Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Review: Garmin Descent Mk2 Dive Computer – Scuba Perspectives

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There has been a huge buzz around the new Garmin Descent Mk2 Dive Computer.  After it arrived at DB HQ we’ve put it through its paces.  We love it as a freediving dive computer but we also wanted to put it through its paces as a Scuba dive computer.

First Impressions

The Garmin Descent Mk2 dive computer freediving.
The Garmin Descent Mk2.

This is one seriously good-looking watch… sorry dive computer…

The details are incredible: the stainless steel bezel, the easily accessible buttons with a solid feel to them, and a high-resolution screen with vivid colors that is visible even in direct sunlight. The build is chunky but thanks to it being made from titanium it feels lightweight for its size.

It has a silicone band which ensures a perfect fit for your wrist. The watch faces can be customized so you have plenty of information on display like calories burned or date; while other features include a heart rate monitor and time zone conversion capabilities!

You can even change the background color, accent color, and have the option of downloading more watch faces from the ConnectIQ™ Store. The Mk2 also has QuickFit™ watch band compatibility to easily change watch bands with no tools required.

Wrist-Worn Heaven

This is a Trimix capable, CCR capable wrist-mounted watch style dive computer that does a thousand things that dive computer shouldn’t do – like fitness tracking, color maps for over 42,000 golf courses worldwide, NFC pay system (Garmin Pay), a pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen levels and telephone notifications (call, text, and calendar) make this a truly exciting cross-over.

It’s hard to get your head around everything that it does – every time I used it I found yet another thing this piece of kit does.  It’s probably the most future-proofed computer a diver can buy these days.

Just like its predecessor, this computer is rated to 100m and is wholly sealed in a watertight casing, hence the risk of flooding is reduced to the minimum.

Now while it looks amazing and the interface is absolutely vibrant, the menu can be a bit overwhelming at first and takes a while to get used to. The buttons have placements that do not feel natural to being with, but over time become second nature.

Size could be an issue for some divers – we’ve already mentioned it feels like a very solid computer on your wrist which is fine on my non-dainty wrists, but even for our Freediving Staff Writer Kristina with smaller wrists found it easy to wear daily, even on non-diving days.

Garmin Descent Mk2 Is Easy To See Even In British Waters
Garmin Descent Mk2 Is Easy To See Even In British Waters

GPS and Compass

A stand-out feature for us was the GPS and Compass functionality.

Searching for and saving specific diving spots on the Garmin Descent Mk2 is especially easy. Connecting to GPS is almost instantaneous, and saving a new location requires a couple of presses of a button and almost no effort. The screen for locating a particular point on the map is very detailed and clear, and spots can be renamed directly on the device and marked with separate icons to differentiate dive sites.

I was very happy to find out that if I have the coordinates of a dive site, I can input them into the Mk2 and it will navigate me to the destination. I cannot save the location directly to my dive computer without being physically present at the dive site, but at least I can locate a site and save it afterward. One thing I would love to see from an update is the ability to share saved dive locations directly with another Garmin user, which Garmin is working on. These are definitely not drawbacks, just minor additions that would certainly be welcome.

I also would not mind a different interface for locating dive sites as the GPS arrow is quite big and can sometimes be difficult to determine exactly which direction to go towards, especially as you get closer to the dive site and are not able to zoom into the map. I was informed that Garmin is also working on an improved navigation experience purpose-built for divers in the water and on location sharing experience, so I look forward to these future updates!

Notifications, Alerts, and Logs

The Garmin Descent Mk2 in Dive Mode
The Garmin Descent Mk2 in Dive Mode

The Descent Mk2 has an excellent data screen that has all of the relevant information you need to understand your dive. The main screen in dive mode has details of mode (Air/Nitrox/Trimix/etc..), current dive time, current depth, no dive limit and if you have air integration with the T1 (more on that later) you can see how much air is left in your tank. Simple, easy to navigate, and a pleasure to read with the large font and simple layout.

One of my favorite features is the choice between depth notifications that are audible, haptic, or both. I can hear the audible depth notification clearly when I dive and feel it vibrate on my wrist at the same time, which means I never miss a depth notification, of which you can set multiple.

Garmin Dive™ App
Garmin Dive™ App

The dive log is available to look at on the watch, but I prefer to look at it on the Garmin Dive™ application. It is thoroughly detailed, has timelines of depth, heart rate, and water temperature that you can overlay to see all of the different parts of the dive at once, and is all organized in a clear manner. I can even see the calories I burned during a dive!

The Garmin Descent Mk2’s Dive log lets you store and review data from up to 200 dives right on your wrist and share and review dives in the Garmin Dive™ app downloaded to your compatible smartphone. Last but not least, this new smart dive watch has a phenomenal battery life which is 80 hours in dive mode, 16 days in smartwatch mode and 15 hours in GPS mode with music. That is more than enough to cover extended liveaboard holidays and makes it highly suitable for any expedition.

Integrated Air with the T1

The Garmin Descent Mk2i and the T1 Transmitter
The Garmin Descent Mk2i and the T1 Transmitter

Most of all, this new smart dive computer finally has the option for air integration in the body of the Garmin Descent Mk2i (i for integrated).

Unlike most transmitters that use radio frequency to transmit the data, with the new Garmin Descent MK2i, you will be able to use sonar and not radio waves. Sonar is great for underwater applications because it works so well in water – but radio frequencies don’t do as good of a job passing through the water as they should. You will now be able to pair your Garmin Descent Mk2i with up to 5 T1 transmitters – a feature that I think is an amazing feature – especially for dive professionals. It has a handy option of putting a reading from two separate T1 transmitters onto the screen, which has used across technical, rebreather, or professional diving situations – or you just want to keep an eye on your buddy’s air consumption!

Not Just For Diving

Garmin itself is a trusted brand for GPS sports watches, smartwatches, and fitness trackers, and the plethora of features on the Mk2 are too many to list and deserve a separate article of their own, so I will just list my personal favorites.

I am thoroughly impressed with the entire first screen of the Garmin Connect™ app, which I use to view my heart rate, Body Battery™, stress level, steps, floors climbed, calories in/out, sleep, and respiration. I find the data incredible: I can see my level of stress reflected in the data, and the Body Battery™ feels like it accurately reflects my level of energy. Just having all of this data available at the touch of a button makes me want to be more active and healthy, and having visual goals to reach makes it even more of an adventure. Each metric has a “Help” section where you can understand exactly what the Mk2 measuring and how it measures it.

Final Thoughts

What’s not to love about this computer – yes it has a hefty price tag – but considering this is a dive computer that can work for a beginner recreational diver all the way up to a professional technical or CCR diver it is something that will be a long term investment.  The air integration is also game-changing for us especially if you are using multiple tanks or looking after multiple divers.

The smartwatch/fitness tracking aspects of the Mk2 are without a doubt tried-and-tested and are excellent even if you are looking at these aspects alone.

In short, if you are in the market for a dive computer that also doubles as a smartwatch/fitness tracker, you cannot go wrong with the Garmin Descent Mk2.

Key Features

  • Dive Modes: Single-Gas, Multi-Gas, CCR, Gauge, Apnea, Apnea Hunt
  • Dive Data Screens:
    • Single & Multi-Gas
    • CCR
    • Gauge
    • Apnea/Hunt
  • Customizable Dive Modes
  • Dive Log
  • Surface Multi-GNSS
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Pulse Ox Sensor
  • Smart Notifications
  • Connect IQ™ Store

Technical Specifications

  • Sapphire Crystal Lens
  • Stainless Steel Bezel
  • Fiber-Reinforced Polymer with Metal Rear Cover
  • QuickFit™ Watch Band Compatible
  • 52 x 52 x 17.8mm (2.05 x 2.05 x 0.7in)
  • 4” (35.56mm) Diameter
  • Sunlight-Visible, Transreflective Memory-in-Pixel (MIP)
  • 280 x 280 Pixels Display Resolution
  • Silicone Band
  • Rechargeable, Built-in Lithium-ion Battery
  • Battery life
    • Smartwatch: Up to 16 days
    • Battery Saver Watch Mode: Up to 50 days
    • Dive Mode: Up to 80 hours
  • Water Rating: Dive, 10 ATM
  • 32GB Memory

Price – $1,299 USD / €1,071 EUR / £968 GBP

Buy It Now

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Performance
Features
Graphics / Interface
Value for Money

SUMMARY

We love the Garmin Descent Mk2, it's a fantastic upgrade from the original descent. It's so much more than just a dive computer - it's a full-blown smartwatch that you love wearing on or off the dive boat.
Stephan Whelan
Stephan Whelanhttps://www.deeperblue.com
Stephan is the Founder of DeeperBlue.com. His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans. In 1996 he set up DeeperBlue.com and has grown the site to be the most popular diving website and community in the world.

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We love the Garmin Descent Mk2, it's a fantastic upgrade from the original descent. It's so much more than just a dive computer - it's a full-blown smartwatch that you love wearing on or off the dive boat.Review: Garmin Descent Mk2 Dive Computer - Scuba Perspectives