The fact that Lowrance has been successful with its HDS line of multi-function displays is a given; it won a “Best New Product” award at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show (ICAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show), has sold like hotcakes, and has proven to have cross-market appeal by appealing to freshwater and saltwater boaters alike. Its accessory units, including several we’ve told you about recently (see our Structure Scan test and Broadband Radar review) have also been well-received by anglers of all types. Yet today, Lowrance announces they’re replacing HDS with HDS Gen2.

Gen2: the latest in fish-finding MFD's, from Lowrance.

Gen2: the latest in fish-finding MFD's, from Lowrance.

Why mess with a good thing? Electronics evolve at a break-neck pace, and fishfinder technology has evolved right along with it. By taking advantage of new software and imaging techniques, Gen2 can offer a feature previously unimaginable: the ability to overlay sonar scanning images directly onto your chartography, both as saved data and in real time. Lowrance calls this ability “StructureMap,” but I’m calling it mega-cool. When the unit is paired with the LSS-1 StructureScan Sonar Imaging module, all you have to do is activate the StructureMap overlay and images will scan directly onto your chart. You’d rather save that data for later use? Press a button, and Gen2 can create a StructureMap chart all of your own. And since you can scroll back through Structure Scan’s images and record waypoints, you’ll have precious GPS coordinates for all of those secret hotspots you manage to discover.

Gen2 also gets a beefing up in the speed department, with a newer, faster processor. This was a good move, because HDS units I’ve used in the past had an annoying second or two of delay when switching screens or page functions, or zooming in and out quickly through several ranges. In fact, Lowrance claims its speed has been doubled, as has the unit’s memory.

New technology, of course, doesn’t come cheap. But the Gen2 HDS line isn't particularly expensive, when compared to other marine MFD’s. The line-up starts at $549 for the HDS-5x, and goes up to $2,449 for the HDS-10. Look for them to appear in stores in early 2012—and then get ready to go looking for those fish.

- Lenny Rudow