Dive computers. These two words will either send you to sleep or drive you into a geeky frenzy that will have you trolling the internet for hours, looking at specifications and comparing features. I fall into the latter category. And the Suunto Vyper Air was made for divers like me. I will say, with great confidence that the Vyper Air has too many features for the lay recreational diver. That is not to say that they will be unsatisfied with the computer; it is clear, simple to use and has all the important information available on one screen. My point is that the average diver will have all they require in a Suunto Zoop (for a much reduced price), the features in the Viper are mostly gadgets rather than “must haves”… But I love gadgets, so I’ll continue.
The Vyper Air has a few major additions compared to the last version of the Vyper; namely the forty-five degree tilt compass, the ability to download your log to a pc, the full dive simulator and its namesake – the air integration receiver.
The electronic compass that is built into the Vyper Air is at once a revolutionary piece of equipment and an unnecessary hassle. The compass is built to operate up to a tilt angle of forty-five degrees. This is actually a better tilt tolerance than their best analogue compass, the SK-7 (which sticks at thirty degrees). However, before you throw your standard compass overboard you should consider the interface on the Vyper Air – it’s a flat screen with numbers that state your current bearing. I know that this is sufficient for navigating but I find that being able to look at a rotating dial from above is far more intuitive and allows for a quicker glance at the device. For backup navigation, it is excellent but it doesn’t replace the simplicity and reliability of my trusty SK-7.
This is a real selling point for the über-geeks among us as it allows us to continue our fiddling well after we’ve dried off. It is simply a convenient and pleasant way to view the details of last dives, though it still can’t log where you saw the whale shark or a what depth that pesky trigger fish lurks…
A dive simulator might appear like a gimmick at first but it does provide a useful service to those who are completely allergic to the RDP, but who would like to be a little more proactive with their dive planning. It allows a diver to fully explore the possible dive profiles they might use on a given dive.
At last, we come to the real reason why this computer exists, the air integration receiver that gives the Viper Air its name. Suunto Vyper Air can sync with a tank pressure transmitter and display your air supply details on your wrist. Along with this the computer estimates how much longer your air supply will last based on current breathing rate, though as far as I can tell this data relies on your depth not varying. Otherwise, if you think you can plan your air better than a calculator then this data is arbitrary. It also allows for you to remove a hose from your first stage (in the form of the SPG), though I like having a reliable analogue gauge at my side.
You might feel I’m being a little harsh on the Vyper Air, being as each feature could be useful to a certain diver at some point and I agree. It also has a great deal of merit because it is a very capable Nitrox computer that will go from 21% O2 right the way up to 100% in one percent intervals. And don’t forget that it uses Suunto’s new Deepstop RGBM algorithm that is designed with the deep diver in mind and factors in short, deeper safety stops that allow the body to exhaust nitrogen in stages. This is a fantastic computer with potentially useful features that may make your dives easier, though ultimately this is a feature-freak’s computer and is designed to make geeks happy… and I am, thank you Suunto!
- Full Nitrox support and gas switching
- 45 degree tilt compass
- Dive simulator
- Full air integration (transmitter sold separately)
- PC downloader (cable sold separately.
- Deepstop RGBM
- Clear Screen
- Large capacity logbook
- Various alarms – depth, time, ascent rate, etc
- Replaceable screen guards (a big plus if you’re as clumsy as I am!)
- Ugly (subjective)
- Pricey (especially if you want to use air integration and pc downloading)
- Compass requires patience to learn
- Debatable necessity for air integration.