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summer worsley

Summer Worsley, Dive Instructor

PRODUCT REVIEW

Suunto Vyper Novo

Dive computers have revolutionized the way we dive. Gone are the curious days of seeing struggling dive guides attempting to use the PADI Wheel at depth!

Combining depth sensors, timers, detailed decompression status, ascent rate alarms, and even more features, dive computers take away the complicated calculations, allowing you to get on with looking at the fishes, wrecks, and reefs.

suunto vyper novo

Where to Buy:

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Suunto Vyper Novo:

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One dive computer that has stood the test of time is the ever-popular Suunto Vyper. Suunto’s newer issue is the Vyper Novo, a hardy computer that can take a few knocks and still be reliable dive after dive.

Want to get your hands on the Suunto Vyper Novo? If so, click on the link above for the latest prices or read on for our full review of this quality dive tool.

Read the complete list of 2019 best Dive Computers here!

suunto vyper novo

Suunto Vyper Novo a multi spec computer!

Photograph from suunto.com

Suunto Vyper Novo Dive Computer: Key Specifications

  • Gas switching (up to three gases)
  • Five dive modes: air, Nitrox (up to 99% O2), gauge, freedive, and off.
  • Optional wireless air integration, current cylinder pressure and remaining air time
  • In-built digital compass
  • Suunto’s RGBM decompression algorithm
  • Dive planner mode
  • Ascent rate alarm
  • Large logbook capacity
  • PC/Mac compatible cable connection
  • User changeable battery
  • Robust rubber casing included
  • Apnea timer and air and Nitrox timers
  • USB cable included
  • Personal conservatism settings
  • Backlit display
  • Power saving mode
  • Three altitude adjustments
  • Dedicated freedive and scuba logbooks

Which is Better, the Suunto Vyper Novo or the Mares Smart Air?

Finnish company Suunto has been industry leaders in the manufacture of reliable and conservative dive computers for decades. It also specializes in precision instruments for other areas of the sporting world. Suunto is definitely a go-to company when it comes to computers with choices for every level of diver be it tech, rec, or freediving.

Mares is well known for their dive equipment including world beaters such as the Quattro Avanti fins. The company has also won awards for its Ruby regulator for three years running. The combination of great Italian style with a high-performance design is a consistent theme for the brand, and the Mares Smart Air is no exception.

Although Mares is a latecomer to the dive computer world, this is a very well-priced and functional device, which uses a similar RGBM decompression algorithm as the Vyper Novo.

These computers are similar in many ways: three gas changes, EANx compatible to 99%, and optional air-integration.

Despite the gas-switch capabilities, neither is great for technical diving, though both can serve as a bottom timer in gauge mode. But each is a serious contender for the beginner through to the experienced recreational diver. As you progress through your diving life, these are good buddies to have.

One extra function that the Vyper Novo has over the Smart Air is its well-designed 3D integrated compass, allowing you to disregard yet another wrist instrument. Its clever technology means you’ll get accurate readings even when you tilt your arm. This is an excellent addition to its features and the reason why we would choose the Vyper Novo.

If a compass isn’t what you need, however, and you’re looking for something a little smaller and more stylish, then the Mares Smart Air could be for you.

The Vyper Novo is a large wrist computer, designed only for its purpose underwater. The Mares Smart Air is small, compact, and wrist-watch sized, it’s pretty enough that you could wear it to a wine bar. That said, we have a lot more faith in the Vyper’s ability to keep going if we dropped it after a few drinks!

Suunto Vyper Novo in beautiful white design!
Photograph from suunto.com
suunto vyper novo

What You Need to Know About the Suunto Vyper Novo

Below is a round-up of the Suunto Vyper Novo’s best features

Air Integration

To have one instrument, handily attached to your wrist, where you can view all the dive data you require is a great breakthrough in technology. Although it has been around for a few years now, the systems have become better and cheaper; you don’t have to break the bank to get top quality. In our opinion, it’s always better to have a pressure gauge too (on a hose) in case of any malfunctions or battery loss.

This superbly functional computer can take information from three transmitters throughout a dive, allowing for the full use of the three possible gas changes. This is an advanced upgrade to its older sibling, the Vyper.

The air integrated computer display gives you air pressure and remaining time based on your breathing rate and depth. It makes constant adjustments as these factors change. It has alarms for low air, and a safety gap of 35 bar/507 psi so if it reads zero air, you still have a reserve. Despite this fantastic advance, it’s essential you monitor your air in the same way as before to avoid an out-of-air situation.

Bear in mind that when attaching your transmitters to your regulators’ first stages, it’s much better to get this done at a reputable store, as they need to be pressure tested before use. Remember also, that this is an optional addition, which is priced separately.

Integrated 3D Compass

The compass really sets this model apart from its earlier incarnations. The Suunto Vyper Novo has an advanced digital compass ensuring another dive tool is available at a glance on your wrist, without the unnecessary bulk of carrying a separate instrument. This also allows further streamlining, cutting down both drag underwater and pre-dive preparation.

The compass is smart, meaning it can be held at an angle and still give accurate headings, unlike the liquid-filled, mechanical beasts we’ve all been wearing for years. You can set a heading as before, however, this piece of technology will let you know immediately if you deviate from the heading, no more square patterns that appear rather more like a rhombus!

We definitely think this is a feature most computers will have in the future but why wait, it’s available now, and for a very attractive price.

Three Gas Mixes

The Suunto Vyper Novo is a great advance on previous models, which were compatible with Nitrox (EANx), however, they would only allow one mix for the entire dive. This is absolutely fine if you are using standard mixes for the duration of your dive, as most divers do. This computer allows you to push below standard recreational diving limits, to extend your range into the territory where travel gases, bottom gasses, and decompression gasses may be required. Of course, don’t do this unless you have proper training.

It can monitor O2 levels up to 99%, so potentially has an accelerated decompression application. Each gas mix must have a lower oxygen percentage than the previous mix when you set the plan and you can’t switch gasses if the MOD (maximum operating depth) is exceeded.

This intelligent instrument will also warn you when you should be switching gases and links up to three transmitters. It really does give you all the information you need for delving deeper.

Diving Modes

This is a very versatile digital diving device, allowing up to five modes. This can be adjusted to fit exactly the kind of diving you’re doing and be switched to others as appropriate. The modes are air, Nitrox, gauge, free and off

Air, or 21% Nitrox: This is for standard recreational air dives. In this mode, the computer is a fully functioning depth meter and timer and displays no decompression times.

Nitrox: Up to 99% can be monitored with adjusted no-decompression depths accordingly.

Gauge: In this mode, the computer acts as a bottom timer. No decompression status is displayed. This can be useful for techies as additional back up, however, bear in mind that Suunto guarantees its accuracy only to 80m/262ft

Free mode: Switches off all information except depth and a timer. It's an accurate algorithm that provides all the information an apnea enthusiast requires to plunge the depths and come back up.

Off: Turns the computer off so that it registers no decompression or water-time information.

Suunto Vyper Novo a robust, nitrox-capable dive computer for advanced divers!
Photograph from suunto.com
suunto vyper novo

The Suunto Vyper’s Decompression Model

Different decompression algorithms can be found in a variety of computer brands. A decompression algorithm provides an approximation of dissolved nitrogen in the body during and after a dive. The Suunto Vyper Novo uses the acclaimed Wienke RGBM (reduced gradient bubble model) algorithm.

This algorithm computes the potential uptake of gas in nine different theoretical tissue compartments. The RGBM algorithm takes into account the rate at which certain tissues within our bodies on-gas and off-gas differently. This advancement in decompression theory, used in dive computer technology, means that it will even theoretically track silent or free phase nitrogen currently in the blood.

Suunto and Dr. Bruce Wienke have been developing the RGMB algorithm for well over a decade. A rich history of science, development, and experience underwater lies within each Suunto computer. This clever algorithm takes care of multi-day and repetitive dives in a single day. It will penalize bad behavior underwater, such as ascent rate violations, saw-tooth profiles, and missed safety stops by allowing shorter NDL limits, thus ensuring subsequent dives are safe.

Incidentally, the ascent rate of this algorithm is set at a very cautious 10m/33ft per minute. It is based on laboratory experiments and on diving data, including data from DAN. Its reliability has been proven by millions of successful dives.

The RGBM is also used by Mares. It’s considered conservative because it has an extra degree of caution. In our opinion, this is no bad thing and it’s something we really like about this computer.

What Does This Mean for the Diver?

The great news is that the development in computer technology and decompression theory allows us to do what we like best — dive! We can still plan the dive beforehand and try to stick to prearranged depths and time limits, however, what happens to the plan on your slate when a manta is swirling just below you? Computer ingenuity allows you to take a closer look and spend just that bit longer as you instantly know how long you can stay at that depth.

Warning — never exceed your qualification level just because you can, a computer will not give you the extra training you need that you receive on a dive course. As the old saying goes, there’s old divers and bold divers, but never any old bold divers.

You can trust the Suunto Vyper Novo to ensure a relaxed dive, confident that the information on your wrist will ensure safe, conservative diving profiles. You can chill and enjoy the peace of the reef and let Suunto take the headache away.

Suunto’s After Sales and Servicing Support

Suunto has a fantastic reputation for customer aftercare. The company runs a very comprehensive and responsive customer support site, where you can ask for help in case of any problems or queries, and receive updated downloads for your software.

The warranty is for two years on products such as the computer or optional transmitter, and one year for items such as USB cables and straps. There is also a five-year warranty for problems relating to the depth sensors. This warranty is for manufacturing faults. In these cases, a fix, a replacement, or a refund are guaranteed, as long as the user has not tampered with the product.

You will have to send the malfunctioning kit to an authorized Suunto repair station, however, previous customers have been impressed by the quick turnaround and professionalism they experienced. You really don’t want to be out of the water too long, after all.

Suunto Vyper Novo - How to calibrate the compass

Any Ongoing Maintenance?

There is very little maintenance required with this multi spec computer. A thorough rinse in fresh water after a dive is sufficient. Keep it out of the sun and not in sealed containers, and you will be good to go dive after dive.

The battery can be replaced by the user very easily, although you may need to find a tool to open the back, bent-nose pliers work. The O-ring should be replaced every time you change the battery. Suunto sells a complete battery change kit, and it’s advisable to use this. To see how, check the Suunto Vyper Novo user guide.

Suunto advises servicing their computers every 200 dives or every two years, whichever comes first. Their customer service website will tell you where you can get this done. Altogether, we believe Suunto deserves its reputation as industry leaders.

Summary

The Suunto Vyper Novo is a major improvement from previous models of the same ancestry. For sure it’s pricier, however, the extra specs make it an incredibly priced product. It can take you from novice diver to extended range diver without having to buy a new computer. We would be very happy to have one of these intelligent devices in our dive bag.

Manufacturer’s Specs and Features:

  • Five dive modes: air, Nitrox, gauge, freedive, and off
  • Suunto RGBM technology
  • Integrated 3D digital compass
  • Up to three gas changes
  • Nitrox compatible up to 99%
  • Optional wireless air integration, up to three transmitters
  • Clear and large dot matrix display
  • User-adjustable parameters: altitude, conservatism, depth, and ascent-rate alarms
  • Logbook and planning functions
  • User updatable firmware
  • User changeable battery

What We Like:

  • We love that this computer can grow with you as your diving develops
  • Well designed compass leaving less to strap on your wrist
  • Three gas mixes which can be combined with three transmitters
  • Clearly laid out display using dot matrix technology
  • Suunto provides a bungy as an alternative to the standard strap, making it easier to get around bulky drysuits
  • Great functionality for the money
  • You can really thrash a Vyper and it’ll keep going

What We Don’t Like:

  • It doesn’t have the depth capabilities as other gas switching computers but is absolutely perfect for recreational diving and up to extended range. To go deeper you would have to be looking at Trimix compatible computers
  • It doesn’t have the sleek watch-like design of some of its competitors. Although Suunto does produce models that you can wear to the bar, we happen to like a computer that is functional and large and perfectly made for the time spent under the waves

Buy This Computer If:

After reviewing the Suunto Vyper Novo, it is clear this is a computer which will satisfy most recreational diving needs and never quits. In fact, one of our review team loves her older-model Vyper so much she’s been diving with it for 10 years!

If you’re already a tech diver or intend to go that way soon, this is not the digital buddy for you. If you’re a novice looking forward to getting in the water every opportunity you can, this is a perfect choice. As your experience and qualifications increase, this great piece of kit can grow with you. This complete computer is really like having a micro dashboard on your arm.

It may be the only computer you need to buy, and at a very reasonable price for its specs, it could easily find its way onto our Christmas present list.

suunto vyper novo
Suunto Vyper Novo take your diving to the next level, photo from suunto.com

Where to Buy:

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Suunto Vyper Novo:

Our recommendations:

Have you dived with the Vyper Novo? Any thoughts on it? Let us know in the comments below!


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