After the regulator, the dive computer should be the next purchase you should consider. A dive computer will record and store data from your previous dives. Because of this fact, you should have your personal dive computer and not share it with others, as the data stored is only useful for your case.
Now, what should you consider when purchasing a dive computer?
Wrist mount or console
This is really a feature of preferences. The technology is so advanced today that you can get the same information on a console or a dive watch. If you prefer to have your information on a wide screen that can show all the information you require at once, you should consider going for a console that can easily be attached to the BCD or regulator.
If you are a snorkeler, apnea or a freediver, you might want to consider a wristwatch. It does not have any algorithm for scuba diving but it will have all the information you need, such as depth and time spent underwater. The wristwatch can easily be used for day to day purposes.
For scuba divers and technical divers, it is recommended to go for wrist-mounted computers. The larger display will allow you to follow more data and information at the same time.
Air system integration
Depending on your advancement in diving, you can consider the air integration. The consoles have a direct connection to the regulator and air supply. That way you can collect all the information on one screen and you can have the gas tank pressure converted from bars in minutes remaining until depletion.
Some of the wristwatches and wrist-mounted computers are wireless enabled and you can receive or acquire an extra wireless air integration. This can be connected to the regulator’s first stage in order to get the gas tank information on your wrist.
Here is where your experience and body come together. Most dive computers on the market have multiple algorithms integrated, calculating different dive time and decompression stops using data like depth, time and pressure.
As a less experienced diver, you want your dive computer to be more conservative. You should never take chances when diving. Even more experienced divers opt for a conservative dive computer to ensure their extra safety.
If you are doing dives that require the use of multiple gas mixes, you should look for a dive computer that has this feature. Some of them also include a CCR mode (Closed-Circuit Rebreather).
Newer models integrated colour grading. Based on how important the information is, you can have it displayed in different colours to help you identify an issue faster.
Nightlight or backlight is another useful feature you can look after. Even if you don’t do night dives or deep dives, you should still consider it. You never know when it will save your life!
Each and one of us divers at one point during a dive forgot to check their computer in time and probably missed some important information alert. Newer technologies offer you the possibility of setting audio or visual notification for your alarms.
Last, but not least, you should consider the overall usability and ease of use for the computer. Play around a bit with it when selecting what computer to buy, see how easy is to switch the information shown, how clear it is displayed and how much you are able to personalise it based on your preferences.
Maintaining the dive computer
When purchasing a dive computer, make sure you read the instructions manual BEFORE doing anything else. The manual will give you detailed information on how to operate it, what information to display, how to change or change the battery and so on.
After each dive, rinse it in fresh water and make sure to push every button multiple times. This will avoid them getting stuck or hard to push. The dive computer should be stored in cool dry places and never left under direct sunlight, especially the display.
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