Well, okay, a base MSRP of $549 for the new Lowrance Hook-9 isn’t exactly “mini,” but you have to look at the bang for your buck factor. And when you do, the Hook-9 is an eye-opener. Before looking at this unit closely, however, we have to note that the base price doesn’t include a transducer nor the optional chartography, so in reality, you’ll be adding a few hundred bucks to the bottom line. Here’s the thing: the Hook-9 has a whopping-big nine-inch diagonal screen.
In the past, you’d need to spend at least $1,000 more (and often quite a bit more than that) to get a screen this big. And screen size makes a huge difference, especially to those of us with aging eyes. On a common five-inch unit making out numerals can get very difficult, and if you split the screen between fishfinder and chartplotter, seeing them becomes virtually impossible. A seven inch screen is barely acceptable to many of us. And nine inches? It feels like a serious blessing to have such a big screen.
So, how does Lowrance pull off such a low price for such a big screen? Don’t be misled into thinking this is an advanced, networking MFD. Unlike the (far more expensive) HDS series you can’t add things like radar, WiFi, and Fusion-Link. It doesn’t support side-scanning. And its processing powers simply aren’t on par with more expensive cutting-edge units. You have to expect slower re-draws, slower GPS satellite acquisition and updating, and accept more limited chartography options (though the Hook-9 does still support Insight Genesis self-mapping). It only has a single microSD slot, and it can’t bring you Lowrance’s new 3-D fishfinding abilities. The beauty of eliminating all this stuff, however, is that you don’t have to pay for it. You shell out the low dollar amount for a rather simplistic (by today’s standards) fishfinder/chartplotter, pay a bit more than the smaller units cost, and get that big, glorious screen.
Some other basic data: the Hook-9 is IPX7 waterproof, puts out 500 watts of power RMS, does include DownScan, and thanks to a lack of complexity is very easy to use right out of the box. And since in the past most electronics manufacturers have focused solely on high-end units once going above a seven-inch screen, this really does represent a new opportunity for us boaters and fishers. If you own a little 16′ skiff, for example, and have no desire or need for a $3,000 electronics system—but you need that giant screen—this is a completely new type of option. You can get more info by visiting Lowrance, but if I were you and this seemed like a unit that might fit the bill, I’d head over to my local marine store and try playing with one first-hand. See if the Hook-9 is capable enough for your needs, and if the final price fits in your budget. And next time you go fishing, maybe you’ll be able to leave those “cheater” glasses at home.