Despite the surfeit of dive computer reviews and comparisons out there – some of which helped shape my choices – I feel a short, targeted list of recommendations might be of use to many new divers, overwhelmed by the selection.
Oceanic Geo 2.0
Price: $280- $500 USD (Avg $350 – $400USD)
Size: Men’s watch sized
- Dual algorithm – P. DSAT (very liberal, lots of bottom time) and P. Z+ (the most conservative algorithm out there. More than Suunto or Cressi. Especially for repetitive diving.)
- User replaceable battery
- The USB cable to connect to your computer costs $100USD.
This is my first recommendation when it comes to recreational dive computers for a traveller. Small, good battery life and great No Deco Limits.
Can be found for about $200USD second hand, as well.
Oceanic computers are made by Pelagic. Pelagic has been bought by Aqualung, and have released their own version of the Geo 2.0, called the i200. Same, but ONLY has the Pelagic Z+ algorithm, which is so conservative I do not like recommending it.
For those wanting to spend an extra $500 (RRP $800), you can get the Oceanic OCi. It has a bad screen layout, but has a digital compass (which isn’t great, but handy), and has wireless air integration. The Aqualung version is the i450T, which fixes the screen layout, but has the really
bad conservative algorithm. As a sidenote, the wireless transmitter used by the OCi and i450T is the same as used by the Shearwater Perdix AI, so there are some other upgrade/compatibility routes.
What about the…
Suunto Zoop Novo
Price: $225 – $330USD.
It’s reasonable. It’s cheap. It supports nitrox. Has a backlight. Battery lasts about 150-200 dives (at least 18 months of diving). Everyone has one – getting help, service and assistance on a Suunto Zoop is dead easy.
No user-serviceable battery. It’s big. I’m not a fan of the algorithm – it seems less granular than Suunto’s other computers – but it’s a better algorithm than Aqua Lung’s or Cressi’s.
Can be found second hand for under $200USD.
The previous version, the Zoop, has one less button and no backlight, but can be found for under $100USD now. This makes it a great backup / spare computer, or just a first one to tide you over until you know what you really want.
Price: $180-$350 USD
Sure, why not. It’s cheap, small and easy. No complaints. Battery lasts at least 200 dives. “800-1000 dives in one year, 200-300 dives over two years, 50 dives over 3 years. If sleep mode is activated between dive sessions, 300 dives over 6 years.”
Price: $175-$225 USD
It’s far from my favourite, but I wouldn’t complain about it. It’s conservative, bigger than the Mares Smart or Oceanic, but not as big as the Zoop. Be aware that it is very sensitive to depth changes. So much so that you don’t want to put it on the wrist of someone who is still flailing around with their arms when diving, otherwise the alarm will go off. All. The. Time. This can be turned off, admittedly.
It only has one button, which bothers some users to the time it takes to move around the menus, especially if you pass something and need to loop around again.
Battery life is “2 years based on 50 dives per year“, which seems far less than it really lasts in the real world (where, like most computers, it lasts for hundreds of dives, and is more year-based than dive-based).
This is a tough computer to recommend. Many dive sites give it their “Editor’s Choice” or similar for entry level computers, but many users complain about it in the real world. With such drastically contrasting opinions, I’m not sure who to believe.
Price: $300 USD
Now we’re getting away from traditional computers into something a bit fancier. Most of the computers with OLED screens (or similar) are around $1000USD and up.
The Deep Blu is surprisingly cheap for what you’re getting: it only costs $300USD new.
Here’s the problem: it only gets 6 to 12 hours of battery life per charge. If you’re on a liveaboard for a week, diving 5 times a day or more, this might not be the best computer for you. But if you can clean and dry it, and plug it into your USB charger, you can go again the next day.
If you’re a casual recreational diver, with 2-4 dives a day, and then back home to the dry resort, this could be perfect.