Recently we took a look at the new 3D fishfinders, we’ve talked about scanner/imager and side-scan fishfinders, and of course a host of other marine electronics systems. There’s just one problem with all this stuff: if you want the latest and greatest fish-finding abilities, you generally have to spend an arm and a leg to get a full-blown electronics system. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone made a high-tech fishfinder with chartplotter, which had all those fish-finding tech perks, but not the big cost associated with fully expandable MFD systems? Enter: the Raymarine Element. These units are designed to deliver fish-finding horsepower, but they aren’t expandable and don’t come packaged with the guts – nor the price tag – of a full-blown MFD.
Pricing for this range of units starts well under $1,000, and they come in seven, nine, and 12-inch displays. This is a button-driven unit, with an optically-bonded LCD. It offers NMEA2000 compatibility so you can use it for tasks like displaying engine data, but the absence of expandability means no radar, autopilot, or the like. And for many small boat owners, that’s just fine. What many of us really want is just a fishfinder/chartplotter with the sweetest fish-finding abilities, and in that regard, the Element delivers. Just what does it provide? HyperVision 1.2 mHz CHIRP sonar with DownVision scanning, SideVision side-scanning, and RealVision 3D fish-finding. So you get all those high-tech fish-finding abilities without paying extra for the stuff you just don’t need.
Don’t think for a second that Raymarine cut costs on the tech side of things. The Element has a quad-core processor, and while testing these units out on the water, we found it’s basically impossible to press buttons fast enough to get ahead of screen redraws. RealBathy capability is built-in so you can create your own underwater bathymetric maps as you fish, and the units also have built-in WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Meanwhile, the units are IPX6/7 waterproof, so they can do hard duty on an open helm station. Added bonus: we started pressing buttons without so much as peeking at an instruction manual first, and the unit’s thoroughly intuitive and easy to figure out.
The bottom line? If you want the hottest in fish-finding tech without having to pay for a big-boat electronics system, the Element is a solid bet. Visit Raymarine, to learn more.