The Suunto Vyper Novo is an excellent mid-range dive computer for recreational scuba divers. It is the newest model from the Suunto Vyper series, and is a worthy upgrade for intermediate divers who have outgrown their Suunto Zoop Novo and require more advanced features from their dive computer such as wireless air integration support.
Speaking of the Zoop Novo, it is really easy to mistake the Vyper Novo for the Zoop Novo (and vice versa), but there is a big difference between these products. For starters, the Vyper Novo sports air integration, switching between three gas mixes, a freedive mode, as well as an interface and display that is reminiscent of the Zoop Novo (which only serves to confuse people).
With the Vyper Novo, Suunto is clearly catering to the intermediate divers who want to take the next step towards more advanced diving. It does not contain all of the truly high-end features like Trimix and Rebreather Mode, however the Vyper Novo is still a big step up from entry-level devices. It is not diluted with many useless features, but instead has the core functionality that you need and is an affordable path for growing divers to improve their skills.
Whether you want to dive with no-stop dives and a reliable 3D digital compass, or improve your skills as a freediver using the built-in apnea timer or strengthen your technical diving skills with seamless gas switching while underwater, the Vyper Novo can accommodate all of these needs and more. Let’s go over exactly what it can do.
Suunto Vyper Novo Review Summary
Our main review is quite lengthy, so if you would rather save some time and just get the short version, here it is: Suunto have made an incredible product that provides all of the functionality a recreational diver would want, all at an affordable price. Here’s what you can expect.
To start, the Vyper Novo is a wrist-mounted dive computer that has a surprisingly large screen that can display all of your critical dive information for you to easily see and understand at a glance.
Next, navigating the interface is extremely straightforward thanks to the intuitive design and 4-button operation. The buttons are spaced apart so that you have space to press them even with thick gloves on.
Appearances and menus aside, what you’re really looking to read about is its diving functionality. The Vyper Novo has optional support for air integration. You can track up to three wireless Suunto PODs (transmitters), for three different gas mixes. For intermediate divers, this is more than adequate, and makes the device one that can grow with your needs.
On the safety side of things, there are a plethora of ways that their audible and visual alarms can get triggered so that you can be alerted to all of the safety violations that can occur while diving.
The Vyper Novo also has a built-in 3D digital compass which frees up yet another instrument from your diving setup. All of these features were the ones that stood out to us the most (there’s lots more we’ll cover in the full review below), and are all available at a reasonable price point.
All in all, we feel the Vyper Novo is an excellent intermediate dive computer that you can eventually pair with air transmitters as your diving experience grows. If you want air integration on a budget, it’s hard to beat what the Vyper Novo offers.
Suunto Vyper Novo Overview
Technical Specifications and Features
- Five dive modes: air, Nitrox, gauge, free, and off.
- Can switch between three gas mixes, up to 99% O2.
- Dedicated apnea timer for freediving, as well as a timer in air/Nitrox mode.
- Four buttons to operate the device with.
- Suunto RGBM decompression model.
- Wireless air integration support, up to three transmitters.
- Integrated 3D tilt-compensated digital compass.
- Large full dot-matrix display makes fonts exceptionally visible.
- Automatic water activation.
- Numerous adjustable settings: altitude, depth, conservatism, and ascent rate alarms.
- Logbook and dive-planning functionality.
- User-replaceable battery.
- Included USB cable to interface with a PC/Mac.
- User-updatable firmware.
The Vyper Novo is versatile and has five dive modes to accommodate the type of diving you’re doing. The dive modes are:
- Air Mode: The mode you use when diving with only standard air.
- Nitrox Mode: Select this mode if you are diving with oxygen-enriched gas mixtures. The Vyper Novo supports seamless switching between three mixes, with O2 monitoring between 21%-99%.
- Gauge Mode: With this mode selected, the Vyper Novo can be used as a bottom timer. It will cease any decompression calculations as well as alarms or warnings.
- Free Mode: Use this mode when freediving. All information is turned off except for the timer and depth reading. The algorithm will provide all of the dive information to help enthusiasts reach depth and safely return to the surface.
- Off Mode: Ceases all tracking including water time information.
Since the Vyper Novo is a little on the bulkier side since it is not intended to be worn outside of diving and thus does not have a Watch Mode. The bulkier size is due to the large screen, which provides more screen real estate for displaying dive information.
Whether a dive computer without a Watch mode is seen as a negative is up to your preference. However, just be aware that there are dive watches that have all of the functionality that the Vyper Novo has, and can be worn outside of diving as a daily wristwatch on top of that, such as the Oceanic OCi. Of course, you will have to pay a premium for that luxury.
Air Integration Support
To be able to have all of your dive data readily available on a small device attached to your wrist is a technological marvel that many older divers never would have thought possible. Since the technology is now widely available, its price has been slowly decreasing, and air integrated dive computers are now a viable investment for recreational divers to make.
Divers who want a leaner setup and dislike dealing with a mess of hoses and consoles just to find out their tank pressure will enjoy wireless air integration. This optional setup will wirelessly connect your Vyper Novo to the transmitter(s) that you install on the first stage regulator.
The transmitter detects the tank pressure and transmits that information to the Vyper Novo, which then calculates how much underwater time you have remaining based on your breathing rate, current depth, and various other factors.
It has alarms that trigger when your air is warning low, with a safety gap of 35 bar (507 psi) so even if the device reads no air, there is still some left. With that said, you should not wait until the device reads zero air before you decide to make an ascent.
The Vyper Novo can support up to three transmitters so that you can track three possible gas mixes. These transmitters don’t all have to be installed on your tanks. You can use this feature to track your dive buddy’s air supply if he is a junior or student diver.
With that said, wireless air integration is not without its flaws. There is always a possibility of the connection breaking and depriving you of much needed tank pressure data. That is why we recommend keeping a pressure gauge as part of your setup just in case of any unforeseen malfunctions.
In addition to the optional air integration support up to three transmitters, the Vyper Novo allows you to easily switch between three gas mixes and monitor O2 levels up to 99%. If you plan on taking advantage of all three, then keep in mind that each gas mix should have a lower oxygen percentage than the previous mix, and that gases can’t be switched once the maximum operating depth is exceeded.
This is a significant upgrade over older models which only supported one mix for the whole dive. For most divers that only use standard mixes, that was not an issue.
With the Vyper Novo, divers now have the option to push beyond their usual recreational limits, and start experimenting with more gases. Assuming you have the proper training, now you can dive with bottom gases, travel gases, and decompression gases.
All of this to say, Vyper Novo can grow with divers as they improve their skills by getting accustomed to multi-gas diving.
Much like its appearance, the interface and layout of the Vyper Novo is simplistic and easy-to-read so that digesting your most important dive data is possible at a glance.
Thanks to its full dot-matrix display, the font can be displayed very clearly, and is capable of being read even while underwater. On the main screen you can also see the dive time, current depth, no-decompression limit, 3D compass with heading and bearing markers, air time remaining, and so on.
Some of the information is visually represented by bar graphs, such as your ascent rate and current tank pressure. It’s true, sometimes seeing a number doesn’t really convey a sense of urgency, so seeing a graphical representation can be more effective.
The Vyper Novo uses the Suunto RGBM algorithm, which was developed by Dr. Bruce Wienke. The algorithm was refined and perfected through thousands of diving and laboratory tests including data from DAN. The RGBM algorithm takes into account the rate of accumulation of dissolved and free gases in one’s tissue and blood, and computes how much longer a diver can stay underwater based on that. The result is an incredibly safe and reliable algorithm.
Furthermore, the Deep Stop feature allows the Vyper Novo to calculate a continuous decompression ascent rate. Typically, dive computers will tell you to make full safety stops for a set time before continuing upwards. With continuous decompression, a safe ascent rate is calculated, and you just need to maintain that speed until you reach the surface without ever fully stopping. For deep diving, traditional stops are incorporated between your maximum depth and ceiling.
The RGBM algorithm is also found in Mares dive computers, and is considered to be quite conservative. We feel that it is better to err on the side of caution, so we view it as a plus for the Vyper Novo.
With that said, there is the option to adjust the conservatism level to be more liberal. Experienced divers can decrease the RGBM from 100% to 50%, though you do so at your own risk. We highly recommend recreational divers leave the conservatism levels as is. Conversely, there are three adjustments you can make to increase the Vyper Novo’s conservatism level for more safety.
You can choose between three altitude ranges up to 3,000m (9,843ft) and its maximum operational depth is 80m (262ft). It is important you stay within these limits in order for the algorithm to make accurate calculations. So if you travel a lot and are constantly diving at new locations, please keep this in mind. The Vyper Novo does not automatically adjust the altitude settings; you must do it manually.
Lastly, the Vyper Novo includes a dive planner that can simulate future dives based on your dive profiles, in either air or Nitrox, so you can get an idea of what to expect without ever dipping your toes in the water.
3D Digital Compass
With the integrated 3D digital compass, navigation becomes child’s play. When selected, the compass is visually represented on the screen as a compass rose so reading the headings is literally just like reading a real compass.
The inclusion of the compass makes the Vyper Novo stand out from its earlier models. Just like how wireless air integration can cut down the bulk from connecting hoses, the compass means you can get rid of one more instrument from your setup. Dive equipment is already bulky enough, so streamlining your gear and reducing drag is always welcome.
The compass is tilt-compensated so that you can hold it at an angle and the headings will still be correct. You can set the heading like usual, but the 3D compass will immediately warn you if you deviate from that direction.
The Suunto Vyper Novo’s dive log capacity can store a respectable 140 hours of data at a sampling rate of 20 seconds. Of course, that number goes down if you choose a faster sampling rate. By default, it is set at 20 seconds. You can adjust it to record your data in intervals of 10, 20, 30 or 60 seconds. For freediving, the sampling rate can be set to 1, 2, or 5 seconds.
Once your dive log is full, you can transfer it to your computer using the included USB cable. In order to connect to your dive computer, you need to download and install the DM5 application on your PC or Mac. Once connected, you can load your dive log data on the software and analyze it in greater detail as well as plan for future dives.
With the DM5 software, you can see your diving stats represented visually as bar or line graphs to more easily understand your progress. You can also make notes and tag dives to help you organize the logbook to your preferences.
Furthermore, you can share your dive data with family and friends using the Suunto Movescount portal. Sharing your stats isn’t fun unless you can also attach photos and videos with your data to wow them even more, which the software allows you to do.
The Vyper Novo has a suite of audible and visual alarms that will activate if certain conditions are met or exceeded. They are as follows:
- Dive time exceeded.
- Maximum depth reached.
- Low tank pressure (even if the readings say zero air, there will still be a small reserve left).
- Gas time.
- High PO2.
- Violation of decompression ceiling.
- Ascent rate exceeded.
- Deep stop violation.
- Switch gas if better as is available.
- CNS toxicity reaches dangerous levels.
- Freediving alarms.
Only basic maintenance is required for the Vyper Novo. After a dive, thoroughly rinse it in fresh water and wipe it dry. Keep it away from direct sunlight and only store it once it has completely air dried (you might miss a few spots when wiping). Following these basic steps is all you need to keep it in good shape.
Every once in a while you will need to replace the battery. The Vyper Novo uses a user-changeable battery, so you can purchase a battery replacement kit specifically for this device and do your own replacing.
To access the battery, you need to find a tool that can open the back, such as a bent-nose plier. You should also replace the O-ring with a new one (included in the replacement kit) and make sure it seals properly. If you are not sure how to access the battery compartment, please read the user guide.
With that said, Suunto recommends getting their dive computers serviced once every two years or 200 dives, whichever comes first. At Suunto-authorized service centers, they will not only replace the battery, but also pressure test it and calibrate it to ensure it is in perfect working order.
The necessity of a check-up somewhat takes away from the appeal of the user-replaceable batteries, since you have to send it in eventually anyways, however a dive computer can mean the difference between life and death while deep diving so you should take good care of it.
What We Like
The Vyper Novo is a great update to the original Vyper, and we like how it is a solid upgrade for divers still using the Zoop Novo. After all, people get these devices confused all of the time anyways. Zoop Novo users will already be familiar with the interface and buttons so any learning curve is diminished. Completely new users will probably find the device to be intuitive and will get comfortable with it after a few minutes of use.
The large screen is simultaneously an upside and a downside. A bigger screen means more screen real estate and larger characters that are easy to see. Additionally, the Vyper Novo has a full dot-matrix display so that it can fully spell out entire words instead of abbreviating every word, which adds to why this device is so intuitive.
For what it offers you, the Vyper Novo is priced very affordably and provides functionality that is hard to top in this price range.
What We Don’t Like
The large screen means the Vyper Novo is too large and bulky to be worn as a wristwatch. Some air integrated dive computers are slimmer with full watch functionality so that it can be worn both in and out of the water, but the Vyper Novo is not one of them.
Even though the Vyper Novo has gas switching functionality, its shallow maximum operating depth of 80m (262ft) makes it incapable of supporting technical diving features like Trimix. With that said, the Vyper Novo is an excellent mid-range dive computer for recreational diving, and what if offers in that area is excellent.
Suunto Vyper Novo vs. Mares Smart Air
Suunto Vyper Novo and Mares Smart Air are air integrated dive computers that are similar in many respects. Though Mares is not as well known as Suunto in the dive computer market, the Smart Air is a device that could give the Vyper Novo a run for its money.
To start, both devices run the RGBM decompression algorithm. They also support three gas mixes compatible to 99% O2 and air integration. Despite the gas switching capability, due to their limited maximum operating depths in air/Nitrox mode, they are not ideal for technical diving. One can still use the device as a bottom timer by switching to Gauge mode.
With that said, the Smart Air and Vyper Novo are top contenders for the best dive computer for beginner and recreational divers that want to grow with their dive computer and get a taste of advanced diving.
Where the Vyper Novo has an advantage over the Smart Air is its powerful integrated 3D digital compass, which frees up a measuring instrument from your setup. It is tilt-compensated, so you can continue to get accurate readings even if your arm positioning is not perfectly level. This feature alone makes it a superior computer for diving.
The Smart Air’s advantage comes in the form of its compact, stylish body and Watch Mode. Unlike the Vyper Novo, the Smart Air was designed to be worn outside of diving. You could wear it to a bar or any other casual event and it wouldn’t look out of place. Little do people know that it is actually an air integrated dive computer.
If you are fine with not having a built-in compass in your dive computer and prefer something a little on the smaller side that can also be worn outside of diving, then the Smart Air is a viable alternative to the Vyper Novo. Those who only care about getting the best diving functionality at an affordable price should stick with the Vyper Novo.
You can read more about the Smart Air by reading our in-depth review here.
Suunto Vyper Novo Review: The Verdict
The Suunto Vyper Novo is a recreational diver’s best friend. It has everything a beginner to intermediate diver needs, and it will take a very long time before one is required to dive with three gas mixes. As you grow with this device, the Vyper Novo will grow with you.
Its large and bulky size is only an issue for those who were expecting a dive computer that can double as a wristwatch. With that said, what you get is a powerful air integrated device with an integrated 3D compass, gas-switching, freediving mode, numerous safety alarms, and an algorithm that will keep you safe.
If you are already an experienced diver or someone planning on learning more about technical diving, unfortunately the Vyper Novo won’t be able to keep up. This device is perfect for beginners who are looking to grow and improve their diving stats without spending a small fortune on gear.
Overall, the Vyper Novo is probably one of the best mid-range dive computers you can get. It is perfect for someone who is no longer a beginner and wants to reach the next stage in their diving career. People who don’t have the budget or need yet to invest in a highly technical dive computer should consider the value provided by the Vyper Novo. We highly recommend it for beginner and recreational divers.
If you want a dive computer like the Vyper Novo that can also double as a watch outside of diving, then you might want to check out our review of the Suunto D5.