Well, I was going to wait until our new "Articles Section" was up... but I just can't. Here is my review:
The VT3: the first blush.
OK, I have to admit: I love to dive with a computer. I have no problems trusting them and have done well over a thousand dives with no issues. This is the fourth generation of dive computer technology I have played with and WOW! They sure have come a long, long way since my first “Edge”.
So what do I want in a dive computer? Reliability, easy maintenance, easy for these old eyes to read, NitrOx compatible, simple enough to operate but with the ability to do more, are the features that I desire. I am also done with consoles. I hate them. They bring clutter to my kit and are never convenient to check. And hey: it should be from a progressive manufacturer that is large enough to stand behind their products.
So when the VT3 was announced, I really wanted to get my hands on one. I had already fallen in love with the VEO 250s and have outfitted all of my student gear with them. They are easy to use and teach and give all of the data my students need. So Doug Krause called a few weeks ago and asked if I was diving that weekend. Of course! I dive 2-3 times a week. Then he asked me if I wanted to test one of the VT3s. Well, he didn’t have to ask twice.
The box arrived and it had all sorts of disclaimers in it as well as a detailed review. The review was exhaustively detailed at that. I was about to read through all of the literature when I decided to see just how intuitive the VT3 was. Wow! I was pretty impressed with how easy it was to figure this puppy out. I was zipping along with it and had only 2 areas that I had to go RTM (Read The Manual) to figure out. After that, and with the disclaimers still heavy on my mind, I went ahead and read the manual. It is very thorough without sounding like stereo instructions. I learned about the two areas I was unfamiliar with. One was “SAT”, which gave me a time to complete de-saturation. This is a neat concept. The other was the switch for the additional transmitters: you can switch between monitoring personal gasses (it adjusts your Nitrogen loading) or monitoring your buddy’s gas (it does not adjust your Nitrogen loading). This was cool.
OK, topside work is done: let’s dive it. First thing I noticed is the freedom from the console. Everything is on my wrist and merely a click away. No having to clip and unclip my SPG: it’s all right there. At 5ffw everything is clear, as it has been with all of my dive computers. The lay out takes no time to adjust to and scrolling between screens is as easy as pie. I have a couple of friends with me and we descend down into the hole at Blue Spring. The current is strong as always
I am at the “Do not Enter” sign (60ffw) and everything is still crystal clear on the display. I take her down into the twilight of the cavern: max depth was 108ffw for me on this dive. The backlight was AWESOME and there was no distortion while viewing the display. I am sold! The only thing missing on this is a programmable deep stop. However, the message box at the top told me I was doing a safety stop and gave me the countdown in both minutes as well as seconds! I really, really liked that added touch.
That was last week. For fun dives this is the best. No hassles from all those false alarms you get when a computer is mounted to your wrist and you reach up. All in all a very welcome and distinct addition to the current computer line up. However: I have two classes to teach this week: and Open Water class and a refresher.
In the pool, with my gauges on my wrist, I never have to release my hands from my preferred relaxed position; hands folded in front of me. This has helped the students catch on a bit quicker as they ALL are imitating my trim and my frog kicks. I did have a bit of a catch during my demo of removing and replacing the Scuba Unit. I don’t think anyone noticed as the computer snagged on the shoulder strap for a bit and a quick twist of my wrist freed me up.
In open water, it was nice having one less thing to look for. My students got the benefit of a little more of my attention. The acid test? ESAs! We all hate them, and I was wondering how the too fast ascent would do. Well, I definitely nailed that alarm, 6 times in a row! Now, I had read about the flashing LED, but was truly amazed at how it grabbed your attention. Very well done!
During the free diving portion of the class, I was able to set the computer to that mode and try it out. That was a first for me to be able to see my depth and time under the water on a free dive, since I have always been attached to a console. No alarms from having no air in this mode which is great.
So in less than a week, I managed 22 dives. 12 for me and 12 as an instructor. Here is my final assessment:
Ease of use: 9
Ease of learning: 10
False alarms: only once
Buddy Air Check
LED warning light
Programmable Safety Stop