Dominated by the large, square color screen — though it was also available in monochrome — the original Shearwater Predator looked less like a dive watch and more like a somewhat clunky iPhone that you’d strap to your arm. Followed by the Petrel and the Petrel 2, these computers have, in part, set a new standard for the legibility and richness of data that you can expect from a modern dive computer.
One of the main advantages of the larger screen is that all important information is always available without the user having to cycle through various screen modes, as is common in dive computers with smaller screens. The original Shearwater computer was targeted largely at the technical market, and could be used for open-circuits, closed-circuits, trimix, nitrox and air. Without sacrificing the Predator’s technical aspects, the company produced the Petrel and the Petrel 2, aimed squarely at the recreational-dive market, and suitable for anything from easy, shallow reef dives to extended, technical wreck dives on closed-circuit rebreathers.
The Shearwater Perdix
Now, with the Shearwater Perdix, the company is making its range of dive computers even more attractive. Boasting the same versatile features as the Petrel, and allowing for recreational diving, tec diving and rebreather diving using a range of gas mixes, the Perdix is smaller and lighter, has a slimmer profile, and a longer battery life.
The 2.2-inch widescreen display is in only available in full color and is as easily legible as its predecessors, which allows the diver to get an overview of all relevant information in a single glance. It features the adaptive safety stops that the Petrel is known for, wherein every dive is treated as a deco dive, and number, depth, and duration of stops is adjusted to your dive time, depth and history. By providing a “Time to Surface,” the diver always knows how long they should expect to spend on their ascent, all safety and deco stops included.
The computer features four settings: OC Recreational, which allows the use of up to three oxygen/nitrogen gases (either surface air or nitrox), OC Technical, which allows for the use of up to five trimix gases, CC INT, for closed-circuit rebreather diving, and a gauge mode. All modes are user customizable in terms of what they show and where. Everything is controlled by two buttons, one on each side.
The Perdix is 30 percent smaller in profile than the Petrel, and features a contoured design that allows it to sit closer and more streamlined on the diver’s arm. Powered by two AA batteries, the Perdix gets up to 30 percent longer life out of a set of batteries as well, compared to the Petrel 2. The batteries are, of course, user interchangeable, and don’t require specialized tools. It is advisable, however, to purchase two sets of high-quality rechargeable batteries, as the bright, large, colorful screen does take some oomph to power up, and you risk spending a lot of money on disposable batteries (not to mention creating a lot of battery garbage).
My overall first impression of the Perdix is that this could very well represent a popular breakthrough when it comes to high-res dive computers. While the Predator was definitely meant for tec diving, the Petrel and Petrel 2 garnered many die-hard fans, particularly among more advanced divers who did both recreational and technical diving. The Perdix, depending on its retail price, may be the choice of divers who do primarily or exclusively recreational diving, but still want the advantages of a full-screen dive computer.