Summer Worsley, Dive Instructor
The Suunto Zoop Novo
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Suunto Zoop Novo on the go!
Photograph from Suunto.com
Suunto Zoop Novo Dive Computer: Key Specifications
- Easy-to-read high-contrast display
- Four button interface
- 140-hour logbook memory
- Five operating modes: air, Nitrox, gauge, freediving, and off
- Maximum depth display at 100m/330ft
- Adjustable altitude up to 3,000m/9,800ft
- 12 or 24-hour clock format
- Metric or imperial
- Audible alarms
- Backlit display
- User replaceable battery
- Dive plan mode
- PC and Mac compatible
- Stopwatch function
Which is Better, the Suunto Zoop Novo or the Cressi Leonardo?
Both the Suunto Zoop Novo and Cressi Leonardo are designed as entry-level dive computers. Because they are durable, reliable, and easy to use, both are popular choices for new divers and dive schools alike.
At first glance, it’s easy to think there’s not much separating these two. Both have nice big displays and offer similar functionality. Looking closer, the main difference is how you access these functions. The Zoop Novo has four navigation buttons while the Leonardo has just one.
Each approach has its pros and cons. With a single button, you’re not going to get confused about which to press. But we found it tiresome having to navigate through so many menus just to find the item we needed.
In contrast, the Zoop Novo’s multiple buttons allow you to access functions much quicker — you just have to remember which button does what! If you wear thick gloves, there’s a possibility of pressing the wrong button. However, Suunto has spaced the buttons far enough apart to prevent this from happening.
Both offer air, Nitrox (to 50%), and gauge modes. In addition, the Zoop Novo has a freediving and an off mode.
The Leonardo allows you to easily reset the computer, wiping the memory. This is a great feature for dive centers and schools; each new diver can start fresh. However, we found that if you’re using it as a personal computer, it’s not a function you would use at all.
Suunto and Cressi both use their own RGBM (reduced gradient bubble model) for calculations. Suunto’s comes in on the conservative side while Cressi’s is slightly more liberal. Which model is better? The Leonardo may give you a tiny amount of extra bottom time but there’s not much to really tell them apart.
Although both come in at affordable price points, the Leonardo is slightly cheaper. But there are certain functions it lacks when compared with the Zoop Novo. And with it’s easier navigation through menus, the Suunto is our pick of the two.
What You Need to Know About the Suunto Zoop Novo
Below is a round-up of the Suunto Zoop Novo’s best features.
Big and Durable Design
Usually, the overall design wouldn’t be a key feature and reason to buy a dive computer. But in the Zoop Novo’s case, it’s a big plus. The display is huge at 4cm/1.33 inches in diameter and is protected by tough acrylic which will more than withstand the odd knock. The big clear digits make the Zoop Novo easy to read — even for those of us with aging eyes!
It can seem a bit bulky and you wouldn’t wear it as an everyday wristwatch. But let’s face it, it’s a dive computer you want to buy. For functionality, practicality, and durability, the Zoop Novo design is ideal.
Four Button Interface
One change Suunto has made to the original Zoop is to add a fourth button to the Novo for easier navigation. You have mode, select, up, and down, all clearly marked, and with the large display, it’s super easy to navigate through the menus to find what you’re looking for.
The four buttons are nice and big and ergonomically placed making them well-spaced. It would be difficult to press the wrong one, even when wearing thick gloves.
Personal and Altitude Adjustments
As we all know, there are a number of factors that can increase your risk of DCS. If you’re diving and you know you carry certain DCS risk factors (age, obesity, circulatory issues), the Zoop Novo allows you to adjust the algorithm to be more conservative, providing an extra level of safety.
- P0: For ideal conditions
- P1: An intermediate setting
- P2: The most conservative setting
The Zoop Novo also allows you to change the altitude setting which will adjust the computer’s decompression calculations. The default is 0-300m/0-980ft and can be changed to 300-1500m/980-4900ft or 1500-3000m/4900-9800ft.
Display information on the Zoop Novo can be shown in metric or imperial, and Fahrenheit or Celsius.
Adjusting the computer to dive on Nitrox is easy. In Nitrox mode, you enter both the percentage of oxygen being used and the ppO2 (oxygen partial pressure) limit. It's programmable for 21% to 50% oxygen mixtures and adjusts between 1.2 and 1.6 bar (17.4 to 23.2 psi) ppO2.
There are many audible alarms on the Zoop Novo to let you know when important limits are being reached or passed. This doesn’t mean it’s going to be beeping at you every two minutes though.
There are different tones to indicate high and low priority. High priority alarms will sound if the decompression ceiling depth is exceeded, the current depth is too deep for the gas mix in use, or if you’re exceeding the maximum ascent rate (10m/32ft per minute). Whether scuba diving or freediving, the low priority alarm will sound when you reach the defined maximum depth.
For an entry-level dive computer, the Zoop Novo boasts a large logbook memory and can store up to 140 hours of data (approximately 100 dives). However, in freediving mode, this reduces to 35 hours.
You can download your dive log from the Zoop Novo onto your PC or Mac so you can analyze the data. Although the software is free to download, unfortunately, Suunto chose not to include the USB cable with the computer, it has to be purchased separately.
The Suunto Zoop Novo’s Decompression Model
Suunto uses its own customized RGBM model which was developed in collaboration with Dr. Bruce Wienke. Unlike the classic Haldane models still used in some dive computers, the Suunto RGBM predicts free gas as well as dissolved gas in the tissue of divers.
By monitoring repetitive dives, reverse profiling, short surface intervals, and multi-day diving, the Zoop Novo’s decompression algorithm adapts its calculations to take all these practices into consideration.
One thing we like about the Suunto RGBM is the use of a full continuous decompression if the NDL (no-decompression limit) is exceeded. Instead of staged decompression where you’re required to make rapid ascents followed by stops at fixed depths, continuous decompression slows the ascent rate without the need for lengthy deep stops.
What Does This Mean for the Diver?
If you exceed the NDL on a dive, the Zoop Novo provides the decompression information you require to make a safe ascent. Rather than making a number of stops at fixed depths, the computer allows you to decompress within a range of depths by continually correcting the rate and ceiling depth as you ascend.
Obviously, if you are exceeding the NDL and your dive becomes a decompression dive, the Suunto RGBM penalizes you with extended surface intervals and any subsequent dives will be impacted. Be aware that this is a recreational computer. It is NOT designed for use on planned decompression dives. If you are intending to go into decompression it can be put into gauge mode and used as a bottom timer along with your dive plan.
Many people claim the Suunto RGBM is too conservative. But is this a bad thing? It may be annoying if your buddy has a more liberal computer than you. Personally, we think it’s OK for an entry-level computer to be a little on the conservative side, especially if you’re doing multiple dives every day. How can it be wrong to dive well within your limits?
Suunto’s After Sales and Servicing Support
If you are based in one of 36 countries, you can apply for an online service request and send your Zoop Novo for repair. If your computer is outside the warranty period, Suunto will send a quote before beginning any repairs. Turn around time is generally seven working days.
Any Ongoing Maintenance?
It’s possible to change the Zoop Novo’s battery without having to head to a registered service center. We recommend getting the Suunto Zoop Novo battery replacement kit which includes the battery, O-ring and extra screws. With the right screwdriver and this kit, we found replacing the battery pretty easy and straightforward.
However, it’s important to note that any “user errors” when replacing the battery (such as a dirty seal or a battery compartment not closed correctly) will void the warranty. If you’re not confident about changing it yourself, you can always get the battery changed as part of the computers regular two-year service.
The Zoop Novo’s full manual can be found here.
The original Suunto Zoop was a best-seller for a reason and widely seen as the best entry-level computer on the market. With the Zoop Novo, Suunto has definitely improved on the original.
Manufacturer’s Specs and Features:
- Five modes: off, air, Nitrox, gauge, and freediving
- A built-in dive planner
- Full continuous decompression algorithm
- Innovative timer for freediving
- Timer in air and nitrox modes
- User changeable battery
- Backlit screen
- Graphical logs and dive data compatible with both PC and Mac
- Four button interface
What We Like:
- Big, clear display
- Simple and easy to use so ideal for divers of all levels
- You can change the length of time the backlight stays on
- The price point makes it an ideal back-up computer
- Personal dive profiles allow you to change the algorithm to be more conservative
- Off mode means you can have a swim during your surface interval without it affecting your next dive
- Very robust and can take some manhandling
- Changeable audible alarms
- Freediving mode
- The battery lasts forever. One recreational instructor we spoke to said her Zoop Novo did more than a full year of dive work before needing a new battery
- Comes in a range of bright colors to complement the rest of your dive gear
What We Don’t Like:
- Although the screen is large and easy to read, the Zoop Novo can’t be worn as a wristwatch, unless you’re OK with its chunky size!
- The USB cable has to be purchased separately.
- No in-built compass.
- Many customers complain about the lack of information provided in the user manual. However, a simple internet search and you’ll find the info that’s missing.
Buy This Computer If:
After reviewing the Suunto Zoop Novo, it’s definitely a computer that’s hard to beat. It may not be streamlined enough for freedivers or offer the gas switching and algorithms for hardcore tech divers. But for recreational scuba divers of all levels, the Zoop Novo offers everything you will need.
The Zoop Novo will make diving easy and safe with all the data you need displayed on a huge, clear screen. Because it’s reasonably priced, highly durable, and super easy to use, the Suunto Zoop Novo may be the only dive computer you will ever want to use!
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