Dive Computers

April 16, 2021 4 min read

Dive Computers

Buying a dive computer - what to think about 

So many lovely shiny computers, so many colours, so many shapes and so many different prices.  And to add to the confusion so much of the time you are comparing apples and pears because they all do different things!  

So where to start?

Rule 1. When looking at computers look beyond the now.

Having owned about 12 computers over the years (and still having rather too many!) the best and shortest piece of advice I can give you is to always buy a computer that is a better diver than you.  Buy one which takes you beyond where you are now.

Using myself as an (admittedly embarrassing) example.  Computer 1 - an air-only computer that absolutely met every need a of my diving at the time.  Within 6 months I was Nitrox qualified and needed a computer that could also EANx dive!

Fast forward many years. My entry into tech diving saw me upgrading my upgraded upgrade to a triple gas watch-style computer.  Absolutely spot-on for the tech stuff I was doing at the time in warm water with 3 gasses.

Within the year I was contemplating Trimix. Hmm new computer needed.

And then out came the full colour screens which as my years have now advanced somewhat helps me to see the screen more easily. Guess what...


Rule 2. Buy for where you'll be diving.

If you are going to be diving in the UK you may find the smaller watch-style computers too small in the slightly less bright water.  They do look fabulous (check out this little beauty) on and have one great advantage over the bigger more traditional computers; you can wear them everyday.  

When I got my first watch-style dive computer one of the reasons I gave my husband was that I would never forget it because it was always on my wrist... He bought the rationale, I bought the computer!

If you are diving in the UK you may find it better to have a larger face and preferably a full colour LCD screen.  Yes we can have glorious sunny, clear viz here, but sometime (very, very occasionally) we don't.  It's when we don't that we really do need to be able to see our computers screens!

Both watch and larger screen models will cover every form of diving.  The Shearwater Teric is a watch-style computerthat will take you into Trimix and CCR diving and beyond. 

On the other hand the Aqua Lung I770Ris a large screen computer primarily designed for the travel market.

Ultimately work out which you prefer, but do think about what you will be able to see through a mask in less than ideal viz! 


Rule 3. Keeping the power.

All computers no matter what the power source have 1 thing in common.  If the charge falls below a certain level they won't let you dive on them. So be honest with yourself about what is the best option for you.

Broadly there are 3 kinds of battery or power-source for dive computers:


  • USB charged
  • Batteries (often button or AA/AAA batteries)
  • Technician-only replaceable batteries 

USB ones tend to be the ones that need charging most often.  Think about the availability of a power source for your USB charging cable. Consider how organised and disciplined you are about charging things and remembering to charge things. 

However KNOWING the battery is full because you charged it yourself can be a great comfort. 

Button or AA/AAA style battery powered.  Very quick to change and most will last you a fair amount of time (depending on dive time/brightness of screen etc).  You do need to think about carrying spare batteries - they aren't always available as you steam gentlyaway from shore on a boat!

Technician-only. These tend to last much the longest. A year or a lot longer in most instances.  The knowledge that your computer has had its battery changed by a professional who will not be damp or sandy from diving, knows exactly which is the correct manufacturers specified battery and will have checked its working is incredibly reassuring.

You will need to allow time for this to be done as most centres can't do it while you wait.  Some models even have to be sent away.  But as long as you allow for this into your servicing schedule all will be well.


Rule 4. Looking good

We all know the art of diving is not how you dive but how you look... 😜

Think about the strap. Metal, rubber, bungee? What's your preference and what works with your kit.  If you are dry suited you may well need an extension strap.

Think about colour - yes if you like a certain colour then get your computer in that colour.  Why not? It may help you to see it, or identify it as yours if you put it down somewhere.

Think about keeping it on you.  Get a wrist strap - the last thing you want is for the your computer to drop off if it comes undone.

Think about Air Integrated or not Air Integrated.  Advantage - you know exactly how much gas you have to the individual bar.  You also know how much time you have left at a given depth with the gas you have at that time. A fabulous addition to your computer.  Disadvantage - Cost.


Ultimately what you buy needs to suit what you want.  ALL computers these days will be able to dive deeper and longer than you can.  Get one that you can understand easily and you feel comfortable with.


Dale Spree
Dale Spree

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