2017 Suunto D4i and D4i Novo – What are the differences?
Suunto re-designed the D4i dive computer and released the Suunto D4i Novo. There are 3 notable differences between these two dive computers which are mostly cosmetic and minor.
The difference in price between the Suunto D4i and the D4i Novo is mainly due to the Novo coming complete with the USB cable. The USB cable gives you the ability to download the dive log to a laptop.
This can also be done with the D4i but the cable is not included in the price. It remains an accessory at an additional cost.
Click the item in the table below to skip to your most pressing question, or continue to read the whole review.
Table of Contents
- 1 D4i and D4i Novo Dive Computer Comparison Chart
- 2 What are the difference between the two Models?
- 3 What’s the difference between the D4i and the D6i Novo?
- 4 What about Diving Modes and other settings?
- 5 Dedicated Freediving Apnea Computer – Suunto D4F
- 6 Does it come with the Wireless Air Integration feature?
- 7 Does this come with the USB cable?
- 8 Can I change the Suunto D4i and Novo battery myself?
- 9 What Automatic Safety Checks are do the D4i and D4i Novo have?
- 10 What about Alarms, Warnings, Safety Stops and Deep Stops?
- 11 More Info about the High and Low Priority Alarms
- 12 What if you want to plan a No Decompression dive?
- 13 The Suunto Algorithm and what it means for you
- 14 What about the Logbook Memory, Bookmarks and Dive History?
- 15 What about Warranty and General Maintenance?
- 16 The Conclusion
D4i and D4i Novo Dive Computer Comparison Chart
Suunto D4i and D4i Novo are very similar dive computers. The comparison table below highlights their differences.
*MSRP = Is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. There are big savings available on the recommended retail price online.
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What are the difference between the two Models?
The internals and functions of the Suunto D4i and D4i Novo remain the same. The case of the D4i Novo is .25 oz heavier (7 grams) than the Suunto D4i. Both are compact and lightweight.
Cosmetically, the screen face and buttons are slightly different. The D4i has plastic buttons which have been changed to metal buttons on the D4i Novo.
Suunto released the Novo with a silicone band. Silicone is noticeably smoother than the elastomer band and wraps around the wrist easier.
As mentioned above, the USB cable needed to download the dive log is included when you buy the Novo. This remains an accessory at an extra cost when buying the D4i.
Apart from these minor differences, the Suunto D4i and the D4i Novo share the same features and functionality. The Novo is available in more color choices.
Below is a video showing how easy it is to set up the Suunto D4i Novo
What’s the difference between the D4i and the D6i Novo?
Wondering what the differences are between the D4i and the D6i Novo? The Suunto D6i Novo has a built in compass, can handle up to 3 gases and has a maximum depth of 150 meters. It also has a sapphire crystal display.
Suunto D4i Novo – How Big is Compact?
The Suunto D4i and D4i Novo is a large watch sized dive computer. Many people will wear it as their every day watch, especially when on vacation. They measure 1.91″ x 1.72″ (48.6 mm x 43.8 mm) across the face, and .63″ thick (16 mm).
The D4i weighs in at 3 oz (85 grams) and the D4i Novo weighs 3.25 oz (92 grams). The bezel is stainless steel with a mineral crystal display. The dot matrix screen is large enough to display all the essential diving data.
What about Diving Modes and other settings?
The D4i and D4i Novo have 4 operating modes, Nitrox/Air, Free Diving, Gauge and Off. The Off option stops the dive computer from going into dive mode if you’re snorkelling.
The Suunto D4i and D4i Novo have an electro-luminescent backlight. The duration of the display can be adjusted between 5, 10, 20, 30, and 60 seconds, or turned off altogether. The brightness of the backlight and the Display contrast can be adjusted.
It’s easy to set between either metric or imperial settings depending on your personal preference. The time settings can formatted to either 12 or 24-hour display.
The Altitude setting is adjustable to 3000 metres.
There is a Stopwatch, Apnea timer and Alarm clock. It also has a dual time function which allows you to keep track of the time in a second time zone.
The Dive mode will activate automatically when you dive deeper than 4 feet (1.2 metres), unless it’s previously been switched to OFF mode.
Diving in Nitrox mode increases your bottom times. The Suunto D4i and D4i Novo adjust their dive calculations to keep you within safe limits and reduce the risk of decompression sickness. After entering the percentage of oxygen in your tank and the oxygen partial pressure limit into the dive computer, the safe maximum operating depth (MOD) is calculated.
Dedicated Freediving Apnea Computer – Suunto D4F
Suunto Dive Computers that have a dedicated Free Dive mode are the D4i and D4i Novo, and the D6i Novo.
At the end of February 2017, Suunto released a dedicated D4F dive computer for Freediving. Click the links to read in more detail the features of the new dedicated Suunto D4F Free Diving Dive computer.
Does it come with the Wireless Air Integration feature?
In the world of diving computers, wireless Air Integration (AI) is very popular. AI reliability has improved over recent years.
Can you dive without wireless air integration? Yes. Will wireless air integration make your dives easier, more accurate, safer, and more enjoyable? Yes.
You’ll appreciate that your dive computer has AI when you’re penetrating a long and narrow passage in a wreck. With the quick flick of the wrist, you’ll see all the vital info you need with very minimal movement.
The Suunto D4i and D4i Novo both have the capacity to upgrade to wireless AI. The Suunto wireless Air Integration transmitter is an accessory for both the D4i and the D4i Novo.
Having this capability is a great option for mid level divers who want to upgrade their gear later on. There are packages available that’ll save you money if you buy the transmitter at the same time as the dive computer.
The air integration feature reads your current cylinder pressure. It then calculates and displays your remaining pressure and breathing time. This is based on the current depth and air consumption rate.
The transmitter pairs with the diver computer to display your tank information on your wrist. It retails for between $430 – $450.Buy Suunto Transmitter Now on Amazon
The expected battery life of the transmitter is around 2 years. The battery of the transmitter is user-changeable and battery kits can be purchased online.
Does this come with the USB cable?
The Suunto D4i Novo comes complete with the USB cable. This cable lets you to download the dive log to a laptop and also update the firmware.
The Suunto D4i does NOT come with the cable included. This is an optional extra. The USB cable retails for around $85 which helps explain the some of the price difference between the D4i and the D4i Novo.
There are package deals available from time to time where you can buy the D4i complete with the USB cable. These bring the price between the two models closer to each other.
Can I change the Suunto D4i and Novo battery myself?
Well, that depends on who you ask!
Suunto state on their website and in the user manuals for the D4i and D4i Novo, that the battery must be replaced at an authorised center. It says that the battery change is not something you can do yourself.
Having said that, there are Suunto D4i battery replacement kits for sale on the internet. It really comes down to you, and whether you’re comfortable doing this yourself. The Suunto battery replacement kits include the battery, o-ring and a small tube of silicone grease.
Click the button to take you to great prices for the Suunto D4i battery replacement kit on Amazon.
You may want to consider buying the battery replacement kit and taking it and the dive computer to your local dive shop for replacing. This way at least you won’t be voiding the warranty, and you’ll save yourself a few dollars at the same time. Make sure you check with your local dive shop beforehand.
The life expectancy of the battery depends a lot on how you use it. Based on around 100 dives a year, the battery life will be around 1 and a half years. If its used in time mode only, the battery life will be extended to around 2 years.
The life expectancy will decrease if you’re diving in very cold water.
What Automatic Safety Checks are do the D4i and D4i Novo have?
The Suunto D4i automatically goes through a series of checks each time you enter Dive mode. When entering DIVE Mode, the backlight and beep activate. This is then followed by the graphical display elements turning on.
The Altitude and personal settings are displayed along with Maximum Operating Depth (MOD), gas content, and PO² values. The battery level is also checked. If you’re between consecutive dives, your current tissue saturation is also included as part of these checks.
The PLAN Mode shows your desaturation times based on your previous dives. When in DIVE mode the current Depth, Surface Interval time, No Fly times, dive time and temperature are shown.
AIR settings will show tank pressure pairing and the tank pressure alarm when paired with the wireless air transmitter.
What about Alarms, Warnings, Safety Stops and Deep Stops?
Safety stops are part of good diving practice and are a critical part of most diving plans. The Suunto D4i and D4i Novo display two different types of safety stops – recommended and mandatory.
There are audible and visual alarms that will alert you to important limits or when presets are being reached.
With every dive over 30 feet (10 meters), there’s a 3-minute countdown for the recommended safety stop. This stop is taken in the 10-20 feet (3-6 meter) range. A STOP icon and a 3 minute countdown is displayed.
The default setting of the depth alarm is set 100 feet (30 meters). This can be adjusted or switched off.
More Info about the High and Low Priority Alarms
High Priority alarms will appear when:
- The PO2 value is greater than the adjusted value. This means your current depth is too deep for the gas in use. You need to either ascend immediately or change to a lower O² % gas.
- The decompression ceiling depth is exceeded, advising you will need to descend to, or below the ceiling.
- Maximum ascent rate of 33 ft/min (10 m/min) has been exceeded. You need to immediately slow down your ascent rate.
Low Priority alarms will appear when:
- A no-decompression dive becomes a decompression stop dive. Your depth is below the decompression floor level. You should descent to, or above the floor.
- A mandatory deep-stop is violated. You should descend to complete the deep-stop.
- Deep-stop depth reached. Make the mandatory deep-stop for the duration shown by the timer.
- The tank pressure reaches the defined alarm pressure or the fixed alarm pressure, 50 bar (700 psi).
- OLF value at 80% or 100% (Nitrox dive mode only).
- The maximum depth defined, or the maximum depth of the device is exceeded.
- The defined dive time is exceeded.
- Defined depth reached (Free Dive mode only).
- Duration of surface time until next dive (Free Dive mode only)
This is a full decompression computer, so it will show the stops required if you run out of decompression time.
Visual alarms include:
- Do Not Fly
- Extend surface interval.
- Violated decompressing ceiling or bottom time is too long.
It’s important to note that if the backlight is set to OFF, the dive computer will not illuminate when an alarm sounds.
What if you want to plan a No Decompression dive?
The mode PLAN NoDeco is used to plan dives that don’t need deco stops. Simply enter the depth of your next dive into the dive computer. The Suunto D4i Novo will then calculate the maximum time you can stay at that depth without requiring any decompression stops. All dives taken over the previous 4 days will be taken into account when making it’s calculations.
The Suunto Algorithm and what it means for you
Suunto use the RGBM (Reduced Gradient Bubble Model) algorithm. This algorithm has been branded ‘too conservative’ by some of divers on scuba forums. Within this algorithm, if your ascent rate exceeds 33 feet (10 meters) per minute for more than five consecutive seconds, the computer is not happy and will set off a warning tone.
Algorithm models and technology continue to get better as we go. Research is on-going and decompression theory is just that – theory. Today’s dive computers are based on the best theory models we currently have. These are designed to keep you safe. Plan your dive, and dive to your plan, and follow your computer.
What about the Logbook Memory, Bookmarks and Dive History?
The Suunto D4i and D4i Novo have a detailed logbook and dive history available in MEMORY mode.
The logbook contains a detailed dive profile for each recorded dive. The time between each data point saved in the log is based on the configurable sample rate. The default sample rate is 20 seconds.
The Logbook capacity depends on the sample rate. Based on the default sample setting of 20 seconds and without the transmitter, the capacity is around 140 hours worth of dive time. With transmitter data, the capacity is reduced to a minimum of 35 hours.
If the memory is full, the oldest dives are deleted as new dives are added. In Dive History view, you can switch between SCUBA History and FREE DIVE History.
At any time during a dive, you can add a bookmark to the dive log. The bookmarks can be viewed when scrolling the dive profile in the logbook. Each bookmark records the present depth, time, water temperature, heading, and tank pressure (if available).
The SCUBA Dive History records a maximum of 999 dives and 999 diving hours. The counters reset themselves to zero when these limits are reached.
Scuba Dive History shows:
- a summary of the dive hours.
- the total number of dives.
- maximum depths.
The FREE DIVE History records a maximum of 999 dives and 99:59 diving hours. The counters are reset when these limits are reached.
Free Dive History shows:
- deepest and the longest dives of all free dives.
- cumulative dive time in hours and minutes.
- the total number of dives.
What about Warranty and General Maintenance?
All Suunto dive computers are covered by a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty. This does not cover normal wear and tear.
The Wireless Transmitter comes with a 12 month warranty.
To keep your dive computers performing as it should, it needs to be serviced at an authorized Suunto service center every 2 years, or after 200 dives. A standard service includes a general operational check, replacing the battery and a water resistant check.
Although they can withstand the rigors of diving, dive computers need to be treated with the proper care and respect. Protect the it from shock, extreme heat, direct sunlight and chemicals. It should go without saying, but take extra care not to knock or drop it.
After using in salt water, always rinse in fresh water and a mild soap. Carefully clean the housing with a moist soft cloth or chamois.
Clean the water contact and depth sensors on the side of the computer using fresh water and a soft toothbrush. The water contact is what detects when the unit is submerged and switches it into Dive mode. After washing and drying, store in a dry place.
Take it to a Suunto service center as soon as possible if moisture appears inside the case or battery compartment, and never try to open the case of the dive computer.
Time To Select! Suunto made adjustments to the D4i, and released the D4i Novo. The D4i is still readily available for sale. The Suunto D4i and D4i Novo are both are great quality dive computers packed with features.
Air Integration is a nice touch but the transmitter can always be added later on if your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far at the moment. Those who’ve made the switch to wireless air integration, say they’d never go back. (Scubaboard.com)
A question to ask yourself is whether you want to download your dive logs to your computer. If yes, then buy the Suunto D4i Novo. If this isn’t as important to you, then you may want to consider saving yourself some money and buy the Suunto D4i.
Suunto have recently phased out manufacture of the Zoop and the D6i, leaving only the Novo versions of these two dive computers in their range. My guess is that it won’t be long before the Suunto D4i is also discontinued, leaving the Suunto D4i Novo. There could be some great bargains coming up for the D4i before this happens.
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