Lowrance has several chartplotters on the market today as does Simrad and B&G, the other members of their parent company Navico. We will talk about the impressive Simrad and B&G offerings in another article but Lowrance’s latest offerings, the HDS Gen 2 Touch Chartplotters, are a real eye opener.
Lowrance’s new line of chartplotters/fishfinders and chartplotters will impress any user and are available with large clear, sunlight visible screens with minimal frames around the display. They are available in 7”, 9” and 12” diagonal displays.
The displays encompass the extremely effective Broadband Sounder™ and StructureScan® sounders built in, and include the HDS-12 Gen2 Touch, the HDS-9 Gen2 Touch and the HDS-7 Gen2 Touch.
Chartplotters without the built in fishfinders are available in 7” and 9” models known as the HDS-7M and the HDS-9M.
A lot of thought went into these units and the chartplotter/fishfinder versions include a bevy of features, many unique to these new models.
Steve Hamber of Navico points out that “the HDS Touch has StuctureScan built in and has complete networking capability in addition to NMEA2000 and radar support.”
They offer an enhanced bottom picture through their Broadband Sounder™ and add to the bottom imaging with the now built in StructureScan® sounder and DownScan Overlay™. Between the two depictions of the bottom there is little doubt as to what you are looking at below the surface. Definition and separation of targets under water are presented with extreme clarity. In fact Lowrance claims that it is now possible to see your lure working its way through the water with one of these machines.
Another really cool added capability is the track back feature of the sounder. It enables you to look back at previous bottom images and mark structure or fish and will result as a waypoint on your chart. You can even create screen captures of screen images or charts/tracks that you would like to save in the hard drive of the machine for viewing or use at a later time.
The operating system is easy to use and intuitive. Steve claims it is the “best interface.” With a clear home screen to work from, with a little practice you can feel comfortable accessing all the functions of these capable units.
Setting up multi display screens is easy and it is possible to configure the display to show information in a multitude of combinations just by dragging the screens you want into place.
There are even thoughtful features that are unique to Navico, such as Structure Map™. This tool allows the user to overlay the highly detailed StructureScan® sonar image on top of the navigation chart giving the navigator a bird’s eye view of the structure under the surface both below and around the vessel. This can be accomplished both live in real time and in a saved mode overlaying past stored data.
Lowrance also offers more options of compatible charts than other manufacturers. You can use the standard pre-loaded Insight cartography offered in HD and Pro versions, or Navionics Gold and Platinum cartography along with Fishing Hotspots mapping.
These chartplotters also have the capability of storing the data collected by the StructureScan® and DownScan™ and storing them to an SD card. That information can then be uploaded on the Internet and a custom Insight Genesis Chart can be created displaying a custom contour map of the areas you fish using the data you created. These can then be updated as time goes by and as more information is captured, making the charts even more detailed and customized.
There are so many unique chart options and clever features these chartplotters are capable of, that to fully appreciate them you have to get your hands on one and let your fingers do the exploring.
You will be impressed.