Home Scuba Diving Review: Shearwater Tern & Tern TX

Review: Shearwater Tern & Tern TX

Review Tern and TernTX by Shearwater
Review Tern and TernTX by Shearwater

Stepping into the shearwater stand at DEMA was like entering a tech diver’s candy store – excitement buzzing in the air and the promise of something new. As a recreational instructor and tech diver, I was thrilled to get my hands on the latest shearwater offerings: the Shearwater Tern and Tern TX. These sleek dive computers promised a departure from the norm, and I couldn’t wait to put them to the test. 

The timing was perfect; they arrived just before my Caribbean trip. Eagerly, I took them on a diving spree, exploring the depths with my usual companion, the Divesoft Freedom, to see how these newcomers stacked up. The highlight? The hyped-up AMOLED screen proves its mettle in various light conditions. Stay tuned as I share my dive adventures with these exciting additions to the Shearwater family!

The Tern and Tern TX are compact dive computers. These models are Shearwater’s first-ever compact designs, set to transform the diving experience for sports divers in particular. 

Both dive computers are Canadian-born, meeting high standards for dive safety. The new Remora™ quick connect bands and webbing straps offer a touch of personalization to match your gear. 

The Shearwater Tern and Tern TX have bright AMOLED displays
The Shearwater Tern and Tern TX have bright AMOLED displays

First Impressions

In my first take, the Shearwater Tern seems like a cool, slimmer sibling to the Teric – like a sleek, lightweight Peregrine version. If you throw in the Tern TX, it kicks things up a notch by adding air integration and a digital compass vibe from the Perdix 2. It’s like the Tern TX says, “I’ve got all the cool features too!”

Opening the Shearwater Tern and Tern TX felt like unwrapping a gift from Santa as a child. The classic black and blue shearwater zippable protective case was a traditional touch, perfect for travel and shielding the gear even after everyday use. Excitement bubbled as I unzipped, revealing a neat arrangement inside – a Shearwater Carabiner clip, stickers, manual, and a wireless charger snugly tucked at the bottom. Kudos to Shearwater for the eco-friendly move with cardboard support, reducing our plastic footprint.

Now, onto the strap – crafted from soft rubber, it struck the sweet spot between comfort for everyday wear and functionality as a dive computer. The watch itself, adorned with four navigational buttons, beckoned exploration. The build exuded a blend of boldness and sophistication, reminiscent of that feeling when you first cradle a new smartphone – a screen so pristine, you’d instinctively want to shield it from the world. 

Tern and Tern TX both are wearable all day
Tern and Tern TX both are wearable all day

Dive Modes & Versatility

Having navigated through the Air, Nitrox, 3 Gas Nitrox, Gauge, and Freediving modes, the Tern and Tern TX proved versatile for diverse underwater activities. 

Yet, the absence of OC mixed gas technical and CCR modes in these models is intentional, aligning with Shearwater’s focus on the sport diver market. Priced affordably, these dive computers cater to recreational Air and Nitrox divers, where such advanced modes are typically unnecessary. 

User-Friendly Functionality

After numerous dives, the efficiency of the 4-button interface became evident, mirroring the user-friendly design found in the Teric model. This familiar 4-button functionality on the Tern and Tern TX facilitates quick adjustments without navigating superfluous settings. The intuitive layout ensures that changing individual settings is easy and hassle-free. 

The menu structure of the Tern and Tern TX is designed for simplicity without sacrificing functionality. Even if you’re a newer Shearwater user, the intuitive layout ensures a smooth transition, minimizing the learning curve.

Despite the wealth of features, adjusting settings is surprisingly straightforward. Whether you’re above water preparing for a dive or at depth, the Tern and Tern TX menu was quick to jump through. The logical organization of options minimizes confusion, allowing you to make quick adjustments without pausing your dive preparations.

No faffing around – just straightforward access to the settings you need, enhancing the overall enjoyment of your dive.

The Shearwater Tern and Tern TX
The Shearwater Tern and Tern TX have bright AMOLED displays

Battery Performance

Addressing a common concern about battery life, Shearwater’s Tern and Tern TX feature a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. Contrary to assumptions, it doesn’t share the Teric’s battery, offering up to 20 hours of dive time and six months on standby. The ability to adjust brightness effortlessly, even when using it as a regular watch, ensures the battery won’t leave you hanging.

Another nice touch to both of these computers is the wireless charging capability. Many of us have multiple gadgets to charge overnight so we don’t find ourselves in a tangled mess. This modern and convenient charging method eliminates the hassle of dealing with traditional charging cables and ports. You can place your dive computer on the charging station with wireless charging, making the process effortless and efficient. It would also be worth noting here that the connection for the wireless charger is a USB to USB-C, meaning that if you ever lost your Shearwater cable, you could always switch it in for your Android (or Mac laptop) charger!

By eliminating the need for physical charging ports, the wireless charging design contributes to the overall durability of the Tern and Tern TX. The dive computers maintain their robust build with fewer openings for potential water ingress or wear and tear. 

AMOLED Brilliance and Vibrational Notifications 

AMOLED stands for “Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode.” It’s a type of display technology that offers several advantages, particularly in dive computers like the Shearwater Tern and Tern TX.

AMOLED screens are known for their vibrant colors and high contrast levels. In practical terms, this means that the Tern and Tern TX display is vivid and easy to read, even in varying lighting conditions underwater, and they lived up to its hype. The brilliance of the AMOLED screen ensures that essential diving data is clear and legible, enhancing the overall user experience.

Throughout several dives, I was incredibly impressed with the screen readability. I have struggled with different dive computers, either feeling cluttered or depths and stop times hard to read. On the Tern & Tern TX, I thought they had got this display right – simple, attractive, and safe. 

The Tern TX
The Tern TX

Tern TX’s Digital Compass 

The Tern TX’s 3-axis, tilt-compensated digital compass stands out as a game-changer, elevating underwater navigation to a new level. This advanced compass technology ensures accurate readings regardless of your diving position, providing a seamless and reliable orientation tool.

Paired with the full-color AMOLED screen, the underwater navigation experience becomes accurate and visually engaging. The vibrant display enhances the compass readings, making them effortlessly legible even in varying light conditions underwater. The clarity of the AMOLED screen adds an extra layer of confidence to your navigation, ensuring you can easily discern directions and headings with precision.

Moreover, integrating easy navigational features amplifies the overall usability of the compass. Navigating different settings, marking bearings, and accessing critical information becomes a pleasure. The user-friendly interface and the responsive 3-axis compass contribute to a smooth and enjoyable experience.

The Tern and Tern TX packaging
The Tern and Tern TX packaging

Wrapping up the Shearwater showdown: Tern or Tern TX?

Like the Teric, both bad boys rock the watch-style vibe, but guess what? They’re even slimmer and lighter – perfect for rocking the dive look every day.

Now, if you’re a gadget lover, eyeing that real-time gas consumption and fancying a digital compass as your sidekick, the Tern TX is waving at you. It’s got those extra bells and whistles, saying, “Let’s take our diving up a notch!”

On the flip side, if you’re all about trusting your tried-and-true compass and SPG gauge, and hey, you’re comfortable with that, the Tern is giving you a friendly nod. It’s got your back with an incredibly reasonable price point. 

And hey, if you’ve got a soft spot for the Shearwater Peregrine Dive Computer, well, the Tern and Tern TX are ready to be your new favorites – it’s like the dive computer family just got a stylish upgrade!

Video Review

You can watch my full video review of the Tern and Tern TX below.

Review: Shearwater Tern & TernTX

Key Features

  • Compact design
  • Digital compass (Tern TX)
  • Connects up to four Swift transmitters (Tern TX)
  • Bluetooth® wireless technology
  • Switchable vibration alerts
  • Customizable Remora™ quick connect bands
  • 22mm Strap Size with quick connect

Technical Specs

  • 360 x 360 screen resolution
  • Full Colour AMOLED display
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
  • Up to 20 hours of battery life (Medium Brightness)
  • Wireless charging station
  • Depth rating of 120m / 394 ft
  • Dive log capacity of 500 hours (10-second rate)
  • Diameter – 50mm, Thickness – 16mm, Weight – 100g

Price

  • Tern: $650 USD, £615 
  • Tern TX: $775 USD, £740 
  • Tern TX & Swift Transmitter: $1,080 USD 

Buy Now

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Performance
Features
Graphics/Interface
Value For Money
Ellie Hudson
Meet Ellie, widely recognized as @ScubaEllie – a seasoned PADI instructor, technical diver, and creative content creator. As a distinguished Ambassador for DAN Europe, AVATAR, and Reel Diving, Ellie has significantly contributed to the diving community. Formerly the vibrant host of the podcast "Girls Talk Scuba," Ellie collaborates with prominent industry names such as DeeperBlue.com, PADI, and Girls That Scuba.
review-shearwater-tern-tern-txThe Shearwater Tern & Tern TX dive computers excel in performance and user-friendliness. The Tern TX, with extra features like a digital compass and transmitter connectivity, caters to those seeking advanced functionalities. If you're looking for a reliable and feature-rich dive computer, whether you're a beginner or an enthusiast, the Tern and Tern TX would not disappoint for your choice.