We live in a Golden Age of dive-computer technology. Over the past two decades, these machines have evolved into powerful data centers capable of monitoring virtually all aspects of our diving. We collected 11 new and redesigned models, and tested them in our ScubaLab shop and at Blue Grotto in Williston, Florida. The results of these data-collecting exercises form the basis of the following reviews.
Wristwatch-style computers: for divers who want a compact, fully capable machine that can pull double duty as a stylish everyday timepiece
1. OCEANIC OCS
Performance: Housed in a lightweight composite casing reinforced with stainless steel, the OCS is loaded with all the advanced computing goodies, plus throws in Oceanic’s Dual Algorithm feature. In the water it is easy to read, the safety-stop countdown is top drawer, and the audible alarms and flashing LED warnings impressed test divers. The menu system cuts a clear path through various modes, usually without the need to reference the owner’s manual, which is the best in this category.
Liberal or Conservative: You can dive liberally or conservatively simply by picking the appropriate algorithm. In both you can further customize by using the Conservative Factor setting or adjusting the tissue loading bar-graph alarm.
Bottom Line: The OCS is a full-featured wristwatch dive computer and a solid test-diver favorite that ran a close second in rankings behind the Matrix.
OPERATIONAL MODES- Air, Nitrox, Gauge, Free Dive | NITROX CAPABILITY- 21 percent to 100 percent | O2 GAS MIXES- 3
USER CONTROLS- 4 buttons | AIR-INTEGRATED- No | ONBOARD COMPASS- Yes | COLOR HIGHLIGHTS- No | PC KIT- Optional ($94.95)
MSRP $699.95 INFO oceanicworldwide.com
2. SCUBAPRO MERIDIAN
Performance: The Meridian adds advanced dive computing to a classy timepiece made of marine-grade stainless steel. The display mixes digits and icons, and the four control buttons have a well-machined spring action backed by confirming beeps. In the water, there are all the data tracking features you could want. However, test divers felt this data wasn’t presented as clearly as other DCs in the category. Word prompts that alternate between uppercase and lowercase can be a little hard to read until you get used to it. One admired capability of the meridian is the optional heart-rate monitor that adapts the decompression algorithm.
Liberal or Conservative: The Meridian’s algorithm runs middle of the road. It offers five additional settings for increasing conservatism.
Bottom Line: The Meridian is an attractive, muscular data cruncher that does it all, just not as easily as others in this category.
OPERATIONAL MODES- Air, Nitrox, Gauge, Apnea | NITROX CAPABILITY- 21 percent to 100 percent | O2 GAS MIXES- 2
USER CONTROLS- 4 buttons AIR-INTEGRATED- No ONBOARD COMPASS- No COLOR HIGHLIGHTS- No PC KIT- Optional ($130)
MSRP $649 INFO scubapro.com
3. MARES Matrix
Performance: With so many features packed into such a compact unit, the matrix is a wonder. Offering well-marked buttons and an intuitive menu, it ranked the easiest DC to program in this category. The model provides excellent screen readability with its reverse color band highlighting no deco data, and it has a very usable tissue loading bar graph and a cool graphic dive-profile alternate screen. It also comes with the bar-none best compass in its category. Another unique feature is the Ice (in case of emergency) function, which shows personal info — from contact numbers to insurance policies to allergies. The Matrix is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, so you have to remember to plug it in once in a while. However, it does offer an “Off” mode to conserve battery power.
Liberal or Conservative: The Matrix leans conservative, plus provides three altitude settings and two additional safety levels to increase your cushion.
Bottom Line: The Matrix is a wristwatch dive computer on steroids. It’s easy to read and program, and full of advanced features. Test divers unanimously picked it as Testers’ Choice in this category.
OPERATIONAL MODES Air, Nitrox, Gauge | NITROX CAPABILITY 21 percent to 99 percent O2 GAS MIXES 3 | USER CONTROLS 4 buttons | AIR-INTEGRATED No | ONBOARD COMPASS Yes | COLOR HIGHLIGHTS Yes | PC KIT Included
MSRP $700 | INFO mares.com
4. SUUNTO D6I
Performance: The big news with the D6i is a new option to add hoseless air integration. Also new is a sapphire-glass display, which Suunto says is more scratch resistant than the previous mineral-glass display. plus a slick-looking new color — all white. Otherwise, the D6i continues to offer an easy-reading display with big bold digits and color-coded bar graphs. Test divers liked the tissue loading bar graphs and especially the ascent bar graph. The full-tilt 3-D compass is one of the best designs in this category. However, the safety-stop countdown doesn’t use seconds, which test divers found wanting when compared with other models. programmingwise, the D6i is a quick study, enabling testers to navigate with success once they got used to the button functions.
Liberal or Conservative: The D6i’s algorithm runs conservative, and three personal adjustment settings and three altitude settings can make it even more so.
Bottom Line: The updated D6i is an attractive DC that packs a lot of computing punch and delivers it with a user-friendly interface.
OPERATIONAL MODES- Air, Nitrox, Gauge, Free Dive | NITROX CAPABILITY- 21 percent to 100 percent | O2 GAS MIXES- 2 | USER CONTROLS- 4 buttons AIR INTEGRATED- Optional | ONBOARD COMPASS- Yes | COLOR HIGHLIGHTS- Yes | PC KIT- Included
MSRP $1,100 ($1,595 with transmitter) INFO aqualung.com