Sonar wars: Lowrance StructureScan 3D, Raymarine SonarChart Live & GoFree Hooked

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 27, 2015

Lowrance_StructureScan_3D_split_screen_aPanbo.jpgThe competition around sonar burns hot on many fronts and the more the merrier, I say. At the recent iCast show Lowrance introduced StructureScan 3D, which displays in many ways like the Garmin Panoptix Down looking sonar which I saw demonstrated last February in its Forward looking version. Trade Only's Chris Landry noticed the similarity too and reports that SS 3D will also be supported on Simrad NSS evo2 displays. The necessary StructureScan 3D transducer and module are due out in December and purportedly improve on SS HD's standard down and side views as well as enabling the new 3D mode...

Lowrance_StructureScan_3D_full_screen_aPanbo.jpgI'm a longtime fan of StructureScan as a cruising tool -- and have been glad to see Garmin and Raymarine join the side-scanning fray that Humminbird started, Panbo links all -- but it's true that few Gizmo visitors easily understand the normal top-down display that I tried to explain here. Reprocessing the 2D bottom imagery into a 3D view from behind the boat (or from any other angle) with the "Leading Edge" beam pattern shown in red may well make both the technology and the bottom structure easier to comprehend. SS 3D also introduces new features like Vertical Depth Enhancement to highlight drop-offs and SelectScan to add color contrast to suspended targets like fish. We may soon see positive reports on Garmin Panoptix in actual use, but jealous Navico users may find comfort in this promising StructureScan 3D beta testing video.

Navionics_SonarChart_Live_on_Raymarine_Dragonfly_aPanbo.jpgMeanwhile, Raymarine's Dragonfly 4/5 PRO and Wi-Fish got support for Navionics SonarChart Live, and that's true now if you're running the iOS Boating app with Android coming soon. Users of the $199 Wi-Fish get a CHIRP DownVision window on their app charting, and with the Dragonfly Pro plotter/FF models (start at $300) you get both DownVision and CHIRP fishfinding windows, as seen in this video. Either way, this looks like a slick SonarCharts Live integration, and given the availability of both Dragonfly/Wi-Fish device and transducer RAM mounts, it would be easy to set up a tender as a survey vessel (like I did with the Vexilar T-Box).

Finally, Navico also announced the GoFree Hooked fishing app at iCast and is looking for beta testers with an iPhone 5 or above. Now, you could say that this app has nothing directly to do with sonar, but hear me out. I too was a bit surprised that the first inhouse GoFree mobile app (aside from the MFD Controllers) stands apart from all the GoFree WiFi data streaming features built into Navico electronics, but then I realized that -- duh! -- the ambition is bigger. Hooked begins as a free app that any fisherman can use to document his or her catches and engage in friendly competitions, regardless of electronics. Thus, it's easy to picture a pro version that could be used to manage and/or document an entire tournament via GoFree's cloud servers. It's also easy to imagine how Hooked users who do run Lowrance and Simrad gear might eventually get their catch histories integrated with their Insight Genesis sonar records and even downloaded to the boat via GoFree WiFi to provide a resource that fishermen with their scribbled notepads have only dreamed of!

And can't we assume that Raymarine, Garmin, Humminbird, etc. are anxiously minding the same GoFree Hooked possibilities? That's what makes the fierce sonar competition so intriguing and productive, I think (though I hope that the patent part -- news here and here -- doesn't dominate). I also like to contemplate how much Navico is banking on its GoFree brand and what a tight integration of apps, cloud servers, and streaming boat electronics could do for cruise logs, planning, monitoring and more. Let's hope that battle gets hot too.

GoFree_Hooked_app_aPanbo.jpg

Comments

Incidentally, the auto routing feature in Navionics Boating 8.1 (iOS) is vastly improved. While still not perfect, it may be the best available, MFDs included. And it's now included in the app base price, no longer an extra purchase.

Posted by: Ben at July 27, 2015 10:25 AM | Reply


Is Furuno totally missing from these wars? Given the competitive advantages (including state-of-the art searchlight sonar, first-rate down-looking fish-finder technology, 3D display technology, and network capabilities) it enjoyed, at least until recently, its marketing strategies may one day become a B-School case study. (From my perspective as a guy who, 6 years ago, chose a 3-unit NN3D black-box system with all the bells and whistles, and a CH-250 even though it could not be networked.)

Posted by: Rick O at July 27, 2015 11:29 AM | Reply

That's a good question, Rick. Furuno is also the only one of the Big Four that hasn't teamed with a distributed power and digital switching partner like Mastervolt CZone or EmpirBus.

I'm a fan of Furuno hardware and TimeZero software, but just last week I took a call from a boatbuilder which illustrated the problem. His client for a sizable cruising boat likes Furuno but also wants an Interphase-like forward looking sonar like his old boat had. The builder is leaning toward a Simrad evo2 system as the right fit, and that made sense to me. Navico's ForwardScan is at least as good as Interphase's FLS (though without the horizontal option), fully integrated, and an easy low-cost add-on (especially on a new boat).

I told him that I wouldn't be surprised if Garmin and/or Raymarine come up with FLS options, but Furuno has shown little interest in these sonar niches. Maybe it's because they are not commercial level, but then again Furuno almost offered a standalone FLS years ago...

https://www.panbo.com/archives/2005/10/furuno_fls_a_category_stimulated.html

...and may have related patents:

https://www.panbo.com/archives/2009/01/furuno_fls_the_hope_lives_on.html

Posted by: Ben at July 27, 2015 11:55 AM | Reply

To receive an invite to the GoFree Hooked beta test program, you can go to gofreehooked.com. You will then be sent an email from Apple test flight to download the Test flight App and a copy of Hooked.

Posted by: Phil at July 27, 2015 12:39 PM | Reply

R.e. "It's also easy to imagine how Hooked users who do run Lowrance and Simrad gear might eventually get their catch histories integrated with their Insight Genesis sonar records ..."

This is already possible with GoFree Hooked! The blog article at this link describes how: http://tinyurl.com/nhf5dcc

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

"GoFree Hooked creates the first of many planned integrations between maps and apps for the Lowrance and Simrad communities. ...

"The location of any fish-catch you log with GoFree Hooked is automatically marked with a pin in the online displays of both your custom-made Insight Genesis maps and your personal view of Social Map charts.

"Click on the pin to see all the details about the catch you logged with the app — species, weight, length, bait type and color, depth, cover and/or structure, etc. Those pins — along with your notes — can then be converted easily to a GPX file, saved to an SD (or micro-SD) card, and imported as waypoints into your compatible Lowrance or Simrad sonar/GPS unit."

Posted by: Anonymous at August 19, 2015 3:05 PM | Reply

Navico's free GoFree "Hooked" fishing app is finally out in Beta version (apparently it went back to Alpha right after I wrote about it above). Hopefully this is a case of "good work takes time"!

It's a phone app available for Android...

https://play.google.com/store/search?q=gofree%20hooked&c=apps&hl=en

...and iOS:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gofree-hooked-challenge-your/id1008999462?mt=8

Posted by: Ben at March 7, 2016 3:26 PM | Reply

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