Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 Review

UPDATED Nov. 2021
Brand: Lowrance
Model: HDS-12
Our Score: 9.7/10
Table Of Contents+
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Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 is a top-tier fish finder/chartplotter combo designed to fit the needs of the most demanding professional fishers out there. The unit is much faster than Gen2 devices and cuts any potential lag to zero while providing you with crisp high-resolution images. This particular version comes without a transduces, which makes it an excellent choice for fishers who already have one installed in their vessel.

Read this Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 review to learn more about this hi-tech unit and discover whether it justifies its price tag. 

Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 on white background

Pros & Cons

Pros
    • Multi-touch screen 
    • CHIRP/broadband sonar 
    • Integrated StructureScan functionality 
    • High-precision GPS 
    • LED backlight 
    • Compatible with numerous maps and charts 
    • Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity 
    • Dual microSD card slots 
    • NMEA 2000 port
Cons
    • Expensive 

Specifications

SpecificationsLowrance HDS-12 Gen3
TypeDown Imaging
SonarCHIRP, StructureScan
TransducerNo
Display (size, resolution, backlit, color)12" diagonal, 1280 x 800 pixel matrix, LCD color screen, LED backlight
DimensionsW x H x D - 8.85" (224.7 mm) x 12.92" (328.1mm) x 3.47" (88.2mm)
Weight3lb
Batteries1 x 12V
Depth Capability750ft
Frequency- CHIRP: 83/200 kHz - StructureScan: 455/800 kHz
Power OutputNot Specified
Power Input13VDC
GPSInternal 10Hz GPS/GLONASS receiver with 16 channels
MapsInsight USA
Routes, Waypoints, Tracks3,000 Waypoints, 100 routes, 100 trails (10k points per trail)
WaterproofIPX7
Wi-Fi Connectivityyes
MicroSD card slotyes

Display/Screen

Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 comes with a 12” LCD display with an LED backlight, which means you will have no problems observing your images even in direct sunlight. The resolution of the screen is 1280 x 800 in a 16:9 ratio, making the split-screen feature much easier to use. You can operate the screen using the keypad or touchscreen functionality.

Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 side view

The waterproof rating in IP-X7, so the unit should have no problems handling water splashes, heavy rain, and even complete immersion in 3.3ft of water for half an hour. On the other hand, the “X” in the rating means the manufacturer has not tested it against the entry of solid objects like dust and dirt.  Note that you have to keep the microSD card door closed for the waterproof rating to apply. 

Sonar & Transducer

As we already mentioned in this Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 review, the unit does not come with a transducer. The manufacturer focused its entire effort on creating the ultimate fish finder – and it is actually good that it does not come with a transducer because it would raise its already high price tag. If you already have your favorite transducer installed in your fishing vessel or are looking to buy one of the best models (we definitely recommend going for a TotalScan transducer), this unit is ideal for you.

The unit utilizes the CHIRP technology as well as StructureScan, which provides users with an optimal overview of not just fish targets but underwater structures and landmarks underneath their vessels as well. Note that you have to pair the device with a StructureScan transducer in order to use this feature. The CHIRP sonar covers 83 and 200 kHz while StructureScan operates at 455/800 kHz.  

The max depth Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 can reach is 750ft, but pairing it with a high-quality StructureScan transducer will allow for a full 180° view, which is ideal for ice fishing. 

Navigation

The base version of Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 comes with Insight USA maps, which show you the most common fishing locations in the coastal areas around the US. However, the unit is compatible with the top charting options on the market, so you can upgrade it with Navionics Gold/Platinum+/NAV+, C-MAP (MAX N and MAX N+) and others.

Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 menu option on display

The unit comes with a built-in 10Hz GPS/GLONASS receiver (16 channels) that allows you to pinpoint your current location, measure the overall speed of your vessel, and much more. The chartplotting function allows you to create up to 3,000 waypoints with 100 routes and 100 trails (10,000 points per trails).  

You can also view the locations in 2D when necessary with an overlay provided by the StructureScan feature. The Insight Genesis app also enables you to create personal maps of your favorite fishing hotspots and locations.  

Networking

When it comes to connectivity options, Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 features Ethernet ports, Bluetooth, a microSD card reader, and the NMEA 2000 port. The internal memory of the unit is 7.8GB with up to 32GB in two microSD card slots. 

What's In The Box

    • Not Specified

Verdict

Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 is a high-quality fish finder/chartplotter combo designed for professional fishers with medium-to-large fishing vessels. If you already have a top-tier transducer installed or are thinking about purchasing one instead of settling for default models provided with other units, this fish finder may be just perfect for you. 

It provides you with exceptional sonar capabilities, unparalleled networking options, a high-precision GPS paired with a potent chartplotter, compatibility with all the premium mapping packages, and much more. The price of the device is rather high, but you definitely get what you paid for.  

Our score: 9.7/10