Things to Consider When Buying a Scuba Diving Computer]
1. Buttons- Are the buttons easy to use even with dive gloves on?
2.Display Visibility- Can you read the display even in a low light situation. Are the numbers big enough? Does the background light up if needed? The key numbers you need to be able to see are Depth and Available Bottom Time Remaining. Everything else is a matter of preference.The more information you want to see, the smaller it will need to be to fit on the screen.
3.Display Information- scuba diving computers can display a lot of information. Some things you may see are:
- Current Depth
- Max Depth
- Bottom Time Remaining
- Ascent Rate Monitors
- Surface Interval Time
- No Deco Time Limits For Next Dive
- Water Temp
You need to decide what information is important to you and buy a dive computer that displays that info.
5. Power On and Off- Some diving computers begin to record the dive automatically and continue to run for hours after the last dive. Some need to be turned on. Are you the forgetful type or not?
6. Air or Nitrox- Do you dive mixed gas now or plan to in the future? If so you need to buy a dive computer that lets you set the oxygen percentage. You can still use these computers to dive air just set the oxygen % to 21. If you don't plan on diving mixed gas you can save money and buy an air only scuba computer.
5. Aggressive or conservative- An aggressive computer lets you stay down longer than a conservative one. Some diving computers will be aggressive shallow and conservative deep or vice versa. Some computers will let you adjust this.
Research the scuba diving computer before hand and pick one that you are comfortable with.
6. Altitude- Does it adjust automatically, manually or at all for diving at altitude.
7.vAir-integrated or Stand alone- An air integrated computer will monitor tank pressure and calculate air and bottom time remaining. You can get models that either plug into a hose or even do this wirelessly.
Stand alone computers don't record this info and you'll need to use a separate pressure gauge.
8. Batteries- Can you change the batteries yourself or do you need to take it to the shop or even send it back to the manufacturer?
9.Memory- How many dives will it record? Does it only record the last dive or does it record multiple (usually 10).
If it only records the last dive you'll have to write the info down in between dives if you want to do a second.
Does the memory wipe when you turn the power off? Will the dive computer retain that info if the batteries fail?
10. Downloadable- Can you download the recorded dive to your laptop or desktop computer? Do you have to buy a separate software package or hardware (usb cord or other cable) to do so or does it come with everything?
11. How do you "Wear" it?- Is it wrist mounted, console style or clip on?
12. Warranty/Service- What type of warranty does it have? Can you get it serviced locally or will you have to send it to the manufacturer?
There is obviously a lot to consider when looking at buying a scuba dive computer. Make a list of what you want/need and start reading reviews and manufacturers material until you find one that fits.
The more options usually the more expensive it'll be.
If you want a Nitrox compatible, wirelessly air integrated, expanded memory, satellite link up, gps, does everything for you except make the actual dive and it could probably do that remotely too, you're going to pay for it.
The more bare bones it is the cheaper it'll be.