New Divers: Buying a Dive Computer 101

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When the diving bug bites, it bites hard – plenty of divers will tell you that. As you start buying equipment and learn more about diving through PADI courses, you’ll find that taking a careful approach will help get you ready for years of diving enjoyment – with much less stress. One key component in your gear is your dive computer – learn more about this important piece of equipment before you make a purchase.

First and foremost, what is a dive computer? A dive computer looks a bit like a chunky digital wristwatch – but it’s so much more than just a time keeper. Dive computers help you keep nitrogen levels within acceptable limits. Dive computers are the far more convenient and versatile option because they constantly track your depth and time while you are underwater and between dives.

Dive Computers

There are two basic categories of dive computers: independent and integrated. An integrated computer is integrated (surprise!) with other instruments, like a submersible pressure gauge (SPG) or an electronic compass. An independent computer is separate and typically worn on the wrist. The type you choose will depend on your preference but also on whether you’ve already purchased equipment that would be sold with an integrated computer. A PADI Dive Shop in your area will be able to give you additional advice.

What else should you, as a new diver, look for in a dive computer? Here are a few ideas:

  • An easy-to-read interface that you’ll be able to see in darker underwater conditions.
  • Programmable alarms.
  • Low-battery warning capabilities.
  • Enriched air compatibility so you can dive with enriched air nitrox if you are certified.

Talking to a professional at a PADI Dive Shop will make your decision easier when you’re just entering the diving lifestyle. With the right advice, you’ll end up with the computer that’s right for you.

You can also find more information here.

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