DeeperBlue.com/Francesca Koe: The Suunto D4f Black is a specialised version of the popular Suunto D4i dive computer, that strictly focuses on essential features for freediving. As a fan and owner of two D4i’s myself, I was eager to take the new, pared-down D4f for a whirl in the water, facilitating trials both indoors and outdoors in the open ocean, to see how Suunto’s newest dive computer would fare and compare in overall user experience.

As luck would have it, I was already on my way to immerse myself in the warm waters off the Big Island of Hawaii when I received the D4f computer to test. Simultaneously, across the pond, I had a troop of apnea enthusiasts embarking on a visit to Belgium’s NEMO-33, where they would try out the D4f in one of the world’s deepest pools. At first glance, I found the stainless steel bezel and black strap to be an aesthetically handsome combo; and since the function and setting buttons live and work in the familiar fashion of other Suunto computers, set-up was a breeze – and the implementation of my own personal preferences (for alarms and notifications) a snap. In a quick test of one of the fun features that Suunto Diving has added – you can program how long your backlight stays on, anywhere from five seconds to 60 – we found on the new D4f that it works very well!

As I performed some warm-ups on a dive line, and pulled down to acclimate, it became clear that the D4f display would provide the consistently sharp and legible contrast of data in the water I have grown accustomed to from Suunto products. Operating depth, time and temperature were all prominent and easy to read. Upon surfacing, the D4f showed me my max depth and my surface interval for proper training breath-up intervals, like a dependable old friend.

The testing continued with my confirmations of a resonant and audible single signal for depth notifications, and consecutive beeping signals for the depth alarm and time at depth alarm; key features especially for beginners trying out target dives and for spearfishermen who need to remain vigilant about bottom times. While I cannot guarantee the next set of outcomes for anyone else, I did take it as a wonderful omen that during our Suunto field-test battery, we were joined by playful spinner dolphins, and singing humpback whales – coincidence? Who knows! But we were grateful for the company of those marine mammals. Maybe they liked the sounds of the D4i alarms too…

The adjustable, striated elastomer strap of the D4f sits comfortably on the wrist, with ample room for fitting over any wetsuit, or for anyone with bigger bones. Additionally, the computer felt very lightweight to me and non-noticeable in terms of extra drag. In my opinion, the Suunto D4f is born out of the trustworthy Suunto legacy of building stylish, reliable sports gear. It is a very affordable addition to their family of expert dive products.

Conclusion

At nearly less than half the cost of the D4i (and even less than half the cost of a D6i), Suunto’s new freediving-friendly D4f is a fantastic option for spearos on a budget, or beginning freedivers who won’t be needing scuba functions but do want the accuracy and expertise of industry-leading technology. There is a reason that all the top athletes in competitive freediving around the world rely on and wear Suunto computers – it’s because they work well and have unparalleled standards. Streamlined, scientific and successful, the D4f gets five stars from me for value, appearance, and functionality. If you are in the market for a new freediving computer, I would recommend the D4f as the perfect solution.(SRP: £275) www.suunto.com

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