Lowrance has gone to the touch screen interface with the latest version of their new HDS Gen2 units, which will be in stores soon – but we had the chance to take ‘em for a test drive a little early. Finger swipes and pokes are becoming the norm in marine electronics so it was only a matter of time before a powerhouse like Lowrance added touch screens to their line-up. But, did they do it right?!


side scan hds fishfindersThe Lowrance HDS-7, HDS-9, and HDS-12 Gen2 units now come with touch screen operation, side and structure scan built in, and more.

My first impression, in a nutshell, was “yes”. The menu is extremely intuitive, and within seconds I was faux-navigating across the bay. You’ll never need an instruction manual with these units. But I expect that from Lowrance, which has a well-deserved reputation for being easy to use.

More on my mind was the back-up system; many modern units don’t have sufficient tactile back-ups, and when the seas kick up, those touch screens can become mighty hard to use. And while you can’t do each and every function with the five buttons running down the side of the unit, you can do everything you need to get home when you have to operate with your hand planted on the corner of the unit and a thumb prodding the buttons between waves. Thank you, Lowrance.

Both broadband sonar and Side-scan/Down-scan sonar are built-in, so we anglers using these units will be able to cut down on the number of boxes we need to mount in the console or cabin. Insight USA inland and coastal cartography are also built-in, and the unit does have an SD slot so you can run with Navionics or Hotmaps data at the helm.

Another nifty new feature is the ability to create your own bathy charts, with Lowrance Insight Genesis. This is a web-based system; you store and then upload the data your unit gathered, Insight Genesis crunches it to create a bathy map, and you can choose whether or not to download it onto your chip.

Lowrance says wireless apps are coming next for the HDS line, sometime in 2013. Meanwhile, you’ll find the HDS-7 and 9 in stores this fall, and the HDS-12 Gen2 will arrive in December of this year. Price ranges from $1,299 to $3,249.

-Lenny Rudow