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How to Choose the Best Dive Computer for You

A dive computer gives you all the important information you need to dive safely, in real-time. Without one, you’re stuck working with a dive watch, dive tables, and a depth gauge to figure out vital calculations like decompression time, safe diving time, etc.

A dive computer does everything depth gauges and dive tables do in one convenient package, and lets you spend more of your dive having fun rather than racking your brain and trying to do mental math or guess about your safety!

Can you dive without one? Sure. Do you really want to? I don’t think so! Computers allow you to be much more flexible, spontaneous, and just plain safe under the waves.

Dive computer

Here’s how to find your perfect dive computer:

Decide on your budget

Dive computers can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,500+ USD.

Recreational divers probably don’t need to spend more than $500 USD, if that. You can get some really great models for less, and you’ll only need to pay more if you want a technical computer that features air integration.

Typically, serious divers and more experienced folks who want air integration would want to purchase the top-of-the-line computers. An exception might be if you’re a committed newcomer with an ample budget, who wants to start right out with air integration.

More expensive computers have more versatility with gas mixes, algorithms, and navigation settings. The more you spend, the more customizable your computer will be overall. You’ll also pay a premium for air system integration.

Consider air system integration

Some computers are “independent,” which means that they work on their own. They’ll replace a few pieces of your dive equipment (depth gauge, compass, etc.), but they won’t actually connect to your air system. For the majority of recreational divers, they’re all you really need.

Most technical (and more expensive) dive computers are “integrated,” which means that they connect to your regulator and air supply. A computer with air system integration can actually track the air in your tank, and give you dead-on calculations. Most recreational models don’t have air system integration, which keep costs down for your computer and for the rest of your gear.

Understand algorithms

Your computer figures out dive times and no decompression schedules by plugging in data like depth, time, and pressure into an algorithm. Some even have multiple algorithms on the same model! There are lots of different algorithms used, and they each have a bias. They’re all more or less conservative, meaning they’ll take either more and longer stops or fewer and shorter stops. The same is true of their no-fly recommendations and total dive time allowances. When you’re comparing dive computer options, be sure to get a sense of the relative conservatism of each model.

The less experienced you are, the more conservative a computer you want. You never want to take any chances when you’re starting out. Even experienced divers like me often use more conservative algorithms to stay safe.

Your own body is as important a consideration as your experience level. If you’re more susceptible to decompression sickness, you’ll want to stick with conservative algorithms, regardless of experience.

The best dive computers give you a few different algorithm options.

gemma smith dive computer

The Essentials

Backlight: I would never buy anything without a backlight. You might not think you need one, but a backlight is one of those things you really want to have if something goes wrong.

Water-activation: Water-activated dive computers turn on and start calculating as soon as they hit the surface. Since all of us forget to turn things on sometimes, this is one convenience you don’t want to do without. It’s better to pay a bit more and be able to trust your computer to work even when you forget to tell it to!

Alarms: alarms are the feature that guarantee you’ll see urgent alerts when you need to, because even the most attentive diver occasionally forgets to look at their computer. Look for alarms that are adjustable and easy to program. You want to be able to use whatever is going to catch your attention, whether it’s noise or flashing lights.

Basic display features: any good dive computer should show you the basics at a glance. Those are: maximum depth, current depth, dive time, and no-fly/no-stop time.

Choosing between models

Think about where you are now with your experience level and dive habits. What kind of dives are you doing now? Where do you want to be a year from now? Will you be happy with something basic, or do you want lots of room to grow?

Knowing your own preferences is the most surefire way to insure you’ll be happy with the computer you buy. So, try as many as you can while you’re at the rental stage. Go to shops and play around with demo models.

Make sure it’s a good fit for you:

Can you see everything you need to? Does it fit well with your wrist/equipment?

What about the display? Is it set up in a way that makes sense to you? Do you find it easy enough to navigate?

*Do you like to take an extra deep stop? This practice has been shown to have noticeable benefits over the traditional safety stop pattern, so look for deep stop features on newer dive computers. If you want to get super technical, this study breaks down all the reasons to take deep stops in detail.

Article written by Josh Kaplan 

Author Bio

Josh Kaplan is a passionate scuba diver, shipwreck explorer, and world traveller. He’s always exploring new destinations around the world and writing about them for various publications. He also reviews dive gear and writes buying guides for scubalist.pro, a site which aims to connect divers with affordable, high-quality equipment.

Tec 40 – Who, What, Where, When, Why?

Are you a scuba diver looking for a new challenge? Or maybe you’re wanting to explore underwater places deeper than 30 meters or that nobody has ever seen before? Then the PADI Tec 40 course might just be for you. Not only is this course a great place to start your technical diving journey, but you will also have the chance to build on and advance your recreational skills.

Who Should Take the PADI Tec 40 Course?

You may have looked at or heard about technical diving and thought, is this for me? As a Tec Deep Instructor, I would conduct a casual interview over a coffee with anyone who expressed interest in technical diving. It is important to discuss the aspects of the course and the general attitude required to take this kind of challenge on. It takes discipline and commitment to really get stuck into technical diving, as well as an adventurous mind set. Most of all I like divers having a good reason to get started, not just “I want to go deep”. I prefer hearing that someone has a goal that they’re wanting to achieve using the technical diving system.

To start your technical journey with the Tec 40 course, you must first be a PADI Advanced Open Water DiverEnriched Air Diver with at least 10 dives logged using enriched air deeper than 18 meters/60 feet, Deep Diver with at least 10 dives logged at 30 meters/100 feet and you must be at least 18 years of age with a minimum of 30 logged dives. Completing the Tec 40 course will allow you to extend your deep bottom time while exploring wrecks or deep reefs, for longer. The Tec 40 course is also the stepping stone to PADI Tec 45 and PADI Tec 50 courses which extend your depth, capabilities, skills and bottom time even further.

What is the Tec 40 Course?

The PADI Tec 40 course is your first step into technical diving. It is a basic level of decompression diving that will allow you to dive with redundancy of gases, higher mixes of Enriched Air of up to 50%, decompression on EANX 50% for conservatism and up to 10 minutes of decompression. With the Tec 40 certification under your belt, you will certified to make limited decompression dives to 40 meters/130 feet.

Where Should I Take My Diving to the Next Level?

This is one of the coolest things about technical diving – it can be completed almost everywhere! PADI has over 366 TecRec Centres in over 64 different countries, worldwide. This diversity allows you the freedom to pick from the top diving destinations with the most skilled technical instructors, worldwide. Whether you want to dive in search of 40 meter wrecks in Malta or if you want to cruise with hammerhead sharks 40 meters down in Borneo, you will be able to find a PADI TecRec Centre to achieve your goal.

When Should I Become a Tec 40 Diver?

The simple answer – when you’re ready.  This could be when you’re an Advanced Open Water Diver with 40 logged dives or when you’re a Master Scuba Instructor with over 500 logged dives. Despite if you have been diving for 6 months or 10 years, it’s all down to the individual’s skill level and attitude. A quick discussion with a PADI Tec Instructor will help you answer this question.  Our main aim is to keep everyone safe, so we don’t let anyone expose themselves to this level of diving before they’re ready. But when you’re ready, you will know and so will your instructor!

Why Should I Take the Tec 40 Course?

For so many reasons! You will enhance your skills learnt from your experience as a recreational diver, you will learn gas planning, buoyancy control, you will become a problem solving master, and much more. With guidance from your PADI Tec Instructor and the use of the technical syllabus, you will learn a range of extra skills that will take your diving skills from being advanced to expert.

Are you interested in having more time to explore places that others have never seen before? Or maybe you just want to advance your diving skills? Learn more about the PADI Tec 40 course and contact your local PADI Tec Rec Centre today.

AKONA products

One of our new fantastic ranges, AKONA products are built for any adventure in any climate, any environment, and are uniquely designed for activities both below water and above. Engineered to be rugged, versatile and feature rich, all AKONA products are constructed for a lifetime of exploration. For more details click on one of the following: BAGS, GLOVES

PADI Enriched Air Speciality

The PADI Enriched Air Diver course is PADI’s most popular speciality scuba course. Why? Because scuba diving with enriched air nitrox gives you more no decompression time, especially on repetitive scuba dives. If staying down longer and getting back in the water sooner sounds appealing, then don’t hesitate to become an enriched air diver.
PADI speciality-£120.
Give us a bell on 01952 257 590 for more information.

PADI Equipment Speciality

Don’t miss a dive due to minor issues with your scuba diving equipment. Whether it’s a missing o-ring, wetsuit tear or a broken fin strap, the PADI Equipment Specialist course teaches you to manage basic repairs and adjustments. You’ll also learn more about how your gear works, making you more comfortable with it and better prepared to take care of your investment.
Full day course for £99.00
Don’t forget this speciality is another one towards your Master Scuba Diver Rating!
Please note this is a classroom based course.
Give us a bell on 01952 257 590 if you would like to join us on this course.

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