When diving, there are a few different ways to track your ongoing dive to ensure you can safely continue to be in the water.
While it’s possible to use a depth gauge, timer, and diver tables to calculate your status, the best dive computer for beginner divers can efficiently combine those tools.
Of course, you still need to understand why the dive computer does what it does.
Dive computers take the depth and time information they gather to determine how much dissolved nitrogen is in your body during a dive.
That information allows the computer to calculate how much safe dive time remains.
Best Dive Computer Reviews
1. Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer for Scuba Diving
The Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer for Scuba Diving is a great choice for anyone buying their gear for the first time.
Though designed for beginners and those on a budget, it has great features that would please divers of all levels.
Introduced to the market back in 2008, the Puck Pro is a second-generation dive watch from Mares.
Creating from the feedback they received on their original Puck computer, Mares put together the Puck Pro to be better.
In particular, they prioritized the ease of use. It will ensure that tracking the safety of your dive would be easier than ever before.
The Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer is, as some might say, the size of a hockey puck.
The watch-style dive computer is large and can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.
Primarily, the large watch size allows for a huge screen, making it impossible to miss numbers while you are diving.
The large screen is also backlit, so you can read the numbers even in low-light or nighttime conditions.
There is only one big, red button on the Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer.
To scroll through the submenus, you need to press and release this button until you get to the submenu you want to view.
You can then press and hold the button to scroll through any option in that submenu as needed.
You will need to get used to knowing when to press and released versus when to press and hold.
The simplicity of the one-button design, though, makes it one of the best dive computer for beginners.
- Adjustable Settings
There are several adjustments that the Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer allows you to make for your dive.
First, you can adjust how conservative you want to be while on your dive.
By choosing between the standard algorithm, the intermediate option, and the most conservative setting, you can determine how much wiggle room you want to give yourself.
You can also adjust the percentage of oxygen in your Nitrox mix.
Finally, there are calibration settings on the Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer.
You can alternate between saltwater and freshwater, as well as Fahrenheit and Celsius.
2. Cressi Leonardo Underwater Diving Computer
The Leonardo dive computer from Cressi is a watch-style product that is perfect for both beginners and advanced divers.
It offers a great balance between affordability and beneficial add-on features.
As one of the top entry-level dive computers on the market, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that it has nearly every feature a beginner could want.
Here are the things you'd expect from the Cressi Leonardo Underwater Diving Computer:
The home screen display on this dive computer has everything you need.
What's better is that you'll see everything on the LCD quickly and clearly.
The screen has great contrast. The numbers are also large enough, and the backlight is not as strong as it could be.
The information is laid out very clearly with easy-to-discern separation.
As such, the data won’t be confusing when you look at the watch during the dive.
- One-Button Navigation
Like the Mares Puck Pro and many other beginner dive computers, all of the watch's functionality is controlled by one big button.
To scroll through the menus and make selections, you simply use that button.
If you pass what you need, though, you will need to keep going since there is no back button.
The button on the Cressi Leonardo Underwater Diving Computer is also used to activate the backlight.
It will turn on if the button is held down for five seconds.
- Adjustable Alarms
The alarms on the Cressi Leonardo Underwater Diving Computer are very loud.
The good thing is that you can customize them to a certain degree.
Divers who are more experienced may find the number of standard alarms on the Leonardo frustrating.
That said, they can disable or turn down some of the alarms.
New divers will find the alarms incredibly useful.
All of the dive computer's warnings and guidance will help you learn how to react when doing ascents and descents in the water.
- Very Conservative Design
The Leonardo dive computer is known to be one of the most conservative dive computers for beginners.
You can choose between different settings. This will ensure that you do not reach you NDL at all during your divers.
For intermediate divers, you may need to turn down the conversation settings.
This way, you will not limit your allowable bottom depth too excessively.
What Should I Look for in a Dive Computer?
As a beginner, you may not know what features to look for when comparing different dive computers.
Consider the following features and questions as you continue your search for the right instrument.
Wrist vs. Console Type
Dive computers are available as both wrist and console options.
You have probably noticed that both of today’s dive computers for beginners are wrist options.
There is a reason for this. Most beginners will find it easier to check the data on their wrist instead of on a console instrument.
Stopping to do a safety check is more streamlined with a watch.
Watches will typically show all of the information that a beginner needs to check.
Of course, you would shop around for a console version if you want a larger screen or are comfortable investing a bit more.
Make It Make Sense
You must be able to readily understand all of the information that the dive computer is showing you.
Every dive computer should have the following features and display options. They will ensure you can descend and ascend safely.
- No stop limits set by the following:
- Depth of dive
- Time of dive
- No stop time remaining
- Ascent speed
- Emergency decompression
- Dive info from previous dives
- Low battery warning message
- Compatible with the enriched airline
Not only should this information be available. The way that information about stops and your ongoing dive is displayed should also be easy to understand.
That's because if you cannot make sense of the data, it will not do you any good while underwater.
Some watch dive computers will show graphs while others will show numbers.
Shop for what makes the most sense to your brain.
The information can only keep you safe if you can process it.
Match Other Equipment
Any dive computer that you choose needs to be compatible with your other dive equipment.
Before you make any final calls on which type of instrument you want to get, double-check that it will be able to function with your dive setup.
Finally, consider any optional features for dive computers that you would like to have on yours.
Such optional features include:
- Air integrated that alerts you to how much air is in the tank
- Automatic or manual altitude dive adjustments
- Battery type, like replaceable, rechargeable
- Upgrade gas computer tracking for technical diving
- Ability to download dive data or interface with a computer
- Self-adjusting modes
Dive computers are constantly being upgraded.
Thus, keep an eye out for any special features you might want on your own dive computer.
What Does a Dive Computer Tell You?
Simply put, a dive computer tells you when you can safely dive deep or ascend to the surface while diving.
That is by calculating the amount of nitrogen that may be in your body because of compression and decompression during your dive.
It lets you know when to stop and for how long.
Not only does the dive computer give you an idea of how long you can spend at a certain depth safely.
It also can advise you on how long to stop your ascent to prevent decompression sickness.
The dive computer is set to display the information needed to help you make safe diving decisions while you are in the water.
Do Dive Computers Have a Compass?
Some dive computers have integrated compasses, while others do not.
It is important to consider how powerful the compass is rather than just looking for a dive computer with a compass.
Sometimes, having a separate compass on a diving gauge will be more effective than using an integrated compass.
Integrated compasses can be very powerful, but sometimes, they are not as reliable as separate compasses.
If you are using an integrated compass on your dive computer, make sure to check how well it works.
You must also know what its durability is like before diving.
How Deep Can You Dive as a Beginner?
As a beginner, how far you dive will depend on several factors.
If it is your very first dive, you won’t go very far as a beginner.
If you have dived a few times but are still in your training sessions, you’ll go deeper but not too deep.
Usually, the beginner diving breakdown looks something like this:
- Up to 60 feet as a brand-new beginner
- From 60 to 115 at the next level of certification
- Once certified, the limit for recreational diving is around 130 feet
When it is your first time getting into the water, don’t expect to go very far.
You’ll still be experiencing a beautiful new world underwater.
Even going a small amount underwater will be wondrous.
From there, you will gain the knowledge and skills needed to go farther and farther.
Working through the scuba certification levels, you will gradually make deeper and deeper dives as you learn more about doing so safely.
The beginner stage of diving will take some time to work through, and that’s okay.
You want to take things gradually and ensure that you are learning everything that you need to know to keep diving safely.
How Long Does a Dive Computer Last?
The answer to this question will depend on the exact model of dive computer that you have.
Still, there are some generalizations that you can follow.
The battery life on dive computers ranges from five to nine years, depending on the battery type and durability.
The computer itself will usually last for 10 years or longer, but the manufacturer and use-case will affect its longevity.
There are three main reasons that a dive computer ends up needing to be replaced:
- The algorithm is no longer safe or as effective as it could be.
- You decide you want a dive computer with more specialized features.
- The dive computer no longer calibrates correctly or quits working without the possibility of repair.
Most divers will use their dive computer for a minimum of five years before moving on to another model.
Hence, keep this in mind when you decide on your dive computer budget.
Best Dive Computer for Beginner: The Conclusion
Our top consideration discovered today is the Cressi Leonardo Underwater Diving Computer.
If you are on a more strict budget, the Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer for Scuba Diving is still fantastic.
Both of these dive computers are top choices for beginners building up their scuba gear.
Regardless of which one appeals to you more when doing your dive shopping, you will have a high-quality instrument to keep you safe while you dive.