Lowrance Elite-7x HDI

Delivers Top End Performance at a Fraction of the Cost

Over this past weekend I upgraded my test boat sonar to the Lowrance Elite 7x Fishfinder.  I’ve tried many units over the last several years including sonar from Lowrance, Humminbird, Garmin, and Raymarine.  I’ve always liked the functionality of Lowrance products, but to be honest their customer service has been very poor in all my experiences with them.  From what I heard from other fisherman their new products are exceptional and they have completely overhauled their customer service system as well as providing a 2 year limited warranty which doubles the previous 1 year warranties that they used to give.  I was willing to give them another shot.

Larger 7″ Display Provides Superior Clarity and Readability

Anyways, onto the review.  All of my previous units on the test boat have been 5″ screen models or higher end models which most fisherman can’t afford.  Unfortunately, the newer HD models made by Humminbird (800 series) and Lowrance (HDS Series) can be very expensive and unless you put serious time on the water may not be worth the price.  This larger HD screen with the moderate price is what attracted me to the Elite-7x.  When I first got the fishfinder installed, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the screen.  I’ve had many models that can be tough to see in direct sunlight or when wearing polarized sunglasses, but those issues aren’t evident with the Elite-7x.  Overall the screen is the same quality as top end models made by leading manufacturers, but there was one thing I was disappointed in.  The fishfinder didn’t come with the standard white cover for the screen.  It’s hard to complain with the great value, but at least let me know so that I could buy one separately.  I plan on ordering a standard cover along with the clear screen covers that most smartphones are currently using.  I figure this will help keep the screen from smudging and help prolong the life of the display unit.  Here is a picture I took from my phone a few weeks ago after installing it.  I was fishing about 6 miles offshore for some Salmon and Steelhead on Lake Michigan, and it performed flawlessly marking bait, gamefish, you name it.

elite7

Transducer Options and Capabilities

The heart of a fish finder is the transducer and this unit performs extremely well under all conditions.  Depending on the type of fishing that you do most, you should take this into account when picking a transducer.  The Down Imaging feature is certainly innovative technology, but I think it still needs some tweaking to be effective in deeper water.  If you routinely fish waters that are 60′ or less, you will get the most benefits of the HD down imaging and it will help you catch more fish without a doubt.  If you troll deep waters of 100’+ routinely, you might want to think twice about upgrading to the HD transducer.  You would be better off using the standard 83/200 khz skimmer transducer or even better the 50/200 khz skimmer transducer.  I had a previous 50/200khz transducer laying around and since this transducer gives off the most RMS power of any model, I decided to call Lowrance and ask if this would be compatible with the new Elite 7x.  They were very quick to answer my question and it is indeed compatible.

The install was extremely easy, but I have installed dozens before so I have a pretty good idea of mounting/installation procedures.  Both the power and the transducer cables are compatible with most older models making re-routing cables unnecessary if you previously owned a Lowrance product.  The unit worked great in both 50kz and 200khz.  The only real complaint I have is that the 50khz transducer is recognized as 83khz even though it really isn’t.  This doesn’t effect the sonar reading at all, but it can be confusing when first installing the product.  I was able to mark bait, gamefish, and even my downrigger cables when trolling at 3.1 MPH.  I was also able to get a good picture at speeds up to 27MPH.  I’m not claiming that you can mark bait at this speed, but it clearly marked the bottom and gave you great idea of the topography on the bottom of the lake at depths up to 120 feet deep.

One of the nicest features is the ability to scroll back and look at previous readings from earlier in the trip.  This can really let you target in at a certain depth and observe what column of the water you should be targeting.  The navigation was extremely easy to follow and after playing around with the unit for few minutes I was able to get exactly what I was looking for.  I still feel that I need to spend some more time dialing in the unit, but it’s tough to do when you’re catching fish 🙂  The more you get to know the settings of the unit, the better it will perform under various conditions.

Recommendations and Opinion

Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase and would recommend this unit to fisherman looking for high performance and a large screen at a fraction of the cost.  There is no doubt that the units with a price tag over $1000+ will provide a marginally better reading, but this unit provides all of those features for $100’s less.  The only real complaint I have with this unit is the down-imaging in deep water.  Like I mentioned earlier, if you are routinely fishing depths over 100′ think about just using a regular skimmer transducer (50/200 or 83/200) for much better performance and decreased costs.  However, the down-imaging can provide superior reading at shallower depths and really can increase your catch rate.  The best selling point of the unit is the high quality screen and overall ease of use for a much more reasonable price.  Once you decide on the proper transducer, you won’t be disappointed.

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.

Lowrance HDS-5

Screen and Display Quality

The display on the Lowrance HDS-5 Gen2 is high resolution and definition.   The 480 x 480 does well on the 5 inch screen and provides plenty of clarity while using all the different pages.  A key to the screen performing well in bright conditions, and something that often troubles these types of units is the cold-cathode fluorescent backlighting.  The operation of the unit is very straight forward and intuitive.  The screen does quite well while using both the GPS and Sonar features, while using half the screen for each function.  Overall the display is very robust and can handle being used in harsh conditions, which is why the HDS-5 Gen2 has been the choice of so many fishermen.

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