The Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 is a fishfinder GPS combo designed for serious fishermen looking for a high-quality unit for use in fresh or salt water. While it is limited to sport fishing and doesn’t have the sorts of options a commercial fisherman might want, it nonetheless offers much more information in a much tighter package than other less expensive units. The result is a product that is ideal for serious fishermen but may be too expensive and complicated for the casual weekender.
Ease of Use
Although packed with features, the Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 is designed to be as easy to use as possible. The touchscreen is backed up by buttons on the right, which makes it ideal for those who will be using it while wearing gloves or during winter. It is fully waterproof, meaning that rain or even going overboard will not destroy the unit, although it is advisable to keep it covered or remove it for storage. The intuitive software is designed so that even someone who does not read the manual can use it right out of the box, although it is necessary to read the manual to understand and make use of the system’s higher functions. Additionally, since the Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 is compatible with most transducers, it is not necessary to purchase or install a new one of an existing model is already installed.
Lowrance has been building recreational grade fishfinders for over 30 years and has invested heavily in improving both the software and hardware involved. As such, the Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 has some of the best software available, the StructureScan system. This takes the data produced by the transducer and runs it through a series of algorithms to produce the most accurate map of what’s under the water as is possible. It is paired with the standard CHIP scans, and both scans can be overlaid, enabling fishermen to both see what the floor looks like under their boat and see the location and nature of any fish that happen to be detected. Fish are displayed as arches approximating the size and shape, and their behavior and location are updated continuously.
The Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 is designed to be easily mounted and used on any boat with a minimum of hardware installation, and this extends to the elimination for wires to enable it to connect to other devices. While it does require a DC power source and must be continuously plugged into a boat’s electrical system, it can wirelessly connect to HDS Gen2 Touch and HDS Gen2 multifunction displays for additional display or input options, which is ideal when multiple fishermen are using the same boat. Those not wishing to purchase additional screens can just use their phone and the Lowrance GoFree App. The system also has a LAN port for software updates for those who do not have wireless internet access.
The GoFree system developed by Lowrance enables users to upload and download one another’s maps, in addition to updating existing maps. This ensures that the data on the Lowrance HDS 7 is uniquely up-to-date since any data obtained by users can be quickly distributed to other users. Therefore changes in the bottom of any waterway or its contours quickly become common knowledge. Additionally, other apps for specific situations can be downloaded through GoFree, increasing the functionality of the device. Data thus obtained can be stored in the onboard memory or in one of two SD card slots, which can also be used to update or install new software.
As would be expected from a fishfinder of this price, the Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 does offer navigational assistance and comes equipped with a high-quality GPS receiver and navigational software. This software enables the planning of routes and alerts the operator to potential hazards. However, it does not integrate with the transducer to alert the operator to underwater hazards. However, it is updated via the GoFree system and users can include their updates and also additional software can be downloaded to make it more functional. This enables the Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 to be a reasonably functional GPS system, however, and while it may not have the functionality of other units, it is adequate for the needs of most fishermen. It comes equipped with Insight USA charts and is compatible with Insight Planner software for planning advanced routes.
The Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 is compatible with a wide range of accessories made by Lowrance and others. Most are aimed towards providing navigational aid and weather alerts, although considering the cost of the device it is somewhat surprising that such features are not included as standard. In particular the absence of a weather radar connection or function, even via an app update, necessitates fishermen either buy accessories or carry around a weather radio. This isn’t the worst possible shortcoming, but at such a high price, one would think these options and upgrades would come as standard. The Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 also has limited compatibility with accessories by other manufacturers, but that is to be expected.
The Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3 is a very high-end unit, as indicated by its price, but it is nonetheless a very good option for serious fishermen who need a serious machine. It comes with the most popular options and upgrades and requires minimal training to operate. It is easy to install, and its ability to update and customize its software to fit the needs of the user is a welcome addition, as is its wireless functionality. While the system could use bigger navigational software and it would be nice to have weather and other advanced features as standard, it is nonetheless a very good unit that most fishermen will find more than meets their needs.
|Lowrance HDS 7 Gen3||Humminbird Helix 7 SI GPS||Simrad GO7 XSE|
|Screen Size||7 in||7 in||7 in|
|Screen Resolution||480 x 800 pixels||480 x 800 pixels||480 x 800 pixels|
|Display Type||WVGA color TFT LCD||256 Color TFT display||WVGA Color TFT LCD|
|Imaging||2D, Down Imaging, Side Imaging||CHIRP Side Imaging|
CHIRP Down Imaging
CHIRP Digital Sonar
|2D, Down Imaging, Side Imaging|
|Transducer Type||Transom Mount/Trolling Motor||Transom Mount/Trolling Motor||Transom Mount/Trolling Motor|
|Transmit Power||500 W (RMS) |
4,000 W (peak to peak)
|500 W (RMS)|
|Sonar Frequency||455/800 kHz (StructureScan HD), 40-60kHz, 85-145kHz, 130-210kHz (CHIRP), |
|83/200 kHz 2D|
455 kHz Side Imaging and Down Imaging
|Traditional: 83/200 kHz|
CHIRP (mid and high)
DownScan: 455/800 kHz
StructureScan: 455/800 kHz
|Maximum Depth||1000 ft||1500 ft (out of box transducer)|
2500 ft (optional purchase transducer)
|GPS Antenna Type||10 Hz Internal high-sensitivity WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS||Internal||10 Hz Internal|
|Waypoint Storage||5000||4500||10,000 points total combined waypoints / route points|
|Plot Trails||100 trails with up to 10,000 points per trail||50 w/20,000 points each|
|Preloaded Maps||Insight USA||Humminbird ContourXD||N/A|