I saw it for the first time during my rescue diver course in Curacao, in the Caribbean, and it was love at first sight. A stylish design, black and with all the features you can possible need as diver. It took me up to around a year of saving money, but then I could finally call myself the proud owner of my own Suunto D4i dive computer! After 1,5 years of diving and I’m still in love!
All though a dive computer is not a necessity such as a BCD or a mask, it still is one of the most important pieces of gear you are going to buy. Before I bought my D4i I checked all sorts of different dive computers. The Suunto Zoop or the Mares Puck Pro are really good dive computers for starting or even experienced divers. I’ve made several dives with a Zoop myself and it works really good. However, when your in love it's hard to let go...
What do you look for in a watch?
In the end it really depends on what you are looking for in a dive computer. When comparing the D4i with other (more high end computers) I was impressed with the specs the D4i is offering. I’m not going to copy the whole specifications card, but below are some off the options I love and use:
- The decompression algorithm. It helps me keep record how much time I have left on a specific depth. Furthermore it gives me extra safety stops when doing deep dives.
- The air and nitrox mode.
- Surface time indicator
- Short press for back light
- The dive planner
- Detailed graphical logs and dive data within the watch
- Set a marker during the dive
- Detailed graphical logs and dive data when hooking it up to the DM4 program (online logbook) of Suunto
- Updateable firmware
- Optional wireless air integration – current cylinder pressure, remaining air time
Off course several other computers offer much of the same options. But for me it’s also the whole touch and feel of the watch. As I said in the opening of this post, it was love at first sight.
How does it handle under water?
The watch itself handles beautiful under water. For me it gives all the information I need in a clear overview screen. I can switch between data, for example between 'diving time' and 'water temperature' whenever I want. It works all very simple. Off course in warm waters the watch is easier to use then in cold waters where your wearing thick gloves. But then again which gear isn't!
The only two negative points to the whole watch are the low sound alarm, in cold waters with a cap you just don’t hear the alarm, and secondly you can’t put the watch in off-mode. That means that when you come below two meters it’s recorded as a dive. This can be really annoying.
Update: (February 2014)
After a last update of the dive computer software the 'off' mode is back. Handy while snorkeling.
When you have a limited budget and need a good computer I recommend the Suunto Zoop. With a price of around € 170,- it's not expensive and gives you real quality. When you have a somewhat larger spending budget and are looking for a computer with more options I can definitely recommend the Suunto D4i. This computer costs around € 399,-. (All prices are in the Netherlands / Europe.)
D6i versus D4i
The D6i has, beside some minor differences, one really big plus upon the D4i and that is the digital compass. However, in my opinion the extra's that the D6i has on the D4i are not worth the extra € 300,-, as the D6i costs around € 699,-.
I hope this story helps out some diver who has trouble choosing his or her new dive computer.
Till the next story!