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Electronics Review


Side Imaging for the Masses? Humminbird's 797c2 SI (continued)
 

Startup: So, ok, so far life has not been too great with the 797c2 SI. How about some of the unit's other features? Well, unfortunately, because of the GPS function, start up is slow in this unit which makes it tough as a unit to have up front by your trolling motor unless you just leave it on all the time. It takes a good seven to ten seconds for the unit to start up depending on how quick you are to click the various buttons to get it going. That's right, you don't just press the power button on this unit to start up, because of the GPS, you need to exit out of the acknowledgement screen before the unit will continue to load. Even after it has started up, it can take even longer for the GPS mode to get going as it needs to acquire satellite communication.


A sample of the difference in resolution... here's a shot taken down an arm of a lake shooting out at both sides on our 797c2 SI.

Views: There are a dizzying array of options available for views on the 797c2 SI and what's more, the user has the option to limit these views to a few favorites or keep them all. The various split screens are particularly helpful.


Then, in the same arm but switched to only a one side view, you can see all the more detail on the right bank including some trees at the top of the screen.

Standard Finder: In standard mode, the color depth finder on the 797c2 SI is wonderful. Granted, this was my first color finder, but the step up from black and white to color is wonderful and leaves me scratching my head as to why didn't I make this move sooner.

 
The flasher is a nice feature for console mounted units. Of course, this photo was taken on our unit mounted up front by the trolling motor before we acquired the second unit to mount by the console.

The unit I replaced with the 797c2 SI was a Lowrance X47 that came stock with my boat and the problem with that unit was the interference I'd receive up front. Intermittent erroneous depth readings were common place with that thing even after grounding my trolling motor and I'm happy to say none of that is a problem with the 797c2 SI.

Ratings:

Humminbird 797c2 SI Combo NVB Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The units feel solid and built to take as much abuse as one might expect 8
Performance Standard finder features are great... I think the SI is best left to the larger units... Our Interlink was very buggy. 6.5
Price At roughly a $500 premium for the SI technology that can only be used at trolling speeds, I question the value to the recreational angler 6
Features The 797c2 SI is certainly a full featured unit and then some 9
Design (Ergonomics) User interface and interoperability was just not as simple as I had hoped 7
Application Best suited for guides and tournament anglers who spend a lot of time on the water and really get to know their electronics intimately 7

Total Score

7.25
Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
(For a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

  
Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J All of Humminbird's technology in a compact, somewhat affordable unit. L To get the most out of this unit, you really need to go through the manual closely. Not quite for the plug and lay crowd.
J Interlink is a great concept L Screen on the 797c2 SI is a tad small to see the detail of SI scans
J Easy install and removal of unit with mounting bracket L Interlink is a great concept but buggy and no sharing of maps between units!

 

Conclusion: I did not get nearly as in depth as I might have liked in this article and with this unit simply from all the difficulties I had growing accustomed to its operability. Based on the unit's price tag, I was simply expecting a lot more and my early experiences with the unit were a disappointment because of these expectations.

 


Color finders are the only way to go. We really liked the 797c2 SI's color depth finding screen.

 

Even looking beyond that and starting over with two units, abandoning my first unit as simply a non-SI unit with GPS functionality, the Interlink component renewed my frustration as it proved buggy and unreliable. The Navionics SD card mistake was entirely on me, yes, but is it unreasonable to expect two units hooked up to a network sharing device to actually share the GPS map information and not just waypoints, so the end user, who has already spent over $2K for two units and the Interlink, doesn't have to also by two Navionics chips at over $100 each?

 


Another shot down a deep channel traveling at just over 4mph. You can make out some detail on the right, but it's not very apparent.

 

GPS functionality aside, and going back to the SI feature, mounted in the proper location and used in the manner to which it was intended, the detail on the 797c2 SI is actually pretty good though I was still wanting for a little bit more. The 900 series units reportedly have better resolution and a larger screen so if SI is what you really want, I think the 900 series is what you should really get. Maybe the trickle down just does not make sense for these smaller units.

 


Again, limiting the view to one side, you can see much more.

 

Of course, the standard depth finder features on the 797c2 SI are wonderful. Detail of the color finder and availability of the flasher display are great, but at the same time, I could have gotten this functionality with a much lower cash outlay even with GPS.

 


A view along a shallow flat.

 

Now, were I a tournament angler or professional fishing guide where my average time on the water equates to 3 or 4 times a week or more and my success depends on getting to know my electronics inside and out, I'm sure my findings may be much different. At the same time, with that much at stake, I'd probably opt for the 900 series unit, so there's that dilemma again.

 


Another look at probably the best image we were able to acquire during our time with the 797c2 SI. 

In the end, while I still think these are good units, I'm quite certain they are simply not for me. Too much time is required in front of these units to configure settings, save routes, switch left to right depending on which side you want the imaging to work on, and really, just getting to know the device. It takes two or three clicks to get through the start up function, it takes a conscious effort to save a GPS route, the SI only works at certain speeds, unless you're trolling, you have to really be intent on mapping a lake's structure versus just fishing to get the most out of the SI, this is all time and conscious effort that takes away from my time tossing baits and concentrating on fishing. For those who have this time, these units can be very good, but for what I'm looking for when I'm out on the water, the 797c2 SI just requires more attention than I'm willing to give.

 

Want to try the Hummingbird? Check out Monster Fishing Tackle.

 

 

 

 

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