Choosing a dive Computer

No matter if you are newly certified and ready to take on the world, or you have been diving for a while and ready to take the next step, picking a dive computer can be a daunting task. Console or wrist, 300 dollars or a thousand? Believe it or not there are not that many types of computers but your dive goals will dictate whats right for you.


The features of your dive computer are the most important thing and something you should think about carefully. If your dive goal is to only dive shallow reefs a few times a year, a trimix computer may not be for you. On the other hand, if you plan on going the tec or semi tec route, an entry level computer will quickly end up in your box of forgotten gear.

A favorite of many divers are computers that also serve as watches. If you are going to spend 300 dollars on a computer you only dive with twice a year, at least you can kind of justify it by the fact that you can use it everyday. Screen size is also a feature many look for, many may not be able to read smaller screen computers. Downloading dives is also a big thing, do you want a blue-tooth connection or are you OK with a USB cable connection? Does it even matter to you?

Puck Computers

Puck computers are the most popular type, many manufacturers make them. They usually come in one or 2 button styles and offer everything a general recreational diver would need. They are nitrox compatible to 40 or 50% and do depths to about 150 feet.

Pucks can be a bit bulky, but they are very light weight. The battery is user changeable with a simple kit available at your local dive shop or Online. Pucks are also popular in console models that include your spg, depth gauge and sometimes a compass. The cost of a wrist model is usually around 300 dollars but if you want to download your dives to a computer, you need to buy a cable which is an additional 100 dollars.

Console Puck computer

Puck computers also come in console models, these are great for those who want everything in one place. Air, compass and computer all at the end of one hose. This can get extremely bulky though. Downloading dives with the required USB cable and changing the battery requires the puck to be removed, that can be difficult.

Watch Computers

Watch style computers are popular with those who dive often. They offer features from basic to tec with the advantage of being worn daily as a watch. The battery is most often user changeable, but some like the Shearwater Teric use wireless charging. Wireless air monitoring is a fan favorite of wrist computers, but that requires the separate purchase of a transmitter. They can cost up to 300 dollars or more.

Most all newer models of watch computers offer blue-tooth dive downloading to your favorite dive app on your phone or computer which is great. Prices and features vary from around 300 to as much as 1500+.

Large screen wrist computers

Large screen wrist computers have come a long way from the big bulky monsters they used to be. They were originally designed for the tec diver with advanced features such as trimix and multiple gases. But now you can get them with similar features to a watch computer. The tec versions are still available and you will know which you are getting by the price which ranges from 400 to 2000 dollars.

Power sources range from user changeable batterys to wireless charging. Bands can be a soft rubber, elastic or the tec favorite bungee. All models allow for blue-tooth dive download and some even allow you to upload things like maps into them. Wireless air/gas monitoring is an option. They also have highly customizable screens allowing the user to show the data they want in the color they want.


A dive computer is a must for a diver who plans several dives a year. Sure you can rent, but that carries its own set of issues like who used it the day before you did. The previous users dive profile will affect your bottom time. I suggest to all my Advanced Open Water Students, invest in a dive computer as they will be diving deeper than 18 meters/60 feet and NDL becomes a serious factor. Open water students can get by without one as long as they stay in that 18 meters/60 feet range. But if they are doing 3 or 4 dives a day on a trip or want to use nitrox, go with a computer.

This is a summary of dive computers to help you choose what's right for you. Remember a dive computer  doesn't have to empty your wallet, it just has to fit your diving needs.

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