Humminbird Helix 7 Fishfinder Technology
The Humminbird Helix 7 Fishfinder series offers a range of options depending on the level of technology that you want on your boat. The HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3N model, is the Helix 7 with the most features. The model features MEGA™ side imaging and MEGA™ down imaging, which are both new features to the Humminbird Helix units.
If you are unfamiliar with the terms, side imaging gives you an underwater picture similar to what you would see if you flew over the area in an airplane and looked down into clear water.
Down imaging gives you a picture similar to what you would see if you went scuba diving. The side imaging on these units ranges 100 feet on each side, and the down imaging ranges to 1500 feet. The kHz range on the device for all imaging allows for clear full, narrow, and wide views.
The MEGA™ imaging uses Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse (CHIRP) technology. This is the sonar and radar tech that the military has used since the 1950s. Humminbird uses what it refers to as “True CHIRP,” which has a wide resonant frequency that produces more accurate image separation and better images of fish arches.
Essentially, CHIRP technology puts more energy into the water because it sends longer pulses at different frequencies. It picks up more detail about what is below the surface because different objects reflect different frequencies. The images are accurate enough that you can see not only fish but also lines and lures.
The Helix 7 also uses SwitchFire™ technology, which allows you to switch between two modes of viewing. If the waters are rough or shallow, you can use Clear Mode to see fish through the turbulence and “noise” in the water. In deeper and clear water, you can use Max Mode to get the clearest most accurate view of fish, structure, currents, and thermocline.
The Helix 7 has built-in GPS and comes loaded with base maps that include more than 10,000 lakes and coastal coverage in the United States. It also has a Micro SD card slot, which allows you to use the LakeMaster™, LakeMaster Plus™, and Navionics™ maps.
Finally, if you want to map uncharted waters, AutoChart Live™ allows you to see satellite and contour views of lakes, map your course, and record waypoints. The program gives you eight hours of recording memory and the ability to plot 50 trails with 20,0000 points each. The increased memory also allows for real-time chart plotting with no lag.
Humminbird Helix 7 Fishfinder Usability and Design
The best feature of the Humminbird Helix 7 is its display. The 800 x 480 pixel, 256 color high definition display with LED backlighting makes for a unit that is visible in all weather and light conditions and at all angles. The images are brighter, clearer, faster, and bigger than most other fishfinders, and the bonded glass cover makes it virtually glare-free. The landscape design makes for a pleasant viewing experience, especially in split-screen mode.
While I do tend to prefer touch screen technology, the user interface is simple and easy to use. The buttons are large and clearly labeled and include View, Zoom In / Zoom Out, Enter, Mark, Menu, Exit, and GoTo / Man Overboard. The unit has split-screen capabilities which let you see both the fish below you and your chart at the same time.
The MEGA SI G3N and the MEGA DI G3N units come with Ethernet networking capabilities that allow you to display 360º imaging and allow you to link your Helix 7 to other technology on your boat. In addition, all of the Helix 7 series units have Bluetooth capabilities so that you can get wireless software updates and display notifications from your phone.
The Helix 7 can be mounted in-dash or using a gimbal bracket, which comes with the unit. Although the G3 units do not have Ethernet capability, they do have transducers that are specially shaped to accommodate trolling motors and therefore work well on kayaks.
Humminbird Fishfinding and Chartplotting Capabilities
The vivid display combined with the CHIRP and SwitchFire™ technologies makes this a solid fishfinder. The images are clear and the unit works in fresh, salt, deep, shallow, calm, and turbulent waters. Also, the Chartplotter has excellent navigation accuracy because the unit uses WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System.) WAAS is a combination of satellites and ground stations that improve the accuracy of GPS. WAAS enhanced navigation has accuracy better than three meters 95% of the time.
There are some downsides to the Helix 7 series. The units do not have NMEA 2000 ports and are not connectable to other Humminbird units. They do not use 800 mHz frequencies for down and side scan imaging. In addition, the built-in maps do not offer much detail, and there is only one Micro SD card slot.
PROS and CONS
Despite some of the drawbacks mentioned above, the Humminbird Helix 7 series is a good option for anglers who are looking for a mid-priced fishfinder. Its excellent image quality and plethora of features, especially on the HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3N model, make it a good option for any avid fisherman.
The Humminbird Helix 7 Fishfinder, is a good all-around versatile fish finder, and worth you taking a serious look at this instrument.