Humminbird has announced the launch of the latest fish finders in the Helix family, called Helix 7. The Helix 7 was launched with the slogan “Clearer, Wider, Brighter, Faster”, and builds upon the foundation laid earlier with the smaller Helix 5 fish finders. Like those smaller units, the Helix 7 is an affordable priced depth finder that utilizes an ultra-bright 16:9 widescreen display, similar to those found on their core series of 800 and 900 fish finders.
In this Helix 7 review, we’ll explain why these feature rich and compact sonar units are ideal for first time buyers who want to enjoy the benefits of Side Imaging and Down Imaging. We’ll also show you exactly what’s different between the Helix 5 and Helix 7 so you can decide if the extra 2” of screen is worth the upgrade to these new units.
Key Features of the Helix 7 Series
The Helix 7 fish finders have much in common with the Helix 5. Both series are full featured, with Sonar, Down Imaging, and Side Imaging models with GPS. Here are some of the key features and differences you should be aware of when considering buying the Helix 7.
- Full Featured / Affordable Price – For under $700, you can get the Helix 7 SI GPS model that is a Side Imaging, Down Imaging, and GPS mapping unit. Those types of high end abilities have only previously been available on high end fish finders, at a much higher cost.
- Glass Bonded Display – The Helix 7 utilizes an 800×480 pixel, 256 color TFT LED backlit display that is glass bonded for the best clarity. This is an upgrade over the plastic lens on the Helix 5. The display brightness is said to be 1500 nits (very bright) according to Humminbird’s website. This is the exact same size screen and resolution as the 800 series units, but hundreds of dollars cheaper (although the 800 series has 16 bit colors vs 8 bit on Helix 7).
- 2X D-RAM Memory – By doubling the on board memory, the Helix 7 can draw the maps faster and refresh the screen at an increased rate. This means your map can keep up with your boat as you cruise at high speed, and your sonar images will be better looking because the screen is drawing the sonar returns faster than what is on the Helix 5.
- Non Networking – The Helix 7 is a “stand alone” fish finder, which means it cannot share GPS waypoints with another Humminbird unit. The ability to network has been the most requested feature in the fishing forums that we follow. While it would be nice to have, it probably adds in too much cost. If you absolutely need networking, you need to move up a series.
- Gimbal Mounted – The Helix 7 has a sturdy and easy to adjust gimbal mounting bracket, which is much better than the old quick mount/disconnect parts that you’d get on older models.
- In Dash Dimensions – 10.54″ Width x 5.80″ Height x 3.68″ Depth
- GPS Maps – The Helix 7 cap use mapping cards from LakeMaster or Navionics Gold/HotMaps MicroSD cards. Like before, the Helix 7 has one MicroSD card port located on the left side of the fish finder.
Helix 7 Display & Screenshots
The Helix 7 gets the most out of its 7” display by using a glass bonded lens, so you get a very bright display that is easily viewable in direct sunlight. It is oriented in the landscape mode, so you can easily set the side imaging to use most of the screen to look for structure, while keeping a smaller window for the GPS map. Where sonar imaging was once was crammed into the square shaped 600 series, you are now free to make the most of the real estate in wide screen.
This video from Humminbird is an actual on the water demo of a Helix 7 SI GPS fish finder. It seems to show pretty clearly how bright the glass bonded display is on these new units. It is very apparent on the side imaging and mapping views how clear this new screen really is.
The Helix 7 SI GPS is the top of the line model in this series of fish finder. It is packed with the same sonar and mapping technologies that are found on units that cost well over twice the price.
The Side/Down Imaging and mapping will benefit the most from the 2x increase in D-RAM. The imaging and sonar will scroll smoother, with a higher refresh rate so you are getting sonar returns displayed on your screen faster. The mapping will benefit by being drawn faster on the screen as you move. The Helix 5 maps could occasionally lag when being used on a faster boat.
The SI GPS is packaged with the XNT 9 SI 180 T transducer (also known as the Compact SI transducer). If you want the best possible image from your Helix 7, then we recommend exchanging it for the HDSI transducer.
This unit is best paired with a Lakemaster MicroSD card, but if your region is lacking in coverage then you can always use the Navionics Gold cards. We prefer Lakemaster with Humminbird because of the exclusive Depth Highlight, Casting Rings, and Water Level Offset features.
If you don’t really want side imaging, or want something that is good bow fishing at the bow, then give the Helix 7 DI GPS a good look. It is similar to the SI GPS, but with only DI and 2D sonar.
Just like on the smaller Helix 5, the screen on the 7 should really make the Down Imaging look good. The brightness and resolution helps reveal rocks, trees, and fish that traditional 2D sonar won’t. If you are a structure fisherman, then DI is a great tool to have.
You will get the XNT 9 DI T transducer, which is transom mounted, so if you will use it at the trolling motor, you can exchange it for the XTM 9 DI 25 T trolling motor mounted version. Not only does that mount directly to the motor housing, but it has extra shielding for preventing noise.
There is also a Helix 7 DI model with no GPS available. If you are smart about it you could get 2 Helix 7’s for the bow or on the dash and get even more out the units. If you bought a Helix 7 DI, and a Helix 7 Sonar GPS, you could have the DI set to sonar/down imaging, and the other to full screen mapping.
The Helix 7 Sonar GPS is an intriguing option for a combo GPS fish finder. We could see this unit working great on a kayak or jon boat.
This model is packaged with the XNT 9 20 T transom mounted transducer, which outputs sonar at 83 and 200 kHz frequencies. For use on the trolling motor, you could exchange that for an XTM 9 20 T transducer.
The Helix 7 Sonar GPS would also make a great secondary unit, where you could have a bigger side imaging fish finder with full screen imaging, and a Helix 7 as your full screen map.
Like all the GPS models, this is AutoChart compatible. Get started making sonar recordings of your home lake, save them off to your computer, and then when you buy the AutoChart PC program you can convert those files into a custom lake map. It is a super powerful tool to be able to use in a fish finder.
The Bottom Line
Pros + These units have very attractive screens, and thanks to the glass bonding process, you get a super bright 1500 nits out of it. The Side and Down Imaging abilities of the Helix 7 units, at the affordable price points, are by far the most attractive features of the Helix 7.
Cons – Perhaps the only knock on the Helix 7 is the lack of networking, but these units are meant to be affordable stand-alone fish finders. The Helix 7 ships with the Compact SI transducer instead of the larger, more powerful HDSI transducer, but you can always trade it in through Humminbird for an additional charge.
Bottom Line: For the price, and considering the sonar, imaging, and mapping capabilities, we think the Helix 7 is a great value for your money, and will be one of the top fish finders in the coming years. Bookmark this page, as we will be adding any new information we get on the Helix 7 series.