Navman Fish 4500 LCD fishfinder, Sounder
Navman has again delivered the goods for the recreational fisho with a colour sounder that's packed with features and temptingly priced. Andy Galwey took the unit to sea to file this report.
About a year back I was at sea testing the Navman FISH 4200, also made by Navman of New Zealand. At the time I predicted this unit was going to be one of the more popular on the market. History proved me right, so with even greater confidence I predict the new Navman FISH 4500 colour sounder will be another winner for Navman.
The FISH4500 is basically a colour version of the FISH 4200 with a heap more power (600RMS), dual frequency plus a small number of extra features that would compliment the functionality of any sounder.
Navman has certainly hit a cord with the Australian recreational fishing fraternity. Its formula is simple and squarely directed at the recreational market. In fact, the company's mix of extreme functionality, ease of use and competitively pricing has jumped it the forefront of the electronic market in less than a decade.
Most importantly this Kiwi brand leaves aside those peripheral options seldom used by the average recreational fisho. I must add they DO included some pretty useful functions that you don't always find on other units. One such function is an A-Scope that displays a horizontal line; the length of which indicates the signal strength.
Each target displayed on the main screen has a corresponding horizontal line on the A-Scope screen. Basically the longer the line, the stronger is the strength. For the novice, or occasional user this is an ideal tool for helping to adjust the gain to its optimal setting. The A-Scope also provides easily readable information on bottom hardness and helps with the determining fish size and/or type.
The other extra worthy of note on the FISH 4500 is the Zoom Bar indicator located on the far right hand side of the screen. This handy indicator gives the user a quick reference of area/depth displayed on the split screens.
Having mentioned split screen it's also worth noting FISH 4500 also allows you to very easily change the screen widths on display. This means you can set the screen up to your exact needs. For example, if you want the bottom zoom to take pride of place, you simply grab its edge with the cursor, then slide it across to the width of the screen you wish it to be!
Eight buttons and one toggle greet the operator. The on/off button activates the unit, which immediately enters the standard fish finding screen. The Menu button allows you access to two menus. Options within the second menu are quite extensive, however commonsense will get even the newest of operators through the initial set-up process.
Once all this is done it's unlikely the average user will have to come back to the menu again, other than to experiment with different pulse lengths and power in those very few moments you aren't fishing.
The first menu provides the various options such as backlighting, alarms, units, fuel measuring facilities etc. To toggle between different displays is as easy as pushing the DISP button and selecting your choice from the pop-up menu. Once selection is made via the toggle press the ENT button, or if you wish to back out without change, press the ESC button.
In all the FISH 4500 has eight buttons and one toggle control. Each button is clearly named and each performs one simple function. From top to bottom we have:
ESC = pressed to get you back to original screen. So if you have a problem simply press this button to take yourself back to the start.
DISP = popup menu of all modes simply selected using the toggle control. Menu includes Sonar, Sonar Zoom, Sonar Bottom, Sonar 50/200, Sonar A-Scope, Fuel, Data, and About.
MENU = 2 popup menus with functions selected and changed by toggle.
ENT = pressed to selected highlighted option within pop-ups.
RANGE = simple press the + or the - to increase or decrease range.
AUTO = popup selection of Manual, Fishing or Cruising mode. Manual mode is for optimum settings by experienced operators. Fishing mode is used when sounding at low speeds, or at anchor in search of fish. This mode operates automatically, setting gain and depth as required. Cruise mode is used when travelling at speed, with gain and depth automatically adjusting to give good bottom coverage and large display of depths.
50/200 = displays 200mHz, or 50mHz at a simple push of the button. If you wish to toggle between 200kHz and 50 kHz, Navman makes it real easy with a 50/200 button. You guessed it, just press this button and it goes from one frequency to the other. Alternatively just press DISP and select the split screen view of both in the menu.
POWER = on/off switch.
The display was crisp and sharp and digit size was easily adjusted in the set-up menu. There are three letter sizes - small, medium and large, with medium being ample for my aging eyes.
Without doubt, there are some more expensive units on the market that will give you a brighter display in full strength sunlight. However, the Navman FISH 4500 certainly didn't disgrace itself in the brightness department. Mind you, with the advent of LCD colour display this problem has certainly diminished and it's becoming less of an issue these days.
Clarity of the actual display was exceptionally good. Prior to the test day we'd had very big seas yet the unit happily managed to rid itself of the garbled noise (clutter) often associated with such sea condition. Overall, it gave us a very clear display of both bottom and fish.
Fortunately we had enough time on our hands during this test to enjoy a spot of fishing. Although we didn't fill our eskies with fish we did manage to land a few smaller snapper along with a large number of slimy mackerels, pike and nannygai.
Most importantly this allowed us to verify the fish displayed, were actually fish! Quite often, on some lesser units, we find they aren't always correct in this regard. Clearly with the FISH 4500 fish displayed are actual fish.
The Fuel Option:
This unit has in-built fuel computer software that provides fuel flow, fuel used, fuel remaining, fuel economy, estimated range functions. All is accessible through the acquisition of the Navman fuel transducer kit. For the additional cost of just $166 the package is extremely useful. It does push the cost of the package to around the $1750 mark, however in my view that's money well spent. The kit can be added at anytime down the line after the initial purchase and I suspect it will pay for itself in fuel savings within the first 10 to 15 hours of operation.
Navman have kicked another home goal with this great colour unit. For a large number of us fishos we couldn't ask for much more than what the FISH 4500 offers. Certainly the price of $1590 is extremely attractive to-boot!
With 600 watts RMS power, the FISH 4500 is built to cover all the power needs of the deeper water bottom bouncer. The 5in screen is adequate for a sounding package and provides a sharp, crisp picture of what's going on below.
With the optional fuel package the FISH 4500 takes on another dimension again and we expect to see large numbers of them on the water over the coming year.
Related Boat Accessories -
Raymarine A-Series Colour Sounders - Raymarine has moved strongly into the recreational electronic market with the release of its new digital DS400, DS500 and DS600 colour sounders.
Raymarine DSM250 - We take Raymarine's new digital technology (DSM250) for a run on the high seas.
Koden CVS-833 Colour - Koden has released its new, big eight-inch analogue echo sounder.
Furuno LS-4100 Sounder - This new monochrome sounder from Furuno is sure to be a hit with recreational fishos with its impressive combination of display, precision performance and very competitive price.
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