Summer Worsley, Dive Instructor
The Mares Puck Pro
Where to Buy:
Mares Puck Pro on the go!
Photo from Youtube.com
Mares Puck Pro Dive Computer: Key Specifications
- Plan mode
- One-button menu navigation
- Metric or imperial
- Adjustable salinity settings
- Nitrox compatible
- Capable of switching between air and Nitrox or Nitrox to Nitrox on a single dive
- Optional USB interface
- Maximum depth display at 150m/492ft
- Backlit for low-lighting conditions
- Adjustable conservative dive settings
- A large, high-contrast display panel
- Four altitude settings
- Logbook function
- Ascent rate indication bar
- Watch and stopwatch functions
Which is Better, the Mares Puck Pro or the Suunto Zoop Novo?
While Mares is perhaps better known for its excellent fins, Suunto is the industry leader when it comes to recreational dive computers. That doesn’t mean that the Puck Pro is a bad computer in comparison, it’s certainly not. For the price, it’s hard to beat in our opinion.
The Zoop offers an additional dive option with its ‘free’ mode. If you’re also interested in freediving, the Zoop Novo may be a better choice for you. Both computers have a gauge mode. On the Pro, it's marked as ‘bottom timer.’ Gauge mode means the computer has stopped tracking the theoretical nitrogen load and has essentially turned the computer into a bottom timer. Most recreational divers do not use this feature.
The Puck Pro is rated to a deeper depth than the Zoop Novo. However, because this computer is primarily geared toward recreational divers, the additional depth rating may not be pertinent.
We like the extra large display on the Puck Pro, it’s certainly a lot easier to see than the Zoop’s display. We also think the Puck Pro might have the edge on the Zoop Novo in terms of its logbook functionality. It’s easier to skip through and view previous dives. That said, the Novo records 140 hours of dive information, far more than the Puck Pro’s 36 hours.
Both are excellent options for both new divers and experienced divers looking for a reliable, low-cost computer. If you’re looking for the best deal and you don’t mind the lack of a freediving mode, the Puck Pro is a great choice.
Photograph from Bigbubble.com
What You Need to Know About the Mares Puck Pro
Below is a roundup of some of the Mares Puck Pro’s key features
The Puck Pro is BIG
It’s called the Puck Pro for a reason, and we suspect that’s because this wrist computer is the nearly the same size as a hockey puck. The face is 5.9cm/2.33” across and it’s 2.5cm/1” thick. The display is generous, to say the least, it’s also backlit for low-light diving conditions which is a big plus on night dives.
We’ve included the size as a key feature here because we think it’s excellent for divers with less than 20/20 vision. On the other hand, this is not a sleek and slim dive computer that will be doing double duty as your daily watch.
Divers can adjust their conservatism level, choosing from three personal options: P0 (the standard algorithm, P1 an intermediate setting, and P2, the most conservative setting. We noted that the Puck Pro is quite a conservative computer anyway so setting it to P2 will significantly decrease allowable bottom times, particularly during multiple dives over multiple days.
The computer also allows divers to adjust the percentage of oxygen in their Nitrox mix and the max ppO2 (partial pressure of oxygen) from 1.4 to 1.6.
Altitude adjustments are allowable up to 3,700m/12,100ft:
A0: Sealevel to 700m/2300ft
A1: 700m/2300ft to 1500m/4900ft
A2: 1500m/4900ft to 2400m/7900ft
A3: 2400m/7900ft to 3700m/12100ft
The Puck Pro allows divers to switch gas underwater and record this on the computer. The two gas mixtures, labeled G1 and G2, and can only be air or EANx. G1 must have a lower oxygen percentage. The Puck Pro will only allow the change is the depth is shallow enough for the MOD on the second tank containing a higher O2 percentage.
You can also set the Puck Pro to salt water or fresh water calibration depending on where you’re diving. Note that in case you forget to change this back, a depth disparity of around 3 percent will be displayed.
Puck Pro can display information in metric or imperial and you can choose between Fahrenheit and Celsius for the temperature.
This computer has several alarms including a warning if a diver exceeds the computer’s recommended ascent rate (12m per minute), the ppO2/MOD for a given gas mixture, or hits the 100% CNS (central nervous system) oxygen exposure limit, as determined by the computer.
It will also beep to let you know you’ve missed a decompression stop or if the battery is low on the dive. Notably, this computer lacks a depth alarm. On many other entry-level models, divers can set an alarm for any planned maximum depth.
The Puck Pro features a “nitrogen loading” bar at the bottom of the display. This bar graph will gradually recede while you’re on a surface interval, safety stop, or a mandatory decompression stop.
The Pro has a non-mandatory deep stop function which is displayed to divers when they start approaching the no decompression limit or no stop time (NDL). Divers can either take one two-minute stop or two one-minute stops.
The safety stop function kicks in as soon as the diver hits 6m/20ft or above at the end of the dive and lasts for the standard three minutes.
This computer is EANx compatible, and, as we mentioned above, will even allow a gas switch from one mixture to another on a single dive. Divers can input from 21% to 99% O2 mixtures into the Puck Pro and adjust exposure to between 1.4 and 1.6 ppO2.
One-Button Menu Navigation
In an attempt to simplify things for divers, all of the Mares Puck series features just one large red button. To access dive modes, memory, settings, and the plan function, divers start from the initial menu and scroll through until they hit the submenu they need.
Users rave about this feature and we’re sure that once you get used to it, it’s simple. But we found that we were pressing and holding when we should have been pressing and releasing and vice versa.
Mares Puck Pro used underwater
Photograph from 50ftbelow.com
The Puck Pro’s Decompression Model
The Puck Pro operates on a 10-tissue Mares-Wienke RGBM (reduced gradient bubble model) algorithm. The Wienke in the name of the algorithm refers to Dr. Bruce Wienke who developed the RGBM. The RGBM model is found in Mares and Suunto computers.
Because the algorithm is adjusted for Mares, it’s referred to as “modified.” In the case of the Puck Pro, it’s called the Mares-Wienke RGBM. Some manufacturers modify algorithms to better suit the computational limitations of a wrist-worn computer, among other reasons.
Mares’ RGBM computes the theoretical uptake of gas in ten differing theoretical tissue compartments (parts of the body which do not exactly match the theorized compartments but are divided as such to account for the potential for different parts of the body to both on-gas and off-gas soluble gases at varied rates).
It also attempts to account for free phase bubbles that might be present in the blood and set limitations based on their potential development and growth.
What Does This Mean for the Diver?
Mares’ RGBM is a conservative algorithm. Divers switching from more technical-diving friendly algorithms will notice this. This means that the Mares Puck Pro is not well-suited to technical diving, even as a back-up computer. Used in gauge mode it may be useful as a bottom timer.
One notable feature of bubble models is that they suggest decompression stops at deeper levels to limit bubble formation during ascents.
Within recreational diving, RGBM requires safety stops, restricts deeper dives with short SIs (surface intervals), and penalizes NDLs on reverse dive profiles. Skipped safety stops result in heavy limitations on future dives in the series. Divers who run a bad profile (saw-tooth diving, pushing NDL limits, etc.) will notice significant penalties on repetitive dives.
Mares’ After Sales and Servicing Support
Service centers can be found in licensed Mares retailers or by contacting the company and inquiring about the closest service center to you. In some cases, if there is no service center in your country, the computer may need to be sent to another country. Replacements are provided when the computer is faulty through no error on the user’s behalf.
Any Ongoing Maintenance?
As with any dive computer, the Mares Puck Pro requires some ongoing maintenance. Mares recommends that the pressure sensor is checked and the computer is serviced every two years.
One thing we really like about the Puck Pro is that users can update the firmware themselves. To do this, you’ll need the interface cable. The latest firmware can be found here. Your previous dive log will not be affected after the update.
You can change the battery on the Puck Pro yourself. Make sure that you have the right sized screwdriver and a new O-ring ready to go. Change the O-ring every time you change the computer’s battery.
To avoid any errors, it’s best to purchase a Mares Puck Pro Battery Kit.
Note that any “improper use” leading to water damage, including a dirty seal and the battery compartment closed incorrectly, may void the computer’s warranty. This essentially means that you can change the battery yourself but doing so may create issues for you if you make a mistake.
For full info, check the Puck Pro’s User Manual.
Manufacturer’s Specs and Features:
- Nitrox compatible
- Intuitive user interface
- User changeable battery
- User updated firmware
- Gas switch possible (air and EANx only)
- Mineral gas display
- Large, easy-to-read numbersBacklit screen
- One-button menu navigation
- Mares-Wienke RGBM
- Adjustable salinity, conservatism, and altitude settings
What We Like:
- Huge, clear display
- Simple computer perfect for new divers
- Can adjust the algorithm to become more conservative
- The attractive price point
- Excellent first dive computer
- Altitude adjustments up to 3,700m/12,100ft
- Good quality strap included with the computer
- Multiple color options, easy to match the Puck Pro with your favorite retro wetsuit!
What We Don’t Like:
- For some, the one-button menu is the best thing about this computer. We found it a little annoying
- Too large to wear as a watch on a daily basis, unless you’re into that kind of thing
- No air integration function
- No depth alarm function, not ideal for divers who use a medical device and must stick above certain depths. Of course, divers should watch their depths carefully throughout the dive and not rely on an alarm
- No in-built compass
- We didn’t test this, but some reviewers note that it’s a little painful trying to connect the computer to Mares’ Dive Organizer software
Buy This Computer If:
After reviewing the Puck Pro, we think this is a solid entry-level computer for newer divers. That said, we don’t think divers will outgrow it that fast since it also includes a few unexpected functions, such as the ability to do a dual gas dive.
It’s easy to use and has all the features you need for recreational diving. Plus, with the attractive price point, it’s hard to top.
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