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Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS Combo

ProductDisplay SizeSonarDepthGPSCartography
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9"DualBeam Plus1,500'InternalContourXD

If you’re looking for a 9-inch fish finder and GPS combo unit, but would not like to spend on Side Imaging, Down Imaging or CHIRP, the one of the units that you should definitely put on your list is the HELIX 9 Sonar GPS. This is one of the brand new units released by Humminbird for 2016 and includes several innovations over the 959ci HD Combo, such as wireless control, a better processor, wider screen and others. The good news is, this rather large unit is available for approx. $700, and pretty much is a decent unit. Therefore, let’s have a closer look at its features and functions.

Technical Details and Specifications

  • Screen: 9″ diagonal, 65,000 color TFT, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, with backlight
  • Sonar: DualBeam Plus with SwitchFire
  • Depth Capability: 1500 feet (457 m)
  • Frequency and Coverage: 200 kHz / 20° and 83 kHz / 60°
  • Transducer: Transom XNT 9 20 T
  • Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
  • Power Input: 10-20 VDC
  • Power Draw: 800 mA
  • GPS: Internal, Precision
  • Maps: ContourXD (built-in)
  • Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 45; 2,750; 50 (20,000 points each)

Sonar and transducer

First of all, like most other Humminbird units, this HELIX model comes with the apposite transducer for its internal sonar technology. The transducer model is the one for 2D sonar, the XNT 9 20 T, the one that also comes with the HELIX 5 Sonar GPS and HELIX 7 Sonar GPS. This transducer features a built-in temperature probe, supporting the units capability to track water temperature. It has 20′ (6 m) of cable and features a transom mount type. And speaking of water temperature, as opposed the smaller, similar HELIX units, this particular one also has the Temperature Graph function. This particular function can actually turn out to be quite useful, as it can help you locate water currents, clearly indicating the temperature variation of the top water layer.

The control unit is capable of three sonar frequencies: 50/83/200 kHz. However, the sonar supplied supports only 83/200 kHz. In order to benefit from the 50 kHz frequency for deepwater, which should enable your unit to scan up to 3,000 ft., you will need the XNT 9 DB 74 T transducer. The current transducer has a depth capability of 1,500 ft.

The control unit features DualBeam Plus sonar, offering the possibility to use both 83/200 kHz frequencies at once. Both views can be observed on screen simultaneously in split-screen or even blended together. The transducer supplied uses a conical beam for each frequency. For 200 kHz, the beam is narrow, of 20°, offering a sharper view, and more information, while for 83 kHz the beam is wider, of 60°, offering more coverage, but less detail.

Even though this unit does not feature Side Imaging or Down Imaging, it can support 360 Imaging. The specific transducer for 360 Imaging is not included though.

Several useful functions are available with the sonar of this unit. Real Time Sonar or RTS for example, it’s a vertical flasher function, which can be viewed next to the regular 2D sonar view, indicating the latest sonar echo. Selective FishID+ is a function that changes the fish arches into fish icons, also pointing out their depth. It’s actually quite a useful function in case you’re not familiar with the 2D sonar reading, or simply you’d like a second opinion regarding a certain point on the sonar.

A Bottom Lock function is available as well, giving you the possibility to keep a closer eye on the bottom returns. Since the unit uses DualBeam Plus, the SwitchFire function is also integrated. This is actually a quick filter between full sonar info on screen, and a clutter-free view. And last but not least, this unit can record and rewind sonar, as long as you have a data microSD card inserted in the unit.

GPS and navigation

This unit features the same high Precision GPS such as the other HELIX 9 units. It’s actually an internal GPS/WAAS receiver, offering fast position fixes within 2.5 meters. Also like the other units of the series, this one comes with the built-in ContourXD maps, which cover more than 3,000 U.S. lakes with depth contours, boat accesses and other points of interest. Along with the 2D map view, there’s also a 3D view (Bird’s Eye View), function which gives you a 3D view of your location, with a point of view above and behind the boat. This evidently enhances the situational awareness. Functions as Man over Board and Drift Alarm are also available.

The HELIX 9 Sonar GPS It’s can store 2,750 waypoints within its internal memory, and up to 45 routes (50 waypoints per route). It can also record tracks, being able to hold up to 50 trails (20,000 points per trail). Trails can be converted to routes though, and you also get the possibility to add waypoints to them if necessary.

In terms of navigation, quite several upgrades can be made. For example, the unit can use an AIS module, an external RADAR module, i-Pilot Link which enables your Humminbird unit and Minn Kota® trolling motor to communicate, offering the possibility of automatic control. It’s compatible with various charts, including Navionics Platinum+, and Navionics Gold/HotMaps, and LakeMaster charts. But one of the best functions available with this unit is AutoChart Live, which gives you the possibility to map a certain body of water on the spot, revealing all the contours based on the sonar returns, or customize the existent maps. AutoChart permits 8 hours of recording, but you can also opt for a ZeroLine SD card which will expand the recording time for a lot more.

Display unit

The control unit features a 9-inch display, super-bright, backlit and easy to read from at least a few feet distance, regardless of light, or if you wear polarized sunglasses. Its pixel matrix is similar to the other HELIX units, 800 x 480, but as opposed to the smaller unit, this one has superior color range, of 65,000 colors. It’s also IPX7 waterproof, which means it can withstand incidental water exposure, rain and even immersions for a short period of time.

The unit’s software is upgradable. There are two microSD card slots available, for data transfer, recordings and compatible chart packages. In terms of connectivity, there are Ethernet, NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 ports. It comes with a Gimbal-type mounting kit and a unit cover.

One of the new features available with the HELIX 9, 10 and 12 units from Humminbird, is the AS RC1 wireless remote, which allows you to perform a series of tasks without touching your unit, via Bluetooth. The remote features 7 keys, each key having short and long press functions. This remote allows you to mark waypoints, zoom in/out from sonar and maps, adjust sonar sensitivity, or even deploy your 360 Imaging transducer if there is one installed. Having wireless control on your unit can be very useful on the water. This particular accessory is only optional though, not included with the unit.

The Pros

  • DualBeam Plus sonar with SwitchFire;
  • Powerful transducer (XNT 9 20 T), temperature capable and with transom mount, included;
  • 3,000 ft depth capability (1,500 ft with the included transducer);
  • Sonar recording and screen snapshot;
  • Multiple sonar functions available, such as RTS, Bottom Lock, Fish ID+ etc;
  • Precision GPS with a wide array of channels;
  • ContourXD charts as base for the GPS;
  • AutoChart Live;
  • Trackplotting, routes and waypoints functions;
  • Wide 9″ display, with 16:9 format, and backlight;
  • IPX7 waterproof and glass bonded;
  • Ethernet, NMEA 0183 and 2000 ports;
  • Wireless control;
  • Upgradable internal software;
  • Dual microSD card reader;
  • Gimbal mount and unit cover included;
  • HD Radar, i-Pilot Link and AIS capable;
  • 360 Imaging capable;
  • Easy to install.
  • Better price than the previous 959ci HD Combo, for a superior unit.

The Cons

  • High-tech unit, not too easy for everyone to master completely.


The Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS is recommended to anyone who wants a widescreen unit, with wireless control, but wants to save some money on the sonar. Not everyone may want Down Imaging or Side Imaging. It excels in connectivity, it offers a wide array of upgrade possibilities, GPS, and navigation functions are quite fast and accurate, and on top of that, it comes with the AutoChart Live function. Finally, the unit offers great value for the money.

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