Wristwatch-Style Dive ComputersWristwatch-style dive computers, from top: 1) Suunto D6i 2) SCUBAPRO Meridian
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ALGORITHM FOR YOU
Dive computers use mathematical formulas that factor in real-time measurements of depth, gas mix, time at depth and — depending on the algorithm — potentially lots of other data to calculate how long a diver can stay beneath the surface with a reasonable degree of assurance that he won’t get hit with DCS (decompression sickness).
There are currently about a half- dozen different algorithms being used in dive computers, each using its own proprietary computations, and each with its own “liberal” or “conservative” leanings. Comput- ers that use more-conservative algorithms lessen the risk or likelihood of DCS by limiting dive time. Computers that use more-liberal algorithms provide the opportunity for longer dive times but, of course, more time spent at depth also increases the risk of DCS.
So which is best? It really comes down to the individual diver’s comfort level. However, divers who have preconditions that might make DCS more likely — these include age, poor circulation, poor physical conditioning — should always go the conservative route. Most new computers offer methods for programming personal safety adjustments that let you increase the conservatism.
What other features should you look for? Read What To Look for in a Dive Computer here.