Could the Lowrance HDS Gen 2 Touch be the coolest nav package yet for smaller boats? Quite possibly. Let me put it this way: I want one…bad.
Ben over at Panbo has covered the basics thoroughly (Lowrance HDS Gen2 TOUCH, StructureScan included!). So rather than duplicate his fine coverage, I will proceed as I often do here at Navagear, applying a bit of personal perspective.
I got to play with an early version of the new Lowrance HDS Gen 2 Touch product line a few weeks ago, and I was very impressed. Regular readers may remember that I had also been similarly impressed a year ago with the Simrad NSS series. And it’s no wonder: Simrad and Lowrance are both owned by Navico, and it’s obvious that the technology is being shared across brands.
So is Lowrance’s newest line a “Version 2” of the earlier Simrad NSS line? Not really. The two brands are really targeted at different markets. Lowrance products have consistently been designed for and marketed to anglers, while the Simrad line focuses on coastal and offshore cruisers.
I fall very much into the “cruiser” category, myself. Yet for me, thinking about what makes sense aboard my C-Dory 22 Cruiser operating in the Salish Sea, the Lowrance offering makes a bit more sense than the Simrad. How so?
For one thing, Lowrance has never neglected or forgotten those of us with smaller boats, and limited dash space. But the proliferation of new features and datastreams in the past five years or so really demands a larger screen. No worries: I took some measurements, and the 12-inch (widescreen format) Lowrance HDS 12 Gen2 touch is…wait for it…just about the same size as my 8-year-old Raymarine C-80, with its 8-inch screen.
So with the same basic visual and physical “footprint” aboard my boat, I could have a 12-inch screen?
That’s just about got me sold right there!
When you include new features I don’t currently possess, such as StructureScan (side-scanning sonar that “paints” a picture of the bottom as you drive along) and Broadband radar (low-power radar with very high close-range resolution), it’s practically a done deal for me. I don’t fish, but I do “gunkhole”. I love feeling my way into tiny little passages the chart doesn’t always indicate are navigable. I love running Two Lucky Fish in slightly challenging conditions, for instance at night or in fog, and learning how to make optimum use of the information available. So naturally I’m enchanted with the richer sonar and radar data presentations available now.
So for me, with my small cruising boat and the rich and intricately varied cruising ground in which I operate, the new Lowrance units are very, very attractive.
Just to round out the coverage here, let’s read the press release:
Lowrance Expands HDS® Gen2 Line with New Wide-Format, Touchscreen Multifunction Displays
HDS Gen2 Touch Redefines Ease-of-Use and Integrates Today’s Best Navigational and Fishfinding Technology – Including Built-In StructureScan® HD
Tulsa, Okla. – Lowrance, a world-leading brand in marine electronics since 1957 and GPS navigational systems since 1992 — announced today that it has expanded its HDS® Gen2 range, with the new wide-format, touchscreen HDS Gen2 Touch. Delivering the same award-winning benefits that made the HDS High Definition System the world’s top-selling multifunction display series, Gen2 Touch models incorporate new easier-to-use, wide touchscreens in 7-, 9- and 12-inch sizes. The new Lowrance lineup — an addition to the current HDS Gen2 series — also features the best, built-in fishfinding technologies on the market — the Broadband Sounder™ and StructureScan® HD — as well as powerful chartplotting capabilities and seamless integration of Lowrance’s comprehensive range of performance modules including the award-winning Broadband Radar™, SonicHub® marine audio server and LWX-1 Sirius® satellite weather/radio receiver.*
“The new HDS Gen2 Touch combines all the superior fishfinding and navigational technologies Lowrance customers love, in a sleek easier-to-use touchscreen multifunction system that includes our largest display ever, the new 12-inch HDS-12 Gen2 Touch," said Louis Chemi, chief operating officer, Navico Americas. “The revolutionary integration capabilities of the Gen2 Touch paired with built-in Broadband Sounder and StructureScan HD help our customers get the most from each on-the-water experience.”
Easy-to-Use, Touchscreen Control: Featuring high-bright, sunlight-viewable displays, HDS Gen2 Touch models provide the flexibility to customize and configure personal screen views with up to four panels at once, and have the added advantage of a new three-panel, vertical-page view. Effortless touchscreen operation makes panning and zooming fast, responsive, and most of all, easy to learn with its intuitive icon-driven menu. The HDS Gen2 Touch also provides five push-button options, allowing users to easily remain in complete control in any boating situation.
Cutting-Edge, Built-in Fishfinding Technology: HDS Gen2 Touch fishfinder models feature both a built-in Broadband Sounder and StructureScan HD. Anglers will enjoy legendary Lowrance sonar and sonar imaging performance with greater sensitivity, peerless echo clarity and underwater definition proven to find more targets. Built-in SideScan and true DownScan Imaging™ sonar signals offer full panoramic displays for best-in-class, clear picture-like views of underwater structure to the left, right and directly beneath a boat. The systems also feature Lowrance’s premier TrackBack™ functionality, allowing anglers to scroll-back through recorded sonar history to review and zoom-in for a closer look at bottom structure or fish targets, and pinpoint locations with a waypoint. To avoid losing important sonar data, HDS Gen2 Touch continues recording through the use of TrackBack to ensure valuable readings are not lost. All HDS Gen2 Touch fishfinder models are available with a 50/200 kHz Skimmer® transducer for deep-water coastal and Great Lakes applications, or a 83/200 kHz Skimmer option for inland fishing. The units are also compatible with Airmar® in-hull or thru-hull transducers for up to 1 kW operation.
Powerful Navigation: HDS Gen2 Touch displays feature a highly accurate, internal 1 Hz GPS antenna with an external 5 Hz GPS antenna option, and are pre-loaded with Insight USA™ inland and coastal cartography.** All models include a standard SD card slot and are compatible with Lowrance Insight HD chart cards; Navionics® Platinum+, HotMaps Premium and HotMaps Platinum with Freshest Data; and Fishing Hot Spots® Pro. The displays provide an option to simultaneously view Lowrance and Navionics mapping data.
Now with a new 3D perspective view for built-in Insight USA, and optional Insight HD and Fishing Hot Spots Pro cards, the Gen2 Touch allows control of the viewing and rotation angle for customized views of a boat’s position and surrounding landmarks. Navionics Platinum+ and Hotmaps Platinum are viewable in 3D perspective, as well. Also compatible with 3D perspective, a StructureMap display feature allows users to scan and overlay underwater StructureScan HD images directly on a chart in real-time — or create saved StructureMap views of their favorite boating, fishing or diving areas to display on or off the water — without the aid of a computer.
In addition, HDS Gen2 Touch works with Lowrance’s new Insight Genesis™ — a web-based application feature (scheduled for November 2012 release) that allows users to generate their own personal high-definition bathymetric contour maps from sonar log recordings.
Unparalleled Networking and Integration: NMEA 2000®, NMEA 0183 and Ethernet compatible, the HDS Gen2 Touch series allows multiple displays to be networked and share all data ensuring the ultimate in flexibility and cost savings. When networked with other HDS Gen2 fishfinder/chartplotter models, chartplotter-only displays easily become full-functioning combo units. In addition, 9- and 12-inch Touch models feature dual Ethernet ports for greater expansion options without the additional cost of a separate network-hub. They also feature two SD card slots, plus a video input for underwater or onboard cameras.
Wireless Connectivity: Navico’s GoFree Wireless module and apps for Lowrance displays are scheduled to be available for use with the HDS Gen2 Touch in early 2013. This innovative add-on hardware option provides wireless connectivity of multifunction systems, and fully interfaces with engine data, fuel information sensors and transducers, to name a few. When paired with the wireless module, users can download the GoFree Wireless apps on their iPhone, iPad and Android devices to remotely view and control their HDS Gen2 Touch displays.
Available from authorized Lowrance dealers and distributors throughout the United States and Canada, the Lowrance HDS-7 and HDS-9 Gen2 Touch multifunction displays will be available for purchase in October 2012, and the HDS-12 Gen2 Touch in December 2012. Minimum advertised prices range from US $1,299 for the HDS-7M Gen2 Touch Insight USA chartplotter to $3,249 US for the HDS-12 Gen2 Touch Insight USA fishfinder/chartplotter model. Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch multifunction displays are protected by a two-year limited warranty, and are supported by the five-year Lowrance Advantage Service Program. For more information on the Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch series, the entire Lowrance line of marine electronics or to locate an authorized Lowrance dealer, please visit www.lowrance.com.