Lowrance HDS Gen2 TOUCH, StructureScan included!


Today Lowrance introduced the HDS Gen2 Touch series — new Lowrance web pages here — and I feel especially prepared to cover the news because I got to touch one myself a few weeks ago, and also because a friend of Panbo sent me a copy of the detailed PDF that went out to dealers. The page above, for instance, shows how the new 7-, 9-, and 12-inch Touches compare to the existing HDS Gen2 models they can happily co-exist with. Thus users who are shy about touch — particularly understandable on bouncy boats — can pair that interface with a full button/cursor control model, a good idea that up until now only Garmin offered…

Of course that HDS Gen2 family image also indicates how much screen Lowrance managed to squeeze into these cases, even with a rudimentary set of auxiliary buttons. In fact, I think they invented a new term for this competitive trend — the “glass to plastic ratio”– and I like it!


Now for something unique: All three sizes of the Touch fishfinder models have both Broadband Sonar and StructureScan built in, as seen in the “suggested” system below. Also note that there are thru-hull models of both those transducers and that SS is great for gunkholing too. And while I haven’t done the math yet, a retail price of $3,279 for a HDS-12 Touch with four sonar channels (and a very bright and bonded 1280×800 pixel LED screen) seems pretty sweet…


Something else unique is the Touch’s touch interface, which may be a little surprising given that these MFDs are close relatives of the Simrad NSS series introduced early last year. The Lowrance software developers used the same underlying operating system but were obviously given a free hand, and I like what I’ve seen so far. So does Lenny


You can get a good feel for the new interface in this “Hairtook” YouTube video (and learn some French marine electronics terms to boot) and in this YouTube hosted by product manager John Scott. Note how fast the HDS Touch is! There’s much more interesting detail to talk about, but I just walked, trained, and planed from boat to IBEX today (what should I check out when I’m done with my presentations?), and so it’s time for you all to check out these HDS Touch links and report back.


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

29 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    One detail I’d like to complement Lowrance for is the use of full size SD chart/data cards instead of those “micro” buggers that can be easily lost on a boat and are also difficult to label.

  2. Marcus says:

    I just tried a HDS7 on the water. It was great. Fast and a good screen. Found 2 sunken boats in my marina. Was looking for some stolen chartplotters and might have found those on a depth of 8 meters.

  3. graham says:

    Cheers for the post Ben.
    Interest to see, Looks like they have updated there on screen graphics at last, looks a lot more up to date.
    Not to sure on the overly aggressive outer styling and the super size logo’s!
    Ben, have you handle one of these units yet?, I grip and rest my hand to the right hand side, just where they have placed the power key.

  4. Jay Tech says:

    I think these are going to do quite well! I’ve heard from so many people who love the NSS, pair that up with a cheaper price and built in Structure Scan, Lowrance should have a winner!
    Can’t wait to get my hands on one to take it out for a test drive!

  5. Hendrik says:

    Value added concept
    Great developement Navico !

  6. Dean says:

    1. Does anyone know if the HDS touch will support 4G radar dual range feature. This seemed to be something only supported with NSE which does not support GoFree.
    2. Am I right to say that a plastic thru-hull transducer (000-11029-001) is the best option for a cruising sailing boat for structure scan HD? (it looks like these are not released yet and twice the price of a transom mount).

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Good question, Dean!. I asked and the answer is good too. HDS Touch will do 4G dual range radar. I’m also hearing that NSS is capable of dual range and may get the feature eventually.
    I don’t know the thrill StructureScan transducers but tell that my install of transom ducker on Gizmo’s keel has held up fine. I used a ScanStrut cable gland and 5200 to get the wire into the boat. Looks a little funky but I ran SS throughout the ICW and it was quite useful.

  8. Dean says:

    Thanks Ben, thats great news about the radar.
    Unfortunately the angle of my transom (Jeanneau 45DS) wont allow mounting the transducer there, but from what I’ve read they’re looking at bringing out a plastic (above) and bronze thru hull unit (but a little expensive).

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    My typing was garbled, Dean, but what I was trying to say is that you can use the plastic transom transducer as a thru-hull. I am surprised, though, to find the model 11029 listed as a thru-hull at places like Defender:
    How can that be a thru-hull transducer when they provide no way to get the cable through the hull? What I did was to use a ScanStrut Deck Seal and a liberal dose of 3M 5200 as blogged about here: http://goo.gl/LnjtS
    But that was before Navico had any LSS thru-hulls and now they have a proper HD version: http://goo.gl/m8z23
    I doubt that there will be a version with a plastic stem instead of a bronze one, but if you can find someone else who wants LSS, they’re cheaper by the pair (which is what you need if you can’t mount one with clear view to both sides of your boat): http://goo.gl/lp4wz

  10. Nick Hallam says:

    Re the well-aired difficulties of using touchscreens on small, wet, bouncy boats, I wish everyone would follow Garmin and offer a ‘full-function’ handheld RF or Bluetooth remote control. Surely this gives you the best of both worlds: smallest possible plotter unit for a given screen size, with least opportunities for mechanical failure via buttons, but with an affordable means of controlling the plotter while sitting safely (or at least hanging on grimly with at least one limb….).
    I know Raymarine have their RCU-3, but I wonder if it might be a bit ‘light’ on functions. Can’t wait to try it, though…..

  11. Brian says:

    The only down side to the new touch models as that anyone who already owns structurescan hardware (LSS-1,2) will be less likely to drop $3.5k while making almost all of their current hardware obsolete. Sure you can keep the HDS gen1 or HDS gen2 head unit as many do like the goal is to use up all of the available console space BUT the structurescan module (~$600 investment) us no longer needed. Lowrance *should* also sell a model that does not have the structurescan so that folks like me (HDS-8 gen1, LSS-1) would be willing to upgrade the head unit at a somewhat reduced cost. There are a lot of people out there set up like this. Somebody give Lowrance a nudge and suggest.

  12. D J says:

    Your wish has been granted by the good folks at Navico:

  13. Brian says:

    Almost. Turns out that if I want to continue using my Broadband Sounder I would have to purchase the External BB Sounder module. BB Sounder is built-in on the HDS-8 Gen1. So no matter what, an upgrade to the Gen2 Touch will involve some discomfort either in the area of too much hardware (redundant) or not enough. Third alternative is to keep the Gen1 and feed data to Gen2 Touch via Ethernet. Not a fan of consuming all available console space with hardware nor do I want to drain my battery twice as fast. If I am mistaken on this issue I would much appreciate being corrected.
    “*Broadband Sounder and StructureScan Sonar Imaging modules can also be added to chartplotter-only Touch models to incorporate fishfinding capabilities.”

  14. Tom Brady says:

    I’m going to put a Structure Scan setup on a 38 foot aft cabin and plan to mount the transducer on the transom offset to either port or starboard. I know I will lose some performance on one side due to prop wash, but that keeps the keel intact, provides good downscan and keeps the price of the experiment reasonable. I couldn’t see going with two thru hulls unless the structure scan payoff seems to be compelling. I’ll let you know how it comes out.

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Tom, I don’t know if you saw how I mounted an LSS transom transducer on Gizmo’s forward keel, but it has worked out well:
    It’s admittedly funky but it only required a keel hole the size of the transducer plug and thanks to MM 5200 and the ScanStrut Deck Seal it’s never leaked a drop and I’m fairly confidant that would be true even if I sheared the ducer off on a ledge (heaven forbid).
    As for performance I’m seeing down and sideways near my bow instead of at the transom and it works fine at speeds up to 10 knots and sometimes at 16.

  16. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Just out — Lowrance HDS Gen2 major software update 2.0. Features GoFree, chart sharing, 5hz internal GPS, HD StructureMaps and more:
    Kees Verruijt has been testing (and liking) an HDS Touch and will review it on Panbo soon.
    Meanwhile, I’ve got GoFree working impressively with Simrad NSS8 and many apps, and will write about it real soon.

  17. Dean says:

    Excellent Ben. Thanks for letting us know. I just called Lowrance for an update today and they said they have no fixed date but would get back to me… lol.

  18. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Credit for HDS Gen2 software update scoop properly goes to Jim Klauser, who is part of an interesting Forum thread called “iPad or Laptop?”:

  19. norse says:

    Last but not least… The very last thing mentioned in the release notes for the HDS Gen2 update is the “improvement”:
    HDS Gen2 can now transmit and receive
    ClassB Static AIS data (with a ClassB AIS device connected) as well as AIS Aids to Navigation

    This statement is not in the HDS Gen2 Touch update release notes. The HDS Touch install manual currently on-line does not list the new standard Class B PGNs. Was something left out of the update or the release notes accidentally?
    There is no new update for HDS Gen1 posted, so no AIS joy there.

  20. Kees says:

    I’ve been making use of the excellent service from changedetection.com, so they sent me this yesterday (after a few false alarms with unimportant stuff changing):
    At your request we are sending you this alert to let you
    know that a page you have been monitoring has changed.
    The following monitored page has changed:
    To see the details of the change, please click on the link below:

  21. DJ says:

    I am surprised that HDS Gen 1 when on the ethernet with HDS Gen 2 or HDS Touch will prevent the GoFree from working properly…? (Manual)
    For all the owners of HDS Gen 1 running on the network with the new generation HDS, wouldn’t software update for Gen 1 be appropriate way to make the GoFree backward compatible?

  22. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, DJ, but which manual says that? Also note that we just posted a detailed entry by Kees about the new 2.0 GoFree software on HDS. Probably a better place to continue this discussion:

  23. DJ says:

    The notes are in the release notes for the software updates for both Gen 2 and Touch HDS models.
    They say:
    “GoFree is not compatible with HDS Gen1. A Gen1 on the same ethernet network will cause the network to not function properly”

  24. Dean says:

    Well its been almost 12 months but i’ve now purchased and installed a HDS7T. I have not got the structure scan or radar unit yet but I in reply to Ben’s comment above “I asked and the answer is good too. HDS Touch will do 4G dual range radar” Unfortunately this does not look like the case.
    Can I ask for anyone’s view on why you would need structure scan as well as normal sonar. Wouldn’t structure scan do all traditional sonar can do and more?

  25. Dean says:

    You’ve made a good point about buying a dual transducer kit with a friend to save on costs, but I wonder if they are both the same transducer as looking at this picture it suggests maybe half the signal is cut out of one so it doesn’t interfere.

  26. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Dean, I don’t recall who at Lowrance’s boat show booth told me that HDS Touch would do dual range 4G radar, but I know from my tone that the info was credible and I’m pretty darn sure that the MFD is capable of it. So sorry for the misinformation but I’m guessing it’s a feature that will come in a software update.
    StructureScan (and kin like Humminbird Side Imaging and Raymarine DownScan) are very different than fishfinding sonar. The very narrow high frequency beams can built up great imagery of bottom structure, but they’re not very good at finding fish and they can’t see very deep.
    Finally, I’m not sure that anyone here recommended buying a dual transducer set to share. Could that have been somewhere else?

  27. Kees says:

    Given the way that the BB radars do dual range (they tell the radome once that it is supposed to be two radars, with a different name etc.) can you use your NSE to set it to dual range, then what happens if you use it using NSS or HDS? Do you see two radars? Can you view both of them or do you have to choose? If you set the range do “both” radars change range?

  28. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Kees,
    On the NSE, 4G dual range is not a setting like it is on Raymarine and Furuno MFDs. There are two Off/Standby/Transmit buttons and for any window or overlay where you use radar you have a choice of A or B radar source. You can see what I mean on the screens here:
    When I go the lower helm with the NSS it doesn’t matter how I’ve left the radar set up on the NSE. The NSS shows one 4G radar available and I can do what I want with it. As noted above, someone at Navico told me that the NSS is capable of 4G dual range and I hope they enable it. I find it a great feature.
    BTW, I do need to have the NSE running but that’s because the 4G goes to one of its Ethernet ports and then the NSE is networked to the LSS1. Another Ethernet line goes LSS1 to WiFi1 and then finally WiFi1 to NSS8. The Ethernet switches in the NSE, LSS1, and WiFi1 don’t work unless the device is powered up but otherwise the system is working fine.

  29. Dean says:

    Thanks for the reply Ben. Thats a great summary of Structure Scan Vs Regular Sonar and after seeing some overlays of the two I see what you mean. Sorry you are right about me reading somewhere else the idea of buying the dual transducer package.

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