Appeared in DIVER April 2006

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COMPUTER  Suunto D6
PEOPLE OFTEN RANT ABOUT GAS-INTEGRATED COMPUTERS. They prefer the vagaries of a mechanical pressure-gauge (never look inside one of those - youll be shocked at its primitive nature!) and think that these can calculate their remaining-gas time better than anything electronic.
Well, thats a debate for another time. Suffice to say that there are plenty of people who want to buy a computer such as a Suunto D9, but save the cash by buying one without the radio-linked transmitter.
Now Suunto has taken this part of the market into account by producing a version of its D9 computer-watch without this facility. After all, whats the point of paying out for the half that has the receiver if there is never going to be a transmitter to talk to it
The bonus with the new Suunto D6 is that, with fewer parts to enclose, its body is a lot slimmer, making it more acceptable than the rather bulky D9 as an everyday watch.
The D6 is also set up to work with a maximum of only one gas switch during a dive (rather than the D9s two). That will suit those many divers who, like me, twin up two independent cylinders while diving abroad, one with a richer mix to speed up decompression.

The Suunto D6 has the same easy-to-use electronic compass built in and, in computer mode, the same chance to choose either the Weinke Reduced Gradient Bubble Model in its full form or a less cautious RGBM50 version.
It has an exceptionally clear display and one thing I like is the option to plan in a one- or two-minute deep-stop. By pausing at around half the maximum pressure-by-depth on the way up, and possibly doing that again before reaching the conventional stop-depths, the user is credited with off-gassing and has shallower deco-stops reduced in time instead.
I used the Suunto D6 in the Maldives in January, a time when the channels and outer reefs experience some of their strongest currents - and currents go up and down as well as sideways. This means that you might intend to stop at 22m after a deep dive but find yourself chucked up to 18m and then down again to 24m as you hurtle along.
Some other computers that use deep stops will abandon you if you miss such a stop, but the Suunto D6 (and D9, along with the Vytec DS) will take it all in its stride and simply add to the first shallow-water stop time.
If you choose not to use the deep-stop option when setting up the computer, it will give you an additional three-minute safety stop at 5m to 3m instead. You can also use it in gauge-mode simply to record your depth and time.
As with the D9, sampling rates can be varied from once a second up to once a minute. Alarms can be set for maximum depth and dive-time. You can also make one of three personal adjustments together with one of three adjustments for altitude, or a combination of both.
In memory mode, a useful graphic represents the time/depth profile of the dive. It can be downloaded to a PC using the optional interface and software.
I used the stainless-steel D6 alongside a titanium D9 and they stayed uncannily in step with one another. Thats another option. The D6 offers the perfect solution as a back-up to the D9, too.
As a watch, the D6 shows day, date, month and year, as well as being an accurate stop-watch.
It can also display local time together with that of your home country. In the age of the cell-phone this helps avoid ringing your loved ones at an ungodly hour. Its a pity that, like its heavier (even though its titanium) sibling, the D6 is still not
a very handsome piece of chronographic jewellery.
The Suunto D6 costs£470 and is a good option for those who prefer not to have a gas-integrated computer. The PC interface and Dive Manager software costs£67 extra.
  • Suunto Diving 01420 587272, www.suunto.com


  • Divernet Divernet
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    + Very clear display
    + Deep-stop option


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    - Not as beautiful as an item of jewellery