Today there is a large selection of dive computers. As a beginner you can easily lose track of it. Almost all manufacturers of diving equipment such as SubGear, Scubapro, Oceanic, Cressi and Mares offer their own models. Especially the Finnish company Suunto has made a name for itself in this market segment. The quality of all dive computers offered in specialty stores is consistently good. In addition to breathing air, the modern devices are also suitable for dives with Nitrox. Simple entry-level models therefore still serve advanced divers well.
Why should you as a newbie own a dive computer? It’s not sure if you still feel like diving after a few dives? That’s right, but a diving computer is an essential piece of equipment. If you do not own it, you must rent it for the duration of the diving holiday. At many dive centers, a dive computer is by far the most expensive part of the equipment. Often it is even cheaper to buy a computer at home than to lend it on site for a period of two weeks. The most important reason for your own dive computer, however, is the operation. The rental equipment such as regulator, diving suit or BCD is very similar in handling. With dive computers, however, there are some big differences in the display. Therefore, it is not a good idea to go deeper with a different device each time. In all likelihood you can not control the borrowed model safely and can read the ad in stressful situations. This can be very dangerous and you should not take this risk.
In principle, the individual types of dive computers differ in the calculation of the nitrogen saturation of the diver. For beginners, the different algorithm is not so important. Decisive is the display of the rest zero time, which is very similar for all dive computers. This is the time that a diver without deco stop has for his dive. Dive computers have three different systems:
1. Dive computer without air integration
The simplest and most affordable model, there is no connection to the scuba tank. Air consumption is therefore not included in the calculation of the residual zero time. This must be checked on the pressure gauge by the diver himself. The computer display is clear and you will not be overwhelmed by a variety of details. A dive computer without air integration is particularly suitable for beginners.
2. Dive computer with air integration and hose connection
Models with a hose connection are no longer up-to-date these days. The dive computer is in a console just like the depth gauge, the compass and the pressure gauge. The advantage here is the fixed hose connection, which is hardly susceptible to interference. The computer can additionally integrate the residual air and the air consumption into the calculation. Not so convenient for diving beginners is the position in the console. In stressful situations, it can be difficult to find the dive computer on the BCD.
3. Dive computer with air integration and wireless connection
An air-integrated dive computer equipped with a wireless transmitter has the most modern technology on the market. In this model also air consumption and residual air quantity are included in the calculations. The bottle pressure is transmitted via radio to the computer. However, this wireless technology is susceptible to interference. Problems with radio transmission can occur if several divers carry wireless transmitters during a shared dive. The electric charge of underwater flash units can also affect the system. In addition, these models are expensive and can easily overwhelm beginners.
Today, most dive computers are worn like a watch on the wrist. This applies to both simple and air-integrated devices. The biggest advantage is that the display is easy to read. In more stressful moments, even a novice automatically knows where to find the dive computer.
What features should a dive computer have for beginners?
Virtually all modern devices display the most important values. What are the key features you should focus on as a freshman?
1. The dive counter
As soon as the dive computer comes into contact with water, a clock starts counting forward. The dive counter shows the exact duration of the dive.
2. The current depth
The integrated depth gauge indicates the current depth.
3. The rest zero time
Based on the duration of the dive and the depth of the dive, the computer calculates the remaining time before a decompression stop becomes necessary.
4. Decompression stops
Beginners should maintain a safe distance from the no-stop limit and not plan deco stops. If decompression stops are still necessary, the dive computer displays them.
5. Acoustic alert
If the diver rises faster than 18 meters per minute, an audible warning will sound.
6. The safety stop
After completion of the dive, a standard 3-minute safety stop at a water depth of five meters is performed. Modern dive computers automatically start a stopwatch as soon as the diver is five meters deep.
7. Nitrogen saturation during repetitive dives
If there are several dives in one day, the computer stores the remaining nitrogen saturation. In addition, it calculates the degradation of nitrogen during the rest period at the surface. Depending on the residual saturation, the no-stop limits are automatically determined for further dives.
8. The no-fly time
After the last dive you should not get on a plane immediately. The remaining time to airworthiness indicates the dive computer. Regardless of the ad, it is safest to adhere to a 24-hour no-fly time.
In the beginning it is not necessary to have a dive computer with many extras. Many simple models, which are limited to the essentials, are well suited for beginners. Cheap offers are available from 140 euros. However, it is important that the battery replacement can be carried out independently. Nothing is more annoying than to find on a diving holiday that an exchange is only possible at the retailer. It is best to take a replacement battery and an additional rubber seal. Then nothing stands in the way of an eventful diving holiday.
The following dive computers have a particularly good price / performance ratio:
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