SWISS UWATEC WAS ONCE THE UNDISPUTED market-leader in diving computers; that is, until under new ownership it virtually gave away the business to the Finnish Suunto.
In the USA, Oceanic was the fastest gun in the West, and in Japan Seiko was the shogun. Between them they have badge-engineered virtually every other make of computer on the market. All, that is, except for Mares.
After a brief flirtation with Uwatec, Mares went its own way, out-sourcing the electronics within Italy and making its own computers.
The company has always introduced innovative diving equipment, usually demonstrating Italian style and flair.
Alas, as with some other notable Italian products, production has at times been fraught with problems. Supplies were often limited, or not available at all.
We hope this wont be the case with the Mares Icon HD dive computer because, as someone wryly observed: This is the iPhone of diving computers. It doesnt have an OLED display, but it is colourfully remarkable nonetheless, thanks to Thin Film Transistor (TFT) technology.
The omission of a gas-integration transmitter facility on the Icon HD is due to be fixed early this year, as soon as patent-holders are satisfied, with an Internet upgrade for the wrist unit.
The computer can be recharged via a USB connection or mains adaptor.

Algorithm
The Icon HD uses the Mares version of the well-respected Wienke RGBM algorithm including deep stops. In least-cautious mode, it compares well with other European-made computers such as the Suunto range, with similar no-stop times and mandatory deco requirements.

Settings
The unit is operated by four large push-buttons function-designated by simple icons and words. Dive, Settings, Compass, Logbook, User Info, Dive-simulator, Maps and Photos are the modes. You can download maps of dive sites, or even favourite colour photos to look at during a dive.
User information is entered using a PC and software and interface supplied. The Icon HD can be used as an air or nitrox computer, or in gauge mode. It can be set for three different nitrox mixes per dive, and setting is as easy as using an iPhone! The display, set behind clear mineral glass, is about the same size.

Display Legibility
The self-illuminated, brightly coloured display is phenomenal. Its childs play to switch from the full info of the extended display to the graphic representation with graphic profile of the dive done so far, or the compass.
Once into deco stops, the Icon HD reveals the quickest safe route to the surface, coloured orange in the graphic profile display, or all the stops required. This is given in plain language, with ascent speeds and other essentials shown graphically alongside it in the extended display.
An alternative display, an extension of the extended display, adds graphics. The water column is indicated in blue, advisory information in green, cautions in orange and warnings in red. As dives progress, green graphics change to orange accordingly.
All stops are predicted, too. A safety stop is indicated in green, deco stops in orange, deep stops in blue and maximum operating depth (MOD) in grey. Disaster warnings are red.
This display is a wonder to behold. Its just a pity that the instruction manual misses a few subjects, such as the P Factor, or Personal Correction Factor Setting, which I take to be the three levels of caution; and how to set the declination of the compass.

In the Water
I was surprised to find that the ascent-rate indicator also related to descent speed (with the arrows downwards). If recommended speeds are exceeded, this turns from black to red.
In graphic profile mode, the display indicates the MOD of the nitrox mix set, using a thick red bar across the bottom of the graph.
The same applies to the blue graphic water column in the extended display. When using two or three mixes, the graphic for the MOD is displayed in various shades of blue.
The second button from the right either accesses the alternative display or a long push enables gas-mix switching.
Pushing the first button on the left accesses the electronic compass, another wonder to behold. Its colour contrast makes it very clear, and essential diving info is clearly displayed alongside. It seems to be unaffected by tilt. You can also access pre-programmed maps of the dive site, and any colour photos youve loaded.
The total ascent time includes any stops required, and these are displayed and counted down in minutes and seconds.
Once fully gas-integrated, this computer will merit a full set of marks from me. Ill want one!

Planning & Logbook
What is called the Simulator mode seems to be simply a list of no-stop times and depths for the nitrox mix already set. The logbook offers all the details of the dive in a digital display and an alternative graphic profile.
In surface mode, the information displayed is equally clear to read and understand, with a big no-fly indicator that cannot be misunderstood.

COMPARABLE COMPUTERS TO CONSIDER (WITHOUT TRANSMITTERS):
Suunto Vyper Air, £399
Scubapro Uwatec Luna, £759
UEMIS Zurich, £999

SPECS
PRICE £670
ALGORITHM Wienke-Mares RGBM
FAST ASCENT WARNING 12m/minute
NORMAL IN-WATER DISPLAY Depth, remaining no-stop time/ascent time, CNS loading, dive time, ascent rate, oxygen exposure, nitrox mix, water temperature
ALTERNATIVE DISPLAYS Dive profile plus profile including deco stops; all stops inc deep, deco and safety
DEPTH RATING 150m
DECO INFO Full
DIVE PLANNING Yes
LOGBOOK Yes, with graphic profile
GAS-INTEGRATED Not yet
PC INTERFACE Included
MODES Air, nitrox, multi-nitrox, gauge
BATTERY Rechargeable lithium-ion
CONTACT www.mares.com
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