Lowrance HDS Carbon an impression innovation
  |  First Published: June 2017

It’s no surprise that marine technology is constantly changing. In the past when it came to fish finder technology we would have to wait years before anything new hit the market. Now we don’t have to wait long at all! Some anglers like the fast advances and some don’t. Either way, it means the consumer is getting access to bigger and better things, which I am all for.

A few months ago, Lowrance announced the upcoming release of its latest and greatest fish finder, the HDS Carbon. An upgrade on the previous Gen 3 model, the Carbon boasts some handy additions that will make it that much easier for anglers on the water. I have only briefly had my hands on the unit, but in that time I gave it a fair work over for this review.

What iT IS

The HDS Carbon is a touchscreen fish finder/GPS unit. If you’re out of the loop with what’s currently available, touchscreen sounders have basically dominated the market over the past few years. They make it very easy to navigate around a sounder. If you are familiar with using a smart phone, using a touchscreen Lowrance becomes second nature.

Straight out of the box you can expect to get the sounder itself, mounting bracket, power cable and instructions. Also depending on the bundle you bought you may also get a transducer and mapping card. I recommend having a good think about your type of fishing and buying the right transducer to suit. The transducer connects you to the water and is extremely important!

what IT can do

Internally this sounder has had some major upgrades over its predecessors. One of the first things you will notice with the HDS Carbon is the clarity and brightness of the new Solarmax screen. Colours are far more vibrant and images are clearer. The greatest benefit of the Solarmax screen is that in full sunlight, even while wearing polarised sunglasses, you can easily see what’s on the screen. Gone are the days of having to use your hand to shade the screen to see what’s on the sounder.

It now runs a dual-core processor and the ram has been doubled. This means that the unit is faster and far more capable. Running split screens with Structure Scan 3D, GPS and Radar is now possible. To give you context, if you have recently upgraded to a new cell phone, one of the first things you notice is how fast and responsive the new one is. This is exactly how the new HDS Carbon feels.

My favourite Lowrance feature of all time is Structure Scan. The upgraded Solarmax screen and processor make Structure Scan on the HDS Carbon a treat to use. The clarity is mind-boggling. I tested this sounder with a Structure Scan 3D transducer and was able to scan over 100m either side of my boat! That’s covering a 200m span while still being able to pick out structure and fish.

Another handy addition is the ability to network dual sonar views. For example, if you have two transducers set up on your boat (one at the transom and one on the bow mount electric motor), you can view both sonar readings at the same time. This is great for running different frequency transducers or running high, medium or low chirp.


Installation with these units is simple. There are complete instructions that come with the sounder but it is a straightforward task. However, it is important that transducer setup is done correctly, so it always pays to do a bit of prior research or get the helping hand of a professional. If you are upgrading from a HDS Gen 3 like myself, no changes are needed. I used the same bracket and cables as were already installed. Just plug and play, it’s that simple.

The HDS Carbon units come in four different sizes: 7”, 9”, 12” and the new 16”. This is the largest unit available in its class and for those that have the space to fit it on their boat, it will be a very welcome addition. I have already been measuring up my console to work out how to fit one in!

Prices start at $1999 (RRP). These are rolling out to stores now. With the upgrades to what was an already impressive machine, these units are a worthy investment if you are in the market to upgrade or purchase a new sounder.

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