A scuba diver, golfer, and cyclist walk into a bar. All walk out again because they spent all of their money on sports equipment.
Diving can be expensive. And divers know what’s most important is saving cash towards the next dive. If you’ve checked out our list of the best dive computers, then you’ll know that the numbers on equipment can get pretty high, very quickly.
But don’t worry, we’ve got your back (and tank) with our list of the best budget dive computers. Keep reading to find out about quality devices at a low price (all under $300).
The i100 is Aqua Lung’s fairly basic diving computer but it is an exceptionally good one. It has an easy, clear display with a simple single-button interface to navigate through the menu.
This scuba computer has all of the standard functions a diver needs.: audible alarms, no decompression stop, air/nitrox mode, and gauge mode.
A very cool extra on the aqua lung i100 is the automatic change to free dive mode – it also automatically switches back to dive mode!
Freediving is becoming more popular and having this option on your dive computer is a really neat bonus that many other, more expensive dive computers to not have.
Another beginner friendly addition to this dive computer is that it retains data when you swap out the battery. Nothing is lost so you can rest easy in knowing your dive log is safe.
The i100 is a superb option for newish divers due to it’s beginner friendly user interface and the fact it provides you with all the data necessary for a safe and effortless dive.
It’s may lack some of the perks of pricier dive computers, such as a compass and backlighting, but still – this dive computer is more than enough for a first time user.
Cressi is an Italian brand that was established in 1946. With over seven decades of experience, they are famous among the scuba community for delivering high quality products.
The entry-level Leonardo model is no exception. All of the standard functionalities are available with clear displays for curent depth, max depth, dive time, NDL, temperature, and battery life.
Alarms are both audible and clearly visible on the screen and can be adjusted to users’ needs. I also really like the large screen and single button interface as they make this dive computer very easy to use.
The Cressi Leonardo is one of the most conservative dive watches on the market. Its users can rest assured that if you follow the prompts of this dive computer, your chances of decompression sickness are low.
The Cress Leonard Diving Computer computer comes in a variety of stylish colours, meaning you can use it to add to your customised scuba emblem!
By ‘pricey’ I only mean the least cheap of our favourite budget dive computers. The Suunto Zoop Novo is still more affordable than most other dive computers out there and for the extra money, you do get a great range of settings and modes.
All five modes (air, nitrox, gauge, free dive, and off) are displayed on the large screen. Plus, there are three different modes for how conservative you would like your dive profile to be.
One particularly cool feature is that you can access the stopwatch during your dive which is perfect to keep track of meeting up times between dive groups.
The best thing about the Suunto Zoop Novo is that you don’t have to put in very much effort to receive the information you need. Just turn it on and jump in the water – the rest is taken care of.
Mares is another beloved dive brand that are now offering a dive watch with the very same features that used to only be available in the top-end, very best dive computer.
The Puck Pro Plus comes with a a screen that is slimmed down for a sleek aesthetic, yet is still easy to read. The screen has labels around the edges which makes viewing the displayed information very easy.
However, the major drawcard of this model is its Bluetooth connectivity. You can upload your dive log directly onto your smartphone as soon as the dive is over. No more cables or waiting until you’re back with your PC.
Software on the watch can be updated as Mares releases newer versions.
The dive watch computer has all of the standard and needed features of a dive watch. Users can rest assured that this durable computer will last a long time without failing you.
The Oceanic Geo 2.0 wrist computer sets itself apart as being a dive computer that is compact enough to be worn as a watch. There is also a ‘time mode’ on the computer that will switch off all dive settings and only display the time. This option means you’re getting so much more wear for the price you’re paying.
Furthermore, the dive watch looks slick and stylish and comes in a variety of colors to choose from.
Oceanic is renowned for the dual algorithm feature on their scuba computers and the Geo 2.0 is no exception. Dual algorithms are beneficial for a number of reasons. The first is that you can monitor your buddies’ dive during your time underwater.
Another reason is that different algorithms can be used depending on how liberal/conservative you need to dive at a specific location. The conservative settings can be further adjusted in the modes of the watch.
Despite all this, this is not my favourite option of the cheap dive computers – it’s screen is not as big or easy to read as most others and it just doesn’t have so many modes and settings!
That said, if you’re number one priority is a compact dive computer that doubles up as a watch, then this is the best option.
Cheaper prices often make shoppers feel like the product may be inferior in some way. This is not the case with the dive computers listed above. However, there are some factors that may be lacking or not available because of the price point.
These factors do not affect the functionality and reliability of the watch but may be worth considering if you’re interested in tech diving. Or if you’re concerned about how you look.
While hockey puck-sized computer screens make numbers easier to read underwater, they’re not the coolest looking things in the world. Budget dive computers are often lacking in that sleek, 21st-century look.
You could say they look more like the kind of wrist piece you’d see worn by Austin Powers rather than the Bondesque style dive watches that are available when you start spending a lot more money.
HD colored screens, changeable watch straps for out of water wearing, and chrome finishes are all details reserved for top-range dive computers.
However, scuba diving is an incredibly cool sport – don your ninja like scuba mask and wetsuit, your batman like weight belt and you’ll still look more dope than any mere beach bum, regardless of how big or small your dive computer is.
The basics are all there but features for more advanced diving are lacking. Air integration and digital compasses are the two features that stand out as missing. Tech diving is exactly as its name suggests – highly technical.
The needs of these divers can’t be met by the basic functions and features of entry-level computers. In my opinion, this is the real reason to be tempted to buy a more expensive and sophisticated dive computer. However, most people reading this won’t be a tech diver.
Hint: If you don’t know whether your a tech diver, you’re not! Recreational diving does not fall under the tech diving category.
Diving can cost a fair amount, and as someone who really does believe the best things in life are free, this can sometimes be a bit of a downer.
However, this list of the latest budget dive computer reviews can help keep costs low so that you can experience all the magic that our oceans have to offer.
Anything that means more time exploring underwater and less time worrying about cash gets a massive diver’s OK sign from me.