Review: Lowrance HDS-9 Gen2 Touch Insight

This next-generation Lowrance unit offers world-class features and ease of use.

Lowrance HDS-9 Gen2 Touch is a high-powered, sonar-GPS combo platter than provides the latest in fish-finding and navigational features in an extremely easy-to-use platform.

In fact, the unit’s ease-of-use is hands-down my favorite feature. After all, what good are bells and whistles if you need an engineering degree to figure them out? Thanks to touch-screen technology, control of the powerful HDS features is literally at your fingertips. And the truly intuitive menus, coupled with amenities such as cursor assist, snap-to setting markers and smart preview panes with quick-touch slider bars, made it easy to get the hang of handling the HDS-9 in a matter of minutes—even for a communications major like myself.

For example, when NAF friend and sonar sage Scott Glorvigen first showed me the power of the HDS-9, one of the features I appreciated right away was how easy it was to customize a screen by simply touching and dragging different panes around. You can literally set it up any way you want. If I wanted traditional sonar on the right, DownScan in the center and GPS mapping on the left, it took scant seconds to align three vertical views on the display. Adding a StructureScan screen was a matter of sliding another box into the mix for a quartet of displays. Best of all, when I wanted to view one screen by itself, such as GPS navigation when running from spot to spot, that was a snap to accomplish as well.

Ease of use aside, features abound. On the sonar front, Lowrance’s proven Broadband Sounder, DownScan and StructureScan Imaging technologies offer picture-perfect views of the underwater world. You can even blend DownScan and BroadBand views, as well as overlay StructureScan sonar images over GPS charts, real-time, using StructureMap.

Navigation is first-class as well. Credit the highly accurate internal GPS receiver, built-in Insight USA high-definition maps—with contour-shading options—and the ability to plug in a variety of additional charts via two waterproof SD slots.

Raising the bar further, the HDS-9 lets you create your own custom cartography with Insight Genesis mapping and StructureMap, using your recorded sonar and GPS logs. Among the other cool mapping features I’ve found is TrackBack—which lets you scroll back in recorded sonar history to scrutinize soundings and add waypoints to areas of interest.

Another feature I like about the HDS-9 is its size. With smaller displays, I suffer eyestrain from squinting at downsized data, but the 9-inch, color widescreen is easy on the eyes. Plus, the unit fits nicely on most any console—even side-by-side with a second display—or on the bow, affixed to a RAM mount.

And thanks to Lowrance’s revolutionary GoFree wireless technology, simply add a WiFi module and you can view and control the display from anywhere in the boat with a smartphone or tablet. Imagine, anyone aboard can watch the displays on their phones. Or, mount the HDS-9 at the helm and set a tablet up on the bow or stern to add extra displays without purchasing additional units.

At $2,199 it’s definitely not entry-level unit. But if you’re looking to invest in a top-shelf sonar-chartplotter that delivers a host of high-tech features, and is as easy to use as the basic functions on your smartphone, take a hard look at the Lowrance HDS-9 Gen2 Touch.


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