The Mares Puck Pro is the updated version of the beginner-friendly Mares Puck which featured an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. The Pro version manages to improve upon the Puck while still keeping the price point at an affordable range. The Puck Pro is designed for beginners and recreational divers in mind, and the Puck Pro Plus has the same functionality, but also introduced Bluetooth connectivity.
With its 3 diving modes and a variety of features and colors, the Puck Pro is a great entry-level dive computer thanks to its style, functionality, and price. In this review, we’ll go over the various functions and features the updated of the Puck Pro and Puck Pro Plus and see how well it fares against other budget wrist dive computers.
What are the Differences Between the Mares Puck Pro and Mares Puck Pro Plus?
There are almost no differences beyond cosmetic differences between these two models. If you already own a Puck Pro then there is hardly any reason to “upgrade” to a Puck Pro Plus, it’d be more like a side-grade.
Let’s get the minor differences out of the way. Looking at the device itself, you can see the bezel looks different. Furthermore, the bars for the N2 meter have been altered, and the segmented displays have clearer labeling on the frame next to the glass. The Puck Pro Plus has less colors to choose from.
With that said, the major difference between the two is that the Puck Pro Plus comes with Bluetooth capability. Otherwise, besides the color options, their functionality is basically the same. In the next section we’ll talk about the Bluetooth functionality and you can decide if this feature alone is worth getting the Pro Plus version over the Pro version.
Blue Link Cable (Bluetooth Connectivity in the Puck Pro Plus)
We like to see entry-level dive computers make strides toward more modern connectivity, and the Puck Pro Plus uses a form of Bluetooth which Mares calls the Blue Link. The Blue Link is basically a clip connector that allows you to connect your dive computer to your computer or smartphone.
You do not need to use USB cables to download the dive log data to your tablet, phone, or computer. With that said, the Blue Link connector is something that you have to purchase separately just like with the USB cables, so at the end of the day you aren’t exactly saving money.
Mares Puck Pro/Mares Puck Pro Plus Overview
When you purchase a Mares Puck Pro, here’s what you can expect.
Technical Specifications and Features
- Nitrox programmable (21% to 50% oxygen).
- Switch between two gas mixes (air and EANx only).
- Dive log: 35 hours, 25-30 dives.
- Intuitive user interface.
- User-replaceable battery.
- User updated firmware.
- Large screen with easy-to-read numbers and backlight.
- Single-button menu navigation.
- Runs on the Mares-Wienke RGBM algorithm.
- Numerous adjustable settings including conservatism, salinity (freshwater or saltwater), and altitude settings.
- Exclusive to Puck Pro Plus: Bluetooth connectivity.
Appearance and Display
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The Puck Pro Plus is big! Though this isn’t confirmed by Mares, rumor has it that the Puck Pro is named that way because it is roughly the size of a hockey puck. Don’t believe us? The face is 2.33in (5.9cm) in diameter, and it’s 1in (2.5cm) thick. For reference, an actual hockey puck is 3in (7.5cm) in diameter and is also 1in (2.5cm) thick.
Thanks to the size of this device, you get access to all of the relevant data on one screen without needing to switch screens. It also has a backlight so that you can read the data clearly even when the visibility is poor, which is great for night dives.
With that said, the large size of the Puck Pro Plus can be seen as both a positive and a negative. Divers with less than perfect vision would be able to appreciate how easy it is to read off the large screen. However, you probably won’t be using it as your daily watch since it is too bulky to be worn all day.
The Puck Pro Plus is available in numerous colors: Black, White, Lime, Yellow, Red, and Blue.
Next up, it also features a one-button menu navigation similar to the Cressi Leonardo. We would have liked the Puck Pro Plus to have added a few more buttons, but just like the Puck it only has a single large red button.
Having only one button means it is easy to press and there’s no possible way to press the wrong button. Accessing dive modes, dive plans, and memory settings is all done through this button through a combination of pressing and holding the button. Users start at the initial menu and have to step through each menu until they reach the submenu they want to adjust.
Ironically, having only one-button to navigate the menu can be confusing especially at first. We’ve often found ourselves pressing and holding the button when we should have been pressing and then releasing, and vice versa. Once you get past this initial learning curve, we’re positive that it is as intuitive as it is advertised.
The Mares Puck Pro runs on the Mares-Wienke RGBM model. How conservative the algorithm is can be adjusted from three options: P0 (the default), P1 (more conservative than P0), and P2 which is the most conservative option.
We feel that even in its default P0 setting, the Puck Pro is already a conservative dive computer. Setting it to the highly conservative P2 will drastically reduce bottom times, especially if you plan on doing multiple dives in a row or over multiple days. Since this device is designed with beginners in mind, perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing where safety is concerned.
Next, the Puck Pro Plus lets divers select the percentage of oxygen in their Nitrox mix (between 21% and 99%). The max ppO2 can be adjusted between 1.4 and 1.6 bars. There are 4 different altitude settings, which cover between sea level to a maximum of 3,700m (12,139ft).
Furthermore, it can support two gas mixes and even allows switching between them underwater. These gas mixtures are labeled G1 and G2, and they can only be air or EANx. Additionally, G2 must have a higher oxygen percentage. Switching between these gases is only allowed if the depth is shallow enough for the MOD on the tank containing G2.
Lastly, the Puck Pro Plus can be calibrated to saltwater or freshwater. If you forget to switch to the correct setting, then expect the estimated depth to be off by roughly 3%. You can change the units between metric or imperial, as well as Celsius or Fahrenheit for temperature.
Audible and Visual Alarms
It is important to be notified if you are violating safety guidelines. There are numerous alarms on this dive computer which will flash and/or beep at you to warn you of any violations. For example, going faster than the recommended ascent rate of 12m per minute will trigger the alarm.
Some other ways to trigger the alarms are reaching 100% CNS (central nervous system) oxygen exposure limit, low battery, decompression stop violation, and exceeding the ppO2/MOD for a gas mixture.
One curious oversight is a lack of an alarm for reaching depth. On numerous other entry-level dive computers, users have the option to set an alarm for their planned maximum depth, but the Puck Pro does not have this functionality.
The Puck Pro Plus will warn you about any stops that you have to make, as well as some optional but recommended stops. On the front screen, you will see a “nitrogen loading” bar located at the bottom of the display. The bar increases as you dive, but will decrease whenever you’re on a safety stop, surface interval, or mandatory decompression stop.
There is an optional deep stop function which will appear on the screen as divers start to approach their no decompression limit (NDL) or no stop time. When this appears, divers can choose to stop for two minutes one time, or stop for one minute two times as a precaution.
The safety stop warning will appear once divers reach 6m/20ft from the surface at the end of their dive, and lasts for the usual three minutes.
Pre-dive, Surface Interval, and No-Fly Time
When you turn the Puck Pro Plus on, it defaults to pre-dive mode. This mode basically puts the computer into a ready-to-dive state. It is already quietly tracking data in the background, waiting for you to submerge below 4 feet (1.2m). Once you do, it will switch into the dive mode that you set. Also, pressing the button will turn on the backlight to illuminate the display.
Once you reach above 4 feet (1.2m) below water, the dive calculations are put on hold and the surface interval timer starts. However, if you resubmerge within 3 minutes (the minimum surface interval time) then it will treat your surface time as part of your last dive. If you stay above the surface for at least 3 minutes, then the Puck Pro will close the Logbook for that dive. The next time you dive will be considered a new dive.
After a dive is finished, the Puck Pro displays the no-fly time, desaturation time, and surface interval on the screen until the no-fly time and desaturation time reach zero. If you are diving in areas that are above sea level, then you need to change the altitude settings. The highest adjustable altitude setting is 3,700m (12,139ft) above sea-level. You have to adjust the altitude settings manually.
The Puck Pro utilizes a modified Mares-Wienke RGBM algorithm. The ‘Wienke’ in the name is in reference to Dr. Bruce Wienke, the creator of the original RGBM algorithm. Yes, the same RGBM model found in many Suunto and Mares dive computers.
Since the algorithm has been modified specifically for Mares, the algorithm is known as the modified Mares-Wienke model. The reason manufacturers do this is because there are computational limitations to wrist dive computers. Furthermore, Mares has adjusted the algorithm so that the conservatism level is to their preference.
As such, the Mares’ RGBM algorithm is rather conservative. Experienced divers who are used to having more bottom time will realize this. As such, experienced or technical divers probably would not like to use the Mares Puck Pro, even as a back-up computer. It may be useful as a bottom timer in gauge mode.
One safety feature of this algorithm is that it suggests deco stops at deeper depths to reduce bubble formation during ascents. Additional safety features include: safety stops, restriction of deeper dives if the surface interval was too short, and penalization of NDLs on reverse dive profiles.
Divers may get annoyed at how the Mares Puck Pro penalizes divers with bad dive profiles filled with missed safety stops, pushing NDL limits, saw-tooth diving, and so on. However, it is the Puck Pro’s attempt to get you to take your safety more seriously. If you ignore its warnings and perform numerous safety violations over multiple dives, the penalties will get more significant.
All Scuba equipment requires constant maintenance, and the Mares Puck Pro is no exception. Mares recommends the computer is sent to a repair shop once every two years to calibrate the pressure sensor and check for any defects.
We like it when a device allows the user to perform their own maintenance, so we appreciate that the users can update the firmware themselves. In order to do this, users will have to purchase an interface cable and download the latest firmware update here. Updating your device will not wipe your dive logs.
Additionally, you can replace the battery yourself by buying a battery replacement kit. Make sure you select the kit for the correct model, since the kit will not work for the Puck or the Puck Pro+. Once you have the battery replacement kit, get a correctly sized screwdriver. Remember to replace the O-ring as well each time you replace the battery. A new O-ring should be included in the kit.
Keep in mind that any damage resulting from improperly replacing the battery can void the warranty. For instance, failing to seal the O-ring or not closing the battery compartment falls under “improper use” and thus won’t be covered. This is not likely to happen and changing the battery is relatively simple, though it does create issues if you make a mistake.
What We Like About the Mares Puck Pro and Puck Pro Plus
The Mares Puck Pro has a large display that is easy-to-read. The generous screen real-estate contributes to it being easy to set up and operate. Even for beginners, it is very intuitive to grasp how to use the device even without referring to the manual, making it a great choice for a first dive computer.
In addition to having plenty of screen space, the data is segmented into three sections to make it easier to parse the data. With just a quick glance, you can get all of the information you need, and the backlight helps you see the screen even in low-visibility conditions.
The Bluetooth uplink feature allows you to download and transfer data wirelessly. It costs just about as much as the cable connectors in other dive computers, but the functionality is much more convenient.
Some users get annoyed at how conservative the Mares Puck Pro is, particularly if you ignore its warnings and it starts to restrict your dive times. However, as a beginner, it is crucial to heed the warnings and stay safe while diving. Since this device is catered to beginners, we feel its conservativeness is actually a positive.
What We Don’t Like About the Mares Puck Pro Plus
There are a few nit-picks we have with the Puck Pro. Keep in mind, these complaints are minor annoyances we had and overall we feel the Puck Pro is a solid device.
First, the single-button navigation can be very clunky to use initially. We found ourselves unsure of when we needed to hold the button down and when to release. Simplifying the design to only use one button is often touted as a positive, but we found it to be cumbersome.
Furthermore, there is no ‘Back’ button which we feel is sorely needed. If you accidentally press the button one time too many and want to go back, you need to rotate through all of the options to reach the original menu you wanted.
Next, the large screen of the Puck Pro means the rest of the device is quite large. If you wanted to wear your Puck Pro as a sports watch on a daily basis, you’ll soon find it very cumbersome keeping such a bulky device on your wrist.
Since the Puck Pro is a beginner dive computer, do not expect it to have advanced features like air integration or a built-in digital compass. Technical divers should stay away from the Puck Pro, even as a back-up device.
Lastly, the Puck Pro has many alarms, but for some reason it does not have a depth alarm function. This is not good for divers who have medical issues that require them to stay above certain depths. It would also be a simple reminder for divers not to tread into unknown territory, which beginning divers can easily do.
Who is the Mares Puck Pro Plus For?
The Mares Puck Pro is designed for new divers or recreational divers that want a dive computer that is intuitive to use and reliable. Since it is an entry-level device without advanced functionality, Mares is able to keep its price low and the affordability makes it a great choice for a first dive computer or as a secondary computer to be used in case of emergency..
Furthermore, the large screen size is ideal for beginners and also people whose vision isn’t quite what it used to be. Beginners are prone to panicking, particularly if they cannot read what is on the screen. Since the display is so generous and the data is sectioned into three rows, it is possible to see all of the data at a glance. The backlit display is also visible in low-light conditions.
Thanks to some unexpected functionality, it will take a while for beginners to outgrow the Mares Puck Pro Plus. For instance, the ability to switch between two gas mixes in the middle of a dive is something that you’d expect to find in higher-end models. It also has all of the features you need for casual or recreational diving. Combine that with the low price, and it is very easy to recommend the Puck Pro to beginners.
Who Shouldn’t Buy the Mares Puck Pro Plus?
If you’ve already got a couple of years of diving experience under your belt and are starting to look for a dive computer with advanced functionality like air integration or a digital compass, then the Puck Pro is not for you. You will have to look for higher-end models like the Suunto Vyper Novo or the Suunto D4i Novo to get access to these features.
The Puck Pro truly lives up to its name since it is almost as big as a hockey puck. Thus, if you are somebody who likes to wear a watch everyday and wants to wear a dive computer as a sports watch, then you will find the Puck Pro to be too unwieldy for this task. On the plus side, the large size is what allows for the generous screen real estate to display all of the important dive data.
If you want an affordable dive computer that can also double as a watch, then consider getting the Mares Smart instead. You can read our review about it here.
Mares Puck Pro/Mares Puck Pro Plus Review: The Verdict
The Mares Puck Pro and Puck Pro Plus are both reliable and intuitive entry-level dive computers designed for beginning divers. The single-button design and large screen size is very easy to learn how to use to get the information you want at a glance.
In addition to the basic features, it also allows gas switching which is a feature not normally found in beginner dive computers. Thus, we feel that the Puck Pro and Puck Pro Plus will last a long time before beginners outgrow it. With an attractive price point, the Puck Pro Plus is definitely a dive computer to keep an eye on.
Want to know how the Mares Puck Pro and Puck Pro Plus compares to other dive computers? Read these articles below: