REVIEW: Simrad GO7 XSE Sounder/GPS

Simrad’s GO7 packs a lot of features in a small affordabale unit.

MICK FLETORIDIS reviews the latest chartplotter/multifunction display from Simrad.

OVER the past few years I’ve had a couple of mid-sized Lowrance CHIRP sounder units running on my Quintrex Hornet tinny. The last – an Elite 7 HDI – proved to be a useful tool that displayed the sort of on-screen info I needed while fishing in salt and freshwater. The Elite’s overall size and screen were a good fit for the Hornet with its bright display visible from most areas of the boat – by swivelling its gunwale RAM mount – and a fairly straightforward menu that was easy to work through after a little practice.

Recently the Lowrance made way for a sister brand Simrad GO7 (7”) XSE unit. While the Simrad is a fairly similar unit to the Elite and shares the same 83/200 455/800Khz HDI skimmer transducer unit, its touch screen is a game changing feature I’ve really come to appreciate. More on that later.

The GO7 XSE is a CHIRP/broadband sounder chartplotter equipped with high frequency StructureScan imagery. Users can select to use either High or Medium CHIRP settings depending on water depth and echo footprint required. Generally, for depths up to 600′ (183m) High CHIRP is the preferred setting for better target separation and definition and should cover the majority of water fishos find themselves in.

Rather than leaving anglers to interpret a standard sonar readout, StructureScan provides x-ray like imagery that makes it easier to identify fish and forms of structure. While the name of this technology varies amongst manufacturers it’s become a common feature on sounders in recent years. Depending on the transducer buyers opt for, StructureScan can be used to display images relayed from below the boat (DownScan) or left or right (SideScan), or a combination of both. My unit displays the DownScan “below” images only. It also came with a detailed Navionics Aus/NZ chart on micro SD card that slots into the back of the display.

For fishos who prefer to see standard sounder images there’s an option of overlaying the DownScan image over the top to provide the best of both worlds. Those who buy the GO7 can also opt for a ForwardScan transducer that will deliver real time two-dimensional pictures of the bottom in front of your boat. No doubt this would be a handy extra feature to have at your disposal for both fishing and navigational purposes.

Turning the GO7 SXE unit on is done with a touch of the finger over the power position. The unit quickly fires up, beeps and runs through its pre-use processes. To turn the unit off you hold your finger over the power button for three seconds. On start up the little Simrad’s 480 x 800 resolution display is noticeably crisp and bright.

Like the Lowrance Elite 7, I found navigating the Simrad’s menu quite intuitive. The Home page is where you access your preferred displays and the sub menus of each where various display settings can be changed to suit your preference. Commonly used displays such as sounder and GPS are found under Echo and Chart respectively. The set’s main display options are also highly customisable so you can set it up to look exactly how you want it to. It’s easy to make several combo displays of your choosing and then save them to the custom panel on the screen’s right. As you would on a computer, drag and drop your display preferences into the panel to make your combos and then save. Just click on the display you want and it fires up. Too easy.

I commonly run a split screen with either Echo and Chart displays or Echo and Downscan. For anyone who has been using a touch screen phone for several years, having the same sort of technology on a sounder unit is a revelation. The GO7’s touch screen makes manoeuvring through the menu quick and easy and a pleasure rather than a chore, which can be the case on some older units.

The clever wi-fi connectivity allows you to use a smartphone to intergrate screen data. Useful on larger boats!

Another thing I really like about the state of the art Simrad is its wi-fi connectivity. If you have a mate on board who spends most of the time up at the bow casting or facing the stern while trolling, he/she can see the sounder screen on their phone, or tablet device if they have one handy. All your fishing mates have to do is download the free Simrad GoFree app and pair up their devices. In next to no time they’re seeing the same display you are and can fish accordingly, without having to constantly ask, “How deep here? Anything showing? Any bait? What’s the water temp?” etcetera. One thing I’ve noticed with pairing the unit to my phone is that there is some lag behind what the head unit displays, but it’s only a couple of seconds or so.

As well as connecting to devices via wi-fi the unit can also be used to operate music and display engine instrumentation when hooked up to its NMEA 2000 network. Overall its wi-fi connectivity is very useful as it can also provide direct access to Simrad’s GoFree cloud service where you can download maps, software updates and more.

Other things that have so far impressed about the GO7 are its crisp display that doesn’t lose out in bright sunlight or through polarised sunnies, and its ability to display bottom without much clutter at speed. Having spent minimal time on installing and adjusting its transducer it’s nice to still see a clear reading at 20 knots plus. Overall, after only a couple of months with this latest mid-size Simrad unit it’s been a very welcome addition to my boat. Did I mention I love that touch screen?

The GO7 XSE is available now with Mid/High/Downscan transducer for $1249 RRP.

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