The Lowrance Elite-5 is a combination chartplotter fishfinder that couples a 5-inch display screen, 16-channel GPS with internal antenna, and 500-watt sounder into a single unit.
The Elite-5 package ships with the display unit, quick-release mounting bracket, dual-frequency transom-mount transducer, an installation and operation manual. Alternatively, the Elite-5 can be purchased as a standalone chartplotter or standalone fishfinder.
The Elite-5 display unit measures 5.4-inches high by 6.8-inches wide and 2.4-inches deep. We used the accompanying tilt and swivel bracket to mount the Lowrance Elite-5 to our test rig. Panel mounting the unit is possible without any additional hardware other than mounting screws.
A single twist-lock cable that fastens to the connector located on the case back supplies power and information from the transducer through individual legs. The display contains an internal GPS sensor, but the unit can still use an optional external GPS sensor if needed or desired.
We used the internal antenna for this review. NMEA 0183 can be supplied to a VHF radio or autopilot through an optional cable. The Elite-5 has a single microSD™ chart card slot and can use Navionics cartography.
Screen Size and Viewability
The Elite-5 is equipped with a 3.6-inch wide by 3.6-inch high display screen that measures 5-inches on the diagonal and carries 480 by 480 pixels of resolution.
The Lowrance Elite-5 screen is bright, sharp, and easy to read with one caveat. There are times when so much data is displayed onscreen things can get a bit cluttered and you’ll need to get up close and personal to read the fine details.
When viewed anywhere from straight out front out to severe side angles the screen maintains its brightness and clarity whether or not the user is wearing polarized sunglasses.
I rated this Lowrance chartplotter fishfinder screen excellent for daylight viewability. No screen fogging was apparent in the display at anytime.
The Lowrance Elite-5 has both a day and night color palette. On the Chart page the night palette changes map features, numbers, and letters to a darker color for easier night viewing. The Sonar page inverts the selected colors in night mode. Daylight brightness can be set to one of eleven levels using the keypad and switched to one of four preset levels by repeatedly pressing the light/power button.
In my opinion, this screen does not darken far enough for night operations where ambient and cockpit light levels are low.
This Lowrance chartplotter fishfinder is easy to operate using the six front panel pushbuttons and keypad control. The Pages key takes you to the Pages menu where you can choose one of four screens.
The main pages are: Steer, Sonar, Chart/Sonar, and Chart. I liked the slick appearance of the page interface; it was fun and easy to use. Page specific menus are available for each page. When the Menu button is pressed once, the corresponding menu for that page will appear onscreen and give the user a number of options and settings to choose from. Pressing the Menu button twice takes you to the main menu.
The lack of an exit key took a bit of getting used to when making menu selections and choosing settings. Normally a popup would give you the option to exit the menu with another press of the Enter key.
A present position waypoint is built by pressing the Menu button and then checking New Waypoint is highlighted, then pressing Enter. A new waypoint dialog box will open and allow you to save point with another press of the Enter key. To edit the waypoint you’d place the cursor over it, if it is not already there, and hit Enter, this brings up the waypoint information page which allows editing, deletion, or beginning navigation to the point.
Waypoints are built at the cursor position in the same manner. To actually navigate the boat to the point youd need to go to the Steer page or customize the data blocks on the Chart page to show needed navigation information. This unit supports very long waypoint names and can also identify a point with one of 16 symbols. The Elite-5 can store up to 1000 individual waypoints.
Routes are created from the route screen. You simply follow onscreen prompts to add points from the waypoint list or from the chart view. Since out test machine wasn’t loaded with waypoints I built a route by adding points from the chart view. This is simply a matter of moving the cursor followed by a press of the Enter key for each point.
Routes can be run forward or reverse. I found it easy to build a multipoint route quickly. Routes are listed on their own page where each point on the route is listed separately. You can display points with bearing and distance or total distance and bearing or latitude/longitude. The Elite-5 can store up to 100 routes.
Odds and Ends
The man overboard function of the Lowrance Elite-5 is activated by pressing both the plus and minus zoom keys simultaneously.
At that point no matter what page you are on the unit switches to the Steer page and asks you to confirm the MOB function.
Once done, you’ll find clear and easy to follow graphic and digital navigation data back to the MOB position.
I think the MOB function of the Elite-5 works well. In my opinion, it provides clear route and easy to follow route back the MOB position that even a novice skipper could follow quickly and precisely.
I found chart redraws on the Elite-5 to be fairly fast under normal chart ranging demands. As is often the case with chartplotters, when you add more cartography using an inserted memory card redraw rates have a tendency to slow somewhat. This Lowrance chartplotter has two chart orientation options, North Up or Course Up. Both worked well during our at sea review.
The Lowrance Elite-5 internal sounder is capable of producing up to 500 watts of power when coupled to accompanying 83/200 kHz transom-mount transducer we used for our review.
Standard features include auto and manual depth ranging, zoom, and bottom lock. The unit will also display water temperature and speed when connected to a transducer with these capabilities.
Hitting the Menu button from the sonar page lets you fine tune the automatic sensitivity, switch to manual depth ranging, and change transducer frequency. Going to the main sonar menu lets you select split screen options, color palette, and A-scope.
Selecting advanced mode to on will allow you to further fine tune sonar operations by adjusting the colorline, surface clarity, and ping rate.
Zoom can be off or set to 2x or 4x in single increments by using the plus and minus range keys. The zoomed area can be selected using the up/down arrows on the cursor pad as long as auto depth is disabled. Sounder data can be displayed full screen or in a split screen with chart data.
During our testing the Elite-5 sounder marked all three of the submerged targets we placed in the water fairly well in auto gain. We refined the image somewhat by adjusting the sensitivity down 15% on the 200 kHz side and about 20% on the 83 kHz view, all while staying in the automatic gain mode. Overall we’d rate the Elite-5 sounder good for both presentation and ease of use.
This Lowrance chartplotter fishfinder brings top screen performance, easy operation, and a good quality sonar to you at a reasonable price.
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