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Which Computer?

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Which dive computer you should buy is a hot topic, and one that generates more than the usual amount of rants on the group. A few of the major manufacters are: Uwatec, Suunto, Oceanic, Mares, Delta P (VR-3) and Abyss (Explorer).

Comments from the thread...

Derek says:

I waited for over five years, before getting my Dive Computer, I believe that computers are not needed, and in fact a distraction while learning to dive, I had a UTWAX dive timer at first, gave me time, depth and most important ascent rate warning, all that was necessary.

When I was ready for some more information I decided by looking at my needs and then seeing which computer was the best fit. I borrowed an Oceanic for a dive holiday, loved the air integrated and the clear display, green/amber/red was understood at a glance, but I required a computer that downloaded to a PC, that ruled out the Ocenic. I also wanted to be able to replace the battery without returning it to the manufacturer, and finally I did not want to spend the equivalent of a small nations budget!

The Suunto Eon Lux fits the bill, its Air Integrated, downloadable and I like the way it's back lit for night diving. The PC software is second to none, recently updated. My only disappointment is that it is not switchable to a Nitrox setting so the new Cobra from Suunto would be next on the shopping list


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George says:

Whatever its apparent value, an Aladin Pro for £150 (or a Bloggs Widget for £5 come to that) is only a good deal if you want that particular computer (or Widget) in the first place. For example, if after a total of 12 dives you find you want to use Nitrox, the last three dives have suddenly become rather expensive!

You can dive for years without a computer, but you won't dive very often in UK waters without adequate thermal protection! Draw up an equipment shopping list of must have; nice to have; drool over etc. and then you will be better placed to decide if a cheap "nice to have" ought to come before a standard priced "must have".

Incidentally, as someone has pointed out already, the Aladin Pro has now been superceded. It seems to me that in general new Scuba equipment gets better and more expensive as time goes by, but computers (including diving computers) get better and cheaper.

At £150 the Aladin does look a good deal since Mike's Waterfront Warehouse quotes 225 as the list price, but there again Kent Diving will sell you an Aladin Pro Ultra (the updated Nitrox-capable replacement) for 205.

Wade says:

I checked out the Spyder (£185) when looking to buy my daughter a computer for Christmas but settled on the Vyper (£249). We used it in the Red Sea over Christmas/new year and I was very impressed. It was easy to use, had a decent size display, was Nitrox ready and the PC software generated some great looking graphs. I would certainly recommend it.

James says:

Although the deco algorithm on the Aladin is better, the Suunto is very easy to use, push buttons are a great improvement, but most of all, if you bend it, it keeps on telling you the depth/time etc, it doesn't say you are going to die so i'm off. The spyder is the dogs bollocks, its very easy to read underwater, good backlight, and if you can get it at that price, why not, it is basically just a small Vyper.

Iain says:

> Although the deco algorithm on the Aladin is better

What's your definition of "better"?  the Aladin has several invented fudge factors for cold, breathing rate, etc, none of which take into account if you're diving dry, filling a dSMB, etc... whereas the new Suunto algorithm is more recent and uses Weinke's  RGBM model. Plus it doesn't have too many fudge factors...

Sam says:

I bought a Spyder about 3 years ago (and consequently paid a lot more than current retail...)I only dive in warm waters, so viz generally good (and gloves banned!) so small size not 'generally' an issue although...My only complaint is that remaining non-deco time is the big central display and depth is smaller. This caused a minor panic on one dive. In strong current after plenty of fining and getting knackered, we gave up trying to hug the bottom to get round the corner out of the current. As soon as we started ascending the current pulled us away from the reef. In the ensuing confusion as experienced divers struggled (and several less experienced took the Polaris approach towards the surface) I misread the depth and thought I'd arrived at 6m (from 20) in no time. I dumped air and as I then stabilized found I was at 16m - still hanging onto my girlfriend who was one of those taking the speedy route. With computers bleeping all around and bodies flying past it was hard to tell what had happened. I suspect that we actually only got to around 13m but the lesson was learned!

My Spyder only records depth every 20 secs so analysis after transferring it to PC proved inconclusive as to how far we did go up - although it did show that at one point I was ascending too fast.

A point in favour of the Vyper (that my girlfriend now uses) is that it can be set to record every 10 secs - which was useful in proving to her that she still has a bouyancy problem towards the end of dives. With the type of diving we do I will probably go for a Vyper at some stage and have the spyder as backup - something I have noticed a few other people doing.

Be careful if offered an early model Spyder second hand. When I first got mine it would go into dive mode if I started sweating - very useful in Barbados. The battery lasted about 4 real dives - and a few thousand false alarms. This has been fixed on later models - and Suunto upgraded mine when I complained and send it back for a battery.

Delta P VR3

Mike says:

Built like a brick sh!thouse, can be used to bludgeon ill-tempered sharks, will continue to be useful whatever type of diving you graduate to. Downsides - the old model uses fairly expensive batteries and they don't last toooooo long. The IR connection to PC is an awkward bugger to get working. The unit itself ain't cheap. I bought mine on ebay for $400 - best $400 I've ever spent on dive kit.

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