Our latest head-to-head product review pits the new Aqua Lung i450T against the long-term heavy weight champion of the diving computers world – the Suunto D6i Novo. Can the newcomer knock spots off this world beater’s latest incarnation?
The D6i has been a favourite amongst diving instructors, dive guides and customers who want a top end computer for many years now. Aqua Lung’s newcomer has been built to punch the wotsit out of the D6i’s dominant market share, but how will it fare? Read on to see the views of the Oyster Diving Shop team having dived both in a variety of situations…
The current prices from http://www.oysterdivingshop.com are:
- Suunto D6i Novo – £550 (RRP £649) CLICK TO BUY NOW
- Aqua Lung i450T – £445 (RRP £521) CLICK TO BUY NOW
(There’s also the newest option of the D6i Novo Zulu that is exactly the same computer but with a very smart webbed strap – £695 CLICK TO BUY NOW)
The optional tank transmitters are priced as follows:
- Suunto D-Series Transmitter – £225
- Aqua Lung Transmitter – £199
So the Aqua Lung i450t leaves an extra £105 in your pocket rather than ours, or a whopping £131 if you’re buying the computer and transmitter together. That’s a sizable wedge that for some will be a deciding tick in the i450t’s favour, and significant enough to win the price war hands down.
Both the computers share many of the same features such as:
- Optional transmitter (well worth it, otherwise what’s the point for paying the extra money for a computer with this feature? – it also adds extra safety to your dives!)
- Digital compass – the compass on the Suunto is a little bit temperamental and it can sometimes be hard to calibrate although it does offer tilt compensation. The i450T is OK but personally we would also opt for a standard wrist mounted compass if you need to do lots of navigating.
- Air, nitrox, free diving and gauge modes
- Gas switching up to 3 gases
- Dive planner
- Upload your dive logs to your PC via data-cable, although the i450t does require the purchase of the Diverlog app.
However the i450T has a few other tricks up its sleeve:
- User changeable battery on the computer and transmitter (an average battery change is about £50, expect to do this every 1- 2 years on the Suunto)
- Multiple Transmitters – able to pair with up to 3 transmitters on a single dive
- Transmitter pairing for life, whereas the Suunto has to be re-paired every time you change one of the batteries. This isn’t a biggy but its worth noting
- LED warning light on the strap – a useful little additional safety feature, particularly when there are a few similar sounding alarms around you
- Auto Altitude adjustment – means you don’t have to manually adjust for a more conservative dive profile at altitude
The i450T has a few additional useful bits you might find appealing and will save you some inconvenience and money on battery changes over time.
EASE OF USE
In our opinion, one massive plus side of buying any Suunto product, particularly if you are a newer diver or lack a bit of technical confidence, is that Suunto are known the world over.
Wherever you might be about to take your next giant stride into the blue, you’ll always find someone who can help you if you get in a pickle changing the Nitrox setting, pairing your transmitter or changing dates etc.
I think that will always be a BIG hurdle for Aqua Lung to overcome but of course we would of course always strongly advise any diver, experienced or newbie, to do a few orientation test dives to get really familiar with your computer before you put your life in its digital hands!
Usability is a really hard one to grade – its very personal but MY personal preference definitely hands it to Suunto.
Menus: I personally find the Suunto menus/buttons more intuitive than Aqua Lung’s, and particularly once on a dive – some will of course disagree. You don’t need to be the proverbial rocket scientist to use either though.
Screens: Again, this is about what works for you, but I really prefer the layout of the dive screen of the Suunto D6i – I just find it cleaner and clearer.
LOOK AND FEEL
Both contenders are watch-style computers that look good enough to wear all day round – the i450T definitely has a more “sporty” look to it, whilst there’s more of a refined air to the D6i.
The D6i is a good looker – all colour options are sleek and, in our opinion, more stylish than the blocky i450T.
The D6i’s steel casing also has a certain class and heft to it, however both computers have been built to last and the i450t in black has a Durable PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) finish.
The i450T has a slightly softer strap than the D6i but is also quite chunky by comparison. The advantage is that does make it easier to put on and take off, particularly with gloved or cold hands.
However opt for the more expensive D6i Zulu and that makes the Suunto even more comfortable than the i450T and you will look the business on any dive boat or indeed any civilian situation too! (although your dry suit pocket will be £250 lighter).
The i450T is noticeably deeper so stands proud of your wrist but both are very acceptable to wear on a week-long liveaboard without the need to take a separate watch.
These are both great computers and packed full of useful features to make your dives safer.
If you are looking for something well established, easy to use and looks the business and you don’t have to watch every penny then treat yourself to the Suunto D6i Novo – its the market leader for very good reasons.
However, if you fancy a few more added features and wish to save some £££’s then we would happily recommend the Aqua Lung i450t – this sporty newcomer certainly can hold its own against the long standing offering from Suunto.