Author Topic: Lowrance HDS-5 Nautic Insight Review  (Read 4729 times)

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Offline Threeweight

Lowrance HDS-5 Nautic Insight Review
« on: January 17, 2011, 06:07:36 PM »
My old Eagle chartpolotter/sonar went kaput in the middle of spring chinook season last year, and after a lot of shopping around, my wife and I decided to splurge a bit and replace it with a Lowrance HDS unit.  Felt like we were taking a bit of a risk, given our experience with the Eagle (Lowrance's budget line) and the general grumpiness that exists on forums like regarding the quality of the customer service.  Being a belt and suspenders kind of guy, I decided to buy it locally through West Marine (they will price match legitimate internet prices from competitors), and get an extended warranty.

I have had the unit for about a year now, and I couldn't be more pleased with it.  No significant problems thus far.  A few highlights:

The Good:

#1 - the sonar detail is amazing.  Fishing in 200 feet of water in the Straight for halibut last May, we could watch the finder mark a 16 ounce lead head and scampi jig as it made its way to the bottom (with the standard Lowrance transducer).  The Nautic Insight model is their saltwater/deepwater unit/transducer combo, and there are quick change settings for deep saltwater, shallow water, freshwater, etc... and can operate at 200 mhz, 83 mhz, and 50 mhz.

#2 - if you have the basemaps to do it, the HDS units support 3d imaging of the bottom.  Makes figuring out the trolling lanes for springers a lot easier.

#3 - the Nautic Insight model comes bundled with pretty good saltwater maps.  Great detail of several of the banks outside of Sequim, and navigation hazards in the bay are clearly marked.

#4 - Lowrance units can use Navionics maps, which are the cat's meow for botttom detail.  I bought the Navionics maps for the Columbia/Willamette, and they are awesome.

#5 - even though we went with the "less obscenely expensive" 5" screen, it is crisp and sharp and easy to read from any angle.

The Bad:

#1 - the menus are very complicated and not intuitive (at least for me).  After a year I can do the basics on it (my wife can do a little more), but for anything complex I have to break out the manual (which is the size of a small paperback novel).

#2 - software upgrades... since I got the unit, the system software has been upgraded three times.  It is no big deal to update the unit with the new software (just need a big SD card from a digital camera or something), but clearly Lowrance has been working the bugs out after they started selling the units.  The biggest bug I have had was in swapping back and forth between NauticPath and Navionics maps (updating to software version 3.0 solved that... I am up to version 3.5 now).

#3 - no software emulator.  These units have been out for almost two years, and Lowrance still does not have a program you can load on your laptop or home computer to  let you "practice" using the unit and figure out its controls.  This is pretty much standard equipment with other brands.

Bottom line -- thus far I am very pleased with the unit and would recommend it to anyone looking for a chart plotter/sonar combo.  I have mine mounted on a RAM mount so I can tilt/swivel it easily from various spots around the boat (the RAM mounts are really the way to go for this kind of stuff).  Finally, I also invested in a waterproof box to keep it in when not in use (I lined the box with some old foam from a camping pad I had laying around).
Former Sea Chaser 17 owner
Wild Card, Hewescraft Ocean Pro 220, Honda 225 and 9.9

“Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed.”
       --- Hunter S. Thompson

Offline Vancouvertechie

Re: Lowrance HDS-5 Nautic Insight Review
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 06:07:03 PM »
I had the HDS-5 in my old boat that I sold last summer.  I wish I would taken the unit out.

My review of the HDS-5. 

Boats owned:

2003 15' SeaHunter 50HP Suzuki (FI4Strk)
1991 16' SeaChaser 50HP Johnson (Keith)
1995 19' SeaRanger 115 Yamaha (FI4Strk)