Aeris XR computers will be loved for their simplicity
I'd seen the XR dive computers around and knew they were intended to be straightforward in design and budget-friendly in price. Now that I've gotten my hands on a couple, I think I can safely say that they exemplify the Keep-It-Simple-Stupid (KISS) approach to diving. So, naturally, I really like them both.
The XR-1 is the basic model. Actually, it's so basic it doesn't even have a backlight. Or nitrox capability. Or more than one button. Available in a gauge console, as a wrist unit or as a stand-alone module, it is the quintessential backup computer. The module costs less than $300, and it can ride along in your BC pocket or be tethered to a shoulder strap, going completely unnoticed until needed.
Underwater, the simplicity of the display is much appreciated by eyes weary from deciphering screens filled with dots, dashes and flashing numbers. There are three dive mode displays (toggle between them by pushing the control button), and the first contains only two numbers: current depth and remaining dive time. If you want more details, such as water temp, time of day and max depth, you can get them, but the information isn't forced on you. Of course, Aeris has included two graphical displays: one horizontal bar graph for nitrogen loading and one vertical graph for monitoring ascent rate.
The KISS theme continues when navigating the computer's menu and logbook functions. There's only one control button; just keep pushing it and you'll get where you want. In fact, I quite easily made my way through all the - options and set the computer up for diving before even cracking the owner's manual. This says a lot about user-friendliness. (Don't worry, I did read the instructions before diving and you should, too.)
The XR-1 is a fabulously plain air-only dive computer perfect for divers who like to keep things uncomplicated or for those who want a rugged backup rig. It does have a gauge mode, water or manual activation, user-replaceable batteries (which can be hot-swapped to retain your dive data) and a safety stop countdown timer.
The XR-1's big brother, the XR-2, has these features as well, but it adds quite a few more. The price jumps a bit, but for what you get, it's still a bargain. The XR-2 is what marketers like to call "full-featured." It handles nitrox, has a great backlight, offers PC interfacing for setting features or downloading data, and has audible alarms with a flashing LED warning light. For all of that, it's the same size as the XR-1, although it does include an additional control button on the side to help navigate through the additional menu features, which include air, nitrox and gauge modes.
The setup menu is broken into two sections for faster navigation. One contains features that are likely to change from dive to dive, and therefore likely to be used more frequently, such as FO2 and max depth alarm. The second handles things less likely to be changed once they're set, such as time, date and your units of measurement.
These features are pretty standard for a full-function dive computer, but the XR-2 also gives the diver a nice level of control and customization. This includes information available during the dive (multiple screens can be scrolled through) as well as leeway in setting alarm limits. In particular, I like how the max PO2 setting can be put at 1.6 ATA, but the alarm will sound a warning at 1.4 ATA just to let you know you're getting close to the line. You can also adjust the sampling rate for recording dive data to download to your PC later. The XR-2 is available in several gauge console packages.
Aeris XR series dive computers
Impressions You can buy more computer, but precious few divers will ever need to. Outstanding information displays are in incredibly user-friendly packages. A simple cost/performance analysis says the XR series is a big winner. Key Features User-selectable displays in dive mode; hot-swap batteries; intuitive menu navigation; great price. MSRP XR-1, $280; XR-2, $400 Contact www.diveaeris.com