Garmin Echo 200

Garmins Echo fishfinder line specializes in providing great sonar pictures at great prices.  The Echo 200 is Garmins largest grey scaled fishfinder that they offer.  In addition to a nice screen size the unit also has good resolution and a solid user interface that lets you spend less time trying to get the fishfinder set and more time fishing.  Add in the price for an echo 200 and it is easy to see why fishermen have made this product a top seller.

Screen and Display Quality

The echo 200 has a 5 inch screen, which is great for a $150 fishfinder.  Not only does the fishfinder have a nice screen size, the resolution of 320 by 480 provides a great sonar image on screen.  The greyscale is adjustable and allow up to 16 levels of adjustment.  By having so many gray scale adjustments the screen can be read in almost any light and performs well in both high and low light conditions.  The display is waterproof and made with high quality materials assuring you that if you decide to purchase an Echo 200 the unit will have a long life.

Sonar

The sonar on the unit is the same used for models in the Echo line and performs well.  The frequencies that the Garmin transducer runs at is 200 kHz for shallow water and 77 kHz for deep water.  The deep water frequency works up to 1,500 feet down in fresh water and 600 feet in salt.  The dual beam feature allows you to use both frequencies at the same time and provides a 120 degree cone angle, which sends a signal through a larger portion of the water column.  The peak to peak power of 2,400 provides enough juice for difficult situations like when in wavy or high current conditions and for penetrating thermoclines.  The auto gain feature also is really helpful because it adjusts the sonar images minimizing clutter and maximizing sonar targets.

User Interface

Garmin prides itself on creating an experience that is very user friendly.  The intuitive layout and controls for the Echo 200 make using the fishfinder a real treat.  The quick release bracket that comes with the echo series fishfinders 200 allows fishermen to take the unit on and off the boat in just a couple of seconds.  To adjust the sonar image only takes a push on the menu button and then a couple of pushes allows you to dial in the settings to give a crystal clear image.  A really cool feature also is the smooth scaling technology, which allows you to look back at your sonar history.  The feature also doesn’t reset the sonar when the zoom is changed, which most units do.  So depth changes won’t erase your fishfinders sonar history.

Conclusion

The Echo 200 like the other Garmin products in the Echo line provides fishermen on a budget a great option.  The display and screen is high quality and is meant to last.  In addition Garmin used a tried and true transducer, which gives great looking images.  Overall the Echo 200 is a great option and for the price of a little under $150 the unit is hard to beat!

Garmin Echo 300c

The Garmin echo 300c is a favorite fishfinder among fishermen on a budget.  The 300c delivers big time in terms of screen quality and color, transducer quality and overall user interface.  It is easy to see why the 300c is a favorite for fisherman who want great sonar images at a cost an everyday fisherman can afford.

Screen and Display Quality

The screen on the Garmin echo 300c Dual-Beam Fishfinder is a high quality and high resolution display.  To achieve the high resolution Garmin used 240 by 320 pixels, which on the 300c screen size provides a nice crisp clear picture.  The display size is 3.5 inches diagonal and measure 2.1 inches wide and 2.8 inches tall.  The color is provided by a GVGA 256 display and can be adjusted for any light conditions and performs well regardless of high or low lighting.

Sonar

To provide the sonar Garmin chose their transducer which has a shallow water frequency of 200 kHz and deep water frequency of 77 kHz.  With the 77 kHz frequency the unit works up to 1,500 feet in fresh water and 600 feet in salt water.  The cone angle is either 60 degrees or 120 degrees when using dual beam.  The peak to peak power is 2,400 watts and which is plenty strong for the unit, and helps penetrate deep water when using the 77 kHz frequency.  A great feature with the echo 300c Dual-Beam is that the unit comes with two transducer mounting brackets.  The standard mount is for the transom, Garmin also includes a trolling motor clamp about a 20 dollar value with the unit.  I really like having the option of the trolling motor clamp come with the unit.  For personal use the trolling motor mount lets you use the fishfinder in shallow water without having to worry about the unit accidentally getting damaged.  I personally fish on swift rivers that have gravel bars that require the boat to be on plane to get through channels.  For me a transom mount isn’t an option, but the trolling motor can be lowered and raised when in shallow or deep water.

User Interface

A great feature of the Echo 300c is that the overall layout is really user friendly.  There are only 5 buttons, so learning the unit isn’t too hard compared to some of the top of the line units on the market.  The sonar images are able to be adjusted, and doing so only requires a couple presses of the buttons.  The unit really does a nice job of adjusting sonar noise, which can be the difference between seeing a fish on screen versus getting a blurred sonar image.

Recommendation

There is a reason that the Garmin Echo 300c is a favorite amount fishermen.  The price for what you get, a product with great sonar images along with the multiple mounting brackets can’t be beat.  If you are looking for an entry level fishfinder that will give great images the Echo 300c definitely delivers in terms of quality of product and most importantly for the fisherman on a budget in terms of value.

Humminbird SmartCast RF25

A best seller among portable fishfinders is the Humminbird Smartcast RF25.  When sitting at the front of a bass boat there isn’t anything quite like having sonar at your fingertips.  In addition to the sonar which shows fish and bottom depth the unit also reads the water temperature as well.

The SmartCast RF25 uses wireless technology, which allows for the installation on the fishing rod.  The range that the wireless works is up to 150 feet, which is way more than needed but nice since the signal strength is very high.  The menu on the unit is very easy to use and lets you dial in sonar settings, set fish alarms, fish ids and depth range.  Another great feature is that the unit is water proof, which when you have a display on a fishing rod is without a doubt necessity.

The transducer is a small float, which works up to 120 of depth.  The sonar is in a single frequency of 125 kHz and does a nice job.  The peak to peak power on the unit isn’t as high as with mounted transducers, which is why the 125 kHz frequency is used.  The battery life on the transducer is good, with 500 hours of in-water usage.  The battery is built in, and changing the battery is not easy and requires soldering.  However there are replacement transducers available model number RF 45, if you aren’t inclined to try replacing the battery which are $30.

Humminbird built the screen to have a nice resolution on the RF 25.  The pixels on the display are 48 Vertical by 32 horizontal.  On the 1.25 inch diagonal display the resolution is high enough to give the info you need to catch fish.  The unit is backlit, so you can use the unit at night.  The transducer also comes with a light, which helps night fishing.

Mounting the display is easy and can be done in just a few minutes.  In terms of ease of use the unit really performs well.

If you decide to try the RF25 out you will be happy you did.  The product is tried and true and liked by an overwhelming majority of reviewers.  In terms of getting a fishfinder that is easy to install and is a great price the RF25 is one of the best fisherman accessories available.

Lowrance Elite-5x

The Elite-5x is a solid unit that does one thing exceptionally well, which is use sonar to find fish.  The addition of color to a unit in the price range of $350 is a great deal and gives the everyday fisherman who doesn’t need a GPS a great option.

Screen and Display Quality

The screen is high resolution and gives great images of the sonar.  The resolution is 480 x 480 SolarMax Plus, which provides enough pixels for a nice image.  Other fishfinders in the Lowrance 400 series use the same high resolution display.  The color is 256- color TFT, and will perform well in any light condition.  Even in the most difficult of lighting the unit excels, whether it be mid day sun with polarized glasses or low light night fishing.  The pairing of performance and price is what sets the Elite-5x apart in the 5 inch display market.    

Sonar

The standard sonar transducer that comes with the Elite-5x 5-inch uses dual frequencies of 83 kHz and 200kHz.  The choice of 83 kHz instead of the deepwater 50 kHz makes the Elite-5x perform really well in up to 1,500 feet of depth.  There is a built in temperate sensor on the transducer too, and an optional speed sensor as well.  A nice addition to the unit is the track back feature, which allows you to scroll through previous pages of sonar.

User Interface

One of the best features on the fishfinder are the menus which are user friendly and easy to use.  There are adjustments for the sonar image, which allows you to dial in the sonar image.  Zooming in is easy, and requires just a single push of the button.  Even using the track back feature is easy to use, and lets you look at previous sonar images for closer examination by allowing you to zoom in on old images.  All the features, adjustments and menus are very intuitive, which gives a great user experience.

Recommendation

The Elite-5x is a great unit and serves the fisherman who needs high quality sonar very well.  Add in the 5 year advantage service and one year warranty to the product and you have a fully supported fishfinder.  The unit is also waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about a little water, so even though the unit comes with a nice service plan you probably won’t even need it.  Overall the Elite 5-x provides a great product and really does a nice job finding fish!

Lowrance HDS-7

The Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2 Plotter Sounder is a new fishfinder and updates and improves on the original HDS-7.  Lowrance has really put together a great fishfinder by including a high quality display, GPS plotter and Fishfinder.  

Screen and Display Quality

The screen on the HDS-7 Gen2 is high resolution and measures 6.4″ diagonal.  The extra room from the HDS-5 to the HDS-7 makes a big difference when operating split screen.  To get the high resolution Lowrance used 480V and 640H pixels, which provide great detail.  To provide the color they used a full 16-bit VGA SolarMax which gives great sonar images in any type of lighting.  Overall the HDS-7 is a top quality unit and all that can be said is the only better option is to go a size up to the HDS-10.

GPS Plotter

The GPS on the HDS-7 Gen2 is a built in internal antenna.  The antenna is very accurate and saves from having to install an external unit.  There are many options for the cartography, since Lowrance is compatible with most map packs.  There are two map packs that are sold with the unit the US Basemap and the Insight USA maps.  Make sure that when you buy that the water you are fishing is covered.  The Insight USA maps is an added option which costs about 100 bucks extra.  The maps that work with the unit are the Lake and Nautic Insight Pro, Navionics, and Fishing Hotspots Pro.  Between these options the unit will cover just about any lake you could wish to fish.  There is also an option to add in Radar to the unit, which requires a radar antenna to be purchased.  The radar images are really impressive and can give you a heads up when in foggy conditions.  Lowrance makes the unit with the ability to connect to an auto pilot, so you can plot a course and let the auto pilot take you there.  The unit is NMEA 2000 compatible, giving you alot of options on what to connect the unit to, personally my Lowrance runs my auto pilot .  Overall Lowrance has included a great set of features on the HDS-7 Gen2.

Sonar

The sonar on the HDS-7 gives nice crisp images and now can support side scanning technology.  There are two choices of transducer the bay transducer 200 kHz and 83 kHz frequencies and the deep water transducer 200 kHz and 50 kHz signals.  The deep water transducer works in water up to 3,000 feet deep and the bay transducer works up to 1,500 feet deep.  The deep water transducer is an added option that costs between 50 and 100 dollars extra, so most of the time you can save a few bucks by opting for the bay transducer.  Lowrance has come out with their version of sidescanning sonar the structure scan sonar.  The structure scan option is really cool and offers great images which can be overlayed on a topo map which results in an incredible image!

Recommendation

The HDS-7 Gen 2 is a great GPS plotter Fishfinder.  By adding some of the options to the mix like radar, auto pilot or structure scanning technology you end up with an incredible fishfinder.  The only negative things I’ve heard is that the sonar cable is too short for large boats (20 feet long) and that the only thing better would have been getting an HDS-10.  If you give the HDS line a try you will be nothing but impressed.

Humminbird 571 Portable

Humminbird recently released the 571 HD DI portable fishfinder, to the 5 inch display market.  The idea of the unit is to provide everything you need to have a fishfinder on the go.  Included is a suction cup mount, which provides a great sonar image.  There is also a soft portable case, which is really nice for transport.  The Humminbird 571 HD also is an ice fisherman’s dream.

Screen and Display Quality

The screen is high resolution 640V x 320H pixel display.  The grayscale has 16 levels, which gives good images in any type of lighting.   In high light conditions like ice fishing with high sun and snow on the lake the case helps to keep glare down to a minimum.

Sonar

The sonar on the 571 HD DI has two modes.  The first is Downimaging, which provides great sonar pictures that show great detail.  The Dualbeam Plus also gives good sonar pictures, but with the shorter frequency of 200 kHz and 455 kHz versus the 455 kHz and 800 kHz that is used for the downimaging isn’t as detailed.  You can operate these two modes simultaneously, which is really cool because you can see firsthand the improved picture from the downimaging to the dualbeam plus.  The sonar works in up to 600 ft of water, which is good enough for most fishermen.

For the Ice Fishermen

Humminbird made the 571 HD DI with ice fishermen in mind.  The bag works to keep the unit safe during transport, and has a bit of extra room for a few gadgets if you like.  The unit works great when connected to the small batteries icefishermen prefer.  Setting the unit up is easy, just clip the two connectors on the battery and power the unit on.  The transducer can stay connected in the bag, so you just drop it down and you have a sonar image ready to go!  Having a quick setup is key when trying to locate fish through the ice and drilling lots of test holes.  Another key is that when its cold out you don’t want to fiddle with the wires and take off the gloves, this unit delivers in that category.

Recommendation

The 571 HD DI Portable is really a great unit and lets you take a fishfinder with you both icefishing and boat fishing.  The down imaging and dual beam sonar give great pictures and the screen has great resolution.  If you are an ice fisherman the 571 is a great first unit.  If you buy one of these you will be nothing but impressed!

Humminbird 598ci

The new Humminbird 598ci HD SI Combo Fishfinder, is one of the best equipped and performing fishfinders in the 5 inch class.  The 598ci incorporates many of the features that had been mostly exclusive to the 700, 800, 900, and 1100 series fishfinders in the past.  By packing all these features into a unit that retails around $800, Humminbird has put high end options within reach of the everyday fishermen.

Screen and Display Quality

The screen on the 598ci HD SI Combo is 5 inchs diagonal.  To give crisp images whether in down imaging, side imaging or GPS modes, Humminbird uses 640 vertical and 640 horizontal pixels.  The result of creating a product with such high resolution is that when viewing side imaging, the pictures really pop and show great detail.  The color on the unit is 256 TFT, which provides the necessary brightness for the most demanding situations like when wearing polarized glasses or when viewing in direct sunlight.  The 598ci uses the same resolution and screen size as the 597ci HD DI, which we have had great luck with when salmon fishing the Manitou Islands in northern Lake Michigan.  The unit is able to be either flush mounted or has a tilt and swivel quick disconnect mounting system that comes with the fishfinder.  Overall the display receives top grades, thanks to the high resolution and 256 TFT color.

GPS

The GPS on the 598ci HD SI has an internal antenna.  In addition to the built in GPS, there is also a built in map pack by Humminbird.  The built in maps work well, the unit is also compatible with Navionics Plantinum, Gold and Hot Maps and the LakeMaster Maps, which cover about any body of water you could possibly want.  When available there is also a 3-d chart view, which gives a first person perspective of both above and below water topography.  The 598ci isn’t able to use the i-pilot feature, which allows for fishfinder and trolling motor integration, which is available on the 700 and higher series.  Although having option to connect to the i-pilot, I really feel like with a 5 inch fishfinder those options aren’t necessary.  On a screen that size the GPS and the sonar features work really well, giving great pictures and performance.  The model that is on a friends Montauk Boston Whaler is mounted on the dash and covers the GPS and Sonar needs.

Sonar

The sonar on the 598ci has many of the top of the line options that come with the 700 series and up fishfinders by Humminbird.  The features included are very impressive and currently the 598ci is the only fishfinder in the 5 inch display market that can boast them.  The addition of built in sideimaging on the 598ci is a huge step for Humminbird.  The Down imaging, available in other 500 series models is also a great feature and allows for enhanced sonar pictures, which have more definition and gives a great sonar picture.  The sonar frequency for the down and side imaging transducer are 455 kHz, which works in depths up to 100 feet.  The 598ci doesn’t use the 800 kHz signal which is used in the 700 and up fishfinder series.  The results are images that are not quite as sharp and detailed.  However the sonar images do extremely well.  The Dualbeam transducer has a frequency of 200 kHz and 83 kHz, works in water up to 1,500 feet.  There is an optional deep water transducer which will work in water up to 3,000 feet deep.

Conclusion

Humminbird has introduced a great fishfinder to the 5 inch fishfinder gps combo market.  The addition of sideimaging to the 598ci HD allows fishermen access to new technology, which is really impressive and quite simply helps catch fish.  Between the side imaging, GPS functions, and other sonar capabilities the 598ci HD SI is sure to be a fishermans favorite!

Humminbird 1198c

Humminbirds 1198c SI Combo is the top of the line fishfinder for Humminbird.  The screen is 10.4 inches in size, so that when in dual screen mode with both GPS and fishfinder the pictures are both detailed and large in size.  Additionally the side imaging sonar images are the best on the market.

Screen and Display Quality

The 10.4 inch screen has a very high resolution, which is 600 x 800 and is high def quality.  In addition to high definition the color is rich on the 1198c SI, 4:3 color TFT which make the on screen maps and sonar images pop.  Additionally the TFT color has setting for all light conditions and performs even at mid day sun with polarized glasses. Continue reading “Humminbird 1198c”

Humminbird 597ci

This Unit Delivers Big Time Capabilities Into a Compact Unit

For this review, I’m looking at the Humminbird 597ci HD DI Fishfinder.  While I used this model quite a few times on a fellow fisherman’s boat, it did not come equipped with the DownImaging feature which is somewhat new, but quite a brilliant technology.  I’ve seen the DownImaging in action while pre-fishing for a salmon tournament out of Grand Haven, MI.  I was lucky enough to be invited for the day and he was sponsored by cannon/humminbird and had all the latest toys and gadgets including a model with downimaging installed.    It basically gives you a much more clear picture of what’s under the water.  Something that may have looked like tree on a regular sonar displays the same image with other fish inside of it.  The fish no longer have anywhere to hide! Continue reading “Humminbird 597ci”

Garmin GPSMAP 421

Screen and Display Quality

Garmin has equipped the GPSMAP 421 with a 4 inch screen.   The pixels on the display are 240 x 320, which provides a nice picture.  Images are clear and the display is plenty bright enough to give high quality pictures in bright conditions.   A unique feature of the GPSMAP 421 is that unit is waterproof, and performs well under harsh conditions.  Split screen GPS and Sonar works well on the display and allows you to select multiple GPS views to use along with the sonar images. Continue reading “Garmin GPSMAP 421”