WE RECENTLY REVIEWED THE SCUBAPRO SMART TEC computer in these pages. The newer Smart Z is, in common with its similarly oil-filled Smart Tec brother, a hoseless nitrox-integrated computer connected to the high-pressure port of a regulator first stage by means of a small radio transmitter. The difference is that it integrates with only one transmitter and so is cheaper. You can set one of four levels of micro-bubble suppression to the Smart Z's calculations. This is useful during a multi-dive, multi-day trip, or you can use the Smart Z with the old faithful Buhlmann ZH-8L algorithm with which it comes set by default, straight out of the box. I first used it set to Level 1 (L1). This gave me extended stops in the 3m and 6m range after a satisfyingly long twin-set dive on the wreck of the Rosalie Moller, with maximum depths in the order of 47m. In fact you can ignore the extended deeper stops, which are indicated as 'level' stops on the display, and the Smart Z will simply extend the length of the mandatory deco stops , which will be shallower instead. It's like ignoring the optional deep stops on the Suunto D9. I had the two computers on my wrist alongside each other, and the actual required deco amounted to much the same. Jean-Paul, the dive guide aboard Blue Seas, told me that he used his set at Level 4, so I decided to do the same on a dive to the seabed near the El Mina, the wreck of an Egyptian patrol boat outside Hurghada harbour. The wreck is around 30m deep and I was rewarded with about 14 minutes more deco at 3m than the previously similarly performing D9. Boring! These 'level' stops are indicated first at 3m and later at 6m and so on, but if you take your time meandering towards the surface they clear off before you get there. It is very important, however, to be sure to read your Smart Z correctly. The level-stop figures sit in lieu of the deco-stop figures and the icon that differentiates between the two is quite small. In fact the main criticism users have of this system is that once level stops are indicated, the remaining no-stop time is not. This in effect means that you tend to think of the optional level stops as mandatory deco stops and cut short your dive. This happens only on the cusp between the two, but once into deco-stop diving proper, all becomes clear. However, that's not so cool for those who like to keep to no-stop diving.
Finger-lickingly irritating Setting up the computer is straightforward, though finger-lickingly irritating. It really is time Scubapro Uwatec went over to buttons, along with a user-replaceable battery. You can preset maximum ppO2 parameters between 1.0 and 1.95 bar and, if you like to go deep, use the computer in 'gauge' mode, whereby it will happily go to 120m. For us nitrox divers, it permanently displays the oxygen percentage set which it remembers between dives. It displays CNS oxygen exposure as a percentage. It shows actual depth, maximum depth achieved during that dive, and remaining no-stop time or level-stops or required decompression stop depths and times. I found it easy to pair with its transmitter and it never lost the signal. It shows tank-pressure and remaining-gas time based on the depth of the dive and the previous breathing rate during the dive. It shows minimum time needed to achieve the surface after a safe ascent and any stops. Make sure your remaining-gas time is longer than this. It also helps you to manage your ascent with an ascent-rate display that is shown as a percentage of the maximum allowable. The ascent rate itself is variable according to depth. Choosing the micro-bubble suppression setting is a matter of personal preference. Supremely fit as I am, I chose L1. I guess those who have a tendency towards obesity should set a higher level, and those who are getting on a bit (oops, that's me!) should do the same. I enjoyed using the Scubapro Smart Z. Apart from that one extended and probably unnecessary hang, I couldn't fault it for the way in which it delivered the information. It makes a good choice for those who want a single-mix nitrox-integrated computer. The Smart Z comes bundled with Smart Trak software for downloading your dives and customising your computer. Complete with its transmitter, it costs£649.
Scubapro 01256 812636, www.scubapro-uwatec.com
+ Simply efficient
- Not cheap - No guidance on choosing micro-bubble suppression level