What is a Dive Computer? – Dive Watches & PDCs Explained


The difference between an amateur and a professional diver is the readiness to invest in premium accessories and equipment to aid the diving experience. You may only want to consider the basic and safe essentials; however, as you progress, you start to realize why you need even better. One of the many things to invest in is a dive computer – a device for underwater safety.

What is a Dive Computer?

A Dive Computer, or Scuba Computer, is designed for every diver to provide accurate information in real-time. The pieces of information, such as depth calculations, are important for safety so that divers can know how far they’ve gone and how much time they have left.

A Scuba Computer is almost similar to a Dive Watch because they are both worn on the wrist, but there are differences between them.

Dive Computer Vs. Dive Watch

A dive watch is an accessory of class and style but is designed with features to withstand underwater conditions. The watch can work at least 100 m underwater, which is quite standard following ISO requirements. Some of the features integrated into a dive watch include bezel adjustment, shock resistance, condensation test, anti-magnetic and water resistance, and salt-spray resistance.

On the other hand, a dive computer is more than just a digital device to display time. It gives depth information and air tank information (oxygen percentages) so that a diver can take precautions. Some of the integrated features include a stopwatch, digital compass, decompression limits, and depths graph.

Without further ado, a scuba computer is more effective than a dive watch.

What are the Features of a Dive Computer?

Dive computers are great, and that is why there are several brands and models on the market. Nevertheless, the functions and features of different models of dive computers are somewhat alike. Below is a description of the features you are likely to come across in them.

Air Integration

One of the premium features found in a dive computer is Air Integration. This feature, also called Air Time Remaining (ATR), is a brief description of how much air a diver has left to survive underwater. It is a safety function so that a diver can take necessary precautions.

The air integration display calculates the information in real-time using a diver’s consumption rate and air tank capacity. The readings are constantly updated due to different varying factors, especially in depths.

This feature can also be used alongside a submersible pressure gauge for accurate tank air reading.

Dive Nitrox

There are different types of divers depending on the accessories or skills they possess. One of the most significant sets of divers is the Nitrox Divers. They get into depths that most beginner or intermediate divers don’t dare to enter. However, a dive computer is one essential that must be with them at all times because of the dive nitrox reading.

Nitrox divers use different air compositions in a tank, affecting their health adversely; hence, there is a need to monitor oxygen exposure. With a dive computer, they can achieve that because the device shows how much time is left before oxygen exposure. This information is displayed in minutes, so it can be much easier to read.

Dive Log

Diving is beyond going underwater and seeing some marine animals for yourself; sometimes, it could be for research purposes. Now, if that is the case, a diver needs to record logs for each dive. Fortunately, the only accessory that can handle that conveniently is a dive computer.

This digital wrist device offers more accurate information than manual reading, and a diver can record logs up to 25 hours in a dive plan mode. At the end of the dive time, this log information can then be transferred to a computer and saved. So, if you ever need to check back, it won’t be difficult to.

Ascent Rate Monitors and Warnings

Often, new divers have problems with ascension, and so far, different methods have been deployed to help them. One of those ways is using a dive computer because it features ascent rate monitors and warnings. With this information and alert signal, divers can prevent themselves from encountering decompression sickness.

The dive computer provides divers with safe rate monitoring so that if they are swimming too fast, it can be reduced. It is a better alternative to calculating depth tables.

Nitrogen Monitoring

Another feature incorporated into a scuba computer is Nitrogen Monitoring, which is also used to prevent decompression sickness. It calculates nitrogen level in a diver’s system (Tissue Loading Meter) to take precautions.

The Nitrogen Monitoring function is somewhat like the Ascent Rate Monitor, as it is set as a digital alarm device for nitrogen limits.

Do I Really Need a Dive Computer?

Having a dive computer is a worthy investment, but it isn’t mandatory. Not everyone will cover more depths – only a selected few or professionals. However, it is a great accessory with great accuracy and monitoring functions.

Here is how to care for your dive computer.

Dive Computer Vs. Tables

A professional diver looking to cover more depths needs to plan his dive to know how long to stay underwater. The traditional method of doing this is using dive tables. These tables are used to calculate safe limits at specific depths, with consideration to decompression stops.

However, with dive computer being digital device with multiple functions, divers may no longer need to plan manual tables. The computer provides all necessary information for safety underwater. Besides, it is more accurate and effective than the traditional dive tables.


Divers don’t always have to go the hard way with planning dives and ensuring safety underwater; there are better ways to use a dive computer. The digital device is effective, and all a diver needs is to learn how to read with consistent practice. Overall, investing in a dive computer will make a whole lot of difference for your underwater experience.