Dive computers are the one piece of gear we get most questions about. This is not surprising as there are dozens of models on the market with each one trying to claim superiority over every other one! Add this to the fact that they’re seen as pretty much essential dive gear (when was the last time you were on a charter and saw an experienced diver without one), and us Instructors are rarely seen without ours nearby!
All of this can make the process of choosing a computer daunting, but it really doesn’t need to be that way! Let us here at Performance Diver help you through.
Type of computer
Dive computers come in many different shapes and sizes, but can loosely be separated into three main types.
Firstly, we have the console or gauge mount computer, such as a Genesis resource pro. These units sit neatly into your gauge console and help ensure that all your essential information is in one, neat place. The rubber console generally offers good protection for your computer and, as it’s always attached to your regs, you’re unlikely to jump in the water having forgotten your computer! These are also extremely popular with many NZ divers simply due to the fact that it keeps your arms clear of anything that might snag when you’re reaching into that cray hole….
‘Puck’ style wrist computers are normally exactly the same computer found in your console mount, but tucked into a wrist boot, like the wrist mount version of the genesis resource pro or Scubapro Aladin Tec 2G. This means that you wear them like a watch, albeit a chunky one! This way of wearing your computer is very popular overseas (with divers who hunt less often) as it allows extremely easy monitoring of your depth and time while keeping your SPG console far more streamlined.
Finally, we have wristwatch style computers like the Scubapro Meridian and Mares Matrix. These dive computers match style with performance, with all their technology packed into a small, compact watch style body. These are very popular with blue water divers as well as people who dive large amounts, such as your instructor or dive master, simply because they then don’t have to take it off!
Time, depth, temperature, gas switching, optional transmitters, user changeable battery, rechargeable…. the list of potential features goes on and on! The key here is to consider the diving that you’re doing now, and the diving that you want to be doing. If you’re the kind of diver who goes away for a couple of weekends a year, then a tough but basic computer that you can change the battery on yourself is a perfect option. If you’re an Advanced Open Water diver who can’t get enough time in the water, maybe you should consider making sure your next dive computer is Nitrox capable. Or maybe you’re planning on diving deep, way past recreational limits and becoming a technical diver? Then you should be looking at a computer that can handle multiple gases for your decompression. The moral of the tale is make sure you think about the future when you buy your computer, as a higher spec computer that will grow with you certainly works out cheaper in the long run compared to buying a new computer every time you have a new qualification!
This is the science bit. Every dive computer’s software is based upon various algorithms written by people who are far cleverer than I’ll ever be. Manufacturer’s then license these algorithms for their dive computers, or employ scientists to write unique or adapted versions for their own brand. This does mean that, while diving, buddies who have different dive computers may have different remaining no deco times, even if they have had an almost identical dive.
Manufacturers have worked to create programs which aim to minimise the risk of DCS, based upon huge amounts of research and data. However, it’s important to remember that there is a huge amount we still don’t know about DCS and it’s causes, so no algorithm, tables or dive computer can offer a 100% guarantee of safety.
We hope this helps you choose your computer, but feel free to contact us if you have any questions.