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It may or may not be obvious from my username that I enjoy scuba diving, as anyone who dives will tell you some of the most important information you need when on a dive will be details of your depth and time, there are various types of gauge for this, from simple waterproof watches and needle style depth gauges right through to complex computers which calculate the information and display in on a screen for you.
My personal choice is a pair of computer's, made by the same company, one is built in to a console array with a compass and pressure gauge to measure the air remaining in your cylinder. The second is a wrist mounted over-grown digital watch style computer. A previous one I had was ridiculously large, and when it finally packed in to a degree that it wasnt worth fixing I was doing a not so secret dance for joy since it gave me an excuse to buy the at the time shiney new to the market Mosquito.
The advantage it has over the previous watch is that it is much smaller, and lighter but its 'face' is just as clear and easy to read as the larger earlier model. On top of this is that it has a pc interface which though the software and connection cable have to be purchased separately mean that you can use your pc or laptop to store a complete record of your dives. It was also among the first commonly avaliable computers to have a user replaceable battery, which when the unit gets regular use can work out substantially cheaper than having to keep sending it away to the manufacturers.
General features of the Mosquito are that it does function as a digital watch when you aren't in the water, albeit for me an overly large one, as well as the dive mode which will display your dive data (depth, max depth, time elapsed, no deco time remaining, and water temperature), it has a freedive mode which will measure the time and depth of freedives you might do (in my case usually to measure the
length of time i can still at the bottom of a swimming pool on holiday), though as this does count towards your deco limits apparently so if the computer thinks you've been under too long it will bleep at you to let you know.
Setting the unit up is easy there are simply four buttons on the side, two on each side of the face, these allow you to easily toggle around the menus and access the memory so you can view the dive information without the pc interface. For those of us with a more 'teccy' bent you can make adjustments for different air mixes in the nitrox mode.
As with most if not all dive computers this one will indicate when you are ascending too quickly with both an audiable alarm and a visual indicator on the screen, if you need to do safety stops it will calculate the depths and lengths recommended and this data will be shown clearly, post dive it will also display your 'no fly time' as a 24 hour count down, and time between dives. The dive planning mode allows you to check the recommended limits for your next dives in a series (for example when on holiday doing multiple dives a day over several days) making the planning easier.
I am quite easy to amuse so while the range of pretty typical safety features are good to have its things like the ability to push a button when on a dive to 'mark' a time so if you saw an interesting fish/bit of marine life when you download the information on the interface it will show a little check mark which if you click you can enter the reason for making the check (in my case I tend to mark when Ive taken a picture I think will turn out particularly well) and the blue back light which make this for me standout above other computers I have used in the past, and indeed as better than the older and now almost impossible to get Octopus 2 model I have in my console.
Things to look for when you buy a dive computer are that if you do use nitrox rather than solely using air on dives that your computer does have the ability to calculate the algorithms based upon the differing gas blend.
That its size is suitable for your wrists if you want to wear it wrist mounted, as the Mosquito while seeming huge on my bare wrists is a comfortable fit over a wetsuit cuff but over a dry suit it only just fits, meaning the strap extender is needed to ensure it is secure. Backlighting while not an absolute essential is very useful to have, even diving in daylight murky water can make guages hard to read so a lit up gauge is easier to handle. But the main thing visually is that the screen is easy to read underwater, and despite the Mosquitos relatively small size in this way it preforms very well since even a friend who admits to having quite poor eyesight was able to use one and was happy that he could see the information clearly.
OF course to my mind an absolute essential when buying a dive computer is that it works on the same algorithm for calculating dive information as your back up if like me you have two computers rather than an set of analogue gauges and a computer which in mycase the Mosquito is actually more conservative than the Octopus so makes more demands for stops at the ends of my dives, a situation air allowing I am more than happy to comply with.
Given the amount of diving I have done using the Mossie Ive been impressed at the length of time the batteries have lasted me, in a little under 4 years Ive changed it twice, and during those four years Ive done over 300 dives with it, usually two or three a day and have never had any reason to think it is not conservative enough (ie I've never got a bend after following its recommendations for stops and have on more than one occasion exceeded what it considered safe no decompression limits). The ability to transfer the data direct to my laptop means my current paper dive log always has an electronic backup and means I can check specific details of a divesite before returning to it - for example a dive I did at this time last year in the same site was a degree colder at the deepest point but 3 warmer in the shallows for an almost identical dive profile.
Changing the battery is a simple process the back twists off and pulls out allowing you to remove the old battery, and replace it with the new one, and in the replacement pack you get a new back to fit in to the watch which is a nice touch as removing the old one can damage it slightly as it is quite a soft plastic, the replacement battery kits cost from around £12.
My only real disappointment with the Mosquito is that the pc interface connection is slightly fragile, it has to be connected and the held at a certain angle to stop the watch dropping off the connection which can make transferring the data quite a fiddly operation, especially if you happen to be on a diveboat when the sea is choppy (theres always going to be a day like that on liveaboard trips).
My Mosquito is definately one of my best investments as far as my diving equipment is concerned and I just hope that the replacement model is as good.
Currently as it is a discontinued model you cant buy direct from Suunto but roho are selling it via their webshop for £225. The pc interface costs either £33 for the serial port version or £55 for the USB version.