Inexpensive fishfinders don't usually boast the latest technology, but Lowrance is seeking to change that rule with their new Elite-4 HDI and Mark-4 HDI units. Just what do we mean by "inexpensive"? The Elite-4 has a price tag ranging from $149 to $469, and the Mark-4 HDI goes from $179 to $329.
Why the big price range? Because you can buy these units with or without different chartography bundles, transducers, and in the case of the Elite-4 HDI, as a stand-alone fishfinder, a stand-alone chartplotter, or as a combo unit. (The Mark-4 HDI is available as a combo unit, only).
The technological surprise here is that you get modern scanner/imager functions plus regular old fishfinder functions (learn more about how these stack up by reading Sonar Smack-Down: Traditional Fishfinder vs. Scanner-Imager vs. CHIRP), and with the chartplotter models you can start using the Insight Genesis chartography creation service. This is pretty cool stuff, and we did some in-depth investigation of Insight Genesis in the article Chart Transplant; check it out to get the scoop.
Of course, these units are quite small. This should come as no surprise since much of the cost of a modern fishfinder is in the LCD screen itself. In this case the screens are 4.3" diagonals - color for the Elite-4 and grayscale for the Mark-4 - which is 36-percent larger than the screens on the old Elite-4 and Mark-4 versions being replaced. That extra screen size is a big advantage, but unless your eyes are 20-20 most people will still have a difficult time effectively using the split-screen modes. Hey, if you want a bigger screen, you'll simply have to spend bigger bucks.
It's worth noting that chartplotter units have an integrated GPS antenna plus a base map that covers coastal areas and 3,000 inland lakes and rivers, and both units are compatible with all Lowrance HDS transducers made by Airmar. If you need a new fishfinder or fishfinder/chartplotter combo unit and your budget is more like a bluegill than a bluefin tuna, get more info from Lowrance.