The Helix 7 works for both fresh and saltwater anglers at a depth of up to 1,500 feet. The most notable difference over the Helix 5 is the larger seven-inch screen. This and a landscape orientation allows better viewing of features like the split-screen display. It's still 800x480 pixels and 256 colors. Along with the bigger images comes a much better screen. The 5 series had a plastic lens, where the 7 is bonded glass. It not only makes for clearer images and more scratch-resistance, but minimizes glare in the bright sun.
Most versions of the Helix 7 come with GPS Chartplotting and UniMap capability. Only the CHIRP DI G2 and SONAR G2 do not have this useful feature. With other models, GPS features can be expanded through a card slot that accepts AutoChart Pro®, AutoChart®, and Navionics® Gold/HotMaps that some experienced anglers might be familiar with.
Another improvement is a simple, sturdy, pivot mount that provides better support than the 5-series mount with its quick disconnect feature. The new Helix 7 device is bigger, at 10.5"x5.8", but installs easily in-dash, as well.
SI technology gives a 180-degree view of what lies under the water to either side of the boat. With the Helix 7, those images come from 455kHz pings that reach 240' out from either side of the boat; each return signal is built by the display into a "slice" of what's around the boat while it's moving. All the slices are reassembled into a 3-D view. The 7-series images are so crisp and contoured that they provide photo-quality images of fish or obstacles, regardless of water quality. Users can also zoom in for a magnified view, or mark the GPS location of any objects showing on screen.
The Helix 7 uses the same technology to provide the quality images of fish, bottom terrain, vegetation, rocks, and whatever else might be directly below the boat. This unit's display is so detailed that you'll be able to follow lines and see what fishing lures your buddies are using.
This technology emits pulses at 83 or 200kHz to determine water depth, temperature, and turbulence, and report them in multi-colored display. The Helix 7 has two modes - Clear and Max. Clear cuts out the distortion noise caused by particles or debris trapped in eddies or current, while Max actually lets you examine those currents. You can also see fish and bottom features with SwitchFire, albeit in two dimensions.
Humminbird had the foresight to provide several different features sets (and price points) for the needs of a wide variety of anglers. All of them include the much-improved 7" color screen.
With excellent sonar technology, and a great new screen to display it, the Helix 7 display and ease of use are on a par with any fish finder out there. Considering the range of options, fast processing, and the fact that it's a few hundred dollars cheaper than most similar brands, the Humminbird Helix 7 is definitely worth a try.