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Scuba Gear Buying Guides: Dive Computers (Special Features)

In the first part of our buying guide on dive computers we saw the 2 main styles and the basic functions you’ll find in every dive computer (Click here if you missed it). Now here’s a closer look at some of the extra features you’ll find offered that differentiate dive computers from each other. By knowing what’s on offer and the choices you have, it’ll be easier for you to pick what may be the most suitable for you.

Auto Activate- Some dive computers automatically turn themselves on when submerged underwater at a particular depth. This helps if you are rather forgetful as others require you push a button to start while some will not work under water if they have not been activated on the surface first. Take the Mares Nemo Excel Dive Computer Wrist Watch pictured right for example.

Memory- Dive computers come with different memory storage sizes. What you may want to look for though is one that retains the memory incase the battery has to be changed during a dive day or trip. This way you don’t lose the data during a battery change.

Nitrox Compatible Nitrox diving is becoming increasingly popular. While all nitrox dive computers can be used to make regular air dives, an air computer must be nitrox programmable in order to be used with a mixed breathing gas as it contains a higher percentage of oxygen than air. Well worth it if you intend on diving nitrox any time in the future or as possibility.
See the Suunto D6 Wrist Computer pictured left for example.

PC Connectivity- Many dive computers come with a way to download the information on it to your PC using an optional interface. This could be a very useful feature to have.

Backlight- Not all dive computers have a backlight or illumination feature that allows you see your reading more clearly in lower light conditions, but a lot do. A backlit display dive computer is a good feature to consider having especially if you do lots of low visibility diving, wreck dives and for cave diving. Take the Oceanic Pro Plus 2.1, Air/Nitrox, Air Integrated Computer pictured right for example.

Navigation – Today, dive computers allow you to supplement or replace your old-fashioned compass with digital displays of your heading. Dive computers with compass features and navigation now don’t even require you to have the instrument perfectly level to function properly. Some high end computers also offer a GPS (Global Positioning System) feature that uses satellites to mark exactly where you are. Extremely useful for those who keep detailed records of their dives for the purposes of search/recovery, treasure hunting, or dive site mapping.

Air Integrated- Air integrated dive computers measure tank pressure and estimates of how long your air supply will last at the current rate of air consumption. These dive computers are available in two types, one that can be attached to the end of a high pressure hose and it replaces the submersible pressure gauge or a high end hoseless air integrated dive computer which consists of wrist or BC mount instrument which acts as a receiver and a transmitter which screws into the high pressure port of the regulator first stage. It uses radio signals to send information about the air supply in your tank to the dive computer which displays this. Hoseless Scuba dive computers are among the most expensive dive computers you can buy.

Buddy Pressure Check- Swim to within 4-6 feet of your buddy and press a button to see his or her tank pressure – how easy could it be? No hand signals or disruptions. The Oceanic Atom 2.0 Air Integrated Hoseless Dive Computer Watch now comes with this swanky new feature!

High Definition –
Yes, now dive computers come in color and High Definition just like flat screen televisions, cell phones, PDAs, notebook computers and the likes. Just makes a dive computer way cooler! See the Mares Icon HD Wrist Dive Computer below

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