Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Electrical and electronic topics for small boats
jimh
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Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby jimh » Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:43 am

Lowrance Announces New HDS Carbon Line

The Lowrance brand from NAVICO has announced the next evolution of their HDS series of SONAR, chart plotter, and multi-function display instruments, which they are calling the CARBON model. The first innovation in this model is, perhaps, the model name, as using CARBON is a deviation from previous naming conventions which had followed a succession of generation numbers. The products replaced by CARBON were called GEN-3, so we can infer that CARBON is a fourth-generation evolution of the original HDS.

There are three areas of significant improvement in CARBON compared to prior models:

--the display technology

--the computing power

--the SONAR technology

THE DISPLAY

The HDS CARBON devices will be available with screens of 7, 9, and 12-inch diagonals. The pixel resolution will be as follows (previous HDS GEN-3 resolution in parenthesis):

HDS 12 CARBON = 1280 x 800 (1280 x 800)
HDS 9 CARBON = 1280 x 720 (800 x 480)
HDS 7 CARBON = 1024 x 600 (800 x 480)

In the HDS 12 CARBON model, the screen resolution is the same as the prior HDS GEN-3, but in the HDS 9 CARBON and HDS 7 CARBON, the screen resolution is improved. The HDS 9 CARBON and HDS 7 CARBON screen resolution will be better than most competitor's products in the 7-inch and 9-inch screens. This may be most important because the smaller screen models are likely the best sellers models in the HDS line (due to the significant price premium for the big 12-inch model). The improvement in screen pixels is particularly impressive for the HDS-9 CARBON, which will have more than twice as many screen pixels (2.4-times) as the HDS-9 GEN-3 models. The physical dimensions of the screen don't change, but there will be more than twice as many pixels shown, and a clearer and higher-resolution image should results.

As a comparison, I will throw in the original HDS-8. It had a 4 x 3 aspect ratio display with 800 x 600 resolution, for a total pixel count of 480,000. The HDS-9 GEN-3 had a 800 x 480 display, actually quite a bit fewer pixels at 384,000 than the HDS-8 original product. The new HDS 9 CARBON will have 1280 x 720 or 921,600 pixels, which will be about double the original HDS-8's screen.

In addition to improved resolution, the new displays are said to have wider viewing angles and to have improved thermal characteristics which will be an advantage when used in very warm ambient temperatures. The displays are also described as multi-touch, the backlighting is by LED lamps, and there is improved anti-reflective coating.

Since a multi-function display like an HDS CARBON is intended for use on open boats, the number-one criterion for the display is brightness. The display must be viewable in very strong sunlight. I haven't found any screen brighness specifications (NITs) for the new display, but Lowrance does call it "Ultra-bright," suggesting that it is a premium display in terms of brightness.

THE PROCESSOR

Lowrance has generally been very silent and reluctant to disclose any details about the computer processor that they use in the HDS devices, but with the introduction of CARBON they now mention that the processor is a dual-core device. From this we can infer that prior models were not dual-core processors. But they are still cagey about details and only say the processor "has enough reserve...to drive future high powered fish-finding technologies." Perhaps the only inference to be made is the HDS CARBON models have improved processors compared to earlier products.

In addition to a dual-core processor, there is also speculation that the amount of memory has increased. This is quite reasonable speculation because each core of the dual-core processor will need its own memory. On that basis it is likely the CARBON model has doubled the amount of random access memory (RAM) compared to prior models.

THE SONAR TECHNOLOGY

The SONAR technology of the HDS CARBON is hard to decipher unless you are an ardent follower of Lowrance's trade names for their many echo-location methods. For me, it's a confusing array of marketing names. As best as I can tell, the significant change that arrives with the HDS CARBON is the ability to perform frequency-modulated pulse-compression SONAR (which is often discussed by marketing folks and anglers as "chirp") in two frequency ranges simultaneously and to display the rasterization of the signals separately on a split screen. The inferred advantage of being able to do this will be the ability to have the SONAR cover different cone angles simultaneously, with a higher-frequency band giving a spot beam and a lower-frequency band providing a broad beam. Using two frequency bands has been possible in prior devices, but being able to simultaneously use two bands in pulse compression mode is the innovation of CARBON.

The HDS CARBON can show via Ethernet network the displays of other SONAR. Of course, this advantage only accrues to someone who owns two SONAR systems that support the networking feature.

A chart comparing SONAR and other features between the HDS GEN-3 (or is it HDS III) and the HDS CARBON helps to differentiate the feature sets.

lowrance_comparison2.jpg
Comparison of Lowrance HDS III to HDS CARBON
lowrance_comparison2.jpg (58.98 KiB) Viewed 4271 times

As can be seen in the tabular presentation above, the new features in the CARBON models are limited to the improved display technology and the simultaneous dual frequency-modulated pulse-compression echo sounding ability. Lowrance apparently forgot to include the improvement of dual core processors.

PRICES

The new HDS CARBON models are priced as follows:

HDS-12 CARBON = $3,149
HDS-9 CARBON = $2,049
HDS-7 CARBON = $1,249

For more model and price packages see

https://www.lowrance.com/en-US/Products/HDS-Carbon/

porthole
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Re: Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby porthole » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:29 pm

I wish Lowrance would concentrate on tech support as much as they do with launching new products. Rumors of a new mode were fueled when HDS Gen 3 prices dropped.

The screen resolution increase on the CARBON 9 should be significant. If you have a pair of HDS-7 displays or a pair HDS-9 pisplays, you might not notice the difference. But having an eight-month-old HDS-7 Gen 3 and a one-month-old HS-9 Gen 3, the [two] screens [having the same] 800x480 resolution becomes quite obvious.

If I did my math correct, the HDS-9 screen is 1.65-times-larger then the HDS-7, so the same resolution becomes obvious at the same zoom levels. Most obvious on my use is the additional overlays that can be displayed, in particular the auto pilot (AP) control. The AP control takes up the same ratio on both displays. But on the HDS-9 the AP overlay would still be very usable if it was one half the size, allowing more back ground info to be visible.

I'm looking forward to seeing these at the NYC boat show next month. I am also curious to see if Lowrance used the same new screen technology that I can see on the newer HDS 9 Gen 3. There is a plainly visible honeycomb etched into the glass and the screen is not as vibrant as the older HDS-7.
Thanks,
Duane
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jimh
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Re: Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby jimh » Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:35 pm

The honeycomb pattern seems to also appear as part of the case decoration of the HDS CARBON models. I was also wondering if there was some association of that pattern with the new ultra-bright display.

Also, I was wondering if the displays used in the most recently manufactured HDS III series might have shifted to a different vendor, one with the honeycomb look as PORT' has shown us.

porthole
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Re: Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby porthole » Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:16 am

jimh wrote:The honeycomb pattern seems to also appear as part of the case decoration of the HDS CARBON models. I was also wondering if there was some association of that pattern with the new ultra-bright display.

Also, I was wondering if the displays used in the most recently manufactured HDS III series might have shifted to a different vendor, one with the honeycomb look as PORT' has shown us.


Have you seen the new MFD's in person yet?

I received this answer regarding the screen on THT from one of the well respected electronics guru's
The pattern on your HDS-9 Gen3 is the touch sensitive electrodes etched into the glass. This is the latest generation Navico touch screens also used by NSS Evo2.


I don't care for it, especially since I have two different screens on similar devices.
I would also note that the display on the older unit has more vibrant colors, especially noticeable on the "lowrance" orange colored portions of the pages
Thanks,
Duane
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1999 Yamaha SW Series II 200

jimh
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Re: Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby jimh » Mon Dec 19, 2016 1:36 pm

I have not seen any HDS CARBON products in person.

Thanks for explaining the honeycomb pattern visible on the screen of the most-recently manufactured HDS III devices is part of the touch-screen sensor. I anticipate that same design will appear in CARBON devices touch screens.

The image (below) shows a close-up of the bezel decoration of the HDS 9 CARBON with the honeycomb pattern. I think the graphic is intended to represent the typical six-atom arrangement of carbon atoms (Atomic number=6) that is usually drawn as a hexagon in chemical notations:

HDS_CarbonFrontPanelCropLarge.jpg
HDS_CarbonFrontPanelCropLarge.jpg (6.63 KiB) Viewed 4237 times

jimh
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Re: Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby jimh » Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:06 am

Regarding the processor in the new HDS CARBON line, some very well informed speculation (by an advanced user in Scandinavia) thinks that the processor is probably an NXP i.MX 6 ARM Cortex A9 processor in their i.MXDualPlus series. These processors are available in dual-core configuration at speeds of up to 1-GHz, and they support "advanced 3D graphics." Compare at:

http://www.nxp.com/assets/documents/data/en/data-sheets/IMX6DQPCEC.pdf

There is also first-hand evidence (from a user opening the case and visually inspecting the circuitry) that the earlier generation HDS-7 Gen-3 products used NXP i.MX 6 Arm A9 processor with single core architecture.

jimh
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Re: Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby jimh » Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:44 am

Again in regard to the display device in the CARBON models, the claim of improved viewing angles suggests that the display technology may have changed to use In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology instead of Twisted-Nematic (TN) technology. Displays with IPS are generally described as having much wider viewing angles than TN displays. Another useful benefit of IPS displays is better viewing through polarized glasses. Since use of polarized sunglasses is very common when boating, the IPS display should be quite an advantage.

For more about display technologies, see the Wikipedia article on that subject.

jimh
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Re: Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby jimh » Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:06 am

In the announcement of the new CARBON generation of HDS chart plotter and SONAR devices, Lowrance has said the processor "has enough reserve...to drive future high powered fish-finding technologies." That comment suggests that in the future there may be more application software available on the HDS to perform new functions in either SONAR or chart plotting.

There recently has been a significant change in the way chartplotter and SONAR devices are able to create new and on-the-fly representations or maps or charts of lake bottom depth contours from just-gathered sounding and position data. Perhaps we will be seeing further advances in the ability of devices like the CARBON HDS to create new maps from its own data. These tasks will probably be processor-intensive, and the dual-core processor in the CARBON may be intended to provide the power to perform these functions.

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Re: Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby Ridge Runner » Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:05 am

Lowrance's new promotional video for the CARBON HDS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3Dsa1uj7hI
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jimh
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Re: Lowrance Announces New HDS CARBON Line

Postby jimh » Fri Dec 30, 2016 12:15 pm

Thanks for the link. It is always interesting to see how a manufacturer thinks the potential consumers of his product can be influenced by advertising. I assume that Lowrance must think the presentation is going to be persuasive and will cause viewers of the presentation to want to buy the product.

I find the presentation at the link (above) is not particularly informative. The only message I got from it: there is a new product called CARBON and it is a very dark and dim sort of device that is mostly dark black and can barely be seen. And it is some sort of weapon to use in battle. As a person interested in technology, that presentation was a total waste of my time. The chances that having seen that presentation would make me more likely to want to buy that product: zero. I want technical details to get my interest peaked. Knowing just "newer", "better", "cooler" won't persuade me.