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.

lowrance Elite-4 HDI

The Elite-4 HDI from Lowrance is seriously inexpensive, but includes some thoroughly potent fishfinder technology.

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.