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summer worsley
Summer Worsley, Dive Instructor

PRODUCT REVIEW

Cressi Donatello Dive Computer Review

Cressi is the oldest scuba equipment manufacturer in the world and deserves its standing as an industry leader. In the dive computer market, the company already has a solid range of products from the entry-level Giotto to its most popular model, the Leonardo. 

Building on the success of the Leonardo, Cressi introduces its successor, the Donatello. Here we take a look at what’s changed and whether Cressi has created another success with its new computer geared towards beginner divers.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4

Reasons to buy

  • User-replaceable battery
  • Low-profile design
  • Single-button navigation
  • Comfortable to wear over any thickness of wetsuit
  • Durable
  • User-friendly interface that’s ideal for beginners
  • Easy-to-view display

Reasons NOT to buy

  • No integrated Bluetooth and you have to buy the PC/Mac/Android interface connection separately
  • No built-in compass

What You Need to Know About the Cressi Donatello

Below is a round-up of the Cressi Donatello’s best features:

See the complete list of the best Dive Computers here!

Overall Design and Display

Cressi’s Donatello comes with a high-contrast display featuring oversized letters and numbers that are super easy to read. The improved backlight is strong and allows you to see the screen clearly in low lit environments, including during night dives.

Overall, the watch design is low profile and fits snuggly on the wrist while still allowing full movement of the hand. The wristband is made from lightweight thermoplastic polyurethane rubber and features a stainless steel buckle making it very durable. Instead of using glass for the display, Cressi chose a polyolefin screen that’s as clear as glass but also scratch-resistant.

cressi donatello_overall design

Cressi Donatello Dive Computer Review: Key Specifications

  • Display: high contrast with extra-large digits
  • Four modes: air, nitrox, freedive, gauge
  • Easy-to-access menu with one-button navigation
  • Bright backlit display
  • Surf time, no-fly time, and desaturation calculator
  • Metric or imperial units
  • Water-resistance: to 492 feet (150m)
  • Algorithm: Cressi-Wienke RGBM
  • PPO2 configurable between 17.4 and 23.2 psi (1.2 and 1.6 bar)
  • Altitude adjustable up to 12,140 feet (3,700m)
  • Deactivation of dive functions
  • Alarms: audible and visual
  • Dive log: up to 50 dives per mode
  • Replaceable protective display screen
  • User-replaceable batteries
  • Total reset for rental devices
  • Optional Bluetooth connection for smart devices and PC’s

Where to Buy:

  • Amazon with worldwide shipping

One-Button Navigation

Cressi put a lot of thought into making a dive computer that’s easy and straightforward for every level of diver to use. Navigation through the menus is made using just one button which is ideal as the Donatello has a limited number of functions and options.

  • Short press scrolls through the menu.
  • One second press enters the various menus and confirms your selection.
  • A longer press returns you to the previous menu.

Most divers will get the hang of using the Donatello pretty quickly and soon find themselves skipping through the menus with ease.

Switch Off Dive Functions

Many computers still make dive calculations if you wear them in the water during surface intervals. This can confuse the computer and affect the calculation of safety stops. The Donatello allows you to completely switch off its dive functions making it wearable for any kind of water activity, including snorkeling and swimming.

cressi donatello switch off

Nitrox Compatible

In addition to diving on air, the Donatello gives you the option of using enriched air. As it’s geared to recreational divers, the options are basic but do allow you to have one Nitrox mix up to 50% oxygen. To ensure you stay well within the safety margins regarding oxygen toxicity, you can also adjust the PPO2 (partial pressure of oxygen) levels between 1.2 and 1.6 bar (17.4 to 23.2 psi).

The Donatello also features a graphic display that shows the CNS oxygen toxicity levels which is useful for advanced divers making multiple EANx dives over several days.

Personal and Altitude Adjustments

The Donatello lets you adjust the algorithm to make it more conservative if you’re at a heightened risk of DCS. If you’re feeling stressed or dehydrated or diving in colder waters, you can change the safety factor and add an additional layer of safety to your dive.

  • SF0—default for ideal conditions
  • SF1—intermediate setting
  • SF2—most conservative setting

Decompression calculations can also be altered when you’re diving at altitude. The Donatello has four different altitude settings ranging from 0-2,297 feet (0-700m) to 7,874-12,139 feet (2,400-3,700m).

Adjustable Alarms

The Donatello gives several different and distinct audible and visual alarms to inform you of vital information while diving. A maximum depth alarm can be set by the user and the safety stop alarm reminds divers to make a stop before the last ascent to the surface.

There are also a number of alerts that warn you when you have exceeded limits, including PPO2 violation and ascent speed.

If you’re not a fan of being constantly beeped at, you’ll be pleased to know that most of the Donatello’s alarms can be disabled. However, these alarms are definitely beneficial and can help to turn new divers into better divers.

cressi donatello adjustable alarm

Battery

Worth noting is that the Donatello is driven by CR2450 lithium batteries. More importantly, these are user-replaceable and you don’t need any fancy tools to change it. Some brands make customers go through the hassle of sending their computers to authorized service centers to have the battery replaced, not very convenient if your computer dies while on a liveaboard. However, with the Donatello, a quick battery change will have your computer back up and working in no time. Just be sure to carry spare batteries with you!

cressi donatello battery

Dive Log and Data Transfer

Cressi has integrated a good-sized dive log in the Donatello. You can store the data of up to 50 dives in each of the four dive modes. Even if you leave it a while between downloading the info, there’s still plenty of space to collect and store data.

Slightly disappointing, however, is the need to purchase a separate interface kit to download the dive log separately. This kit contains an adapter that you place over the Donatello, turning the computer into a Bluetooth device and allowing you to wirelessly connect to a PC, Mac, or smart device.

The Cressi Donatello’s Decompression Model

Cressi’s range of computers, including the Donatello, use the Cressi RGBM algorithm. It’s based on the Haldane model with integrated RGBM factors and was created in collaboration with Dr. Bruce Wienke, the eminent bubble specialist.

The Cressi RGBM algorithm is an adaptation of Suunto’s model, which has a reputation for being quite conservative. Cressi’s algorithm is based on a nine tissue compartment model using saturation half-times between 2.5 and 480 minutes. It allows for safe decompression calculations for repetitive dives over multiple days. As we looked at above, users can adjust the level of conservatism should they wish. They can also add or remove deep and safety stops.

What Does This Mean for the Diver?

The Cressi RGBM algorithm is well established and will ensure your safety when diving. It’s one of the most conservative models out there, which means you may hit your NDL sooner than your buddy if they’re diving with a different brand of computer (unless they use a Suunto!).

As well as taking into account the adjusted conservatism and altitude settings, the Donatello is capable of handling repetitive dives. So, if you’re on a liveaboard and doing three or four dives a day, the Cressi has you covered.

One of the features of the Donatello is the ability to completely reset it and erase the history. This is excellent for dive centers and shops that rent computers to customers. The Donatello forgets its history so none of the previous dives made with the computer are considered in new calculations.

Cressi After Sales and Servicing Support

Being such a well-established brand, Cressi’s after-sales and ongoing support are excellent. As with all its computers, the Donatello comes with a two-year warranty starting from the date of purchase. You can register your product online.

During the warranty period, Cressi or a registered dealer will repair any defects relating to the design or workmanship of the Donatello or replace it free-of-charge.

The Cressi website features additional information, videos, and a dealer location finder. You can find the full Donatello user manual here.

Ongoing Maintenance?

Cressi has designed the Donatello to withstand extensive underwater use and to perform in extreme conditions. However, like any precision instrument, the computer still needs to be operated with care.

Avoid contact with chemicals and never use grease, oil, or sprays to lubricate the button. Always rinse and dry the computer in fresh water after use to prevent corrosion from salt. Don’t attempt any repairs yourself. Any problems should be checked out by an authorized Cressi service center.

Although the battery is user-replaceable, always make sure you replace it following the instructions, as any damage that occurs as a result of overtightening the battery cover will invalidate the warranty.

Which is Better, the Cressi Donatello or the Leonardo?

At first glance, it’s hard to work out precisely what Cressi has altered on its newest model. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see the differences between the Donatello and the Leonardo are most definitely there.

Both computers are watch-style and use a single button for navigation. The improvement in the menu structure on the Donatello makes it easier and quicker to navigate through. Cressi has also added a freediving mode to cater for more divers.

One of the biggest gripes divers have with the Leonardo is its weak backlight. Cressi has listened to customers and upgraded the backlit screen on the Donatello. Strong backlighting combined with a crisp display makes reading the information you need bright and clear, even when night diving.

Connecting the Leonardo to a PC and downloading the dive log requires a cable and adapter. Although the Donatello also requires you to purchase an additional interface kit, Cressi has done away with the need for a cable. Connection to a PC, Mac, or smart device is now done via Bluetooth so you can wirelessly connect and transfer data.

Overall, the Donatello is an improvement on its predecessor. Cressi will still continue selling the Leonardo and it’s likely to come in at a lower price point. However, if you are looking for a new, modern dive computer that uses improved technology, the Donatello is the more sophisticated of the two.

Summary

Cressi has definitely improved on the features and functionality of the Leonardo. As entry-level dive computers go, the Donatello is a tough one to beat.

Buy This Cressi Donatello If:

The Cressi Donatello is a standout computer. Its simple single-button menu navigation is easy to understand and use, making it ideal for those starting out on their diving adventure. This computer also features everything that more experienced recreational divers need. Technical divers will find the Donatello lacking in capabilities. However, it might prove useful as a backup decompression calculator.

Have you used this computer or want any other information about it? If so, leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

See the complete list of the best Dive Computers here!

What We Like

  • User-replaceable battery
  • Low-profile design
  • Single-button navigation
  • Comfortable to wear over any thickness of wetsuit
  • Durable
  • User-friendly interface that’s ideal for beginners
  • Easy-to-view display
  • Loud audible alarms
  • Bright backlight means the display is easy to read at a glance in low light environments
  • Ability to switch off all dive functions when swimming or snorkeling
  • Waterproof to 492 feet (150m)
  • Can be totally reset which is ideal for dive centers offering rental computers

What We Don’t Like

  • No integrated Bluetooth and you have to buy the PC/Mac/Android interface connection separately
  • No built-in compass

Where to Buy:

  • Amazon with worldwide shipping

Where to Buy:

  • Amazon with worldwide shipping

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