Unfortunately for our wallets, we can’t avoid some cost increases in electronics. They stem from new features appearing in each product generation that require more computer power and better screens. And the almost universal use of personal electronics with touch screens has fishermen looking for the same familiar convenience in their marine electronics. All this calls for high-tech components reliable enough for marine use and new software to tie them all together.

To be worth the price of upgrading, the ideal electronics for serious fishermen must deliver performance above and beyond what they have now at a price that makes the smallest possible dent in their recreational budget. Pro anglers, corporately sponsored, run the absolute best, but most of us are sponsored by Team Family. It’s natural to want tournament-angler performance with a great screen and enough computer power to ride herd on all those desirable features, and we can often save money by avoiding units with features we don’t need. 

Lowrance’s Elite Ti series of combo units illustrates this point. It was a best seller for the company during 2016 because it offers bright, highly detailed screens, plenty of computer power, NMEA networking capability and even Bluetooth and WiFi. Elite Ti units include CHIRP sonar and StructureScan HD with SideScan and DownScan Imaging.

The series originally included two units: the Elite-5 Ti ($449) with 5-inch screen and the Elite-7 Ti ($649) with 7-inch screen. Two new models are scheduled to appear in about March of 2017: the Elite-9 Ti ($849) with 9-inch screen and the Elite-12 Ti ($1,849) with 12-inch screen. The Elite-5 Ti has only NMEA 0183 capability, but Elite 7, 9 and 12 Ti models also have NMEA 2000 with its plug-and-play ease of use. None have Ethernet capability, but unless you are planning to add radar or need four-lane-highway network bandwidth for some other reason, you don’t need to pay extra for it.

NMEA 2000 lets these units control a MotorGuide Xi5 trolling motor from their touch screens through a MotorGuide PinPoint GPS Gateway. Lowrance’s SmartSteer autopilot feature can tell the motor to maintain a set heading, hold its position “anchored,” navigate to an onscreen cursor’s position or waypoint, follow a route, follow pre-defined turn patterns to cover water more efficiently, and automatically control motor speed like a cruise control.

Elite Ti models’ wireless connectivity can deliver notifications about new software updates and upload them directly to the units. Onboard Service Assistant and Network Analyzer Wi-Fi service tools enable you to send system reports, screen shots and software version information directly to Lowrance Customer Service for faster problem fixes. Wi-Fi also connects you to the GoFree Shop where you can upload sonar data or download custom maps from your Insight Genesis account. Pair a unit’s Bluetooth with Power-Pole shallow water anchors and you can operate a pair of them right from your screen.

Visit lowrance.com for more information on the entire Elite Ti series.