The Cressi Giotto and Mares Smart are two dive computers catered towards recreational divers at a similar price point and functionality, so how do these two dive computers compare?
Dive computers are a Scuba diver’s lifeline; it is their link to their gas, surface plan, and allows them to dive with more confidence and freedom. These intricate devices can do life-saving calculations in real-time based on the data of the current dive and by factoring in data from previous dives.
By doing so, a diver can get a better understanding of their limits and how to approach their current and future dives. Selecting the right dive computer is crucial for improving skill level and reaching greater depths in future dives.
In this article, we will focus on how the Cressi Giotto and the Mares Smart can help you do that, as well as which one is the right one for you. We will go over the features and capabilities and help you determine who wins in the battle between the Cressi Giotto vs. Mares Smart.
Cressi Giotto Dive Computer Review
The Cressi Giotto is basically a higher-end version of the Cressi Leonardo, which is Cressi’s very popular entry-level dive computer. The Giotto has been designed for divers with more experience and want more functionality from their dive computer.
At first glance, we can see that the Cressi Giotto has three buttons that you can use to navigate the menus, where its predecessor only has one button. Furthermore, the screen has been upgraded to be high-definition to give you the data in as clear and precise a manner as possible.
In addition to the edge-to-edge, high-definition LCD screen, Cressi have gone one step further and have added a fantastic feature called PCD to the Giotto. PCD stands for “Priority Compartment Digit Display” and it sections all of the information into their own areas so that divers can see and distinguish between them easily.
The boxes are separated by thick, solid lines, and certain pieces of critical information, such as the max depth, will be displayed in larger text to let them stand out more. This simple feature can reduce diver confusion and error and allows divers to see more data without having to switch through menus to see what they need to know.
The display also has a backlight for night diving or low-visibility conditions.
Audible and Visual Alarms
When it comes to alerting you of safety stops or safety violations, the Giotto is programmed to beep and flash at you to get your attention. Some examples of safety violations are a fast ascent rate or missed safety stop. You can adjust how frequent these alarms will trigger by changing the conservatism levels.
Algorithm and Gas Mixes
One of the reasons why the Giotto sports a higher price tag is that it is a mixed gas dive computer that can support two different Nitrox mixes and switch between them during a dive. For example, in the middle of a dive you can switch between nitrox to an air dive seamlessly.
Furthermore, the Giotto runs on Cressi’s own RGBM algorithm. It has been modified to support multiple dives in a day as well as dives done over the course of multiple days. The Giotto will factor all of these into its calculations so that you can dive safely without doing any mind-numbing number crunching on your own.
There is also a feature to let the device be fully reset after each dive. This is a great feature for dive shops and dive instructors who loan out dive computers to new students. By fully resetting, each diver can get a clean start with tracking their dive data.
- Several dive modes: Nitrox, gauge, air, plan, and watch mode.
- Audible and Visual alarms to alert divers if they exceed their ppO2 levels, CNS toxicity, ascent rate, DECO, maximum depth time, DECO bypass, and dive time.
- Modified RGBM algorithm based on the Haldane/Wienke model, with three levels of conservatism for maximum safety and an optional deep stop.
- Three button interface for easier menu navigation.
- Imperial and Metric display.
- Oxygen Toxicity Indicator is displayed in graphical format for easier parsing.
- HD screen with PCD display keeps the data sectioned into easily digestible chunks and for easier viewing.
- Four levels of altitude settings with the highest being 3,700m (12,139ft).
- Full reset functionality to fully wipe the data which is great for dive shops and instructors.
- Logbook memory of the last 70 hours (60 dives) at a sampling rate of 20 seconds (the rate cannot be changed).
- User-replaceable CR2430 lithium battery.
Check out our full review of the Giotto here.
Mares Smart Dive Computer Review
The Mares Smart is a fully functioning entry-level dive computer that comes with all of the basic features that beginner divers need to stay safe, such as alarms, reliable real-time calculations, dive data tracking, and so on.
It has a sporty design and a small enough form factor that it can be worn as an everyday wristwatch, but it also has the performance and features to keep you safe during a dive.
Gas switching is a feature that is found in more advanced dive computers, however in the Mares Smart you can only switch between two. With that said, many entry-level dive computers don’t have gas switching functionality at all, so the Smart comes ahead in this area. This feature is an excellent way for beginners to practice without getting confused.
Mares runs its own modified RGBM algorithm with three settings: intermediate, conservative, and standard. Changing these conservatism levels will also adjust the altitude and decompression settings. Plan your next dive wisely by setting the safety levels to something you are comfortable with to ensure you maximize not only your dive time, but your safety as well.
What Stood Out
The Mares Smart comes with all of the basic features you’d expect from an entry-level dive computer, such as easy-to-read display and a straightforward menu navigation. Mares has designed the Smart to provide the necessary information to keep beginners safe without overloading or confusing them with too many options. All of this is packaged in an attractive watch that can also double as a sports watch for daily wear.
We like the affordable price range that the Mares Smart is within, which makes it an even better option for those who are just starting out and don’t want to commit too much just yet. It’s a solid entry point for someone’s first dive computer and will last long enough for a beginner to transition into an intermediate diver.
What To Watch Out For
Be wary when you decide to wear the Mares Smart as a daily watch, since the backlight features will heavily drain the battery life so that it will not last the standard 2-3 year life span it normally has. However, thanks to its CR2430 battery, you can easily purchase a replacement battery kit and change it yourself without having to send it to a repair center. Just make sure to correctly re-set the seals, otherwise a water leak can ruin the device.
With only two buttons, we felt that navigation could be improved by just adding one more button. As it stands, it can be somewhat cumbersome to get to the menu you want, especially when there are sub-menus as well.
The onboard log only tracks the last 40 hours of dive data, or roughly 35 dives, which is on the low end. Most competitors can record double this amount., however the 5 second sampling rate means the data it does record is quite detailed
- Runs on the Mares RGBM algorithm which comes with three conservatism levels: standard, intermediate, and conservative. These also change the altitude and decompression settings.
- Two buttons to navigate the menus with.
- Logbook memory records the last 40 hours (35 dives) of data at a sampling rate of 5 seconds.
- Has watch functions like wake-up alarm, stop watch, second time zone, and date, so that you can use it outside of SCUBA diving.
- User-replaceable CR2430 lithium battery.
- Has freediving and bottom timer modes.
Click here to read our full review of the Mares Smart.
Cressi Giotto vs Mares Smart Comparison
When comparing the Cressi Giotto and the Mares Smart, one should consider their diving experience and their diving style. The Giotto is actually the second dive computer that Cressi designed, the first being the Leonardo which is intended for absolute beginners. As such, the Giotto is a slightly higher end model with functionality that allows beginners to transition their way to the intermediate level.
That is why you should consider how many dives you plan on doing in the near future. If you are just a casual diver that won’t do more than 100 dives in the next 2-3 years, then the Giotto is probably not worth the higher cost. Divers who plan on doing 100 or more dives and want more advanced functionality can consider purchasing the more expensive Giotto to be a long-term investment.
On the other hand, the Mares Smart provides just enough features for the beginner diver and has less of a ceiling in terms of functionality. It has a sporty design and is small enough that you can wear it as a wristwatch for daily use. The Cressi Giotto, however, may be slightly too bulky to be worn as a daily watch outside of the water.
Algorithm and Conservatism Settings
The Giotto uses Cressi’s own modified RGBM algorithm that is based on the Haldane model and designed in collaboration with the renowned Dr. Bruce Wienke. It is considered to be quite conservative and will keep you safe but perhaps at the expense of having to surface earlier than your dive buddies.
While there are three conservatism levels, they serve only to make the device even more conservative. However, absolute beginners may appreciate the option to make the dive safer for their first few dives. As they improve their physical condition and skill level, they can turn down the conservatism levels. At all conservatism levels the algorithm will take into whether the dives are done spread over multiple days, or if multiple dives are done on the same day.
The Mares Smart also has three conservatism settings: standard, intermediate, and conservative. Switching between these modes will adjust the altitude and decompression settings to help you customize the dive plan to your experience level and ensure you have maximum safety.
The Cressi Giotto can track dives for longer compared to the Mares Smart. However, we have to factor in the sampling rate, which is how often the data is recorded. In the case of the Giotto, it can record for 70 hours (~60 dives) however it has a slow sampling rate of 20 seconds.
On the other hand, the Mares Smart has a shorter memory of 40 hours, nearly half of the Giotto, but at a fast sampling rate of 5 seconds. This means that for those 40 hours, the data is 4 times more detailed compared to the Giotto. If more detailed data is what you prefer, then the Mares Smart wins in this category.
Despite being a more expensive model, the gas switching capability of the Cressi Giotto is matched by the Mares Smart. Both devices can switch between one or more different oxygen-enriched gas mixes (up to 99%) including your main gas. The benefit of this is that you can have shorter decompression times by switching between the gases during the dive.
Both of these dive computers use the same battery: the 3-volt CR2430 lithium battery. You can purchase battery replacement kits for $20 and change the battery yourself. The battery should be expected to last approximately 2 years, assuming you go on 50 dives a year. If you frequently dive, then you may have to replace the battery once a year.
The Cressi Giotto has three buttons, whereas the Mares Smart only has two. In this case, having more is better for navigating the menus.
Tips for Selecting the Right Dive Computer
Particularly if you are new to the world of SCUBA diving, you might not realize how crucial a dive computer is when thinking about essential dive equipment. However, a dive computer is like the glue that holds everything in your dive kit together when you are exploring unfamiliar underwater environments for the first time.
The right computer will not only warn of you any safety violations, but also make sure you are diving efficiently. Even entry level dive computers will cost a few hundred dollars, so think of it as an investment to ensure your well-being.
If you know that there will be plenty of SCUBA diving in your future, you need to look for a dive computer that is robust and has enough features to last you through hundreds of dives. In that case, we recommend selecting the Cressi Giotto over the Mares Smart because it has more functionality that you may one day use.
On the other hand, the Mares Smart is better suited for casual divers who are on a budget. Since both of these dive computers are still considered entry-level devices, they will not have advanced functionality like air integration that experienced divers would want.
Recreational vs. Technical Diving Computers
A recreational diver can get by using either one of these dive computers. The reason being, the depths that a recreational diver will stay within do not require features that accommodate advanced gas mixes, air integration, or multiple decompression stages.
Even entry-level dive computers that track only a single gas will be enough for your first 100 or 200 dives. Most of these dive computers, including the Cressi Giotto and Mares Smart can handle 21% to 50% Nitrox mixes (the Giotto can handle up to 99%).
Technical diving is not something that recreational divers need to worry about until they gain enough experience. Technical divers need a dive computer that can monitor numerous decompression stages, with advanced tracking features to allow for more comprehensive gas monitoring.
The dive computer should also be able to switch between gas mixes mid-dive and adjust the calculations for your remaining dive time. (The Giotto can actually do this, which is why it is more expensive and can even be used by intermediate divers).
Cressi Giotto vs. Mares Smart: The Verdict
The Cressi Giotto can be used as an entry-level dive computer, however it has enough functionality to cater to intermediate level divers. Absolute beginners will benefit from this dive computer’s clear information display and ease-of-use as they are improving their diving abilities. The Giotto can last a beginner for a long time, and as the diver gets more skilled and wants to try out new functionality, the Giotto will be there to support their growth.
With that said, it is not sophisticated enough for experienced technical divers, however it is a good middle-ground that allows recreational divers to push the edge of their recreational limits in training and transition toward more advanced technical dives. As such, the extra features are why it has a higher price than most entry-level devices.
The Mares Smart, on the other hand, is a good choice for casual divers who do not have any plans to advance to technical diving. Though the Mares Smart provides adequate functionality, perhaps even more than other entry-level devices, it does not support air integration and advanced gas switching which is necessary for more advanced dives.
However, the Mares Smart has a slim enough profile and stylish features in addition to its diving features that make it possible to be used daily as a wristwatch. Even freedivers can take advantage of the Mares Smart, and at the price range that it is at, it is quite an attractive option for an entry-level dive computer.
You may also be interested in reading our reviews of the Cressi Giotto vs. Leonardo and Cressi Giotto vs. Suunto Zoop Novo. If you’re interested in how the Mares Smart compares to other dive computers, check out our article on the Mares Smart vs. Mares Puck Pro and the Best Beginner Dive Computers.