AT A GLANCE
Underwater displays 96%
Violations displays 95%
Surface displays 85%
Overall score 90%
How the Dive International test works:
Teams of ordinary divers put each item of equipment through its
paces, with five divers each taking the equipment on five dives,
allowing them to become completely familiar with it. All are observed
during the dives, complete a questionnaire and are interviewed afterwards.
The baseline criteria of the tests will ensure the testing of similar
products can take place months apart and still be uniform, allowing
consumers to draw direct comparisons.
Diving computers have revolutionised the way recreational divers
dive. They adapt to repetitive and multi-level profiles, instantly
calculate decompression obligations and provide freedom, although
with a strong responsibility clause, simply unobtainable with tables.
In 1987 a small, lightweight and affordable computer arrived on
the scene. Uwatec's Aladin utilised an algorithm or programme based
on the leading Swiss decompression expert AA Bhulmann's dive tables.The
rest, as they say, is history.
Uwatec's current computer line-up includes the Pro, which is a
full decompression computer, and the Air X, which offers hoseless
air integration and a mix-adjustable Air X Nitrox version. All of
the current range use Uwatec's new 'smart' Bhulmann algorithm, which
adjusts decompression obligations according to profile, temperature
and Ð with air-integrated models Ð work rate. We tested
the Aladin Sport, which is Uwatec's new 'budget' computer.
The Sport is a 'no decompression' computer by our definition. That
means that it provides only limited decompression information compared
to the Pro and Air X. Whereas the Pro and Air X calculate and display
the total time to surface, including time spent at stage stops,
which helps with gas management, the Sport only tells you that you
have entered decompression and at what depth you should stop. However,
this limited information is invaluable if a diver goes into unplanned
decompression. The Sport calculates the decompression penalty and
guides the diver through it. For unplanned decompression dives,
the ability of the Sport to instantly produce numbers relieves the
diver of trying to read tables with decompression rules they may
have forgotten how to use while under stress, possibly suffering
from narcosis and perhaps in conditions that make the tables unreadable
(always assuming the diver even has tables).
The Sport uses the ZH-L8 ADT adaptive algorithm which takes into
account not just time and depth, but also whether the diver made
yo-yo ascents, saw-tooth profiles, or in the computer's mind, got
cold. It will take time to establish whether Uwatec are on the right
tracks, but it is an innovative approach and as we will see later
in this report, the Aladin Sport can provide times very different
to its predecessors for the same dive profiles.
To test the Aladin Sport we used a combination of subjective user-assessment
and formal bench testing. Our five man test team was drawn from
the Gibraltar Sub Aqua Club, a BSAC branch. Until recently the club
did not allow computers on club dives, preferring instead to use
RN Table 11, a reflection of the GSAC's Navy links. Two of the team
owned computers (not Aladins) but could only use them as computers
on private dives. For the three other testers, the Sport was the
first computer they had ever used.
Dive computers are sophisticated instruments. Computer manufacturers
usually stress that they are for guidance and make recommendations
that require the diver to follow certain procedures. Additionally,
modern computers often have special logbook or other functions that
can only be accessed using a specific drill. So we asked our test
team to evaluate the 60-odd page instruction manual for ease of
Only four out of the five testers read the instructions. Their
overall score was 85%.
The Aladin Sport remains 'on' at all times, though the display
will be off to conserve battery life once the unit has been surfaced
for a few minutes. It automatically senses, and adjusts for changes
in, barometric pressure such as an ascent to altitude to lake dive.
The automatic activation effectively bars a diver from entering
the water with an erroneously set computer that could provide misinformation
and affect safety Ð it's virtually diver-proof. Overall score:
We believe that it is vital that a computer display is easy to
understand underwater. In an emergency a diver may not have time
to analyse a confusing display. The Aladin's displays were tested
under severe conditions Ð visibility and light levels were very
poor and several members of the test team were slightly affected
by narcosis on one dive. The Aladin uses an LCD display which retains
light Ð basically a high tech version of the luminous batons
on a watch.
We asked the test divers to score the display considering factors
such as whether they found the information relevant or irrelevant,
and presented confusingly or clearly. Their rating was 96%. Legibility
One problem with computer displays can be their legibility under
different lighting conditions. Some displays 'disappear' unless
the computer is angled to catch the light. The Sports were used
in bright and low light, with and without torches.Overall legibility
We avoided deliberately violating the computers during in-water
testing, but four of the testers received 'Slow Ascent' warnings.
The sport has a variable ascent rate permitting relatively fast
ascents from deep water that are progressively slowed as a diver
nears the surface. The divers who saw the ascent rate cautions regarded
them as clear and attention-grabbing, giving them 95%.
We made one planned decompression dive to assess the decompression
display. For planned stage decompression diving we believe that
a computer that provides total ascent time should be selected. We
have no reservations about using the Sport as a back-up computer
for decompression diving. On this dive our purpose was to see how
easily the decompression display could be followed by divers who
were unfamiliar with it. This accounts for most potential Sport
users who will probably only see the decompression display as a
result of unintentionally and briefly overtaking the No Stop times
or making a decompression dive 'to see what it's like'. Rating 95%.