Gear Review - Mares Smart Dive Computer
Dive computers have revolutionised the dive industry in recent years to the extent that you can now take a PADI course which teaches you to dive using a computer, without reference to the dreaded decompression tables! As a result, after a mask, a dive computer is the first thing I'd suggest you buy for yourself. The Mares Smart Dive Computer is a fantastic budget model which I’d recommend to anyone.
The computer can support EAN (NITROX) from 21% to 99% and you can swap between two gas mixtures during a dive. Even if you are recently scuba qualified having a computer which will be able to cope with NITROX is a vital part of future-proofing your investment. At some point you will dive a site which uses NITROX (South West Rocks anyone?) and you will need a computer which is able to track the MOD (maximum operating depth) for the gas you are breathing to keep you at a safe depth and to adjust its algorithms to make sure you can maximise bottom time!
When I was buying my computer one of my priorities was that it would work for free diving too. This computer has multiple modes which are easy to switch between. Just remember to check you are on the right mode before submerging, I gave it a minor heart attack once by accidentally leaving it on freedive mode for a scuba dive.
Plan your dive - the computer has a plan function that takes into account your current tissue code, really useful when you are doing multiple dives in a day to help you be realistic about the sites you will be able to dive next.
This is one of my favourite things about a dive computer because I like looking back over my dives! You can get a Mares Interface Dive Link USB and download info straight from your dive computer to your PC or laptop; I'm old school and write mine by hand so can’t comment on that accessory. Some people get lazy about logging dives over time but it’s really important when you start out, many further dive qualifications require a minimum number of dives or a certain number of deep dives to allow you to attend the course. I find the log on this computer really easy to use and there is more than enough info on the dive computer for me without downloading.
My experience of the battery life has been great, I leave it on pretty much all the time (there is a safe mode which could preserve your battery further) and I need to replace the battery about once every 10 months, this will be less if you don’t use it as often as me. I attempted to change the battery myself last time and the setup is really simple, however I did it in a rush and found it steamed up after so I ended up getting it checked by a dive shop. As I change it not too often I might continue to just get it done at a shop, it’s not too expensive and my previous computer had to be retired when it started reading 10% over the actual depth so getting the depth reading checked at the same time is useful.
I have the dark grey and black, but there are several brighter options if you are less conservative than me in your sartorial choices. The screen is clear and I’ve never had any trouble reading it.
This is one of the best features of the computer. It's small and lightweight enough that you can use it as a normal watch; I have found this invaluable when travelling as I’ve often been places where I wanted to keep it on me for safety. It doesn't feel too clunky to wear all day, although I am naturally inclined towards a larger watch.
I've had this computer for 2 years now and if anything happened to it I would buy the same one again. As someone who is constantly hankering after new and shiney dive gear that is quite an accolade. If you are getting into tech diving or want air integration then you’ll have to upgrade from this model but for everyone else it’s a fantastic computer with everything you’ll actually need, plus several extra functions you’ll never get round to using.
Buy your own
Currently down to $399 in Adreno's Easter sale
Also $399 with Pro Dive - who can offer interest-free finance if you need to take it home before pay day. Always worth checking finance options with dive shops for bigger purchases, many will be able to help you out with a payment plan.
Reviewed by our Diving Ambassador Charlotte Elliott