyper Air even features air integration, through a wireless transmitter mounted on the end of the high pressure hose where a console would usually go, although this makes it more expensive than the Cobra 3.

For those who are willing to do without the air integration, the standard Vyper includes all of the remaining features. Dive gave the basic Vyper (sans air integration) the same Performance rating as the Cobra 3 (a 9), but a higher Value rating of 8. Basically, if you are a sport diver who never ventures below 140 feet and either prefer a wristwatch computer or want all those features for less money, the Vyper is your computer. Leisure Pro users gave the Vyper Air a 4 1/2-flag rating, and the standard Vyper a 4-flag rating.

Average Price: $850

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Tusa IQ 950 Zen Air Dive Computer Review

For some reason, reviewers call Tusa’s IQ 950 Zen Air a “sleek” wristwatch dive computer, but at Dive Gear Reviews, calling a dive computer “sleek” demands something more than a mere digital sports watch readout. On this point, we profoundly disagree with everyone and think only a serious gear nerd thinks this wristwatch would look good at a business meeting or on a hot date. While the IQ 950 Zen Air is compact, it isn’t “sleek.” Even so, it is a very functional air integrated dive computer.

In terms of data, the IQ 950 is a two-gas computer with three different gas mixture settings and four different dive settings: air, nitrox, gauge and free diving. It uses the Buhlmann ZHL – 16C algorithm with user-controlled safety settings, so a diver can dial the conservatism of the computer up or down as needed. Likewise, a diver can turn the Deep Stop and Safety Stop features on or off. The memory stores the last 24 dives.

The primary displays on the 950 Zen Air include no decompression, elapsed dive time, estimated air time remaining, current depth and water temperature, all of which one would expect from a solid air integrated dive computer. Tusa has also set up the IQ 950 Zen Air with a set of programable alarms for maximum depth, elapsed dive time, dive time remaining, nitrogen load, tank pressure, estimated air time remaining and other factors, and clever use of those alarms can minimize the amount of time spent checking the computer read-out on a dive. The computer can monitor data from three separate transmitters, which is a function with some appeal to divemasters and instructors.

The Tusa IQ 950 has a standard wristwatch computer battery set-up, and has a depth rating of 100 meters. It includes PC support, and data can be downloaded into a base computer.

Sport Diver named the Tusa IQ 950 Zen Air as a 2011 Editor’s Choice, and the guys at Scuba Gear Reports gave it high marks as well, saying “as wristwatch-style DCs go, [it] is as good as they come.” It also earned high marks from consumers, with the negative commentary confined strictly to the complexity of the buttons and the user interface. That sort of thing is to be expected in a computer with as many features as the Tusa IQ 950, however.

Average Price: $900