What are the Different Types and Styles of Dive Computers?
So you finally decided to buy a dive computer, but quickly release that there are many different types and styles to choose from.
Whether or not you choose a console or wrist mount, air integration, hose or hoseless, or one with Nitrox capabilities there is no doubt, that your newly acquired computer will soon become your new best friend underwater.
Because dive computers are more accurate than tables, you will find your self diving deeper, safer and much longer, giving you an overall better sense of security and the ability to enjoy the sport more fully.
But, which type is best for you?
The type that works best for you will largely be determined by your personal preference, the type of diving , your overall budget, and the type that works best with you current gear.
But, before you go out and buy just any old computer, there are a few questions you should as yourself.
How am I going to Mount the Dive Computer?
This is the first questions you should ask yourself when looking to buy a new dive computer. This can either be wrist mounted, console mount, or mask mounted, each has their own advantages.
Where you are going mount the dive computer all boils down to your personal preference, as there is no best place to mount them.
Now lets look at some of the mounting options available.
Just as the name implies, these types/styles of dive computers are mounted to your wrist similar to watches, but just a little bit larger.
There are also watch-sized dive computer that serves a dual purpose as a watch and dive computer. Many are stylish enough to be worn as an everyday watch at work or special event, but still have all the capabilities and features of a top of the line dive computer.
Because some wrist mount computers are designed to be compact enough to fit on your wrist you will find that the digits can sometimes be a little bit small, especial those of dive computer watches.
So if your vision is not what it used to be, or your going to be diving in water with bad visibility you might want to go with a computer with larger digits.
One of the major disadvantage of owning these types of computers is the fact they are not directly attached to your dive equipment and can easily be misplaced. However, because they are not attached to your dive equipment, they can also be used for a depth gauge and timer while free diving.
When researching dive computer you will soon notice that many models of wrist mounted dive computers can also be mounted into your console as well. This is a great benefit because it give you the option of mounting you computer both ways without have to buy separate dive computer.
Console Mounted Dive Computers generally combines a pressure gauge, dive computer, and often a compass in a convenient location.
They attached to your regulator via hose, and are relativity larger with bigger displays than their wrist mounted counterparts.
Because they are connected to your dive equipment it makes them a lot harder to misplace.
But, just because they are console computers, it does not necessarily mean that they are air Interacted (more about air integration below). To show pressure reading it needs to be directly connected to your tank via hose or hoseless transmitter (more on these below).
Those that are not air integrate typically come with a pressure gauge, mounted in the console as well.
One of their main disadvantage is that they can burn trough batteries quicker, as they are activated sometimes when you don’t need them, for instance in a pool during training.
Mask mounted dive computer is the newest way to access your dive information. Because it is a fairly new concept is not as popular as the other two mounting options.
At the moment there are only a couple available on the market today. I fell this is a great concept and you are sure to see more of them as they begin to catch on.
One of the major advantages of this type of computer is that the screen for the dive computer is mounted inside the mask, which actually frees up you hands to do other things and reduces movement in the event you need to be really still.
Do You Need Air Integration or Not?
Now that you’ve decide which type of mounting you prefer, its time to decide whether you need Air Integration or Not?
Air Integrated computer are connected to your air source and displays your current air pressure digitally on your dive computer.
A great benefit of air integration is that it allows your dive computer to calculate your current breathing rate, and tell you how much time you have left at your current breathing rate.
You generally have to pay a few hundred dollars for an air integrated dive computer, if you can afford it this feature is defiantly worth it.
Air Integrated computer comes in two basic types either hose or hoseless.
Hose Vs Hoseless
Hoseless is the more expensive of the two, and consist of a transmitter that attaches to the high pressure port of your scuba regulator first stage and send the air information wireless to your dive computer.
Having a hoseless air integrated dive computer cuts done on the amount of hose you need and make you more stream line while diving.
Some dive computer today can even read from multiple transmitter, which is great from keeping an eye on your body. These are also perfect for technical diver who may use multiple tanks on one dive.
Air Integrated dive computer connected by hose give you your air information directly from your high pressure hose. Many of them come with a quick disconnect hose, in the even you need to detach your computer from your regulator for logging dive or storage.
Will I be Diving With Nitrox?
It is said that a diver diving with a Nitrox mix of 36% consume about 12 percent less gas than a diver using normal Air.
Because of this diving with enriched air has become more popular the last few year, and so have computers with Nitorx capabilities.
If there is a slim chance that you will dive with Nitrox in the future, then I would strongly suggest that you purchase a computer with enriched air capabilities. This will save you the expense of having to buy a whole new computer in the future.
The difference is price is only slight different that one without, and now a days most manufactures are staring to produce all their computer with Nitrox.
However, if you would like to save a few bucks and are sure that you will not dive with Nitrox, then purchasing one with out this capability is perfectly fine.
keep in mind thou, that if your computer can calculate Nitrox then it can also calculate air diving as well, but this does not work the other way around.
So there you have it, the different types and style of dive computers.
One thing to remember when you are shopping around is that there is no right or wrong scuba dive computer.
You just need to pick one that suits your needs and the style you are most comfortable with. Not to mention one that suits your budget as well.
Now that you have an idea of what type/style you want, lets look at some of the more important features in your dive computer.
You might also want to check out the ultimate dive computer buying guide, for more information about buying the right dive computer.