Best Dive Computers of 2011
ScubaLab's 2011 Gear of the Year: Dive Computers
Today, divers can choose from a variety of dive computers, from affordable units that provide all the basic dive information, including nitrox capability to high-end systems offering features such as digital compasses, color screens and air-integration systems with remote transmitters or quick disconnect couplings to a regulator’s high-pressure hose. Not only have features advanced within the past decade, the consumer can also choose from full-function wristwatch-size computers to large-screen consoles that can be easily read under any condition. This year, three models earned ScubaLab's coveted Testers Choice, Best Buy and Editor's Choice designations.
OCEANIC VT 4.0
$750, $1,195 w/ optional transmitter
Featuring a wide array of user settings at a reasonable price, Oceanic’s new VT 4.0 was an easy selection for Testers’ Choice. The VT 4.0 includes a sweet-looking three-axis digital compass, the ability to monitor up to four transmitters, an intuitive interface and easy-to-read data display. Perhaps most impressive was the ability to change decompression algorithms — to make it more liberal or conservative — in a compact wrist-mounted package.
TUSA IQ-950 ZEN AIR
Capable of programming and wireless switching of up to three transmitters with mixes up to 100 percent O2, the Zen Air is a full-featured computer that was the most liberal of the eight computers tested. The wrist-mounted computer’s data display was well liked by testers, who also appreciated the easily read tank-pressure indication and various bar graphs that line the screen edge. For night divers, the Zen Air’s highest-rated backlight illumination is a plus.
$325 (wrist), $445 (console)
The most conservative computer in the tests, Cressi’s module-based design allows the Leonardo to be mounted on either the wrist or as part of the console. The Leonardo’s low price tag made it a Best Buy, and yet it still has all the features a recreational diver would ever need, including nitrox capability and a 60-dive logbook. Though it doesn’t have an air-integration option, testers loved the main dive-screen layout, ease of programming and navigation.