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November 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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How Long Will Your Dive Computer Last?

and will that warranty really help you?

from the November, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Only active subscribers can view the whole article here

Remember that term "lifetime warranty?" Back in the 90s, Uwatec computers were covered under a warranty for life. If something went wrong, the company would repair or replace it for free. This even included management of the computer's battery systems, which had a life between seven and 10 years. Take the Uwatec Aladin series -- a change of batteries cost $15 and it was done the dive shop.

Cut to today. Uwatec is now under the arm of Scubapro, which itself is owned by Johnson Outdoors. Battery replacements aren't the same. One Undercurrent correspondent took his Aladin computer into his dive shop for a battery replacement and was told it had to be shipped back to Scubapro for that - and for a $250 charge. To make it worse, the new battery stopped working a year later.

Laptops and smart phones have a quick obsolescence rate; the next model comes out just as the latest one is still gaining traction. That seems to be a similar path for dive computers -- instead of lifetime warranties, most dive computers now have a two-year warranty and may last just a few years after that. Instead of repairing a computer under warranty, manufacturers are more likely to offer a diver a newer model. While many divers hope -- perhaps even expect -- to keep an old computer running just as they might keep a favorite old car running, it's not going to happen.

Tom Kittredge (Sacramento, CA) took his trusty six-year-old Suunto Mosquito and his stalwart Uwatec Aladin Tec to his dive shop to repair the plastic function buttons. The dive shop sent them off to Suunto and Scubapro respectively for repair, then sent Kittredge this e-mail: "The Mosquito is a 2007 serial number and was discontinued several years ago. The only parts not yet discontinued are the battery kits. The Aladin Tec is also discontinued and according to Scubapro, not fixable. Almost all the scuba companies only have a two year warranty on the computers and don't seem to support the old technology when new ones come out, unfortunately." Kittredge says he did not see any information on his sales receipt that these products would be unserviceable after the two-year warranty expiration, but of course that kind of confession would never be included.

A Tucson subscriber is upset at the effort it took to get his Uwatec Air Z Nitrox computer replaced. "The battery is sealed in goop, making it impossible for anyone but the factory to swap it out. The dive shop sent it off and Uwatec said that the sensors must be upgraded -- $300 for something which cost $1,000 in the first place. It has lasted another five years, and the batteries are still going at 70 percent, but what's going to happen when the batteries go out again? I am afraid they will tell me that they cannot be swapped out, but now we're talking gear that is over 10 years old. It should work fine and be maintainable -- I have lots of other gear that is 25 years old, but a computer is not a gear bag or pair of fins."...

Subscribers: Read the full article here

"When we consider the less-expensive end of
the range, such as the Suunto Mosquito, it
is almost a throwaway item."

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