Two schools of thought exist when it comes to multifunction displays (MFDs): 1) offer a basic MFD with optional plug-and-play modules, or 2) include numerous functions in a single unit.
The new Lowrance HDS Gen3 (lowrance.com) reflects the latter. Available in 7-, 9- and 12-inch models, these MFDs combine lightning-fast processors with advanced sonar and chart-plotter technologies. Icon-driven scrolling menus offer access to built-in functions like StructureScan HD and CHIRP sonar, as well as an [advanced GPS/chart plotter[(http://www.boatingmag.com/60-great-boating-innovations) with built-in Insight USA charts. Even the GPS antenna is built in.
You can also run Insight HD and Pro and Insight Genesis, as well as C-MAP MAX-N+ and Navionics electronic charts on the Lowrance HDS Gen3. Wireless connectivity lets you directly upload mapping and software updates. You can add modules such as Lowrance Broadband radar, SonicHub, SiriusXM, Class B AIS, DSC VHF and Lowrance Outboard Pilot.
Lowrance HDS has included a full keyboard to augment the touch-screen display, giving captains the choice, recognizing that buttons are sometimes easier to use in rough sea conditions than are touch screens.
The displays on the Lowrance HDS Gen3 models offer greater sharpness and better viewing than with previous models, particularly in situations in which there’s over-the-shoulder glare from sunlight. Each is designed to fit the mounting brackets and flush-mount footprints of the previous-generation models, making the upgrade easy. Manufacturer’s suggested retail prices range from $1,199 for the HDS-7 Gen3 to $3,199 for the HDS-12 Gen3.