The market for dive computers is highly competitive between companies like Cressi, Suunto, and Mares. But how does the Leonardo and Giotto, two popular dive computers from Cressi, hold up against each other? Since both of these dive computers look so similar, you might think that there’s not much difference between them. However, in terms of functionality, they couldn’t be further apart.
With the exception of the price and a few cosmetic differences, what differentiates these two products? For starters, these two dive computers from Cressi target different divers. The Cressi Leonardo is better suited for beginners and recreational divers whereas the Cressi Giotto is designed for experienced divers. In this article, we will explore the differences between these products, and help you decide which one is better suited for your experience level.
Cressi Leonardo Dive Computer Review
For those who are new and anxious to head into the waters as quickly as possible, the Cressi Leonardo is a great choice for a beginner dive wrist computer. It is 67mm in diameter (2.63in), with a thickness of 27mm (1.06in) and weighs 4.76oz (135g).
The Leonardo is completely designed with beginners in mind, with its simple yet functional features that make it an indispensable companion for your first hundred dives.
Starting off, it has a modular and wide interface that makes it easy to see all of the critical data at a glance. The Cressi Leonardo has only one button with which you use to navigate the menus. This design is intended to make it less confusing for users that get confused if there are multiple buttons. Simply press the button once to switch between menus, and hold the button down for longer in order to access the menu or change a setting.
Let’s go over what you will actually see on the screen. First, it has a high-definition, edge-to-edge LCD display to ensure that the text is crisp and clear. Second, all of the information is split into distinct sections separated by solid lines and displayed in large numerical text. Third, a backlight is provided so that you can continue to view the display even in dimly lit conditions. All of this contributes to a clear and easy-to-read dive computer.
Next, this dive computer features Nitrox (between 21% and 50%), air, and gauge diving modes. It runs on Cressi’s own RGBM model which is designed to be highly conservative to ensure the diver’s safety.
All of the data for each diving mode will be recorded into the logbook memory. The Cressi Leonardo will track the last 60 dives (~70 hours) worth of data at a sampling rate of 20 seconds.
You don’t ever have to worry about forgetting to record the data thanks to the Leonardo’s automatic water activation. Once you submerge to at least 4 feet (1.2m) below water, the device will automatically begin tracking dive information. Once you go above 4 feet, then the dive “ends” and the surface interval timer will start.
The altitude level can be adjusted up to 3,700m (12,100ft). When changing altitudes, make sure to wait a few hours before diving so that the settings can get calibrated.
How many dives can go on before the battery needs to be replaced? Assuming you go on 50 dives a year, then on average you can expect the device to last two years before you need to replace the battery. While you can send it to a service center, the 3-Volt CR2430 battery is actually very easy to replace by yourself.
Some dive computers are designed so that you have to send it into a service center for repairs. This is inconvenient for many reasons, since it costs time, money, and is just plain annoying. What happens if the battery dies in the middle of a trip? Thankfully, a battery replacement kit can be purchased online or at a dive shop for around $20 and you can do the replacement yourself.
For dive shops and training courses that loan out dive computers, the reset functionality on the Cressi Leonardo is a must. Activate it to fully erase the data currently stored on the device. This allows each new diver to have a fresh start when tracking their data. If you are purchasing a dive computer for your own personal use, then make sure this option is never used.
As we mentioned before, the Cressi Leonardo is the better option for beginner divers. This is what it was designed for, and it does its job very well by providing all of basic diving functionality without any of the advanced features. That is the reason why the Leonardo is over a hundred dollars cheaper than the Giotto.
Even if you want to “future proof” yourself by buying a device that is fancier than your needs, we still recommend getting a Cressi Leonardo instead. It will serve you well for your first hundred or so dives. Once you feel like upgrading, newer models will come out that are better than what you can get now, and you can still keep your old Leonardo around as a back-up dive computer.
- Highly affordable and reliable entry-level dive computer.
- Intuitive and beginner friendly single-button design with straightforward menus.
- High-definition, edge-to-edge LCD screen.
- Air, Nitrox, and gauge diving modes.
- Utilizes Cressi’s RGBM algorithm which is conservative and safe for beginners.
- Maximum 120m (393ft) operating depth.
- Audible and visual alarms to indicate safety violations.
- Has a reset option to fully wipe the data stored on the device.
- We wish the backlight could be brighter.
- No safety stop timer.
- It is slightly too large to be used as a daily driver out of the water.
Our full review of the Cressi Leonardo can be found by clicking here.
Cressi Giotto Dive Computer Review
The Cressi Giotto is designed with the recreational and intermediate diver in mind, which is why it sports more features as well as a higher price tag than the Leonardo.
This dive computer has a large display and additional functionality like gas switching during a dive, which is a feature one will eventually use as they gain more experience as a diver. Furthermore, the display shows its information on a high-definition LCD screen so that you can clearly see the information you need.
Thanks to its three navigation buttons, stepping through the already intuitive menu becomes even easier. The Cressi Giotto is rather large and it would be awkward to use it as a wristwatch outside of diving. It comes in either a wrist or console-mounted setup.
In addition to being a wrist-mounted dive computer, you can also get it in two console versions. One comes with a compass, the other with a mini pressure gauge. There are three dive modes: air, Nitrox, and gauge.
No matter which setup you get, the Giotto performs well as a robust and reliable dive computer. For the functionality you’re getting and priced slightly above basic entry-level dive computers, you’re getting good value with this device.
Despite having the basic shape of a wristwatch, the Cressi Giotto is unfortunately too large to be used as one outside of diving. What the large size provides is a screen with enough real estate to show you your data at a glance.
To further improve legibility, the data is sectioned with thick lines and displayed in large text. Even an inexperienced diver will be able to parse the vital information quickly.
Navigation is managed with three easy-to-access buttons. Compared to the single-button design of the Leonardo, having a “back” button is such a simple yet understated feature. If you accidentally go past a menu, you don’t have to loop through all of the menus just to get back to the menu you wanted to be at.
Unfortunately, due to the close proximity of the buttons they can be somewhat troublesome to press if you are wearing thick gloves. If you are used to handling a dive computer with gloves on, this may not be an issue for you.
Very importantly, the battery level indicator on the screen lets you know how much time the device has left. Of course, when it is recording and calculating your dive data in real-time, it will drain the battery faster than when it is idle. Keep a close watch over how much battery is remaining before diving.
After a year of heavy use or two years of moderate use, you can expect the battery life of the Cressi Giotto to become less efficient or perhaps to die out completely. For other dive computers, you would have to send it into a service shop for repairs which is time consuming and expensive. If you are in the middle of a trip and you don’t have a backup dive computer then you are out of luck.
Just like the Leonardo, the Giotto has a user replaceable 3.0-volt lithium CR2430 battery. You can purchase a battery replacement kit which contains the battery as well as an O-ring and new cover for $20 or less. Having one around is very important in case your battery dies in the middle of a trip. You can also save time and money by replacing the battery yourself.
Audible and Visual Warnings
Thanks to its numerous audible and visual warnings, the Cressi Giotto will keep you alert to a wide range of conditions. For instance, dive time, max depth, ascent rate violation, CNS toxicity, high ppO2, deep stops, decompression depth and decompression air and nitrox warnings will prevent you from making a critical mistake.
Everything we’ve covered so far about the Giotto hasn’t been much different from the Leonardo, but the technical capabilities are where many of the similarities end.
For example, the Gitto can handle oxygen levels between 21% and 99% in Nitrox mode. Furthermore, it can not only handle two different gas mixes, but you can switch them during a dive. The ppO2 limits for this dive computer can be adjusted between 1.2 bars and 1.6 bars.
The Gitto has a maximum operating dive depth of 120m (393ft). For higher altitude dives, the altitude levels can be set as high as 3,700m (12,139ft) with four different altitude settings.
Next, the Gitto uses Cressi’s RGBM algorithm which is based off of the Haldane model. Cressi really cares about the safety of divers using their dive computers, so the Haldane/Wienke model they based their model off of was modified to have more conservatism options to suit their needs.
By default, the algorithm is quite liberal. However, Cressi have designed many conservatism levels so that divers can change to a model with higher safety margins. There are three conservatism factors to select from, but by default the most liberal one is selected.
The Gitto has a dedicated indicator to show the oxygen toxicity levels for the central nervous system (CNS). Relating to the ppO2 levels, the CNS toxicity display takes into consideration the diver’s exposure time. By factoring in the ppO2 levels, the CNS toxicity can be displayed in real-time as a graph on the screen and reaching critical levels will trigger an alarm.
Logbook Memory and Connectivity
The logbook memory in the Cressi Giotto is capable of storing up to 70 hours (~60 dives) of dive data. It has a sampling rate of 20 seconds, and this cannot be changed. You can view the information of past dives on the device itself. To get a more detailed overview of the data, you must transfer the dive data to a computer.
Unfortunately, you will have to buy a USB connector separately in order to upload the dive data to a computer. Only then can you analyze the data using the provided software. One useful thing you can do with your dive data is run simulations of future dives.
Even though the Giotto is more expensive than the Leonardo, both are still considered to be entry-level dive computers and thus are missing some features that more expensive models will have.
The two most obvious missing features are lack of a built-in compass (which is remedied if you buy a console) and lack of air integration (which is also available through a console). Neither one of these features are generally available in dive computers in this price range, so it’s not a negative towards the Giotto but something to keep in mind.
With that said, the casual or recreational diver will probably not need to use these features, ever. What the Giotto does provide is more than enough to cover the needs of a beginner and even intermediate level diver, so you don’t need more.
- Large high-definition display that is clear and sharp.
- Three dive modes: Air, Nitrox, and Gauge.
- Limits ppO2 between 1.2 and 1.6 bars.
- Two Nitrox settings between 21% and 99%, can switch between them during a dive.
- Intuitive navigation with three buttons.
- Runs on Cressi’s Modified RGBM algorithm.
- Functionality for both entry-level and intermediate divers.
- Logbook memory that can hold data of the last 60 dives (~70 hours).
- Maximum operating depth of 120m (393ft)
- Four altitude settings, with the highest at 3,700m (12,139ft).
- Complete reset mode for dive shops and instructors.
- Display in metric or imperial units.
- User replaceable lithium battery.
- Two years limited warranty.
- No air integration or digital compass.
- Too large to wear as a watch.
The Cressi Giotto is a robust and accurate dive computer that is designed for intermediate level divers by one of the leading brands in the Scuba diving market. It provides all of the features both beginner and intermediate divers would want. Even if you are lacking in experience, this wrist computer is something that can guide you as you transition to a more experienced diver.
Thanks to the functionality it provides at its price point, the Giotto is a solid choice for divers with some experience, but also easy enough that a complete beginner can use it and grow with it.
The capability to handle two different Nitrox mixes and switch gases in the middle of a dive is something that a diver could eventually learn to use as they become more proficient in diving. Unfortunately, it lacks some high end features like air integration and a digital compass, but that is the cost of getting an affordable dive computer.
Cressi Giotto Vs Cressi Leonardo Comparison
As we mentioned earlier, besides the obvious price difference between the Cressi Giotto and Leonardo, they also target different markets. The Leonardo is designed with absolute beginners or recreational divers in mind. The Giotto can also be used by beginners, but has more features which means it is suitable for more experienced divers as well. Let’s go over the differences in more detail.
If you didn’t know anything about these two dive computers, at first glance you might even think they were the same model. Both have similar blue backlit displays with similar fonts and sectioned in a similar way. This makes it easy for both models to display their data and have it be easily readable in various conditions, even when you are at depth or diving at night.
Let’s start with an obvious one. The Cressi Giotto has three navigation buttons whereas the Leonardo only has one. Whether this is better or not depends largely on user preference, however most would probably prefer the multi-button design of the Giotto.
Having three buttons makes it easier and faster to navigate through the menus since you can easily go back and forth. The single button design means you have to step through each menu to get to the right choice and you can’t go backwards.
With that said, with only a single button, it is impossible to press the wrong button by accident. This point is especially important for those who wear thick gloves when diving.
Having three buttons can make it difficult to press the right one in low-visibility conditions, and there is also a greater chance for user error or pressing more than one button at a time (you can easily “fat finger” a button, especially with gloves on). However, a more experienced diver would likely be calm and skilled enough to press the correct one regardless.
Both the Giotto and Leonardo are similar in size and appearance, barring some slight differences. They both have a large, sharp display to display the data clearly and in an easy-to-read manner.
For the Giotto, in addition to showing the usual data like dive time, depth, etc., it also features a graphic CNS oxygen toxicity indicator. This is a useful feature which measures and displays the user’s oxygen toxicity level for their Central Nervous System (CNS).
We love it when a dive computer has user replaceable batteries. That way, you don’t have to spend extra time and money sending it to a dive shop or service center when you can just do it yourself. Both dive computers from Cressi have user replaceable batteries. This means if either one dies on you in the middle of a trip, you can change it yourself if you have a spare battery.
With that said, these devices cannot be hot-switched, meaning the data is lost when you make the switch. Thus, you should back up all of the data onto your personal computer before changing the battery. Lastly, the current battery level will be displayed on the screen so you’ll know when the battery is about to run out.
Here is where the differences between these two dive computers really starts to show. For the Leonardo, it provides basic functionality that you’d expect an entry-level scuba computer to have. Features like depth display, decompression status, surface interval time, dive time, imperial and metric display, three dive modes, and so on are par for the course, and the Giotto has them as well.
However, the Leonardo only allows one gas mix up to 50% oxygen level. Furthermore, since it is designed for beginners, it does not have the capability to switch from air to Nitrox in the middle of a dive.
On the other hand, the Giotto can handle two Nitrox mixes up to 99% oxygen. To fit the needs of more experienced and technical divers, the Giotto allows you to switch between gases during a dive. Furthermore, even if you’re desaturating it can handle a Nitrox dive after a dive with air.
A feature that both models share that make them very suitable for rental shops or diving course instructors is that they can be fully reset after a dive. Very few dive computers have this feature. This means each new diver can have a fresh start when calculating their dive data.
When calculating dive limits for the current dive, the dive computer will factor in dive data from previous dives, which will be highly inaccurate if multiple divers have already used the dive computer. Once reset, the dive limits will be calculated in real time based on data from the current dive without past data affecting it.
With the Cressi Leonardo catering to beginner divers and the Giotto being a slightly higher end model, neither have some functionality that higher-end models have. For instance, you won’t find air integration in either one of these dive computers.
For most casual divers, this is a feature you probably won’t use. However if you are a SCUBA instructor that needs to check on the air levels of your dive students, or you just like seeing your tank levels on your wrist, then unfortunately neither the Leonardo or Giotto can provide this.
Furthermore, neither device has an integrated compass either. However, both dive computers do come in a console setup instead of a wrist computer. With the console equipped, there can be a second instrument that can either be a pressure gauge or a compass if you so choose.
Since there is the option for a console mount setup, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this option?
You should go for the console mount option if you often have your hands full and it is tricky to see the display. In the event of an emergency, it’s a lot easier to look at your wrist in a console mount setup which can prove to be invaluable.
However, as a beginner, it is not likely that you will dive far enough or need advanced functionality to justify the extra cost of getting a console mount setup.
Cressi Leonardo vs. Giotto: The Verdict
If you’re just starting out but you know that you have a passion for the sport of Scuba diving, then perhaps you can take the plunge and invest into the more expensive Cressi Giotto. The additional functions it has over the Leonardo allows you to take full advantage of the dive computer as your experience grows.
However, the Cressi Leonardo is an excellent budget dive computer for beginners that has all of the basic features that a beginner needs. Even without advanced functionality, it is more than capable of guiding you through your first 100, or even 200 dives. Even after you feel you’ve outgrown the Leonardo, you can still keep it around as a backup dive computer.
One big advantage that the Giotto has over the Leonardo for experienced divers is the three-button navigation. Beginners who have never used a dive computer before may get confused by which button does what in order to step through the menus. However, advanced divers will know through experience what to press, making it faster and more intuitive.
Should you buy the higher-end Giotto “just in case”?
The reason why we tell beginners to hold off on purchasing a higher-end model and just focus on reaching their first 100 dives with an entry-level Scuba computer like the Leonardo is because it may take them a couple of years to gain enough experience to fully utilize their device.
If they had invested in a more expensive model to start with, such as the Giotto, they may not use some of the features for the first year or two. By the time they have enough experience to start using the more advanced features, newer dive computers will come out with even more bells and whistles. By that point, they would probably be eyeing to upgrade to the newest model anyways, meaning they paid $100 extra for a device they never took full advantage of.
In other words, there is no benefit to buying something “just in case.” Just purchase what you need that is suitable for your current level, upgrade when you need to, and keep the old dive computer as a backup device.
On the other hand, if you feel like you can gain enough experience to use all of the sophisticated functions of the Cressi Giotto within a year, then definitely purchase that instead. It will be good enough to last for a few years before any significant technological advancements start becoming the norm in modern dive computers.
If you are already a veteran diver, then neither the Leonardo nor Giotto will be a good choice because they lack features like air integration and a digital compass. As both of these dive computers are still within the “budget” territory of dive computers, you will need to look into a more expensive model for those specific features.
If you are interested in how the Cressi Leonardo compares to other entry level dive computers, we have written comparison articles for where we compare it to the Suunto Zoop Novo and Mares Puck Pro, which are a few of its direct competitors in the entry-level market. You may also be interested in reading our reviews of the Cressi Giotto vs. Suunto Zoop Novo and Cressi Giotto vs. Mares Smart.