marine electronics reviews

Lowrance HDS-10
Big Screen Combo Review

The Lowrance HDS-10 tested here is a big screen multi-function marine GPS chartplotter and Broadband Sounder ™ combo. It was loaded with Lowrance Nautic Insight ™ U.S. Coastal cartography.

The HDS-10 package ships with the display unit, mounting bracket, dual-frequency transom-mount transducer, operations manual, installation manual, quick start guide, and a combination NMEA0183 data/power cable.

The HDS-10 display can also be purchased as a standalone chartplotter or standalone fishfinder. The display unit measures 8.9-inches high by 12.3-inches wide and 3.6-inches deep.

We used the accompanying gimbal bracket to mount the Lowrance HDS-10 to our test rig. A removable front bezel allows for panel mounting without any additional hardware other than mounting screws.

The Lowrance HDS-10 has a two chart card slots and can use Navionics Platinum and Platinum+ charts as well as any Navionics inland lakes cards.

lowrance hds-10 gps chartplotter fishfinder
Lowrance HDS-10

Connectivity

When connected to the appropriate optional sensors the Lowrance HDS-10 can also display radar data, Sirius marine weather and radio, broadband side scanning sonar, or engine gauges. A single cable with a twist lock connector attaches to the case back and supplies power and NMEA 0183 data through individual legs.

The display contains an internal 16-channel GPS sensor, alternatively the unit can use an optional external GPS sensor if needed or desired. I used the internal antenna for this review. supports data transfer rates of up to 38,400 baud. This unit can also interface with NMEA 0183 devices, a NMEA 2000 or Navico Ethernet network.

Screen Size and Viewability

The Lowrance HDS-10 is equipped with an 8.5-inch wide by 6.4-inch high display screen. The high contrast screen measures 10.4-inches on the diagonal and sports a very respectable 800 by 600 pixels of resolution.

I found the Lowrance HDS-10 display screen to be clear, bright and easy to read. Only the smallest detail requires a close examination of the screen, but this is expected today with the enormous amount of fine detail shown for most areas.

When viewed from straight out front the HDS-10 display maintains excellent screen brightness even when wearing polarized sunglasses. At steep side angles I noted a small amount of screen darkening but little reduction in readability.

I rated this Lowrance chartplotter sounder excellent for daylight viewability. No screen fogging was apparent in the display at anytime.

The Lowrance HDS-10 has both a day and night color palette. The night palette changes numbers and letters onscreen to a darker color for easier night viewing. Other than that it has little to no effect on the radar or chart pages while on the sounder page inverts the colors.

The radar page has four color palettes to choose from. Screen brightness can be set to one of ten levels using the keypad and switched to one of four levels using the light/power button. With the brightness set to minimum the screen goes all the way to black.

Operation

The Lowrance HDS-10 chartplotter fishfinder uses eight single or dual function pushbuttons, six soft keys, and a touch-flywheel equipped keypad to control functionality and manipulate onscreen menus. The ring around the keypad allows the user to scroll menus by placing a finger on the ring and moving it as desired.

Soft key functions are displayed onscreen above each soft key pushbutton. Full screen views and page screen combinations are set using the Pages button, keypad, and Enter key. The user can select from one of six main pages, Radar, Chart, Sonar, Steer, Waypoints, and Info. Combined pages are shown in two windows.

The size of each window is user adjustable with two clicks of the Menu button, then selecting Page, and finally selecting Adjust panel sizes. Control is switched from one window to the other by holding the Pages key. I liked the ease with which page combination are selected and how quick and easy it is to adjust the window size as desired.

Page specific menus are available for a number of pages including the radar, chart, and sonar pages. These menus provide another avenue to access functions that may or may not be listed as soft key function. A single press of the Menu pushbutton accesses the page specific menu. A second press of the Menu button will bring up the main menu.

A myriad of customized data can be overlaid on any page. The data overlay can be configured as analog or digital and displayed in one of three sizes.

Waypoints

Waypoints are built easily with a double press of the Waypoint key, either at the boat or cursor position. Once a point is created, soft key functions appear to edit or go to the point.

lowrance hds-10 gps chartplotter fishfinder
Tracking to a waypoint with the Chart and Steer page displayed. The heading extension line is turned on and set to 30 minutes.

Pressing edit lets you quickly change the name, position data, symbol, or color.

Clicking the More field lets you add a comment, record the depth, and set an alarm radius around the point.

I like the ability to add comments to waypoint data because even a long name usually doesn’t tell the complete story of certain points, especially when they are fishing spots.

Pressing the Go To soft key after creating or selecting a waypoint draws a line on the chart to the point and activates numerical and graphical navigation data on the Steer page.

Two easy to access functions we really like are the cancel navigation and restart navigation options. These both come in handy on the boat when you change your mind or need to deviate from a direct course momentarily.

Waypoints names can be up to 25 characters long, be identified with one of 70 symbols and one of 7 colors. The HDS-10 can store up to 5000 individual waypoints.

Routes

Routes are easy to create from the chart page. Make sure the chart page is displayed full screen or selected as the active page. Then you’d hit Menu and choose New Route. Soft key options start with the Add function. As you move the cursor and add waypoints you’ll see options to move or delete each waypoint.

Once you're done adding point to a route you click Save. Route building in the Lowrance HDS-10 was easy and straightforward. Routes are listed on their own page where each point on the route is listed with bearings and distances between each. You can modify, start, or delete a route here too. When you elect to start a route the unit gives you the option to run the route forward or reverse. The HDS-10 can store up to 200 routes with as many as 250 waypoints in each one.

Odds and Ends

You activate the man overboard function of the Lowrance HDS-10 by pressing both zoom keys simultaneously. No matter what page you are on the unit automatically switches to a zoomed full screen chart page view, saves the MOB position, and displays the MOB position in the lower left corner of the screen with bearing and distance back the point. I like the single action MOB function of the HDS-10 and think it provides adequate navigation data for an experienced helmsman to return to the MOB position quickly and precisely.

When ranging the chart on the Lowrance HDS-10 out rapidly you’ll see details shrink and obscure then a second or two later the screen will redraw all at once. Ranging in the chart grows then rescales. It seemed to take about the same second or two to redraw whether ranging in or out. I found redraw speeds on the HDS-10 to be adequately fast.

When testing another HDS unit I complained that precise cursor placement with the keypad was a bit clumsy. I found that same problem with the HDS-10. However, on this unit there is a fix. By going into an advanced settings menu the user can reset up to seven different cursor speed and acceleration parameters. If I owned this machine I’d play around with these settings until the cursor moved just as I pleased.

This Lowrance chartplotter has three chart orientation options, North Up, Course Up, and Heading Up.

The triangular shaped ship symbol has an adjustable course line indicator that can be set to anywhere from 1 minute to 120 minutes. Of course, as the boat speed increases this line will increase in length.

Locating services, tide or current data, or any other valuable information is accomplished by placing the cursor over the object of interest, then hitting the Info soft key. You can also use the find soft key function to go to a variety of menus that will locate a specific object of interest. One special object of interest I noticed on the HDS-10 chart page was the large number of fishing icons (fish symbol inside red box) scattered around the chart. When you point of one of these icons and display the information you’ll get an inside scoop of fishing knowledge for that specific area.

Fishfinder

The Lowrance HDS-10 internal sounder uses broadband sonar technology to enhance sounder viewing. Output power is not a viable metric when comparing a broadband sounder to a conventional analog unit since the sensitivity of the broadband sounder is so high it uses significantly less output power.

Our test unit is capable of putting out a maximum of 31 watts of power when coupled to either a 50/200 kHz or 83/200 kHz transducer. We used a transom-mount 83/200 kHz unit for our testing.

lowrance hds-10 gps chartplotter fishfinder
Our three test targets can be seen best on the low frequency screen on the left. They are the arches at 5-, 12-, and 20-feet. On the 200 kHz display the shallow target disappears into the surface clutter.

This fishfinder has all the features you’d want in a unit this size and includes auto and manual depth ranging, A-scope, a powerful zoom function, and bottom lock.

To get a dual frequency view you’ll need to select two sonar windows to display, each with a different frequency.

The unit will also display water temperature and speed when connected to a transducer with these capabilities.

When the sonar page is displayed you’ll find soft key functions available onscreen to adjust sensitivity, depth range, transducer frequency, and select a split screen option.

Going to the main sonar menu further lets you adjust noise rejection, surface clarity, and scroll speed as well as choose from a number of fishing mode selections.

The zoom function on this unit is powerful and can be turned off or set from 2x to 8x in single increments by using the range keys. Zoom area is selected with the cursor pad.

Sonar data can be displayed full screen or in a variety of split screen combinations. A latest software version for this unit that accompanies the StructureScan black box lets the HDS-10 display up to four windows.

During our testing the HDS-10 sounder marked all three of the submerged targets we placed in the water fairly well in auto gain. We refined the sonar image by adjusting the unit sensitivity down in the automatic mode.

Overall we'd rate the HDS-10 sounder good for both presentation and ease of use.

Back to the HDS-8 review.

Buy this Lowrance with any mapping or transducer options you want right here.

Final Thoughts

The Lowrance HDS-10 package can be purchased in a number of configurations and with a variety of cartography and transducer options, make the right choice before you buy.

Highs

Large clear and sharp display screen, Detailed 2D and shaded cartography, Easy soft key assisted operation, Tons of waypoint and route storage capacity, Area targeted fishing information, Top notch fishfinder, Good network connectivity.

Lows

Redraw speed could be faster, Night palette does little to the chart or radar page view

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