Shopping for a dive computer can be a real Goldilocks experience. In my previous incarnation as a scuba shop salesperson, I’d see it all the time: customers could find plenty of good-enough options, but rarely a perfect fit. Maybe the tiny super-processors we all carry in our pockets have spoiled us, but many dive computers seem basic and awkward in comparison. Not so the Shearwater Perdix AI. This computer can go with you from casual recreational diver to tech-diving ninja* without missing a beat.

When it comes to performance, the Perdix AI is not messing around. Durable and flexible, it can be configured not only for different kinds of dives but different kinds of divers. As you move through the menus, the two sealed tap-control buttons (no flooding!) change to correspond with the new content. Instead of one, two, or even five buttons with fixed functions, the Perdix has two tap-control buttons that adapt to whatever functions are needed for a particular screen. Labels at the bottom of the screen will always tell you what the current options are, so there’s no guesswork to add to your task load at depth.

Shearwater seems fiercely committed to quality. For a dive shop to be allowed to carry their products they have to meet the company’s high expectations, including thorough product training for staff. When you buy a Shearwater computer, an hour-long one-on-one orientation comes standard.

Even though I didn’t buy the Perdix in their shop – it was a review demo, the folks at Beyond Land Adventures in San Diego were kind enough to run me through the training anyway. Co-owner Anirudh Ramkumar (Kumar to his friends) sat down with me to drill down into its comprehensive capabilities.

Like most computers, it’ll note your basic dive information, hold multiple dives in its history, and features a dive planning mode. What sets it apart from the competition is the huge array of advanced configuration options.

The Perdix can keep track of up to five gases for either open or closed-circuit diving. If you opt for a second transmitter, you can even keep track of another tank which is a serious advantage for sidemount divers. It also has an onboard three-axis compass that adjusts with a speed unmatched by most of the digital compasses I’ve seen. There’s an option to adjust it for declination, and you can even choose to keep a mini-compass on your main display screen!

You can adjust the conservatism of the algorithm (low, medium, and high), program your safety and deco stops, track whether you’re diving in salt water or fresh. You can choose what information is most important to you and program that into the bottom row of the display, change the colors of the titles and main text, adjust how long after you surface the dive record should end. There’s also an option for how bright the display should be based on whether you’re diving in full sunlight, low light, or in the dark that conserves battery life in lower settings.

Bluetooth connectivity allows you to upload your dive log directly to your phone, computer, or tablet via the Shearwater Cloud. It also provides a quick way to download firmware updates as they become available, which means your computer will keep advancing along with the technology.

Finally, it may seem like a small thing, but Shearwater includes padded cases for the computer and transmitters. This is not industry standard but makes all the difference in protecting your investment and making sure it’s in good condition when you need it.

The Perdix AI Features

That takes care of the function, so now a word on form. The Perdix is low-profile, rugged and durable. It’s a sophisticated electronic for a specific application and it looks like it. This is not the type of computer you can wear to the office like a large watch. The battery is user-replaceable and protected from flooding by a secondary O-ring. There’s surgical tubing in the box, along with a more traditional elastic wristband, and the chassis of the computer has mount fittings for both.

Expect to pay at least $935 USD (£655 GBP / €756 EUR) for the computer, and add another $350 USD (£245 GBP / €283 EUR) for the transmitter. It’s definitely an investment but packed as it is with technology and custom options, that’s competitively priced.

Now if you could only download Words With Friends to kill time during those hour-long deco stops…

Features

  • User Replaceable AA Battery
  • Air, Nitrox, Trimix capable
  • Quick OC bailout from CC
  • 3 axis, tilt compensated, digital compass
  • Decompression
  • Dive Planning
  • Bulmann GF algorithm
  • Optional VPM-B algorithm
  • Dive Logging
  • Upgradeable Firmware
  • Bluetooth Smart Interface
  • 10 Language Options
  • Optional Air Integration
  • 1 or 2 Transmitters (optional)

Price

  • US$935 Dive Computer Only
  • US$1285 with Transmitter

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Technical Specs

MODES (ALL AI OPTIONAL)
OC Rec 3 gas nitrox recreational computer
OC Tec Multigas, trimix decompression computer
CC INT Closed circuit fixed PPO2
Gauge Bottom timer with stopwatch and dive logging
Screen Resolution 320×240 QVGA
Display Type Full color LED LCD
Display Size 2.2″
Battery Type Single AA (any type)
Battery Life
AA Alkaline 40 Hours
SAFT LS14500 100 Hours
Number of Gases 5 OC / 5 CC
Dive Log 1,000 Hours
Depth Rating 260m (850ft)

*NOTE: The Shearwater Perdix AI will not turn you into a ninja.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Performance
Features
Graphics/Interface
Value For Money