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Garmin Descent Mk2 & MK2i

We went diving with the new Garmin Descent Mk2i. This is a cool dive computer with a user experience that was clear to see and use before, during and after the scuba dive. The amazing multi-sport functionality is truly impressive – both for the amount of activities and the depth of info.

Backcountry skiing, sailing (with integrated tide charts), skydiving and kayaking are some of the crazy amounts of activities this machine is designed to track.

Expectations were high after the success of the original Descent Mark One, which seemed to come pretty close to hitting the sweet spot between a dive computer and an everyday smartwatch. The upgraded functionality of the Mk2i both as a dive computer and as a multisport smartwatch overcame our initial skepticism.

The bling in the Mk2 is the addition of the SubWave network on the Mk2i (the “i” stands for integration), a sonor-based communication technology that increases range and signal strength underwater. This revolutionary system pairs with the T1 transmitter providing advanced air integration and ultra accurate air pressure of up to 5 gas-mixed tanks (ni-tri- and 100%-ox), dive time remaining, and consumption rate.

What’s amazing is the ability to read the same data on other scuba divers within a 10 meter range. An instructor might like to know their students’ time remaining while underwater, but this info is generally more interesting for post-dive deep-diving.

With new decompression and safety stop upgrades to better provide fast and accurate info for ascending, the Mark 2 improves diver safety.

Our Overall Review

4.9

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    An amazing dive computer
  • check-mark
    Usability/functionality is great
  • check-mark
    Subwave sonar technology on Mk2i integrates tanks 30 feet away
  • check-mark
    GPS
  • check-mark
    Battery life is impressive
  • check-mark
    The sheer amount of multisport tracking is amazing
  • check-mark
    Smartwatch improvements are capital
  • check-mark
    Elegant and comfortable to wear

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe Mk2 doesn’t have integrated air
  • check-markConsidering no transmitters are included it is expensive

Where to buy:

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Garmin Descent Mk2 & MK2i

Garmin Descent Mk2i

It’s clear that Garmin has put improvements on the Mk2 that appeal more to technical divers than the first Descent provided, but this is still apparently a dive computer for primarily recreational divers. It’s limited to 100 meters, so tech divers using different gas mixtures can monitor them all, but an instructor may find it more useful to have real-time data of 4 other students plus their own at once. Of course, that will require the Mk2i and buying extra T1 transmitters which will go on sale sometime closer to New Year’s.

Specs & Features

  • Advanced, watch-style dive computer with 1.4” color sunlight-readable display (36% larger than previous model)
  • Six dive modes as well as multi-GNSS support and ABC sensors — including an underwater compass — know every part of your dive from entry to exit (GPS tracking does not work underwater)
  • Enhanced wrist-based heart rate estimates and Pulse Ox
  • Lets you store and review data from up to 200 dives right on your wrist and share and review dives in the Garmin Dive app downloaded to your paired compatible smartphone
  • Battery life: up to 80 hours in dive mode, up to 16 days in smartwatch mode and up to 15 hours in GPS mode with music
See the complete list of the best Dive Computer here!
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Beyond the air integration feature with SubWave technology that only the Mk2i has, the only other difference is that it has a titanium bezel and backplate, whereas the Mk has stainless steel.

Like the Mark 1 apnea diving and closed-circuit rebreather-modes are available on an even-better 1.4 inch display. With the Garmin Dive app finding dive spots with entry/exit points is useful, as is the preloaded dive data for wrecks reefs and tide data. Just look on the app for a new spot, mark it and your Mk2 will show you the way.

As a dive computer and smartwatch, the suite of apps (Garmin Dive, Garmin Connect, Garmin Golf, Garmin Explore and Garmin IQ) demonstrate its applications topside as a multisport GPS watch, the likes of which they have been making with a lot of success over the years (check out the Fenix series).

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Related Reviews

Of the available apps for topside activities, the addition of color maps for over 42,000 golf courses worldwide is impressive and appeals to a leisure segment, while runners, hikers and climbers will appreciate the altimeter, as they did on the Mk1.

New on the Mark 2 is the ability to store and listen to music, and having all the smartwatch features like an NFC pay system (Garmin Pay), a pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen levels and telephone notifications (call, text and calendar) make this a truly exciting cross-over.

The display is a third bigger than the Mk1, having a screen size to show all these activities. And yet, the new Descent is not bulky to have on. Quite the contrary.

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With a solid battery life (16 days in smartwatch mode, up to 80 hours in dive mode or 32 when paired with the T1) and assuming the SubWave ecosystem lives up to the hype, the Mark 2 seems to have provided a wristwatch unlike anything else on the market, save its predecessor.

Take it on an expedition with the GPS running up to 35 days; go running with music playing for 15 hours (if you’re an ultra runner, for example); or go diving for a whole weekend without ever having to take it off for recharging.

Let’s recap Garmin’s latest splash by examining their first foray into diving with the Descent Mark 1.

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Where the Mk1 Shined

The Descent took the idea of a wrist-worn dive computer to truly bridge the gap to something that was also a smartwatch with everyday applications like health tracking. The touchscreen user interface is much more akin to a smartwatch than to the sometimes clunky layout of a dive computer. Impressive battery length and all the other features you would expect to find in fitness-based smartwatch

Despite all of its other features, the Descent is still a dive computer at heart. Between such features as the built-in plan mode, adjustable salinity settings, automatic altitude adjustment, and compatibility with up to six gasses in a single tank, the Mk1 is one of the most well-rounded contenders in the dive computer market.

In spite of its achievements as a reliable computer, the biggest highlight of the Mk1 is its navigational capabilities. Both underwater and on the surface, the Descent functions up the hard-won Garmin standard. This should come as no surprise given their legacy as a leader in wearable GPS.

The Descent Mk1 was a modest success, impressive given that it was Garmin’s first attempt at making a dive computer. But it wasn’t without criticism. Rumors abound that Garmin considered feedback from expert divers very seriously, that is now brilliantly reflected in the recently released Mk2 and Mk2i.

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Our Overall Review

4.9

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    An amazing dive computer
  • check-mark
    Usability/functionality is great
  • check-mark
    Subwave sonar technology on Mk2i integrates tanks 30 feet away
  • check-mark
    GPS
  • check-mark
    Battery life is impressive
  • check-mark
    The sheer amount of multisport tracking is amazing
  • check-mark
    Smartwatch improvements are capital
  • check-mark
    Elegant and comfortable to wear

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe Mk2 doesn’t have integrated air
  • check-markConsidering no transmitters are included it is expensive

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