What’s in a software update?

Lowrance’s latest software update includes a surface clarity filter upgrade that allows the fish arches in the top third of this screen to be seen at the low filter setting. The previous filter technology would have required a high enough level of filtering to eliminate them.

It’s important to keep up with upgrades for your electronics

Lowrance’s latest software update reminded me that it has been a while since I mentioned how important updates are to all of us — no matter what brand of electronics we run.

When new features and improvements were developed back in the early days of computerized fishfinders, you had to buy the next new model to get them. When fixes for problems were found, you had to send your unit back to the factory to have them installed. Now, those old days are just memories and we handle those tasks with free software updates downloaded right to our home computer.

The new Lowrance update is for HDS Gen3, Elite-5 Ti and -7 Ti units and it’s headlined by a striking advancement in the way their Surface Clarity features work. When a sonar transducer transmits a sound pulse its energy is strongest close-in before it begins to disperse in a widening beam pattern. It is so strong close to the transducer that the fish finder can have trouble pulling actual fish and baitfish echoes out of all the noise that we see on the top-edge of the screen as surface clutter. This cloud of clutter can completely hide details 10 or 20 feet from the surface. We normally reduce the mess by turning up the unit’s surface clarity filter until most of it goes away. Unfortunately, these filters can affect the whole top half of the screen picture and when you turn the surface clarity filter up high enough to eliminate most of the clutter you may also eliminate the fish and baitfish echoes you bought the unit to see!

This new software update enhances the surface clarity filter’s ability to distinguish between the noise/clutter and the targets you want to see so it can better eliminate just noise and leave your fish targets on the screen. Now, owners of these Lowrance units have a better chance of seeing schools of baitfish and the predators stalking them across the whole top half of their display.

Other enhancements include technical updates that let HDS Gen3 units display and control two independent live sonar sources (like one from the bow and one from the transom) on a single screen and control audio equipment that complies with the latest NMEA 2000 standard.

Changes for both HDS Gen3 and Elite-Ti units include SonarChart Live which lets you automatically create one-foot HD bathymetric maps of areas in real time by converting sonar readings into detailed contour maps as the boat moves along (requires a Navionics mapping card with an active charts subscription) and Plotter Sync which lets you download the latest Navionics chart data and transfer waypoints and routes between this Navionics app and a mapping card (a subscription to the app and a Navionics mapping card with an active daily updates subscription are required).

The best reason for installing software updates may be the unadvertised, behind-the-scenes improvements often included that make your unit more efficient, faster, and just plain easier to use!