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Twenty odd years ago when I first started diving, Uwatec was THE brand of computer to have before its sudden fall from grace and the mantle was picked up by Suunto who are still the market leader for dive computers. There is no denying that their computers are good but there is a massive choice of other brands now that are hounding Suunto with similar models at more competitive prices or offering more advanced technologies and features that you shouldn't just be automatically picking Suunto.
The Aqua Lung i770R is the latest model to arrive in the store, toting all the mod cons that you should expect from a top end computer. Whilst they are not absolutely identical in terms of features and functions, the i770R is very similar to the Suunto Eon Core.
Opening the box you'll find:
On the wrist it is a pretty good fit and the NATO strap is much more comfortable if worn against the skin in warm waters and it feels more secure than the traditional rubber. If you're not a fan of straps though, Aqua Lung has also include a bungee mount kit.
The i770R is actually a really easy computer to use. The screen is bright, the menu is clear and intuitive without the need to study the manual for a day beforehand, the buttons are smooth to use so you'll feel pretty comfortable using it from the first moment you switch it on.
The Aqua Lung i770R has a full colour TFT screen that delivers a bright, crisp and high contrast display that is easy to read whether in bright sunshine or in a dark and murky cave. One of the great battery saving features that the i770R has is an auto dim function, allowing you to tailor the active screen brightness and also set a delay timer and dimmed level that the computer will switch to. It can make a big difference to the battery life and also cuts down on light pollution on night dives.
The supplied lens protector does a good job of protecting your expensive screen from abrasion damage without affecting picture quality or sharpness.
The i770R is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery that negates the need to change the battery every year or two. Simply plug the USB cable that is supplied into any USB port and leave it to charge. Aqua Lung state that you should be able to get approximately 30 hours of dive time with the screen brightness set to 100% so if you are using a lower brightness level or the auto dimming function you might be able to get a bit more out of it. Our tests with the computer seem to suggest that the 30 hours are pretty accurate.
The battery status is displayed on the screen as a percentage, giving you a good indication of how long you have left. Charging times will vary depending on the USB port output but typically the computer will charge to 100% in approximately 1.5 to 2 hours from a dedicated wall charger and 3 to 4 hours from a computer USB port.
As a top end computer the i770R obviously supports optional wireless transmitters that allow the computer to monitor your cylinder pressure, display it on your screen for your convenience, alert you when your low pressure warnings are triggered and also calculate your gas time remaining by using your breathing rate and current depth.
The i770R supports up to 4 wireless transmitters, one for every gas mix you can configure for use during the dive. If the battery voltage drops to a certain level the computer will first display and warning that you need to replace the battery and when it drops a bit more it will give you a more insistent warning to replace the battery immediately. The warnings will not stop the transmitters from working, just alert you to the issue.
Physically connecting one electronic device to another seems archaic these days with the popularity of smart everything from phone to home so transfer cables are a thing of the past. Bluetooth is the current wireless data transfer method of the moment, allowing the i770R to connect to compatible smart devices running the free Diverlog+ app.
This might seem unnecessary to some divers but it is surprisingly useful if you regular adjust settings, gas mixes or alerts as they can all be done remote on your phone or tablet and uploaded to the dive computer. Similarly, if you are social media fanatic that wants to share every aspect of your life you'll be happy with being able to share your dive profile and log with the world straight from the app.
The built in log book function is pretty good too, allowing you to link in images and videos to points on the time dive timeline and if your buddy is also using Diverlog+ you can ask them to digitally sign your log.
The final benefit of the app is that you'll be able to wirelessly update the i770R firmware from within the app. Whenever there is an update you can download it directly to your smart device and upload it to the computer, keeping you up-to-date with all the latest features and upgrades wherever you are, even on the back of the boat if you have data reception!
The Aqua Lung i770R isn't the first dive computer of its kind to the market so can't be considered groundbreaking but by being a little slower to release it Aqua Lung have had a chance to iron out some of the short comings of those earlier computers.
The NATO strap is a nice feature, setting it apart from the rest and including the bungee strap kit entices those that prefer a bungee strap but begrudge spending extra on buying an optional kit to upgrade.
The battery life is perfectly respectable at up to 30 hours and it is quick to recharge making it convenient for a single day of diving or a week on a liveaboard.
The i770R is easy to use, comprehensive and the bright, clear display makes it great in any dive condition. The Bluetooth connectivity may seem extravagant and an unnecessary expense but you'll be surprised how much you'll use it.
If you are in the market for a high end dive computer then we certainly wouldn't have an issues recommending the i770R.