We were lucky to be at the launch of the Suunto D5 whilst at the DEMA trade show in 2018, we’ve now got our hands on a unit from Suunto and put it through its paces both whilst Freediving and Scuba Diving. This review takes the computer on test dives whilst Scuba Diving.
I’ve been diving Suunto dive computers for almost a decade now. I’m not biased by any means- I just know a good computer when I dive one. My first computer was the air-integrated Cobra, which conveniently popped on and off my high-pressure hose at the end of a day of diving, but once it was time to upgrade I moved on to the trusty ole’ Zoop. Despite its larger-than-life size, many dive instructors have come to use a Zoop at least once or twice during their careers: The Zoop is cost-effective and virtually indestructible. The day after my Instructor Examination, I purchased a Suunto D4i and never looked back. The D4i was sleek, simple, easy to use and told me just about everything I needed to know for my dives. I wasn’t planning any crazy trimix or deco-dives at the time, so the D4 met or exceeded all of my recreational needs.
With the introduction of the new D5, Suunto has taken everything they’ve done right since becoming the world’s leading dive instrument manufacturer in the 1980s, and given it a look that’s fit for the 21st century.
Before we get into specs, let’s all be honest for a minute and admit that the first thing we judge when considering a new dive computer is its overall look. We can’t help it-we’re only human. At the end of the day, I don’t care whether my computer is fit for a Gucci photo shoot or looks like I swiped it out of my grandfather’s gear bag. As long as it works, I am usually content, but I will admit that it doesn’t hurt to wear a new dive computer that turns a few heads on a dive boat.
Every look at the D5 is easy on the eyes, and it’s impossible to say no to that stainless steel bezel which comes in black or silver, the color LED screen with a clear, large display, and that reinforced composite casing. For a custom look, you can switch out the silicone bands with Suunto’s quick-release mechanism on the underside of the bands themselves and choose from a number of different colors for diving, or a handful of “leisure” bands if you have to let your gills dry out for a while.
In addition to its sleek and modern design, the computer is equipped with the same robustness Suunto has delivered since the company’s inception. Here’s what I mean by robustness: In 1939 a Finnish soldier was shot by a Russian sniper during the Winter War. The M-311 field compass in his shirt pocket took the bullet for him and saved his life; this is what Suunto has been priding themselves on since their very beginning. Now while I’m not shooting at my dive computer to test its strength, I have been known to put my gear through the wringer, and the D5 holds up like a champ. It is strong, sturdy, and reliable.
Now let’s talk features. The Suunto D5 is a recreational diving computer (waterproof up to 100m/328ft) and is equipped with multiple modes: Air/Nitrox, Freedive, Compass, and Gauge. There is an additional tank pod available for air integration as well. You can add up to 3 gases while diving in Air/Nitrox mode, and you can adjust for altitude or desired pO2. The D5 uses the Suunto Fused™ RGBM 2 decompression model and you can adjust the conservativeness of the computer on a scale of P+2 to P-2. The digital compass is also very handy; why take more things into the water than need be? One thing to remember with the compass is that you will need to recalibrate after each recharge.
Out of all the features the computer offered, there was one I was really favored: If I would ascend quickly at any point during the dive, instead of giving me a warning and alerting me that I would have to do a safety stop at the end of the dive, the D5 would count down from a certain amount of time it thought I needed at that depth. For example, I came over a patch of rocks a bit fast (about a 10ft rise) and the computer vibrated, gave off an audible alarm and immediately started counting down from 30 seconds before it would allow me to continue to ascend. A pretty neat way to help you control your ascent rates.
If I had to change anything about the D5 it would be its battery life. The computer has a 6-12 hour dive time life and about 6-day battery life in time mode only. oThis timing is understandable given that the LCD screen pulls much more battery than the previous models before it, but it would be more convenient if the battery lasted a bit longer. If you are looking at the battery life on the computer, remember that it shows it to you in “dive time” remaining, so pay close attention to the actual battery icon on the bottom to see the overall remaining battery life. Although the battery doesn’t last forever, having a rechargeable battery is really convenient; the lithium-ion battery connects magnetically to the underside of the computer and charges via a USB connection.
In addition to customizing the look of this computer, you can also customize what you see on the display (this one of my favorite features). With most dive computers, dive mode is engaged as soon as you hit the water, and that initial screen is the only screen available to you once you’re there. With the D5, you can customize multiple dive screens on the Suunto desktop app. It allows you to add up to 4 different screens per dive mode, and you can use the bottom button to toggle through any information you wish to see during your dive, such as temperature, gas consumption, battery life, etc. Using this feature, I can have my dive information displayed on one screen, then my compass, then the tank pod, followed by whatever my heart desires.
Last but not least, Suunto has re-vamped this computer’s wireless connectivity. The D5 syncs over Bluetooth to the mobile app after taking just a minute or two to find and verify your device. The app itself is pretty interesting and kind of resembles a social media platform that is strictly for diving. Once the mobile app connects to the computer, it begins downloading your dives and uploads them to what’s called your “diary” for you to see your dive log, your dive times, max depths, etc. If you want, you have the option to connect with friends over the app and allow your friends to see your dive, and “like” and/or comment on the dive itself which is pretty cool. If you opt for the Suunto and get confused setting things up there are plenty of support videos and articles on the app to help you through any questions you might have (good lookin’ out Suunto).
Overall, the Suunto D5 exceeded my expectations, and I would recommend it to any diver or dive professional looking for a high-quality, user-friendly computer. The fact that it looks good on is just icing on the cake.
- Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery (USB)
- Updatable Software
- 100m/328ft Water Resistant
- Air/Nitrox, Freedive, Digital Compass, and Gauge Modes
- Wireless Tank Pressure (up to 2 pods)
- Wireless Bluetooth Mobile Connection to Suunto App
- Exchangeable Silicone and Leisure Straps
- Vibration Alarms
- Stainless Steel Bezel
- Mineral Crystal Glass
- Reinforced Composite Case
- 320 x 300 Display Resolution
- Weight: 90g/ 3.17oz
- 6-12 hour Dive Time Battery Life/ 6 Days in Time Mode
- Up to 3 Gases
- Gas Max pO2 of 1.6
- Lifetime Dive History
- 200h or 400 dive Logbook Memory
- Suunto Fused™ RGBM 2 Decompression Model
- D5 Dive Computer: $899.95 USD / €649 EUR
- SUUNTO Tank Pod: $439.95 USD / €299 EUR