Best Dive Computers for Beginners in 2020

LAST UPDATED:

May 1, 2020

Choosing the best beginners’ dive computer for you may feel overwhelming. Not only are there numerous brands, with a wide spectrum of price ranges; the numerous dive computers available exhibit many different specs and features. 

Generally, the best dive computers for beginners are those that are easy to use, relatively affordable and have a straight forward user interface, without being bogged down by unnecessary specs that’d only be useful to more advanced divers. 

That’s why we have brutally reviewed dozens of different dive computers and found the very best beginner dive computers, focusing on ease of use and affordability. Let’s take a closer look:

Sometimes the OK hand signal doesn’t let you express exactly how EPIC your dive is. I wish there was a signal that said, “Bro, I am having the time of my life.”

Quick Answer:

Keep reading below or check out any guides we have at the bottom HERE.  

#1 - Cheapest Option

4.3/5

The Cressi Leonardo is the best budget dive computer option available this year. That’s because it is as cheap as any dive computer can be, whilst still being a high quality and reliable piece of gear.

The Italian Cressi group has been around since the 1940s and the years of expertise really show in their products. The Leonardo model has all of the basic information and features you need from your dive computer.

The backlight shows the dive depth, time below the surface, and mode (air, nitrox, gauge) clearly. While the single button interface makes navigating the menu easy and user friendly.

The basic dive computer also comes in a variety of colors. And while divers already naturally look very cool, it’s always a plus to get a watch that is just to your liking.

Of course, with affordability does come simplicity and the Cressi Leonardo does not log dives without a PC, plus it’s a little bulky.

Honestly though, these are small issues that should not bother you when getting your first dive computer, especially if you’re looking for something cheaper with the aim to buy a more pricey bit of kit next time round when you’ve got more experience. 

We’ve also written an entire page with multiple reviews of the Best Cheap Dive Computers

PROS:

  • Attractive price point

  • User changeable battery

  • Imperial/metric unit measure

CONS:

  • No safety stop timer

  • Doesn’t log dives without a PC

  • Quite bulky

#2 - TOP PICK

Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer

4.5/5

The Puck Pro has large numbers that are easy to read, even for those who need glasses. It’s single button user interface makes it extremely straight forward to use, plus it can log a whopping 35 hours of dive memory! This dive watch is also pretty affordable, being cheaper than most other options. 

 All these traits combined, have made the Mares Puck Pro a reliable and highly reputable beginners dive watch. 

Do note though, that once you are below the surface, you cannot adjust your settings, so prepare beforehand!

Learning about how your watch works and the features it provides is really important to increase your safety while diving. Dive Computer Training has an amazing online course structure where users can find training for their specific brand and model of a scuba dive watch.

In my opinion, the Puck Pro is the best entry-level dive computer and comes in at a winning price point. The addition of the graphic tissue loading bar is also a great extra feature on this watch.

PROS:

  • Easy to use single button interface

  • Easy to see large numbers

  • 35 hours’ dive log memory

CONS:

  • No digital compass

  • Settings aren’t adjustable underwater
  •  
  • Bottom timer stops at 3 minutes on the surface level

#3 - More Pricey Option

3.9/5

The Oceanic OCI Personal Wrist Dive Computer is excellent for beginners and pros alike. It is both easy to read and understand and furthermore; comes with additional features that you can transition to once that dive number begins to grow. 

This means you won’t have to replace it when you become a more experienced diver, whereas other entry level dive watches will certainly start to feel a little more basic, once you’ve cranked up your scuba diving experience. 

The most important information is displayed on the mostly LCD screen. This is where your focus can remain until you feel comfortable dabbling in the details of the watch.

Plus, there is a freediving mode which is handy for all you breath-holding enthusiasts. Freediving mode is becoming ever more popular but is definitely not a standard feature yet.

The buddy check feature is available for divers who both have an Oceanic transmitter. The two transmitters can be paired up onto the watch and you’re able to check your buddies air throughout the dive. Nice!

You can also choose for your dive start time to begin either at the push of a button or automatically activated when you’re submerged in the water. A great feature for those who get forgetful because they’re carried away with the amp of the dive.

PROS:

  • Integrated compass

     

  • Air integrated dive computer (an advanced feature but it is easy to understand and helpful to all levels)

     

  • Buddy check feature (how sweet)

  • Free Diving mode

CONS:

  • 24-hour dive log is a bit limited

  • No user-replaceable battery

  • Backlight could be stronger

#4 - Top Selling Option

4.3/5

The Zoop Novo is a great model for amateur divers. It displays all the necessary information in an easy to read way on its high contrast screen.

The watch has a dive plan feature, perfect when you’re doing multiple dives in one day. This is further enhanced by the great storage capacity, recording up to 140 hours of diving.

The four-button navigation on the Zoop Novo can feel a little more confusing at first but it does come with pros. The most obvious being that the pushing of one button continuously can feel tedious at times. Having four makes navigating the menus and features far quicker (if you remember what the buttons are).

The off mode that this dive watch computer offers is perfect to have surface interval swims that will now not affect your next dive.

On the down side, this dive computer does look a little bulky. It’s certainly not as stylish as some of the other models we’ve so far reviewed! However, this in part due to the extra large screen, which makes viewing data even more easy. 

So long as you’re not put off by the aesthetics (why, they may even appeal to you!), if you’re looking for multi-button navigation and easily viewable data; the Zoop Novo is an excellent choice. It all comes down to personal preference. 

PROS:

  • Long-lasting battery

  • 5 modes (off, air, nitrox, gauge, freediving)

  • Compatible with PC and Mac

CONS:

  • USB cable bought separately

  • The software cannot be updated

  • The user manual is a bust (online tutorials are a must)

#5 - Transitional Option

2.6/5

As you develop your underwater technical skills you may want a dive computer that can advance with you.

If that sounds like what you’re looking for, the Suunto D4i is an stellar option. It is small enough to wear outside of diving as a watch. It comes in a wide range of colours for a stylish look and it also looks very stylish. 

The D4i has a built-in dive planner and a dive log storage of 140 hours. The log can then be downloaded onto your PC using a USB cable (both Mac and Microsoft compatible).

The D4i is a fantastic option of mid-range scuba computers on the market. It gives basic, reliable functions with technical options. The wireless air integration upgrade option is a good feature once you’ve got a little more expertise.

The D4i is truly great for beginners because it is simple but it won’t need to be replaced as you learn more and find yourself as a more experienced diver.

If you’re looking to get a more sophisticated dive computer, check out this page on Air Integrated Dive Computer Reviews. 

PROS:

  • Wireless air integration (optional upgrade)

  • Freedive mode

  • Range of color options

CONS:

  • No user changeable battery

  • No compass

  • Buttons feel too small if you’re wearing gloves

Diving Squad Debriefing

You might not realize it just yet, but this dive journey is life-changing. It opens up your eyes to an entire world that humans still know so little about.

As you’re drifting through the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean or admiring the rainbowed colored reefs of the Galapagos, it will be difficult not to think how intricately and marvelous life on Earth is.

As explorer Dr. Sylvia Earl said, ”Every time I slip into the ocean, it’s like going home.” The safety and security a dive watch brings its user will get you feeling like the underwater world is yours too in no time.

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