LAS VEGAS, THE DEMA SHOW 2010 – Divers love this time of year. All of the shiny new dive gear is announced just in time for divers, and the people that love them, to start searching for stocking stuffers and the coming year’s lineup of new equipment.
DEMA (Diving Equipment & Marketing Association) holds its annual show for companies and professional divers to attend and showcase new products, dive destinations and useful information. ‘The DEMA Show’ cycles between an East Coast and West Coast venue in the U.S. each year and is the largest convention of its kind in the world.
This year, AtlasOmega Editor and Underwater Photographer John Rawlings accompanied me to Las Vegas for a few hectic days to absorb all the new innovations about to hit the dive industry in 2011. Each year, there tends to be a category or two of dive equipment that seems to stand out above and beyond the rest in terms of product advancements and offerings by industry-leading companies. At this year’s DEMA Show, I saw the biggest leaps forward in the categories of dive computers and lighting (both dive lights and lighting for underwater imaging applications). Fresh innovation also created a strong pull toward recreational rebreathers.
Below are some highlights of some of the most compelling products I saw at the DEMA Show 2010.
Located in Mukilteo, Washington, Dive Xtras has made a booming entrance into the technical dive light market with its new high output LED X-Ray Mk1 dive light. I spent some time with the new unit and my initial impression was that it is rock solid and very ergonomic. The new Mk1 is built with the same quality and innovative design found in the company’s line of X-Scooters, and promises to challenge existing industry-leading technical light manufacturers like Light Monkey (formerly known as Salvo).
The Mk1 was developed within a rapid timeline (approximately 12-18 months), which was made possible by Dive Xtras’ domestic manufacturing capabilities. Some of the features I liked best were:
- Compact-sized light head
- Newly-designed hand grip, which allows the owner to use the hand they are holding the light head with. From what I can tell, this is a great improvement over the traditional Goodman Handle
- Innovative mechanism built into the light head that allows the user to easily clip it off to a D-ring
- LED technology that increases its durability and burntime
- Blinking feature (upon power-on) that tells the user how much battery life is remaining
- Non-removeable Lithium Polymer 150Wh battery that produces a level of brightness on par with a traditional 21-watt canister light
The LED X-Ray Mk1 will be available in early 2011. You can find more information about the unit at Dive Xtras’ web site.
Light & Motion SOLA Lighting Line
Without a doubt, one of the most revolutionary products to hit the underwater photography market in 2010 has been the Light & Motion SOLA 600 Focus Light. Light & Motion, located in Monterey, CA, recently unveiled several additions to the SOLA line: a very promising recreational dive light, new video lighting, and similarly-constructed lights for the cycling market.
I spent some time with one of Light & Motion’s lead Engineers discussing the development and manufacture of the SOLA lights. What I learned only supported my existing view that their submersible lights were designed from the ground up to be perfectly suited for their respective purposes (i.e., they didn’t cut any corners when it came to R&D). The fact they are now being used for various applications – some of them beyond diving altogether – is a strong indicator of Light & Motion’s ambitions and probable great success with their SOLA line. I’d suffice to say that when palming one of these SOLA lights, the unit just “feels right”, like an immeasurable amount of time and thought went into its layout and construction.
I will be testing one of their new dive lights, the SOLA DIVE 1200, and will publish a full-length review of that model, and the SOLA 600 Focus Light, in the coming weeks. Stay tuned on that front…
UEMIS Zurich Dive Computer
I spent quite a bit of time learning about Switzerland-based Uemis and their “social” dive computer at DEMA. The Zurich dive computer has several great features, including a built-in solar panel, the ability to communicate directly with other Uemis computers (as opposed to connecting with transmitters alone), a user-replaceable front cover and dive log software that goes far beyond the traditional tallying of dives (think Facebook + Google Maps + your favorite dive log software). Tech divers: keep an eye out for a rumored, trimix-capable version of the Zurich in 2011.
Now, I think one of the great challenges the company faces is to simply communicate the many novel and promising features the Zurich offers to its potential consumers.
Liquivision Xeo & Xen
Vancouver, Canada-based Liquivision has just released a new trimix dive computer and a bottom timer. The new Xeo trimix-capable dive computer is meant to be a compliment to, but not a replacement of, the company’s existing X-1 technical diving computer, while the company’s bottom timer model, Xen, is aimed squarely at the DIR/UTD market.
I got my hands on a Xeo and found it employed Liquivision’s distinctive “tap-to-operate” design. The Xeo and Xen are identical in size and shape, which is a bit more square and slightly larger than the company’s Liquivision X-1 model. The greatest improvements are the OLED full color display and improved user-interface. According to Liquivision, the new display was designed with input from physicians to enhance readability. The two models are the result of 18 months of development by Liquivision.
The Xen is set to ship by Christmas and the Xeo will follow in February 2011.
Oceanic Dive Computers
Oceanic had a variety of pristine recreational dive computers on display at DEMA this year. The model that stood out to me the most was the VT4 (still to be released), the successor to the company’s ever-popular VT3 unit, which I currently use during warm water dives. The company’s flagship dive computer is the OC1, which features a forged titanium body, digital compass and Oceanic’s Buddy Pressure Check™ feature, which allows you to wirelessly check your buddy’s tank pressure (most likely a huge aid for diving couples as well). Their mid-level computer line has been updated with the introduction of the GEO 2.0, which has a nice, dynamic look as a combination watch/dive computer. The GEO has a lighter price tag than the OC1 and many of the must-have Oceanic features, ensuring that you will find it on many divers’ holiday wishlists.
KISS GEM Recreational Rebreather
Perhaps the most striking product I saw at DEMA 2010 was the KISS GEM semi-closed rebreather system, which takes a typical scuba tank (AL80s included) and purportedly triples a diver’s bottom time. The unit is a complete departure from other rebreather designs, recreational CCRs included, and employs the familiar KISS approach of no-nonsense design and construction. The unit does not monitor PO2 levels, which is one of the great complexities of a rebreather, but is instead meant to be used with a recreational nitrox mixture of gas. In addition to being much simpler, another benefit of the GEM is that the unit costs considerably less than other recreational rebreathers.
The GEM works by providing a breathing loop to the diver that is connected to the tank and a canister containing scrubber media (to remove CO2 from the breathing mix). A third of the amount of gas typically exhaled by a diver trickles out of the mouthpiece in front of the diver’s mask, allowing new gas to slowly enter the loop from the tank. The end result is that two thirds of the gas exhaled by the diver is then recirculated in the loop, thus extending the diver’s bottom time three-fold.
Austria-based Subal continues to make some of the best underwater camera housings in the world. I shoot a Subal ND30 (for use with the Nikon D300) and love the ergonomics of the controls, quality of construction, thoughtful design of the housing itself and the necessary accessories.
Subal’s design is hidden in the small details that an underwater photographer may not notice or appreciate on the showroom floor, but that make a huge difference during multi-day photo shoots.
I spent some time chatting with Peter Stangl, one of the owners of Subal, marveling at their 9″ wide-angle dome port, the new mini dome port and fresh locking mechanism for lens ports (included on current housing models).
Deep Sea Supply
The last image I want to leave you with is the most beastly rebreather I have ever seen. Tobin, the owner of Deep Sea Supply, machines all of his parts in the United States, and is known to produce many of the highest quality components for technical diving, including the parts used to connect the two massive tanks on a rebreather system (pictured below).
More to Come
We’ll be posting more information about the many new products featured at the DEMA Show 2010 during the coming weeks and months as we get our hands on demo units for in-water testing and review.
note: image credit to DiveShow.tv for the article thumbnail