Fishfinders With GPS and Sonar Under $300| Boating Magazine

GPS Sonar Combos For $300

GPS and sonar devices packed full of features for just $300.

In November 2015, we tested sonar/GPS devices at $600 for efficacy, features and, well, for fun. Screen sizes for these shockingly inexpensive devices were 5 to 7 inches. Then we spotted these 4.3-inch diagonal devices (480 by 272 pixels) equipped with GPS, chirp sonar, and proprietary forms of wide-scan sonar that use narrow beams 60 or more degrees wide to chart broad swaths of water under the boat. And these devices also had custom charting and surface-temperature sensors. At $300, industry experts say manufacturers are in a race to the bottom of the price pile.

Why are they racing to the bottom? Every manufacturer notes that if it captures customers initially, they tend to remain with the brand over years as they upgrade boats and electronics. Interestingly, two players aren’t participating in this race as of now: Humminbird and Furuno.

These devices are equipped with sonar comparable to those we tested last year, transducers and all.

Here’s how they compare.

Garmin EchoMap Chirp 43 DV

Garmin EchoMap Chirp 43 DV

Garmin

Garmin EchoMap Chirp 43 DV
Chirp sonar with DownVu features “rewinds” to recall screens and capture waypoints associated with sonar points. It will capture screenshots, and the firmware can be upgraded via a microSD card slot. Its built-in GPS antenna is 16-channel. Sonar logging and custom charting come from Garmin’s Quickdraw Contours system. Two panes can simultaneously display both sonars or sonar and GPS chart plotting.

Only One To: Offer a conven­ient snap-on gimbal for easy mounting without manipulating wires, ideal for boats stored in the open.

Chart Compatibility: LakeVu HD Ultra, BlueChart g2 or BlueChart g2 Vision
Depth Range: 2,100 fresh; 1,100 salt
Power Output: 500 watts
Operating Voltage: 12 volts (10 to 17 volts)
Multipanes: 2
Warranty: 1 year
IPX: 7
Xducer/Cable Length: GT20/20 feet
Beam Width: DownVu 45 degrees (77/200 kHz); chirp 15 degrees (455/800 kHz)
Mounting Options: Flush mount or gimbal
Storage Waypoints: 5,000
Storage Track-log Points: 50,000 in 50 tracks, 100 routes

Analysis: Garmin’s NMEA 0183 connectivity is an important safety feature for VHF users, and its onboard Quickdraw Contours system provides useful contour maps on location. Thumbs up for the convenient quick-release mount.

 

Lowrance Hook-4

Lowrance Hook-4

Lowrance

Lowrance Hook-4
The TrackBack feature allows users to scroll back through sonar screens to capture waypoints on associated bottom targets. It can capture screenshots and log sonar to create custom charts via Navico’s Insight Genesis-only system. Its firmware can be upgraded via the microSD card and online downloads so its highly capable hardware remains up to date and able to service. Lowrance’s internal GPS antenna has 16 parallel channels.

Only One To: Offer DownScan overlay on chirp sonar screens to give extremely clear target distinction and bottom detail. It offers optional NMEA 0183 connectivity.

Standard Charts: 3,000 U.S. lakes, rivers and coastal contours to 1,000 feet
Test charts: Embedded
Chart Compatibility: Lake Insight, Nautic Insight Pro, Navionics HotMaps ­Premium, Fishing Hot Spots Pro; global chart upgrade options include Navionics+ and Jeppesen C-Map Max-N.
Depth Range: 1,000 feet
Power Output: RMS PTP; 500 watts RMS
Operating Voltage: 12 volts (10 to 17 volts)
Multipanes: Up to 3 predesignated patterns
Warranty: 1 year
IPX: 7
Xducer/Cable Length: 20 feet
Beam Width: HDI Skimmer XDCR 83/200 kHz 20 degrees; 455/800 kHz 60 degrees
Mounting Options: Flush kit is available
Storage Waypoints: Up to 3,000
Storage Track-log Points: Up to 100 routes and trails with 10,000 points per trail

Analysis: Lowrance and its parent company, Navico, are the most nimble in terms of innovating new features. Its user interface is logical, and its onboard charting capabilities are powerful.

 

Raymarine Dragonfly 4Pro

Raymarine Dragonfly 4Pro

Raymarine

Raymarine Dragonfly 4Pro
A chirp sonar with Down­Vision, it can also recall pages along with related sonar data for waypoint capture. It can capture screenshots on the device as well and log sonar readings for custom charting through Navionics. Firmware can be upgraded, and it boasts an internal 72-channel GPS antenna that is also compatible with the Russian GLONASS system, an important feature to European users.

Only One To: Offer Wi-Fi connectivity allowing multiple iOS or Android devices to repeat screens and control the device via the WiFish app. It’s also the only one to offer GLONASS capability. The optically bonded screen may sport the same number of pixels as the competition, but it is clear, clear, clear.

Standard Charts: C-Map Essentials at $300
Test Charts: Navionics (available at $350)
Sonar Logging Capability: Only with Navionics option
Chart Compatibility: Lighthouse, C-Map, Navionics
Depth Range: 600 feet; chirp Down­Vision and chirp sonar models 900 feet
Power Output: 20 watts through more than 60 frequencies for true chirp detail
Operating Voltage: 12 volts (10.8 to 15.6 volts)
Multipanes: 2 over and under or side by side
Warranty: 1 year
IPX: 6 and 7
Xducer/Cable Length: CPT-DVS/20 feet
Beam Width: Chirp Down­Vision 60 degrees; chirp sonar 25 degrees
Mounting Options: Optional flush-mount kit
Storage Waypoints: 3,000
Storage Track-Log Points: 15 tracks

Analysis: Wi-Fi connectivity is the coolest. The ability to control different screens on iOS and Android devices turns this system into a Goliath.

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