The Mares Smart Air is an improvement over the Mares Smart, now with the ability to support wireless air integration (up to three transmitters). Once a transmitter has been installed, the Smart Air can accurately track the tank pressure and calculate how much air you have remaining. It is a great choice for recreational scuba divers who want to grow with their dive computers.
When you are finished with your diving for the day, you can just keep the Smart Air on your wrist because it comes with numerous watch features that make it a perfect daily wristwatch. Its sporty design means it won’t look out of place whether you are underwater or going about your daily life.
For divers who are looking for a highly versatile and affordable dive computer that supports air integration, the Mares Smart Air is a solid choice. Let’s go over what else it offers in more detail below.
Mares Smart Air Review
Mares Smart vs. Mares Smart Air – What are the Differences?
These two products are very similar in terms of functionality; they also basically share the same name, which is why there is uncertainty regarding what the differences are between these products. Is the Smart Air just a Smart with air integration support? The answer is no.
Obviously, air integration is a pretty big plus, but the Smart Air takes it to another level. The Smart Air can now support three mixed gases, instead of only two. The logbook capacity has been extended to 95 hours of dive profile data, instead of only 35 hours. Beyond that, there is not much else different of note.
Why should you purchase a Mares Smart Air?
The Smart Air provides an incredible amount of features for the money. Whether you are an absolute beginner or a recreational diver, there is something for you. Furthermore, the wrist-mounted design means it is sleek and very comfortable to wear, even outside of diving.
To start, the menus are very beginner-friendly. Literally within a couple of minutes playing around with the device, we were able to fully understand how to navigate the various menus and change most of the settings. You can also consult the manual to learn the more advanced features, which is covered in the next section.
Get all of your critical dive information from the Smart Air at a glance. Its simple yet effective display features a three-row layout with two fields that can be customized to display ancillary information. You will never feel like your interface is too cluttered, or get confused by what is being shown.
Precision is key, and the Smart Air can display your dive time down to the second. In fact, it can do a whole lot more than that; it supports three transmitters which will monitor the air pressure in the tank. From that data, the Smart Air can accurately determine how much longer you can safely dive. The benefit of a wireless transmitter also extends to the setup; it will be less cluttered and restrictive.
The Smart Air uses a user-changeable CR2450 battery that will serve you for 200 dive hours (100-150 dives) before it needs to be replaced. If you know what you are doing, replacing the battery is a breeze and saves you from sending it to a service center.
The Smart Air has a logbook capacity of 95 hours and displays this information in a well-formatted layout so that you can easily get the information you are looking for.
When diving, you can select between Ar, Nitrox, Gauge, and Freediving modes. The RGBM algorithm supports switching between three gas mixes from 21-99% oxygen and of course can track the tank pressure with an air transmitter installed. You can also switch to Watch Mode to get access to typical watch functions.
Just like with other Mares dive computers, the Smart Air includes a decompression dive planner that also has a surface interval function. This helps you plan your dives in advance to ensure that you are well-prepared and the dive is as safe as possible.
Air Integration on a Budget
You won’t be able to get air integration support for much cheaper than this. Don’t get us wrong, purchasing a Smart Air with a transmitter is still going to cost you several hundred dollars.
With that said, it is not unusual for air integrated dive computers to cost over a thousand dollars without any transmitters. Some support up to 10 transmitters, so you would have to factor in the cost of those transmitters as well, which can easily run into the thousands of dollars.
With the Smart Air, you are getting a product that is on the lower end of the price range. It is suited for recreational divers who want to gain experience with air integrated diving. It is not intended for extremely advanced, technical diving, but think of it as a stepping stone towards that if that is what you plan on doing in the future.
The Smart Air has a clear LCD screen that measures 1.25” (31mm diagonally) with a backlight, as well as a scratch-resistant mineral lens. We aren’t kidding when we say the screen is clear – you can read the data no matter what time of the day it is, even in direct sunlight.
The three-row layout is simplistic and gives you the most important dive information. At a glance, you can find out the current depth, maximum depth, bottom time (down to the second), ascent rate, temperature, and low battery indicator. You can adjust two of its fields to display what you want to display.
The Smart air runs the Mares-Wienke RGBM algorithm. In terms of how it factors in altitude and decompression settings in its calculations, its conservatism level can be described as middle-of-the-road.
However, if you feel like you want to increase the conservatism levels for even safer diving, there are three options to select from: standard, intermediate, and conservative. Adjusting these settings will change the decompression and altitude settings.
Audible and Visual Alarms
Alarms are how a dive computer alerts you to any potential issues, so a dive computer that tracks many parameters and provides numerous warnings is a very safe device. Here are some ways that you might trigger an alarm on the Smart Air:
- Maximum ascent rate exceeded.
- CNS toxicity levels exceeding 75%.
- Safe ppO2 level exceeded.
- Low battery.
- Missing a decompression stop.
…and many more. You should pay close attention to the alarms, otherwise you may put yourself at unnecessary risk of decompression sickness. If the alarms are going off too frequently, you can customize them to go off when you wish or not at all.
Outside of diving, in Watch Mode there are various watch functions that can trigger an alarm, such as the stopwatch, timer, and custom alarms.
What We Didn’t Like About the Smart Air
Unfortunately, the Smart Air carries with it some of the same issues as the Smart.
Using the Smart Air in Watch Mode will reduce the battery life a lot faster unless you take certain precautions, particularly when it comes to the backlight. You should reduce the backlight duration to be as short as possible while still allowing you to see what you need to see. Otherwise, the Watch Mode will constantly activate the backlight and drain the battery dry. Thankfully the battery is user-replaceable, cheap, and readily available in dive shops and supermarkets.
Another design decision that has left us scratching our heads is the two-button operation. Navigating the interface with only two buttons is an arduous task. Why not have at least three or four? Not having a dedicated Back button after reviewing many devices that have one feels like a step back (excuse the pun), and it is baffling that a computer that supports air integration has this issue.
We also found the strap to be a little bit on the shorter side. If you wear a thick wetsuit, then consider purchasing a strap extension. The tank pressure is displayed in PSI which can be confusing for some to decipher.
Lastly, make sure you get the correct PC link, since the Bluetooth unit only works on a limited basis with the app. The best way of connecting to the PC is with the USB cable. We wish the Bluetooth features worked better because it is much more convenient to use.
Who is the Mares Smart Air Designed For?
The Smart Air is perfect for beginners or recreational divers looking for a device they can grow with. Beginners can get a taste of what it is like to have air integration, gas switching, dive planning and so on. Furthermore, its display provides the important dive data in an easy to understand layout that can be read at a glance. That way, even a beginner can get a good grasp of what is going on.
Of course, air integration is the big selling point of the Smart Air. It’s not easy to transition to technical diving, however getting started with a dive computer that supports air integration is a good step in that direction. Beginners and recreational divers can get comfortable with how it works and have safer dives because of it.
Divers who want a versatile dive computer will be happy to find out that the Smart Air also has a Watch Mode and Apnea (freediving) mode. The freediving mode allows you to customize numerous depth alarms and will track your dives at a much faster sampling rate. The Watch Mode gives the Smart Air watch functions so you can wear it outside of the water.
Lastly, the Mares Smart Air is one of the most affordable air integrated dive computers on the market. You can purchase a Smart Air with transmitter included for less than the cost of the high-end air integrated models. If you are on a limited budget, then the Smart Air is a good option. It should be enough to last you for a few years until you have gained more experience and need to upgrade again.
Who is the Mares Smart Air NOT For?
The Smart Air is great for beginners, but technical divers will find it lacking in many areas, especially compared to most of its air integrated competitors, for instance something like the extremely capable and expensive Shearwater Research Teric. It is fair to say that the Smart Air is like an entry-level dive computer that also happens to support air integration.
As such, it is missing some functionality such as a digital compass, GPS, and support for CCR and Trimix diving. Even the air integration only supports up to three wireless transmitters, which technical divers may find limiting.
Additionally, divers who have trouble reading from a small screen will naturally have issues with a watch-sized dive computer. Also the two-button navigation is clunky, and some divers may find it cumbersome to navigate the menus because of it.
Mares Smart Air Review: The Verdict
To sum it up, if you are a beginner or recreational diver who wants air integration on the cheap, the Mares Smart Air is a decent option. It is a superior version of the Mares Smart, and if you are willing to invest the time to grow as a diver, then the Smart Air can serve as a great stepping stone.
Experienced divers should look elsewhere for a dive computer with more advanced features. The Smart Air is not designed to compete with the higher end models, as it does not have GPS tracking, CCR and Trimix modes, or digital compass. If you can make do without those features, then the cost savings will be significant, and the Smart Air provides all other basic dive functions including air integration support.
Mares Smart Air Dive Computer Features
- Air integration support for up to three wireless air transmitters.
- Simplistic three-row layout interface design.
- LCD segmented display and backlight provides clear visibility.
- Durable, scratch-resistant lens can take a beating.
- Watch Mode: Alarms, Calendar, and Dual Time Zone settings.
- Adjustable audible and visual alarms.
- Surface interval countdown and residual nitrogen reset functionality.
- User-replaceable CR2450 battery, which should be replaced after 100-150 dives.
- Optional alarms for ascent rate and descent rate.
- Includes a dive planner.
- Maximum operating depth of 150m (492ft).
- Altitude adjustable up to 3,700m (12,100ft).
- Runs the Mares-Wienke RGBM algorithm.
- Logbook capacity of 95 dive hours.
- Operating modes: Air, Nitrox, Gauge, and Apnea (freediving).
- Switch between three gas mixes from 21% to 99% oxygen.