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Author Topic:   Lowrance HDS7 v. HDS8
jimh posted 12-20-2009 10:28 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I have not made a thorough investigation, but at first glance it appears to me that the principal difference between the Lowrance HDS7 and HDS8 models is simply the size of their screen. However, there is a significant difference in price.

HDS7 = $1,000
HDS8 = $1,600

Can a color display that is one-inch larger really be worth $600? Is there some other difference I have failed to notice?

jimh posted 12-20-2009 12:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
More details on the HDS7 and HDS8 comparison:

Display Size

HDS7 = 6.4-inch
HDS8 = 8.0-inch

Display Resolution

HDS7 = 480 x 640
HDS8 = 600 x 800

In terms of the display size, the ratio of diagonal size is 8/6.4 = 1.25

In terms of pixels on screen the ratio is 480000/307200 = 1.5625

The price comparison, using units with transducer and only the base map (and using Cabela's prices):

HDS7 = $1,000
HDS8 = $1,700

The price ratio is 1.7

There seems to be a premium for larger display size and more resolution.

Jumping up to the HDS10 the display size increases to 10-inch diagonal, but the resolution remains at 600 x 800.

SJUAE posted 12-20-2009 02:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     
Jim I noted this some months back

Something I just noticed on Lowrance is for the price of a Lowrance HDS-8 Multifunction Fishfinder/Chartplotter w/ 83/200 kHz Transducer 140-09 (~$1700)
You can get with rebates:

Lowrance HDS-5X Fishfinder w/ 83/200 kHz Transducer 140-27 (~$550)
Lowrance HDS-5X Fishfinder w/o Transducer 140-29 (~$500)
Lowrance HDS-5 Multifunction Fishfinder/Chartplotter w/o Transducer 140-32 (~$650)

ie 3 5" screens 1 for engine or radar 1 for sonar and 1 for chart

or for $200 less with rebates you can get

Lowrance HDS-5X Fishfinder w/ 83/200 kHz Transducer 140-27 (~$550)
Lowrance HDS-7 Multifunction Fishfinder/Chartplotter w/o Transducer 140-34 (~$950)

ie 1 7" screen 1 for engine/radar/chart split and 1 5" for sonar

So ok the 8 and 10" screens are SVGA and slighly better and can take top charts, but it seems not to add up to me for the extra inches.

There are 3 minor differances between the HDS-5/7 and the HDS 8/10

1 There are 6 addtional fast menue buttons at the bottom of the screen ( Not unlike the Raymarine A57D)

2 The large round button has a fast scroll wheel around it's perimeter

3 The HDS-8/10 has full SVG

There may also be an extra input port on the rear of the 8/10

Else, same same on internals a far as I can tell


jimh posted 12-20-2009 10:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks to Steve for enumerating the other differences between the Lowrance HDS7 and HDS8 model.

Steve's idea of buying two devices to increase the screen space available is really quite an interesting approach. As we can see, the price of larger screens is generally quite dear, and two small screens may actually provide more screen area at lower cost. I am going to look into that approach.

Even on a large screen, you will generally want to have a display of water depth all the time, and that requires using screen space for the SONAR. I like the display of the bottom sounding contour, and you can be alerted to shoaling by the sudden change in the slope of the bottom contour line on a SONAR raster display. Having a dedicated display for SONAR, even if only a five-inch display would be nice.

Hoosier posted 12-21-2009 11:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I have an HDS-5 and have found an interesting quirk in the rendering software. When using a Navionics SD card the software draws the NAVAID icons very small and they do not scale when I zoom in to larger scales. What's puzzling is that my XOG, using the same map files, draws the NAVAIDS larger and much more legible from an arm's length distance. Another quirk to note is that the XOG icons are rendered looking like the shape of the actual NAVAID, while the HDS-5 uses a generic diamond for all the icons. Since both devices are using the same source data the difference must be in the device's software.
SJUAE posted 12-21-2009 06:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

Very strange I just checked the manual as I can't recall, but the HDS displays many different shapes and colours for the icons and each one you can click on for detailed info.

See page 56 of the manual

I'll check on the zooming later.

What type of Navionics card do you have ?


SJUAE posted 12-21-2009 07:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

My idea of opting for 2 or even 3 smaller HDS over 1 large one (8/10 inch) is sligtly biased in so far as although the NMEA 2000 network will allow you to share most common data.

I think for charts and radar you would need to add the network hub for full dual helm type operation, but on a small boat with side by side screens I would think thats overkill.

Of course we would all like dual 8" screens but for a small boat the 5+7 option seems very good value and as you note allows continous sonar operation at a resonable resolution and a 2x7" would be outstanding.

I think that the larger displays just win on actual pixel comparison and there is little in it on sq inch. Your more detailed analysis would be intresting.

However, This is outweighed IMO on the praticalaties, redundancy factor and cost.

Another consideration is available console space and personally I did not want to reduce visability through the windshield with a single large display.

My other thought was to mount 1 or more displays in my T-Top box but I have seen a few reports that this becomes uncomfortable for continued use.

I've not checked to see if there is a similar price/screen ratio on Raymarine and Garmin, I will have a look.


Hoosier posted 12-21-2009 09:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I have the Navionics Gold 14XG-2 and 15XG-2 SD cards. Both exhibit the same behavior when swapped between the units, the XOG software renders (IMHO) better graphics of the NAVAIDS. I have photos of the two units that show the difference in graphics but I don't know how to post them.

SJUAE posted 12-22-2009 01:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     
Hoosier Pictures FYI:

This is the HDS-5 viewing from the Navionics "Great Lakes and Maritimes" 14XGSD card jpg

This is the same location viewed on my XOG using the Navionics "Central US" 15XG SD card. jpg


Buckda posted 12-22-2009 01:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Nice inclusion of Michigan's Les Cheneaux Islands (on the charts).

This is interesting - I also like the idea of two displays with one "dedicated" as a sonar/sounder. I utilize this method on my 18' Outrage....but since it's not specific to the Lowrance products being discussed, perhaps it's better left to a separate conversation?

If interested, I will start one on this topic.


SJUAE posted 12-22-2009 05:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

Whats the screen resolution on your XOG ?

Maybe the ICONs are just a set pixel size and shows up larger on your old screen if it's resolution is lower

Will compare my HDS-5 against my Navman this weekend.


I'd like to see a picture are they both the same make ? and did you consider a single combo before opting for dual screens ?


Hoosier posted 12-22-2009 07:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
XOG is 320H x 240V resolution. I got this "interesting" reply from Navionics when I asked them about the rendering difference.

" Navionics provides our OEM's (GPS manufacturers) with the symbology library. They have the liberty of displaying the Navionics information in numerous ways on their units, even with different models within the same manufacturer. We worked closer with Lowrance in regards to the HDS unit so they did not have as much liberty to change the display."

Buckda posted 12-23-2009 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Steve -

Both my units are Garmin. One is a 168Sounder/GPS combo that I originally bought for my 15' Sport. I later upgraded to a Garmin 2010C chartplotter - which I use for navigation, heading and speed information. The 168Sounder offers depth contour, water temperature and speed information, as well as a backup for GPS, if needed (it has an internal antenna, and the 2010 has an external antenna).

I'll see if I can dig up a photo.


jharrell posted 12-23-2009 07:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jharrell    
One difference I noticed when comparing the hd7 to the hd8 that was mentioned along with screen and buttons is the 5/7 only have one com port for nmea 183 where the 8/10 have two.

This could make a difference when looking at AIS integration such as the new Standard Horizon VHF with AIS that use separate nmea 183 links for dsc and ais.

SJUAE posted 12-23-2009 10:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

Three images from my Iphone showing icons that re-scale on zoom and are represetative png png png


Thanks I noted/thought there was some extra port on the back of the HDS-8/10 but could not remember which one. So another advantage of dual 5's or 7's providing it can be shared over the NMEA2000.


SJUAE posted 12-24-2009 01:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     
This may help illustrate the screen aspect ratios between the HDS-5,7 & 8 hdsscreenratio.jpg

I did try to see if there was a comparable difference with similar units from Raymarine and Garmin but it’s not quite as easy due to different model ranges and so specifications. No one model range seemed to cover from 5-10” screens.

However there did seem an average magnitude of cost increase for going up to the next screen size of approximately $300 on lower spec and $500 or more on higher spec units.

If Raymarine and Garmin are your preferred brands it would be worth comparing dual smaller screen options vs a single larger one, depending on your requirements.


Jefecinco posted 12-24-2009 10:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     

Good illustration.

The HDS5 screen is 12.5 square inches, the HDS7 is 57% larger at 19.66 inches, and the HDS8 is 72+% larger than the HDS7 as it is 33.87 inches.

Based on Jim's original post to this thread the price delta of $1000 for the HDS7 vs $1600 for the HDS8 does not seem to be wildly out of line as it is not really an increase of one inch.

The base HDS-8 without the sounder transducer is selling for less than $1500 on-line including shipping.


SJUAE posted 12-24-2009 08:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

Sorry my error I should of looked in the manual first the HDS-8 is 8.2" not 8.4" see correction below and I added the SQ" and the HDS-10. updatedhdsscreenratio.jpg

I noticed whilst checking the user manuals that the diagrams are generally taken from the HDS8/10 screens (without the 6 bottom buttons) apart from a few that are in the HDS-5 format but there are only 1 or 2 of the HDS-7.

This picture below is actual screen shots from the manual showing a better idea of amount of detail/size for each model.

Note The HDS-7 sonar is correct but I covered the "Sonar Flasher" with a map from the HDS-8 which is marginally stretched (~3%) in the vertical plane to fit the replaced area. jpg


Buckda posted 12-25-2009 02:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Steve -

Apologies for the condition of the helm station in this photo - this is an early morning shot about 5 days into a camping (aboard) trip to Lake Nipigon in 2008. We've just finished breakfast, and I actually spent some time just after this photo was taken to clean up the boat from the detritus of a week aboard... id=1383963684

SJUAE posted 12-25-2009 03:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

No problem, nice to see a boat in use, going to try and get my one out tomorrow as it's still in the 80's here.

Glad of the picture as I forget that some whalers have a much lower console top, so looking over a 10" screen like yours, is not a problem.

Regards and best seasonal wishes

Hoosier posted 01-06-2010 08:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Since this thread came up in another HDS related thread I thought I'd throw as more fuel on the fire. Another interesting thing about the HDS-5's rendering engine when using a Navionics SD chart file is that it renders land as a shade of beige, water as cream, and depth contours as light orange (see photo link above). The only way I've found to get acceptable contrast is to tilt the display back about 30 degrees. My interim solution is to keep the display in "Night Mode", then graphics are much more legible. Something's not right.
Jefecinco posted 01-06-2010 09:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Is there not a menu option to change the palette? I thought this was a feature on all Lowrance color MFDs.


SJUAE posted 01-06-2010 10:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

I can't confirm till I get that picture for you but the manual on page 56 shows different.

Normally the colours shown are the same as shown on the hard copy admiralty charts for your area.

Have you tried 2d,3d, shaded options ?


Hoosier posted 01-06-2010 12:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I couldn't find a palette for the Chart Page, there is one in the Sonar Page settings. From what I've been able to find out by playing with it, the separate "Pages" aren't linked, so preferences set in one do not carry over to another. Another thing I've noticed is that some of the menu choices change when the Navionics card is selected as the data source. I tried all the combinations of settings and settled on the Night Mode as the best solution. This issue may be related to the software that draws the Navionics data and may not show up with other data sources.
SJUAE posted 01-08-2010 01:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

I found this picture which shows more like what you should be seeing jpg

I must get down to my boat and get that picture for you to confirm.

But I'm inclined to think it's partly to do with the cartography source for your area

I don't think there are colour pallet options for the charts just turning on and off features/POI's


Hoosier posted 01-08-2010 06:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
It looks like the rendering is unique to this version of the Navionics software. I got this from Lowrance:

"The colors displayed with a Navionics card inserted are chosen by Navionics the only way to change them on the unit is with US or international presentation modes or like you have done with Night mode."

Interesting, Navionics (above) blamed Lowrance. Looks like Team HDS didn't talk to Team XOG within Navionic's software group...

SJUAE posted 01-09-2010 06:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

Finally a couple of pictures for you

I have displayed the HDS in simple 2D mode for the comparison.

Your right the icons don't scale but this does not bother me personally and looks less cluttered.

I think the rendering is not only unique to the card type and version of the Navionics software but your chart area.

Maybe Lowrance should of given some pallet colour options but given the number of colours now shown Navionics should really set the basic format for high contrast initially.

Try the 2d and 3d shaded settings to see which you prefer.

Interestingly the IPones looks like it uses the same chart data and the map costs a fraction of the price.


Hoosier posted 01-09-2010 09:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I give up. What is most confusing is the presentation is different for the same SD card when it is put in the different devices. I guess I'll have to wait a while for the water to soften up to see how this all effects usability.....
jimh posted 09-08-2010 07:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
To follow up on this discussion, I recently bought a LOWRANCE HDS-8. I have described the installation and initial use of it in a separate article. See

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