Navico, parent company for the Lowrance, Simrad Yachting and B&G brands, recently unveiled the its first batch of boating electronics for 2015. At a media-only event held in Duck Key, Florida in late January, the electronics manufacturer revealed several new additions to its Lowrance lineup.
Next Generation HDS
The latest gear for the fishing-focused brand includes a new generation of its High Definition System (HDS) Gen3 fishfinder/chartplotter series.
"Since 2008, anglers worldwide have relied on Lowrance HDS systems to make the most of their time on the water,' said Leif Ottosson, CEO, Navico. "Not only does HDS offer today's most advanced fishfinder technologies, the collection of optional mapping solutions and performance modules cannot be surpassed by any fishfinder/chartplotter in the industry.'
HDS Gen3 is available in seven-, nine- and 12-inch models and combines a faster processor with enhanced fishfinder technologies, as well as a modified menu system that's easier to use. The units feature an improved Lowrance multi-touch user interface as well as full keypad operation. It's icon-based main menu is easy fairly user friendly for first-time users and incorporates scrolling menus, cursor assist, snap-to setting markers and preview panes with quick-touch slider bars.
Each HDS Gen3 model comes standard with Lowrance's StructureScan HD and DownScan Imaging, which provide picture-like images of fish-holding cover – to CHIRP Sonar for sharp target separation and noise rejection for clearer, easy-to-see bait fish and game fish targets. Users can also combine these technologies with Lowrance's TrackBack feature, offering quick second look at scanned areas the boat has already passed.
HDS Gen3 features built-in wireless connectivity for convenient mapping and software downloads directly to the fishfinder/chartplotter, as well as connection with mobile devices.
All HDS Gen3 models are plug-and-play compatible with performance-enhancing options such as SpotlightScan Sonar (unveiled last year for cable-steer trolling motors), Broadband Radar, SonicHub Marine Audio, SiriusXM Marine Weather and audio, Class B AIS and DSC VHF as well as the recently released SmartSteer control for MotorGuide Xi5 electric-steer trolling motors and the Lowrance Outboard Pilot (see below).
Providing anglers with the most expansive list of mapping-upgrade options, HDS Gen3 ships with built-in Insight USA charts for coastal and inland US waters and is compatible with the Insight HD, Insight PRO, Insight Genesis, Insight TOPO, the complete collection of Navionics charts, C-MAP MAX-N+ and third-party mapping partners, such as NV Digital Charts. HDS Gen3 can also utilize the Insight Genesis map-creation tool, which allows users to create and share high-definition contour maps from personalized sonar recordings. All charting options can also be used with Insight Planner PC navigation-planning software.
Sized to fit the same bracket and flush-mount cutout as HDS Gen2 Touch, the new HDS Gen3 family of seven-, nine- and 12-inch displays are priced at US $1,249, US $2,049 and US $3,149, respectively, not including transducers. All models are protected by a two-year warranty as well as the Lowrance Advantage Service program.
New Elite Units
Lowrance added a few new Elite units to its lineup this year, including an entry-level priced model as well as a pair of CHIRP-sonar displays.
Starting at US $129, the Elite-3x DSI (DownScan Imaging) offers dual-frequency 455/800 kHz DownScan Imaging operation and a LED-backlit colour display with 320Vx240W-pixel resolution. The unit enables users to quickly switch between sonar frequency views, while dedicated quick keys allow anglers to zoom up to four times the standard view and focus on key fishing areas. The power button doubles as a backlight control to adjust for daylight or nighttime fishing situations.
Adding CHIRP sonar to the feature set, Lowrance adds the 4.3-inch Elite-4 CHIRP to its Elite series of fishfinder/chartplotters. The company's Mark-4 (grayscale) and Elite-4 (colour) units combine CHIRP Sonar with DownScan Imaging technology, an LED-backlit display, built-in GPS antenna and high-definition mapping options.
"Launching the Mark-4 and Elite-4 CHIRP Series represents a key milestone for Lowrance,' says Ottosson. "With this launch, all of the products in our standalone Elite series – from nine- to four-inch display sizes – now have the benefit of CHIRP sonar technology.'
Equipped with all of the features of the Mark-4 and Elite-4 HDI Series, the Mark-4 and Elite-4 CHIRP models add CHIRP sonar technology, which provides improved target resolution, improved noise rejection and overall clearer targets. Anglers can also utilize DownScan Imaging view, which provides picture-like images of fish-holding structure beneath the boat. By using Lowrance's DownScan Overlay feature, anglers can also combine DownScan Imaging views with CHIRP sonar to separate fish targets from the surrounding structure.
Using the TrackBack feature, anglers can also to scroll back in recorded sonar history and review structure, transitions and fish targets to mark locations with a waypoint.
Both the Mark-4 and Elite-4 CHIRP offer multi-window display and allow anglers to choose pre-set page layouts (including a three-panel view).
The Elite-4 CHIRP features a built-in GPS antenna and a detailed US background map with more than 3,000 lakes and rivers, plus coastal contours to 1,000 ft. A micro SD card can be used to display Lake Insight and Nautic Insight HD and PRO cartography, as well as Navionics Gold, HotMaps Premium, Fishing Hotspots PRO and Jeppesen C-Map Max-N charts. The Elite-4 CHIRP is compatible with the Insight Genesis map-creation service, which allows users to make custom contour maps from recorded sonar logs, including bottom-hardness and vegetation overlays.
The new Elite-4 CHIRP series is offered in a choice of 83/200 kHz HDI or 50/200 kHz HDI transducer-pack options with depth capabilities to 1,000 and 3,000 feet, respectively.
Elite-4 CHIRP IceMachine models can also be purchased as a combo unit or standalone-fishfinder and deliver 20-degree sonar coverage down to 1,000 feet (305-meters) with an included custom, weighted, ice-fishing transducer and a float system.
Moving up to an even larger screen option, Lowrance also announced the addition of the nine-inch widescreen Elite-9 CHIRP. Equipped with a SolarMAX Plus display for enhanced viewability in sunlight the Elite-9 CHIRP joins the Elite series' four-, five- and seven-inch fishfinder/chartplotter models, as well as standalone fishfinder displays.
"The new Elite-9 CHIRP is packed with all the proven features that have helped the Lowrance Elite series dominate today's fishing electronics market – now with a larger, widescreen format that appeals to a growing audience of anglers,' says Ottosson.
All Elite CHIRP models can produce and display multiple CHIRP sonar frequency settings from a single Lowrance Skimmer transducer.
The Elite-9 CHIRP sonal, like other Lowrance CHIRP units provides improved target resolution and superior noise rejection. By displaying two user-selected ranges simultaneously, anglers can more easily observe target separation at greater depths and mark fish clearly at higher boat speeds. When combined with the Lowrance HDI Skimmer transducer, the Elite-9 CHIRP can also display a DownScan Imaging view of the area beneath the boat. DownScan Overlay and TrackBack are also available on the Elite-9 CHIRP.
The new Elite-9 CHIRP series offers a choice of HDI 83/200 kHz or HDI 50/200 kHz transducer options with depth capabilities of 1,000 and 3,000 feet, respectively.
Both the Elite-4 and Elite-9 CHIRP models feature a built-in GPS antenna and a detailed US background map with more than 3,000 lakes and rivers, plus coastal contours to 1,000 ft. A micro SD card can be used to display Lake Insight and Nautic Insight HD and PRO cartography, as well as Navionics Gold, HotMaps Premium, Fishing Hotspots PRO and Jeppesen C-Map Max-N charts. The units are also compatible with the Insight Genesis map-creation service, which allows users to make custom contour maps from recorded sonar logs, including bottom-hardness and vegetation overlays.
The Elite-4 CHIRP has an MSRP of US $299 (83/200 kHz) and US $399 (50/200kHz), while the Mark-4 CHIRP will be available for US $229 (83/200 kHz) and $329 (50/200kHz). The larger Elite-9 CHIRP has an MSRP of US $1,399 (83/200 kHz) and $1,599 (50/200 kHz).
Fishfinder-only versions are available for both the 4 and 9 (Elite-4x CHIRP and Elite-9x CHIRP respectively) as well as a Navionics+ bundle that includes cartography featuring Canada, US, Alaska, coastal Bahamas, Great Lakes and major Canadian lakes detail.
The event didn't conclude with just hardware announcements however. Lowrance also revealed its all-new Outboard Pilot for use with its High Definition System (HDS) series. The system allows fingertip steering of the outboard engine – providing anglers an extra tool for focusing more on their fishing.
Featuring integrated control from an HDS Gen2 or HDS Gen2 Touch, the Outboard Pilot can be installed with hydraulic – or cable-steered outboard systems – all with commands coming directly from the HDS display.
Designed for single outboard set-ups on boats 30 feet or less in length, the Lowrance Outboard Pilot can steer to a selected heading, waypoint or along a route as well as execute built-in, pre-set turn patterns. Additionally, users can create routes from saved trails with the touch of a button, enabling anglers to retrace previous tracks from a fishing area back to the dock.
Lowrance's HDS SmartSteer interface provides outboard control as well as the ability to control a MotorGuide Xi5 Pinpoint electric-steer trolling motor. This new steering interface – available with the free HDS 3.5 software update – allows anglers to easily switch between the Xi5 trolling motor and the outboard motor with the push of a button.
"The Outboard Pilot is a game-changer for our inland and coastal Lowrance customers,' said Ottosson. "It's like giving anglers an extra pair of hands, just when they are needed most, and the HDS SmartSteer interface simplifies installation and saves considerable dash space.'
Other key features that simplify the Outboard Pilot installation include: a Virtual Rudder Feedback (VRF), which eliminates the need for a rudder position sensor, as well as plug-and-socket connections with no complex terminal wiring. The complete system includes a Point-1 GPS antenna with heading sensor for rapid boat position and heading updates as well as a dash-mountable Auto/Standby button that changes the autopilot from STBY to AUTO mode with one press.
The Lowrance Outboard Pilot will be available in November from authorized dealers and distributors in Canada and the United States.
Offered in hydraulic- or cable-steer versions, the Outboard Pilot is priced at US $999 and US $1,499, respectively. Both include the NAC-1 Autopilot Computer, Point-1 Heading and GPS Sensors and either the HELM-1 or PUMP-1 drive units. The free Lowrance HDS 3.5 software upgrade, featuring the SmartSteer interface is scheduled for release in August.
More to Come
Navico has additional significant new products in the pipeline and has big announcements planned for the Miami International Boat Show (February 12 to 16) as well as shortly thereafter.