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Best Dive Computers – Our Complete Guide For 2021

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If you are new to diving, check out our introductory article on scuba diving!

An important piece of diving equipment that keeps you safe, tracks your progress, and helps standardize and improve your dives is a dive computer or dive computer watch. So, one of the first diving gear to buy for scuba diving is a dive computer.

If you are in the market for a dive computer watch, read this article carefully. There are so many dive computers out there and you may end up buying one that’s too advanced for you or lacks the functions you want.

As usual, I carried out extensive research on dive watch computers and spoke to experienced divers about the type of dive computers they use to compile a list of the best dive computers on the market. And what I have on this list are super durable and reliable dive watch computers that are packed with dive-friendly features.

Whether you are looking for an entry-level or advanced dive computer, you’ll find one that meets your requirements on this list. Below, you’ll find an overview of the selected dive watch computers, their pros, cons, and a buying guide to help you choose the right dive computer. So here we go.

The 7 Best Dive Computers for 2021

Cressi Leonardo Diving Computer

Cressi Leonardo, black/grey

$249.95
$199.95
 in stock
11 new from $199.95
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of September 19, 2021 6:59 am

The Cressi Leonardo is one of the best entry-level dive computers on the market. Featuring a simple design, the Leonardo has all the basic features an entry-level/recreational diver needs. I like that the Leonardo is very reliable as the manufacturer prioritized safety and efficiency when designing this dive watch computer.

This dive computer comes with only one button which makes it easy to navigate with a short press of the button allowing you to change the menu while a long press allows you to edit. The button is easy to press even with gloves on.

Another wonderful feature of this dive computer is that the screen is easy to read and the backlighting is sufficient. Information like max depth, current depth, water temperature, and current dive time is readily available on the screen.

You’ll also like that the Leonardo comes in a wide variety of colors and you can choose one that matches your diving gear.

 Specifications

  • Best for: beginner divers
  • Air integrated: no
  • Modes: Air, Nitrox, Gauge
  • Battery: CR2430 – user-replaceable
  • Battery life: 2 years (50 dives / year)
  • Connectivity: PC & Mac

Pros

  • Perfect for entry-level and intermediate divers.
  • Easy to use.
  • Clear and easy-to-read display.
  • High-quality strap.
  • Available in different colors.

Cons

  • The alarm is a bit too loud. But this is far from being a deal-breaker.
  • The included strap is a bit long but there is a quality band keeper to control it.

Shearwater Research Peregrine Dive Computer

Shearwater Research Peregrine Dive Computer

$495.00  in stock
13 new from $495.00
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of September 19, 2021 6:59 am

The ShearWater Research Peregrine is another wonderful dive watch computer for entry-level and intermediate divers. You’ll notice that the Peregrine is more expensive than the Leonardo above and this is because the Peregrine has more advanced features than the Leonardo while still being beginner-friendly.

Thanks to the large color screen and sufficient backlighting, it’s easy to read this wrist dive computer. The two-button interface is easy to use and navigate. I like that the Peregrine alerts you by vibrating (can be customized) unlike most other dive computers that make annoying beeps.

The Peregrine also features Bluetooth connectivity which allows you to connect your phone to the dive computer to log your dives. You’ll find a lengthy but very helpful user manual in the package that takes you through how the Peregrine operates.

This dive computer is a bit chunk and is best worn when you are about to go for a dive. You may not be comfortable wearing it on a dive trip.

 Specifications

  • Best for: beginner divers
  • Air integrated: no
  • Modes: Air, Nitrox, 3 Gas Nitrox, Gauge
  • Battery: Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
  • Battery life: 30+ hours (medium brightness)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Pros

  • Big, clear, and beautiful color screen.
  • Easy to use and navigate thanks to the two-button interface.
  • Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Long battery life.
  • Great build quality.

Cons

  • You may find salt crystals accumulating on this dive computer after use. All you need to do is to soak it in freshwater after use.

Mares Smart Air Dive Computer

Mares Smart Air Computer

$359.00  in stock
15 new from $359.00
Amazon.com
as of September 19, 2021 6:59 am

The Mares Smart Air is a highly versatile dive watch computer that’s perfect for beginners and recreational divers that want a dive computer they can grow with. All the features you need as an entry-level diver are in the Smart Air. You’ll also find more advanced features that you need as you gain more experience in this dive computer.

One of the standout features of the Smart Air is air integration which allows you to track the pressure of your scuba tank and determine the amount of air remaining. Of course, you’d need to install a transmitter to use air integration. You may not need this feature when you start to dive but it will come in handy should you switch to more technical diving.

The Mares can be worn as an everyday watch thanks to its sporty design. All you need to do is to set the dive computer to watch mode. You’ll need to switch this dive watch computer to the ‘Apnea Mode’ when you want to dive.

You are also alerted of any potential issues like low battery or when you miss a decompression point. Overall, the Mares Smart Air is a high-quality dive watch computer that will provide value for your money.

 Specifications

  • Best for: beginner and intermediate divers
  • Air integrated: Yes
  • Modes: Scuba, Gauge, Apnea, Watch
  • Battery: Lithium battery – user-replaceable
  • Battery life: 2 – 3 years (50 dives / year)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Pros

  • Great for beginners and recreational divers.
  • Simple and effective display that never feels clustered.
  • Air integration feature.
  • Sporty design means you can wear the Smart Air as an everyday watch.
  • Visible and audible alarm.
  • Great build quality.

Cons

  • Battery drains faster in Watch Mode. However, you can take steps like reducing backlight time to save battery.
  • The strap is a bit short and may even require an extension if you wear thick wetsuits.

Garmin Descent Mk1 Dive Computer

Garmin Descent Mk1, Watch-Sized Dive Computer with Surface GPS, Includes Fitness Features, Silver with Black Band

$999.99
$839.99
 in stock
10 new from $839.99
1 used from $699.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of September 19, 2021 6:59 am

Garmin is a brand well-known for producing quality outdoor and marine equipment. And the Garmin Descent MK1 is one of the finest products to come from the brand.

The MK1 looks like an everyday watch thanks to its sporty design. But this dive watch computer is far from an everyday watch as it’s loaded with tons of features that make it suitable for both advanced and technical divers. You can use the MK1 for freediving as well as recreational and technical scuba diving.

GPS integration, long battery life, and smartwatch capabilities are all icing on the cake for the MK1. Yes, this dive watch computer is expensive but you are getting a product offering full tech-diving and smartwatch capabilities so the MK1 is well worth the price. Did I mention that this dive computer can also monitor your heart rate?

There is also the dive log that allows you to store and review data from up to 200 dives. And you can share your dive data to your PC or phone online through the Garmin Connect or the included mobile app.

 Specifications

  • Best for: Beginner and intermediate divers
  • Air integrated: No
  • Modes: Dive Modes (Single Gas, Multi-Gas, CCR, Gauge, Apnea, Apnea Hunt), Smartwatch Mode
  • Battery: Rechargeable built-in Lithium battery
  • Battery life: 12 days (Smartwatch mode), up to 40 hours (dive mode)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Pros

  • Full tech-diving and smartwatch capabilities.
  • Excellent and user-friendly mobile app.
  • GPS compatible.
  • Comes with a heart rate monitor and a compass.
  • Long battery life.

Cons

  • No air integration feature

Suunto D4i Novo Dive Computer

SUUNTO D4i Novo Dive Watch with USB PC Download Kit, White

$584.90  in stock
2 new from $584.90
Amazon.com
as of September 19, 2021 6:59 am

The Suunto D4i Novo is one of the best and most popular dive computers on the market. This dive computer is compact and light enough to be used as an everyday watch while possessing the durability needed for a dive watch computer.

You’ll find more operating modes in the D4i Novo than other competing models on the market. I love how easy it is to set and customize alarms and diver profiles.

There are four buttons on the D4i Novo which makes navigating a bit complex compared to models with one or two buttons. As such, this dive computer is more suited for intermediate to advanced divers.

I like the LCD screen which is easy to read even in low light situations thanks to the electro-luminescent backlight. You can also adjust the duration of the backlight to be anywhere between 5 to 60 seconds. Heck, you can even turn it off completely.

The battery is long-lasting and there are several color options for you to choose from.

 Specifications

  • Best for: beginner divers
  • Air integrated: Yes
  • Modes: Air, Nitrox, Free, Off
  • Battery: Lithium battery – user-replaceable
  • Battery life: 2 – 3 years (50 dives / year)
  • Connectivity: USB to PC & Mac

Pros

  • Can be used as an everyday wristwatch.
  • Multiple operating modes.
  • The LCD screen is easy to read.
  • Features air integration.
  • Good battery life.

Cons

  • The four small buttons may be a bit difficult to use with thick gloves.

Suunto Eon Core Dive ComputerOur Top Pick

SUUNTO Eon Core Wrist Computer with USB, Eon Core Black, Without Transmitter

$899.95  in stock
27 new from $899.95
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of September 19, 2021 6:59 am

The Suunto Eon Core is another wonderful dive watch computer you should take a look at. I like how easy it is to use and navigate through the menu system of this dive computer even without reading the instruction manual.

All you need to activate the different functions of the Eon Core is a short press or long press on the button. And the timing is configured in such a way that you can’t confuse them.

The screen, which is wide and clear, displays all important diving information with lime green, white, or black bezel. All data are bold and in high contrast colors. And you have the option of adjusting the brightness of the display depending on your diving conditions.

I like the long battery life which is in accordance with the manufacturer’s specified range of 10 – 20 hours depending on the brightness.

Overall, the features of the Suunto Eon Core are perfect for entry-level divers that want a dive computer they can grow with.

 Specifications

  • Best for: Beginner, intermediate, and experienced divers
  • Air integrated: Yes
  • Modes: Air/Nitrox, Gauge
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
  • Battery life: 10-20 hours depending on usage
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Pros

  • Very easy to use.
  • Easy to customize.
  • Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Clear and bright display.
  • Long battery life.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Shearwater Research Perdix Dive Computer

Shearwater Research Perdix Dive Computer

$900.00  in stock
10 new from $900.00
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of September 19, 2021 6:59 am

The Shearwater Research Perdix is one of those products you look at and feel it’s going to be great. The solid casing and the eight bolted down screws give an impression of high build quality which is true as the Perdix can be used as deep as 850 ft/260 meters underwater.

One of the reasons behind the popularity of this dive computer is that you can use it for almost any dive scenario. There is also the LCD display that’s clear, colorful, and easy to read in any condition. I like that the brightness of the screen automatically adjusts to the light in the diving area.

Whether you are a recreational diver or a technical diver, the Perdix got you covered. Recreational or entry-level divers that intend to improve their diving will benefit a lot from this dive watch computer since they won’t need to change it as their diving improves. So, if you’ll be diving like once a year, you are better off looking at other entry-level dive computers.

The touchscreen is easy to use even with gloves on and you can upgrade the software whenever Shearwater releases an update.

 Specifications

  • Best for: beginner to advanced divers
  • Air integrated: Yes
  • Modes: Gauge, OC Recreational. OC Technical
  • Battery: AA battery – user-replaceable
  • Battery life: 40 hours
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth

Pros

  • Has modes for the recreational, technical, and rebreather diver.
  • Great LCD display.
  • Easy to use.
  • Functional digital compass.
  • Easy to plan technical dives thanks to the dive planning function.
  • Excellent build quality.

Cons

  • The battery isn’t rechargeable.

Best Dive Computers – The Guide 

Here, I’ll be providing additional information about dive computers after which the factors to consider when buying a dive computer will be discussed.

What Is A Dive Computer?

A dive computer is a device that measures the depth and time elapsed during a dive and uses this data to track the dissolved nitrogen in your body as you dive. By displaying real-time diving information on an easy-to-read screen, a dive computer tells you how long you can dive safely.

Dive computers also help divers to avoid decompression or at the very least, decompress relatively safely. They’ve become popular among divers because of their ease of use.

The three types of dive computers are the wrist styles, the watch styles, and the console computers with watch-style dive computers having mode popularity because of their versatility.

What Information Does A Dive Computer Display?

I think I don’t need to explain depth, temperature, and air pressure since those metrics are easy to understand. Other important dive information displayed by a dive computer include:

Remaining dive time: Dive computers tell you how long you can remain at your current depth and return safely to the surface.

Air consumption: This is the same at which a diver uses the air in the scuba tank. Your dive computer uses your air consumption rate to calculate remaining dive time.

Nitrogen exposure: Many dive computers tell you how much nitrogen is in your system by using a bar graph or a meter. You can also use this feature to know how much nitrogen you’ve off-gassed towards the end of a dive.

Dive logs: This is the record of your diving history. You can review this data to keep track of your progress, how much air you are using, or the performance of your dive computer.

Compass: Important navigation tool when visibility is bad or you get swept by currents into an unknown or unfamiliar area.

How To Choose Your Dive Computer?

Beginner Divers vs. Advanced Divers

Remember when I said it’s easy to buy a dive computer that’s too advanced for you or lacks the functions you want? You need to choose your dive computer based on your level of experience and whether you intend to improve your skills.

As a beginner or entry-level diver, there are several beginner dive computers on the market that displays basic diving information. The Cressi Leonardo reviewed above is one of such dive computers.

However, you’ll eventually outgrow the Leonardo if you dive regularly and have made improvements as regards your diving skill. Then, you’d need dive computers like the Mare Smart Air, Shearwater Research Peregrine, and other advanced dive computers on this list which are more expensive.

If budget isn’t really a problem, you can start with the Peregrine or Smart Air which grows with you as you make progress in your diving.

Of all the dive computers on this list, only the Shearwater Research Perdix is truly capable of handling technical diving. Technical diving is on another level entirely, since you dive deeper than you do in recreational diving, and will require specialized training and equipment.

The dive computers on this list are mostly aimed at the recreational diver.

Battery

Your dive computer will either use rechargeable or replaceable batteries or even both. If it’s a replaceable battery, make sure you can replace it yourself without visiting a professional for your convenience. On the other hand, if it’s a rechargeable battery, you should make sure it’s fully charged or has sufficient charge before going for a dive.

Gas Blends Support

Depending on whether you intend to make decompression stops when diving, you may have more than one gas blend in your tank. So, you should also watch out for the different gas blends your dive computer can keep track of. Most recreational divers use two gas blends with a maximum of 50% oxygen. Some dive computers are capable of supporting multiple gas blends and can even allow you to switch between your gas blends when diving.

Air Integration

Dive computers that have the air integration feature connect to a Bluetooth transmitter mounted to your regulator’s first stage. This transmitter allows your dive watch computer to keep track of air pressure which makes it tell you your air consumption rate and the amount of time you can use at your current depth before you exhaust your air supply.

If you dive regularly, you should consider investing in a dive computer with this feature.

Screen Type

Most entry-level dive computers have a black and white LCD display or a full-color display. Some models use a ELD backlit screen that retains a glow after a dive torch is shined at them thanks to the phosphor-luminescent technology used on them. And this means you can still read the screen of this type of dive computer even when the backlit fails.

However, full-color display are more popular nowadays because they of their aesthetics and ability to display in great detail.

Connectivity

Some dive computers can connect and sync with your PC, Mac, or Smartphone through Bluetooth to plan and log your dives. If this is a feature you want, you should go for dive computers that have it.

Older models of dive computers may connect to your devices via a USB cable.

Modes and Features

Dive computers usually have various operation modes depending on how sophisticated they are. Entry-level dive computers usually have basic models such as air, Nitrox, and gauge.

Interests dive computers have more operation modes like Watch, which allows you to use your dive computer as an everyday watch, or Freediving for when you want to dive.

More advanced dive computers will have modes like Trimix and rebreather.

Other features that can come in handy include an electronic compass and built-in GPS.

Final Thoughts

A dive computer is an essential piece of your scuba diving equipment and it is important to choose the right one! It need to be reliable, easy to use and give the right information when you need it. Choose your dive computer according to your diving level – no need to get something too advanced if you are a beginner!

Hopefully, after reading this article, you now have a good idea of what a good diving computer should be like and how to choose it!

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