What is a dive computer:
A dive computer is a device used by a scuba diver to measure the time and depth of a dive based on a pre-programmed algorithm. This important piece of diving equipment calculates and displays a safe dive profile and ascent rate so that the diver can avoid decompression sickness.
Why You Should Buy:
Dive computers extend your bottom time. In contrast to using the dive tables to calculate a safe “square” diving profile, dive computers continuously calculate a diver's partial pressure of inert gases within their body based upon the actual depths and times of the completed profile of the diver. Due to their ability to automatically measure depths and time, dive computers are able to warn a diver of excessive ascent rates and missed decompression stops. Dive computers also allow divers to more accurately calculate their profiles for repetitive dives during an extended amount of time. Because dive computer's continually “re-calculate” based on changes in the depth and time of a divers profile; the diver benefits by being able to safely remain underwater for longer periods of time and by being given more chance for spontaneity during their dives.
Dive computers today display four main pieces of information all divers should measure throughout their dive. They display the current depth of the dive, the maximum depth achieved during the dive, the “no stop time” (the remaining allotted time for a particular depth without requiring a decompression stop during ascent), as well as the overall dive time (the time measured from the start of the descent to the beginning of the direct ascent to the surface). Other features to consider when choosing the dive computer that will fit your style of diving are the ability for the computer to download information from the unit directly to a PC, the ability of the computer to be used with Enriched Air diving, the capability to measure gas pressures for yourself and possibly for others, the ability to record and track a dive log history, the option to turn on a back light for night or low visibility dives, and the capability to set audible or visual alarms.
Many dive computers today are being produced with a feature called Air Integration. An air integrated computer tells the diver the pressure that is in their tank and eliminates the need for a separate pressure gauge. Now that the computer is able to keep track of the pressure in the tank, the computer can also determine the diver’s rate of breathing and therefore how much longer their tank will last. Because an air integrated computer can measure the current no decompression limit as well as determine the remaining air pressure in the tank for a diver, the computer can therefore determine which time is the limiting factor and display that information to the diver allowing for the max dive time possible. Although air integrated computers many times command a higher purchasing price, many divers consider their additional features (such as quick disconnect assemblies, audible “low on air” alarms, and transmitter connections) offered by the computers outweigh the difference in price.
Wrist or Console Mount:
Modern dive computers come in two basic setups. The buyer can choose from a wrist or console mounted option. Wrist computers are stand alone units which are housed in a boot that connects to the wrist via a durable and thicker style watch band. They may be purchased in either a standard puck size or a smaller more watch style version that may be used for everyday wear. Wrist style computers are great for those that may be updating an older console setup or looking for a way to eliminate a hose from their regulator setup. Certain wrist mounted computers offer divers the option of purchasing a transmitter which will allow for monitoring of the tank pressure via a wireless link. Console computers are attached to your regulator by a high pressure hose, taking the place of the depth and air gauge found in a normal console setup. Either type may be purchased with the option of air integration.