Choosing a Scuba Diving Computer

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Choosing a Scuba Diving Computer

What is a Dive Computer?


A scuba diving computer is a device that tells you alot of information that you need when heading underwater. It will tell you how deep you are, what the temperature is, when to do a safety stop, dive times and intervals plus more information that we will discuss below. These are battery operated and come in two different styles including a watch style and a console. The consoles are connected to a hose and need to be screwed in to the high pressure port of the 1st stage of the regulator. When diving we need to know what depth we are at as it can be quite deceiving on a clear day and looks shallower than what it actually is. We also need to know how long we have been underwater for so we know our limits for the second dive of the day. 


Many dives prefer the basic models of the computers that only offer the minimal features, yet there are some divers who want more. As you begin to start spending more on computers, more features will be available including gas mixes, air integration, digital compass, nitrox and a back light as well as many more. Depending on your budget and need for information, will determine which computer you would choose. Here at Dive Warehouse we have a wide variety of computers from the basic models to the “fully loaded” everything but the kitchen sink models.


Once you have completed your dive certificate and absolutely love the underwater world, getting your gear is generally next on the agenda and in this blog we are going to talk about dive computers and how to choose one from the hundreds of different styles out there in the market. We will compare different styles and give some helpful information that will help you get a better idea of what you want in a computer.


Wrist or Console:


There are two styles of computers and they are a wrist or a console. The wrist is of course is a watch style that you wear on your arm as a normal watch and the console is a gauge like computer that is attached to a hose and is connected to your 1st stage in the HP port. They both do the same thing which is to tell you all you need to know when heading underwater including times, temperatures, depths, surface intervals, safety stops and more. The more you spend the more added extras you will get.


The watch is an independent piece of equipment and can be worn as an everyday watch (if compact enough). This can be used anywhere anytime as it is not connected to your regs, if you choose to travel but don’t want to take all of your gear, the watch is perfect. The only thing with a watch is that you have to remember it! Because it is not connected to your gear, you will need to remember to grab it when heading our for a dive.

Pro's of a Wrist Computer


Pro's -

  • Can be used without a regulator
  • Easier to check 
  • Can see more clearly


The console style is connected to your gear so when you pick up your regs, you know for sure that you are taking your computer also. The consoles are the original style and many old school divers prefer these. They can be a little chunky sometimes, however now a days they are becoming more and more streamline.


Pro's of a Console


Pro's -

  • Can not be forgotten or lost
  • Can not be dropped 
  • Easy to read



Air Integration:

All console computers have air integration which will tell you your air yet only a selected few wrist computers will tell you your air. Air integration is when the computer reads the amount of air that you have in your tank so you know when to start ending your dive. To read the air amount, it needs to be connected to the 1st stage which is on the tank as the consoles are all connected to the 1st stage via the HP hose, they all tell you the air consumption. A watch style computer is of course not connected to your tank so to be able to read the air it needs to have the ability to wirelessly connect with a pod that is connected to the tank.







Saftey Stop Function:

The safety stop function is built into every scuba diving computer and it is important to know about it. A safety stop is when you stop at 5m from the surface and stay there for 3-5 minutes to allow any absorbed nitrogen to be released from your body. Nitrogen absorbs into the body when scuba diving and the longer and deeper you go, the more nitrogen is taken in to your body. Without the safety stop and removal or nitrogen you can get decompression sickness which is when nitrogen bubbles form in the tissue of your body causing cramps, nausea and potential paralysis. Always taking the time to do a safety stop is so incredibly important and your dive computer will help remind you to do so.   


Digital Compass:

Some computers on the market have a built in full tilt 3D compass that can be calibrated once then its set to go. Never get lost again underwater but of course you need to know how to use a compass first. Stand alone compasses are very bulky and some what annoying with having to clip them on to your BCD or keep in your pocket, let alone the ones that strap to your wrist that look like an ipad on your arm. With the built in feature, it makes it more enjoyable to use.  

Nitrox Compatible:

Nitrox is a gas mix made up of approx 78% Nitrogen and 21% oxygen and is often used by tech divers. This mix reduces the amount of nitrogen that is absorbed in to the body allowing divers to stay down for longer and in turn reduces the possibility of decompression sickness. Nitrox is used by recreational divers but is less common than diving with air. A nitrox tank will be clearly marked that it is Nitrox cleaned and can be filled, however there is a course that needs to be completed before any diver can dive using nitrox. 




Each brand is different, however some of the dive computers can have their battery changed by yourself, some need to be done by a service technician and others are rechargeable. We of course always recommend that you have your battery changed by a service center with a pressure test, however in the case of you being overseas or in a remote spot, it is a great feature that you can swap out the battery yourself if needed. The rechargeable batteries are generally a little more expensive but you save money over the years as you are not having to spend money on battery changes.




The screen size can vary from computer to computer. Some have a small compact face and others have a large oversized face with large digits for easy reading. Depending if you are wanting to get a wrist computer that you are planning on wearing as an everyday watch as well as it being your computer or if you will only use it diving and need the large screen will determin which size screen you will choose. There are a few computers on the market now that have full colour LCD display that show colour coded visuals which make it alot easier to read. 


The Brands:

The brands that we carry here include Mares, Oceanic, Cressi, Hollis, Shearwater and Suunto. All of the brands we sell have basic to advanced computers and no brand is any better than the next, divers will generally choose their computer to go along with the brand of their gear, however there are no rules so you can choose your computer on features or looks alone.


Happy Diving!


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