The latest incarnations of dive computers are a long way removed from that we have been conditioned to. Just as our smartphones are far more capable than we could ever have imagined, so smart dive computers have taken over the market.
A dive computer has long been a requirement for divers of all levels of experience, and this one – from the Mares brand – is a good example for us to review and show you what you can get for your money. Bear in mind there are many others on the market and we advise you to look at those too, but this model stood out to us when we took a look at it, and for a number of reasons.
Now, before we go on, we’ll happily state that the makers have aimed this dive computer at the less experienced divers. That’s not to say that it will not find a friend among those who are experienced, regular divers. With that in mind, let’s have a closer look at what the Mares Smart Dive Computer brings to the table and why we think it is one of the best dive computers around.
Why Choose the Mares Smart Dive Computer?
The Basic Features
What do you need – and want – from a dive computer? Well, there are some basic features you would miss if they weren’t there – and we will come to those in a moment – but let’s dwell on the design of this Mares Smart model, to begin with.
This is a decent-looking wrist-worn dive computer that, given its surprisingly compact size, could easily pass for one of the more chunky sports watches. It is available in a number of colors – from the standard all-black model through red, green and various combinations including white designs – so you can choose one to suit your preferences.
The Mares Smart Dive Computer is slim too, and the screen display itself is remarkably simple and easy to read. There are dive computers with much bigger screens than this, but customers are very happy with the read-out on this model. The screen is split into three sections: one shows depth at all times, another is dedicated to safety stop stages, and the third is where the various other functions can be displayed on request.
If there is one regular criticism of the Mares Smarty Dive Computer that we have come across, it’s that the two-button screen navigation can be a little clumsy when in the water. Once you get used to the navigation, which as we have said is not the best, you will find it becomes a lot easier to use. We’ll talk about performance and safety features in a moment, so before we do, a look at the basics:
- Slim sports watch design
- Choice of colors
- Compact size, easy to wear
- The small screen split into three sections
- Navigation clumsy yet manageable
So far, this is proving a decent little dive computer, so let’s get into a bit more detail.
Performance and Safety Features
Bearing in mind we have indicated that the Mares Smart Dive Computer is designed to some extent with the beginner in mind, you might expect it to be lacking in capability. You’d be wrong: for a start, it has a depth capability of up to 150metres. That is equivalent to many vastly more expensive devices of this sort and should mean that someone buying this as a first dive computer will get many dives of use from it.
It can handle two gas mixes and is capable of nitrox mixes between 21% and 99% oxygen. It can be used in four different dive modes – nitrox and air, gauge, free diving and as a watch – and is easily switchable – once you master the routine – between each. Put simply, it’s a capable little device, and that before gets into the important area of safety features.
The Mares Smart Dive Computer will automatically adjust altitude and decompression timing, so is good for if you travel around for your diving. This is a feature we appreciate greatly, as it is an essential one for safety.
Now to the various alarms. For an affordable dive computer, we think this model is very well equipped in the area of safety warnings. The ascent rate exceeds lockout is a very useful and welcome feature, for a start. An alarm will sound if you exceed 10m/minute ascent rate. If you top 12m/minute, you will get both sound and a visual alarm telling you to stop. If you exceed 12m/minute for ascent for more than a third of the depth, the computer will lock out for 24hours. This clever feature is intended to guard against dive injuries, and we reckon it’s a great selling point.
There are further alarms for missing a missing a decompression stop, and for low battery and more, and each is something that will come in very useful – or indeed be vital – on many a dive. It can log 25 hours of dives, and has a dive plan mode – and much more besides so we recommend you check the makers’ specifications – and in short, is a good device for the money.
What’s not good? We would have liked a compass, of which none is present, and it does not include air integration, which is a big miss. Yet, we still recommend it, and especially for beginners. At the price, which is considerably lower than many rival models, it is certainly one that you should have on your shortlist, and perhaps only the more experienced diver would not be happy with this as his or her dive computer.
A few features of note:
- 150m depth
- Decompression alarms
- Ascent rate exceed alarms and lockout
- 25 hours logging
- No compass
- No air integration
- Affordable price
Is this the dive computer for you? As we have already said, the Mares Smart Dive Computer is a great model that would suit beginners and less experienced divers, yet will last a long time thanks to its very impressive capability for the price. If the lack of a compass and air integration puts you off that’s understandable, but otherwise, it is difficult to beat at the price.