Which dive computers are best?
If you’re new to diving, you’re probably busy researching — and stocking up — on essential tools and accessories. One of the most important electronics you’ll need to buy is a dive computer, which displays information such as depth, diving time, temperature and more.
Not only are dive computers helpful in terms of logging important information, but they’re also crucial to your safety as a diver. In fact, some models are equipped with alarms to remind you of gas levels or to alert you when you’re reaching maximum depth. While dive computers can cost as much or more than a watch, they’re well worth the investment.
Our favorite model is the Oceanic Geo 2.0 Computer Watch. This user-friendly design logs up to 24 dives and is available in multiple colors.
What to know before you buy a dive computer
Dive computers can have large interfaces with pronounced dial or buttons for easy operation, even if you’re wearing gloves. While some divers appreciate these features, others prefer low-profile designs, citing that they’re less bulky and therefore less likely to get tangled on other equipment.
At the top of your list of features to consider in dive computers, make sure battery life is something you compare in detail. Dive computers with reputations for reliable, long-lasting batteries will give you peace of mind knowing it won’t run out of juice sooner than expected — especially when you’re a few hundred feet underwater. As far as battery replacement goes, most manufacturers recommend changing it every year or every other year.
If you’re interested in recording your diving data for analysis, you’ll need a dive computer that can be connected via cords or USB to your computer. Unfortunately, some dive computers aren’t compatible with Macs.
Information you may wish to log includes location databases, equipment information, dive partner information, or decompression tables. These logs are especially important if you intend to create your own digital logbook, and some dive computers come with automatic formatting to make it easier.
What to look for in a quality dive computer
Depth rating refers to how deep a device can be submerged underwater and still function. Per the International Standards Organization, dive computers must be able to withstand depths up to 100 meters. While some models can withstand deeper depths, keep in mind that if you’re a recreational diver, you’re not allowed to go deeper than 40 meters — so it might not be worth the big bucks for dive computers with better depth ratings.
Dive modes refer to the type of information that is displayed on the computer. Watch mode displays basic date, time, timer and battery information. Scuba mode measures depth, dive duration and ascension while accounting for multiple gas types, as well as no-decompression limits (NDLs).
Gauge mode refers to the depth and time; however, it won’t calculate NDLs. CCR mode is used for rebreather diving and has a variety of settings regarding closed- and open-circuit gases, tank pressure and set points.
Dive computer algorithms determine how long a diver can stay safely underwater at a certain depth without experiencing decompression sickness. These interpret depth, gas type, temperature and diving time to arrive at a precise calculation; however, you’ll find some models are more conservative in their estimates than others.
How much you can expect to spend on a dive computer
Basic dive computers with single-button operation cost around $150. If you prefer a design with more intuitive features, you’ll spend closer to $250. Dive computers with premium features such as extended battery life and advanced programmable options can cost as much as $500 and above.
Dive computer FAQ
How can alarms and reminders in a dive computer help you?
A. These helpful alerts keep you up to date on important information that may impact your dive, such as temperature changes, gas levels or stop times. You can also set alarms to inform you when you’re reaching maximum depths or NDLs.
Are the wristbands of dive computers interchangeable?
A. Only in select designs, and even with those, you’re fairly limited as to which bands you’ll be able to use. Many dive computers have integrated designs in which the watch band is incorporated with the display in a single piece.
What’s the best best dive computer to buy?
Top dive computer
What you need to know: The straightforward operation will be appreciated by novice and seasoned divers alike.
What you’ll love: Functions are easy to navigate underwater. Its four handy operating modes are simple to master. The alarm includes a flashing LED light. It has a long-lasting battery and is comfortable.
What you should consider: There have been some reports of poor customer service.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top dive computer for money
What you need to know: This affordable option is popular for its large, easy-to-read display.
What you’ll love: With a single-button interface, it is capable of essential tracking from depth to decompression time.
What you should consider: There’s a bit of a learning curve getting used to the computer.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This midrange option has several premium perks.
What you’ll love: Automated features include dive mode with a dive log of 36 hours or 50 dives.
What you should consider: Some users weren’t fans of its single-button interface.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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