Lenny Rudow October 8, 2013 Lenny Rudow
I had the chance to spend a season with the Lowrance Elite 7x HDI fishfinder/chartplotter, and after some extended use, thought you might like to know the ins and outs of this extremely popular unit. For starters, remember that this is a mid-range DownScan Imaging unit operating on a 455/800 kHz frequency, side by side with a traditional 200 kHz beam and 50 kHz or 80 kHz options. Cost starts at about $550, but note that most of us will want to spend another $100 to $150 to get mapping options. As is true with most units, the basic mapping doesn’t cut it and anglers will want to have those detailed contour lines on the screen.
Yes, that price is quite inexpensive for such a versitile unit. But even more important in my opinion is screen size. With a seven-inch diagonal, this unit costs about as much as many competitors which come with a five-inch screen. And since it has 800 x 480 pixels, definition is awesome for the money. If screen size is important to you – and it should be – the Elite 7x is a winner.
Power-wise it isn’t exactly a giant, putting out 250 watts. If there was any one thing I found disappointing with the unit, it was depth range. When I tried taking it offshore, I couldn’t hold bottom much beyond a couple hundred feet. Maybe that’s asking too much of a unit in this price range, but the bottom line is that if you make offshore runs, you’ll need something with a bit more punch.
Mounting and rigging hardware is pretty much standard fare, and the unit is built to IPX7 waterproofing standards. When it comes to actually using the unit, life is a breeze. One thing I’ve come to love about Lowrance is their easy to understand, intuative menus and functions. The smart money says you’ll never have the need to download, much less read through, the instruction manual.
Would this be a good unit for you? That’s a question only you can answer, but when comparing your options, don’t forget to go back and look at that screen again. And again, and again, and again – because I don’t think you’ll find another fishfinder/chartplotter that offers so much size, along with the capabilities, for such a low price tag.
To read about the testing I used the Elite 7x for – along with a Humminbird, a Furuno, a Garmin, and a Raymarine – check out Sonar Smackdown, on Boats.com.