Sunday, November 28, 2010

Suunto Vyper Air Dive Computer w/Transmitter Review

This was originally posted on Search N Recovery in November of 2010. 

The Suunto Vyper Air is a wrist top dive computer that gives the diver depth, dive time, regular time, temperature, computes decompression limits, advises safety stops and with the wireless transmitter provides tank pressure information. I’ve been using the Vyper Air for almost a year after upgrading from an older Suunto Vytec DS with a wireless transmitter and I have to say I love the Air.

If you compare pictures of previous models to pictures of the Vyper Air you can see an immediate advantage in the larger screen and text display area. Moreover, the navigation buttons are larger and covered in full plastic which means easier navigation as you don’t have to use your fingernail to change settings or view past dive logs.

One of the newest features introduced in the Vyper Air is the digital compass. When you first get the Air you’ll need to walk around above water to configure the compass. Once you’ve configured it the compass works in a three dimensional manner below water - almost as easily as a regular compass. Personally the only problem I’ve had with using the Air as a compass was it took the focus away from being a dive computer. I like having a separate wrist top compass and wrist top computer but the compass display is large enough to cause me to loose focus of other important information the computer is trying to tell me.  Then again having a backup compass is quite nice.

As soon as you enter the water the Vyper Air switches over from a watch to a dive computer / pressure gauge mode without any input from the user. Any computer error codes from being unable to sync or out of range don’t last for long. There are only a few features I haven’t tried, one of those being the multi-gas mixtures.

The computer comes with an extra gauge protector which really is quite nice. After all you don't want to scratch up the face of the computer or you'll never be able to read from it. This isn't a problem with the computer as much as it may be a problem with the gauge protector but I've already scratched up both the original and extra gauge protector in less than 100 dives. Scratched to the point where I have trouble viewing the screen. Now I’m forced to order another replacement or two from Amazon.

The only other thing I don’t like about the dive computer is the same thing I didn’t like about the Suunto Vytec DS and that is the standard Suunto dive manager software. The software isn't aging very well. The graphical interface is poorly laid out which makes it hard to locate the appropriate information, the “database” is stored locally which is nice but it can’t be used with any other software and of course there is no web accessible version. This means that any information you attach to your dive "logs" in the software only stays in the software. It can't be shared with friends nor accessed outside of a desktop computer with the Suunto software.

The bottom line is the Vyper Air with the transmitter is an excellent dive computer with a great graphical interface that is easy to navigate even for the beginner. That is, of course, assuming you are comfortable with a wireless wrist top computer.

For more information check out Suunto’s website.

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