On December 14, 2013The Lowrance HDS-9 Touch Evaluation
I have used Lowrance products since 1989 when I used the at the time ultra modern 2330c flasher. Although the basic technology of sonar has not changed much since then, everything else has. Late in 2012, Lowrance introduced the HDS Touch family of products to the fishing industry. With all of our everyday electronic gadgets going in the direction of touch screens, I guess it was just natural for Lowrance to take the HDS family of products in the same direction. But the touchscreen is not the only difference between the HDS Gen 2 and the HDS Touch device’s, the touch screen also opens up other possibilities as far as capabilities that are not possible or as easy without it.
Lowrance Provided Image
The HDS-9 Touch has now gone wider with the screen which enables the user to now have more viewable screen which is especially nice when having three screens showing vertically at once. The screen is widescreen 16:9 display with WVGA 800 x 480 resolution that can be split up and customized suit the user’s needs.
Lowrance Provided Image
The main screen is laid out very well and gives easy access to all the features of the HDS-9 Touch. Upon pressing the “more” tab on either side of the bottom of the screen, secondary menus appear. The right side of the screen is made up of pre-sets that the user can customize to accommodate their needs.
One comment that I have heard in the past from users of other manufactures products is that some feel that the Lowrance models are too complicated to use. Well, when a product is capable of doing more and has more features, the product is sometimes viewed as being more complicated. With the introduction of the HDS Touch models, Lowrance did a great job of the layout and making the flow of operation easier. The operating system is based on the HDS Gen 2, but I have found that steps required for operation are faster, easier and more direct for users with the Touch models.
With the operating system being based on the HDS software, many of the features are shared with the HDS Gen 2 family of products. One notable difference is in some of the networking configurations. With the HDS -9 Touch, the need for the LSS-2 junction box in no longer required, which makes the installation somewhat easier and cleaner
Typical Lowrance Network with one HDS-9 Touch and one HDS unit
With the touch screen, features such as Trackback are even easier to operate because of the touchscreen; you simply drag your finger across the screen from right to left. With the Trackback feature, you are basically rewinding your history of what is shown on the screen, which can be a very useful tool.
Another feature from the HDS Gen 2 product line is Structurescan, which is comprised of Downscan and Sidescan. With these technologies, you are able to see what is below and on the side of the boat as an image with great detail.
Lowrance provided image
StructureMap has also been carried over as well and in my opinion is still one the most under-utilized and talked about technology that has arrived in recent years. This allows the angler to create underwater life-like images of the bottom surface, but more importantly it allows the user to be able to save that data for future use. Those StructureMaps can then be overlaid over the base map or other map options.
The Lowrance HDS-9 Touch comes with an enhanced Insight USA mapping package in both 83/200 kHz and 50/200 kHz configurations and is compatible with the largest selection of cartography options on the market. Chart sharing is also now possible, which allows the viewing of one map card across every HDS Gen 2 or HDS Touch display on the network. Even with all these map options available, users also have the ability with the HDS-8 Gen 2 to create their own customized maps with the Lowrance Insight Genesis program from their logged data.
The HDS-9 Touch comes with a built in GPS antenna with a fast 5 Hz rate and is also compatible with the new Lowrance Point One 10 Hz GPS antenna/compass. Other options that exist are Sirius real time weather and radio, radar, engine interface and many other sensors and such.
Another addition of note with the latest software update 2.1, the HDS-9 Touch is capable for wireless viewing sonar and charts displays on tablets and smart phones using GoFree wireless technology. This is an area that will be interesting to see how this develops as more Apps are developed over time.
Operating and Customizing
Moving around the menus of the Lowrance HDS-9 Touch is very easy. From the main page, when a tab is pressed on the Utilities panel (left side panel), a secondary menu appears.
From these different screens the user can set preferences and setup the device to suit their needs.
At the center of the homescreen are the main icons, tap an icon to view a full page screen or press and hold to view options for the split screen page options. Once at the desired screen page, the menu will appear to the side and when not used, will move off the screen until needed.
I could go on and on with what the features are of the HDS-9 Touch, but the bottom line is that this is a very well thought out product. At first I was a bit leery coming from a HDS-8 Gen 2, but I have to admit that I am very happy with the performance. I have been using my HDS-9 Touch for over a year now in nice weather, rain and even in just terribly cold weather (data tip gloves work great on the screen) without a hitch. I still have features to discover, like the ability to view an underwater camera on the main screen, and as with all HDS products, I am really anxious to see where the technology will lead with coming software updates. The HDS-9 Touch is on the cutting edge of current technology, but because of the combination of how the menus flow combined with the touchscreen, the average user will never be intimidated by this latest technology. In fact, my guess is that the end user will only thrive from using this product.
Doctor Sonar Pro Staff