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Best Freediving Computer - 2017 Update!

Berx

Member
Dec 12, 2016
13
3
18
56
Germany
Hi fellow freedivers and Spearos,

I am new here - so please forgive me if I am raising a topic already in discussion - I did find a previous discussion on the subject, but it is way outdated from 2003.

So - what is currently the best apnoe dive computer according to your opinions?

Is the heart rate monitor feature, for example, as with the Omer UP-XR1 model or the Scubapro Meridian, a truly useful for the freediver or spearo?

In advance - thanks for your feedback - I look forward to your oppinions and experiences.

Best regards,
Berx - Germany
 

Kray

Member
Jul 25, 2015
87
17
23
21
Maui
For line diving, Mares smart apnea hands down. only because it has the ascending alarm (interval alarm setting) which beeps every configurable 5/10/15 m regardless of going up or down keeping us in control at depth by knowing how far from buddies. Heart rate is gimmick. Knowing the beat rat is a good info but how does it help one dive ?
 

Kodama

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2016
366
152
58
Belgium - California
www.eastwind.be
Recently got the Cressi Drake and so far I love it. Have only been training with it in the pool. First dive is planned on Tuesday. I don't have enough experience with it yet but I am planning to write an in depth review in a while. So far it works flawlessly and the training functions are great.


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FrogDiver

Member
Dec 12, 2016
5
0
11
34
San Diego
The old reliable is the Aeris F.10. Now called the Oceanic F.10 V3.

This is probably the most prevalent free dive watch I've seen worn. It's sold by any dive/spearo shop worth its weight and retails around $400.

It's strictly a free dive watch and has no tank dive functions like some other watches. Gives you the information you need and nothing you don't.

I love mine and consider it life saving equipment.


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Tesilential

Member
Aug 11, 2016
12
1
13
34
Tampa Bay
I researched which watch to buy for MONTHS a little while back. In the end I chose the Mares Smart Wrist (scuba and freedive functinos). This watch has worked Fine, but if you don't intend to ever Scuba, then pass on this model. It does not begin a dive until you are at 4.2ft deep so it sucks for dynamic training and doesn't start the dives until I'm almost a second into them. Also the sampling rate for depth is every second in freedive mode. Most of the dedicated freedive watches do 1/3, 1/2 and 1 sec sampling.

Other than that it's comfortable, looks decent and is easy to use. One pet peeve is when the watch is just in plain old watch mode, there is 1/3 of the screen completely empty. This could show the day of the week, etc.

I still want to get Scuba certified, so I'm not unhappy with my decision, but that being said if I were strictly an apnea diver I would have chosen the Cressi Drake.
 

Naisan Geula

Member
Jul 28, 2016
19
12
18
Seattle
I bought the galileo sol with heart rate and haven't looked back.

The configurable alarms are excellent - And there seem to be a lot of them compared to most watches. There are time based alarms for during the dive, surface interval, depth interval, 2 max depths, etc. . . I can hear them through my hood and I really like knowing how fast I am ticking off the distance up or down without looking. For instance I have a beep every 15 seconds when immersed, and a beep every 1 minute when on the surface. I also have a beep every 25 feet of depth. I limit my dives to 1:30, so I can easily keep track of the beeps, and also during descent or ascent hear the depth passing by. This is especially vital here as the visibility is often 3-10 feet, so one can't really tell where they are in the column. In fact I often hold the watch in front of me during ascent to see ascent rate if it is really murky.

They also implemented a freediving mode that has the details right: the depth sampling is .25 seconds, surface intervals are useful, the displays work well for the surface interval and during a dive, the alarms are smart, etc.

The heart rate is interesting and useful: during a breath-up I will see that correct breathing and meditation technique can lower my heart rate, and I can see while pool training the effects of different technique in terms of what causes the diving reflex to start more quickly or take deeper effect.

The uploaded data and data in the computer display comes out as graphs, which can also help understand ascent vs descent rates and the like.

About the only niggles are that getting the right firmware, and an infrared usb device are tricky. Their support is also non-existent: I sent a number of emails asking about a peculiar part of the dive tracking where at the end of a freedive it shows a spike as if you instantly jumped to your max depth for the dive then back to the surface. I have never heard a peep from them.

Other downsides are the cost and the complexity. But if you are a geek or numbers fiend, this is probably the best freediving computer out there. I am also guessing that they will come out with a fancy OLED version as soon as you buy one! ;-)
 

Kodama

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2016
366
152
58
Belgium - California
www.eastwind.be
I did consider a computer with heart rate monitor but since none of the Polar heart rate monitor have ever worked reliably for me I let go of the idea. I certainly don't consider it an essential piece of information.
The galileo doesn't seem like a freediving computer rather a (very large) scuba dive computer with a freediving program. It seems like it's size would create noticeable drag while diving? Programmable alarms are standard on every freediving computer I imagine.


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Kodama

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2016
366
152
58
Belgium - California
www.eastwind.be
Here is my reasoning against a heart rate monitor.
First it is only useful during initial training since there you have the opportunity to actually look at the data. While you are freediving or spearfishing you will be occupied with many other things like RELAXATION. Looking at a your heart rate is not going to help with that. I see how it can be helpful to analyze your dive afterwards but it will probably only confirm what you already knew.
It is one more piece of equipment bound to fail. And fail it will I had never one working for me reliably.
I can only see a use for it with top level athletes and not for recreational freedivers or spearfisherman.
What I think is much better is to 'listen' to your heart rate during training and develop a better sensitivity to it. Soon you will be able to sense your rate pretty well and you will be able to notice when it is slowing down. This is probably all you need to know while diving and why waste your focus on your watch when it should be directed to other things?
It is always better to develop a skill (sensitivity in this case) then to add more technology.


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Berx

Member
Dec 12, 2016
13
3
18
56
Germany
Thanks for sharing your experiences with your dive computer with the integrated heart rate monitor.
I use a normal non-waterproof hart rate monitor when I practice my tables and observe how my heart rate suddenly decreases when the reflexes kick in and also how the heart rate goes up with heavy breating.
I assume underwater on a dive or while hunting exitment etc, will increase the heartrate and more O2 will be used up - as I understand it, there is no warning the body gives us about low O2 levels, only high CO2 - so perhaps it could be useful if an audio alarm would be sounded if a certain heart rate is exceeded in order to plan the earlier ascent - is that a plausible point perhaps?
I have an Oceanic Atom2 and also used it for freediving, however, it is not to my satisfaction because on the surface after a dive, it is necessary to press buttons several time to recal the history of the previous dive depth and duration.
 

Kodama

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2016
366
152
58
Belgium - California
www.eastwind.be
I believe that measuring your heart rate can be very useful for training purposes. I just don't think it should be part of a freediving computer. Just read the tread on this forum about the Omer up-x1 and I am soooo happy I did not get it after reading all the super annoying problems people have with it. Read the tread if you are considering to buy it. It will change your mind. All my points above seem to be confirmed.


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Berx

Member
Dec 12, 2016
13
3
18
56
Germany
I truly appreciate your advice - thanks a stack! Yes, I was considering to go for the latest Omer UP-X1R - but now I will take a closer and a far more critical look. What about the new Scubapro model with the heart rate monitor? Hmm, I wish my Atom2 was more user friendly for freediving - then I wouldn't need to be searching for a better device. You reckon the Cressi Drake will give you a happy end? If so, why? Is the audio alarm loud enough to hear underwater when wearing a 3 to 5 mm hoodie? When does it trigger into depth gauging, at 1 meter? Is it very legible, does it have a user replaceable battery? How much did it cost you? In advance, thanks for your reply.
 
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Kodama

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2016
366
152
58
Belgium - California
www.eastwind.be
The Drake is a good choice I think. After doing some research I considered the Drake or the Iratio. Iratio was too expensive and more geared towards competitive high performance freediving. I hear the alarm clearly without a hood. With a hood it is quitter but I can still hear it. However I think if the sea is more noisy you may miss it. Too little experience at this point to give better advice regarding audio. Yes about 1 meter which works very well for pool training. No problem whatsoever but you do need to get into dive mode without submerging the watch since it calibrates to atmospheric pressure. Yes user replaceable battery. Price 309€ i can refer to seller if you pm me. Yes very legible, nice big clear screen showing exactly what you want or need. High quality materials. I love mine.


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Naisan Geula

Member
Jul 28, 2016
19
12
18
Seattle
You will find that the mammalian diving reflex makes your heart rate drop quickly when you dive, so you will find the longer and deeper your dive, the lower your heart rate drops - If I start a dive at 72 BPM, in 30 seconds I will be at 50 or lower even when training in a pool at only 5m depth. A deeper dive usually makes the HR drop even more.

So you would not use an alarm for high heart rate when diving - you will see alarms for very low heart rate, but that is a signal to you that you're doing something right. . in fact the heart rate only comes up (gets higher) when you've broken the surface and started breathing again - my heart rate may jump to 120 at that point.

It's very interesting being able to observe this. Many sports have excellent instrumentation, and I disagree with the folks who think that technology somehow takes away from meditation or reflectiveness. A tool is a tool: it is up to the user to pay attention or choose when to ignore it. It does add cost though, and you have to remember to put on your heart rate strap before you dive!

But you can of course spare the expense and do without it. And it is good to listen to your body, but as somebody who has coached competitive athletes with and without measurement tools (heart rate, lactic threshold, power meters, etc) I would say that almost all athletes improve faster using instruments, and I have seen very very few athletes that didn't learn a tremendous amount from direct measurement. In fact one of the best ways to actually know your body is to measure what it is doing. This is why all professional endurance athletes use instruments for training.

To my thinking, heart rate is as useful if not more useful than depth and time, but because that's how we're taught to "measure" our dives, we default to using time and depth, which are good ways to measure our success in a broad sense but they do not tell you whether what you're doing is making you a better diver in realtime - HR can help with this.

I'll get off my soap box now. ;-)
 
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Kodama

Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2016
366
152
58
Belgium - California
www.eastwind.be
Nasian, your explanation makes perfect sense and I have myself benefited from using a heart rate monitor during training for other sports such as running and to monitor recovery rate etc.
However it does imply that one actually needs a device that is working flawlessly which you can depend on. Based on my personal experience and the reviews I found I am not sure whether such device exists in the form of a dedicated freediving computer with integrated heart rate monitor? What computer do you use or recommend which you consider reliable? I don't think that technology stands in the way of anything on the contrary. But exactly like you mention you need the awareness and discipline to apply it properly if not it may distract. That brings up another point, that of proper and sufficient guidance during training a whole other discussion.
My experience with heart rate monitors, if they work, has helped me to develop a sensitivity where I can clearly tell if my heart rate is slowing down or not. I have no clue of the exact number which I agree is very helpful for the serious athlete since perception is influenced by hypoxia. Is it just as important for me a recreational freediver who only trains twice a week? I don't know but I am not convinced.
Back to the subject what are the options today in dedicated freediving computers? In 20 years we will laugh with this discussion and have moved on to tools that monitor many more aspects of our physical but especially mental state.


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arabesc

Member
Jul 28, 2016
3
0
11
Moscow.ru
I've had a Mares Nemo Apneist freediving computer for about 8 years. I've flooded it during the last freediving session. It has been my fault, I've changed the battery by myself and I haven't been accurate enough. Then a bit of sea water has leaked into the case and corrosion has ate a part of the main board :( I really liked this computer.
I'm looking for a new (pure freediving) computer and there are not so many to choose from actually.
Apneist has a wet activation feature and I like it. There's no need to press any buttons to switch it into a diving mode. One can just jump into the water and the diving mode will be activated in 1 second. It's convenient. Moreover, most of the time there is no need to press any buttons during freediving session at all - all required information is on the display. It's cool. So, I would like to find something similar, something that just works without a lot of attention to it.
Mares Smart Apnea. There's no mention of the wet contact in the manual, the diving mode activates in 20 seconds after one starts to dive. And they called it as evolution over Apneist?!
Cressi Drake (Titanium). It's quite attractive. But there's no automatic activation of the diving mode at all. One has to press buttons every time he goes into the water. And one has to choose diving mode from the four options, every time, there's no default choice. I'm not sure that I need these four modes. And why have they changed the font in the new Titanium version? In my opinion, it's noticeably less readable than in the previous version.
Aeris F.11. It seems that it has the wet activation and it activates in 5 seconds. It's not so fast as in Apneist but it's better than nothing.
So, what to choose. Is Aeris good enough or is it better to try to find the old good Apneist?
 

Naisan Geula

Member
Jul 28, 2016
19
12
18
Seattle
@Kodama I use a Galileo Sol and I find it utterly reliable - except the heart rate! The polar belts do have their idiosyncrasies underwater - I have had them many times read me at 220 BPM when I know that is not what's going on. So yes - an interesting tool, but they are not anywhere as reliable as a depth meter. But I have never had an issue when diving. Keep in mind that this watch is at the end of its product cycle though, and we are seeing more and more companies (like Garmin) who produce devices that are usually beta-test quality when in their first 6 months after release. So perhaps the watches like the Omer will work out the kinks after some time. I do wonder about tech support with the Galileo, which really relies totally on dealer support so important to have a supportive dealer around for that.

@arabesc Many dive computers with a freedive or apnea mode will auto-activate when in the water, and sense when you're starting a dive. The better ones will re-sample depth often (like 4 times a second) and the poor ones sample every four seconds! Most of the watches "start" your dive at a meter of depth, and "end" it again at a meter. Some start at 2 or 3 meters. . I use the the Galileo Sol (which is admittedly a strange choice for a spearfisher or freediver) and it samples many times a second (4) and starts a dive at just under a meter. So if I hang my arm down when on the surface, it doesn't start, but a fraction of a second after a duck dive it starts timing. When I go int the water it turns on, and it starts my first dive when under 3 meters - no buttons required.

But many people seem to use the Suunto watches and they deserve a good look, and I have not seen them discussed, although I think they may be the most popular units around. The D4 is a typical one.

There are also some cool new kids on the block that that one that is connected to the internet (like a Strava for freediving) - Can't remember the name though. And then there is the Ratio iDive, which has taravana and some other cool stuff, and the Xen from Liquivision (founded by Eric Fattah I think, but not sure he's involved anymore), and then the ones you mention above. Lots of choices!
 

arabesc

Member
Jul 28, 2016
3
0
11
Moscow.ru
Lots of choices!
I'm not so optimistic about it.
Ratio iDive Free looks like a prototype, it's like a crude device. The menu and its navigation are awful. They definitely should improve their industrial and ui/ux design.
Xen, I don't know what it is, I can't call it as a freediving computer. It's like an egg of a diving console.

Many dive computers with a freedive or apnea mode will auto-activate when in the water, and sense when you're starting a dive.
What I've liked in Mares Apneist is an ability to sense water thanks to its wet contact. And when one starts a dive it switches into the diving mode just in one second, it's very fast and reliable. There's no delays, there's no need to switch to some predive mode. I would like to have something similar.
 

Jeremy Harris

Active Member
Oct 26, 2016
45
35
33
38
St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean
just to put my sorry tale out there - I bought the Omer UP-X1r. I bought it off Amazon - largely because the price (including the connection to the computer) was so good but also because I couldn't find too much negative stuff about it or positive stuff about the competitors (the Drake and F10). I live on St Helena Island but am back in the UK for Christmas. I ordered it well in advance and it was waiting for me when I got here. It takes more than a week to travel to the UK from St Helena. When I eventually got it out of the box, one of the buttons didn't work. I tried to return it but it had been more than a month since I ordered it. I'm devastated. I have to head back to the Island on the 22nd Jan. The watch has been sent back on warranty but I'm not optimistic it will get back to me before I leave. At this point, I'm wishing I shelled out for the Drake... I will write more as things progress including how the watch performs. It looks pretty good I think although the raised 'carbon' bits are a little odd and threaten to catch on things...
 

nenrandir

Member
Sep 16, 2011
82
5
23
Sverige
@arabesc :
The manual for the Mares Smart Apnea says that it starts a dive at 1.2 m depth if it is already in pre-dive mode. If you enter water without activating pre-dive mode manually, it enters pre-dive mode automatically after 20 seconds.

"If you start the dive without putting Smart Apnea into pre-dive mode, it will start to monitor the dive automatically but with a delay of up to 20 seconds from immersion." (p. 4).

(I'm reading up a bit at the moment as I'm looking to replace my Aeris F10.)
 

arabesc

Member
Jul 28, 2016
3
0
11
Moscow.ru
The manual for the Mares Smart Apnea says that it starts a dive at 1.2 m depth if it is already in pre-dive mode.
But one should put the computer in the pre-dive mode. In the case of the Nemo Apneist, one should not bother about that.
It was not a rare situation when I didn't press any buttons on my past Nemo Apneist before, during or after a dive. It just had worked as I had expected. For a more complete picture, it was not an ideal computer, it had some disadvantages too.

If you enter water without activating pre-dive mode manually, it enters pre-dive mode automatically after 20 seconds.
Yeah, it's as right as Smart Apnea doesn't have the wet contact (sensor/activation). The wet contact is something like automatic pre-dive mode and I really love this feature if it has been done right.
The pre-dive mode is important because when it's switched on, the computer is measuring the pressure at the sea level more frequently, it allows to computer to detect the start of a dive more quickly and to make more precise depth measurements.
 
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