Reviewed by: Capt. Mike Schoonveld
I’m often asked, “Can you see fish on that?” as the people point to the sonar unit on my boat.
My pat answer is “Yes, but if I had to see a fish on the screen to catch it, I’d be in trouble and if I could catch every fish showing on the screen, we’d fill the boat.”
I stand by that statement, but when I get better at using my AXIOM Multi-Function Display (MFD) I may have to change my answer. It will certainly mark more fish in the average trip than will fit in my boat, but it comes much closer to giving me (or any fisherman) the ability to “see a fish, catch a fish.”
The AXIOM is called an MFD because what you see is more than just a sonar, chart or GPS. Think of it as a computer monitor capable of showing screens associated with whatever program the computer is running. You can call up displays from other Raymarine devices, such as radar or autopilot. It will interface with some phone apps, Sirius Radio and with a wifi connection (such as your cell phone’s mobile hotspot) you can watch Netflix or connect to other entertainment. Use it to control your drone! Gearheads may want to connect the MFD to their motor’s computer to monitor engine performance on the display.
I’ll run through a few of the other selling points as quickly as possible. If you like technical jargon like “quad-four processor” and other exacting specs go to http://www.raymarine.com. The website lists enough details, techno-words and numbers with Greek letters attached to keep any geek happy and most fisherman confused. For instance, the AXIOM has CHIRP technology in the main sonar. I don’t understand all I know about CHIRP and I understand more than I need. I do understand when in use, the sonar picture on the screen is better. I see more fish, things on the bottom and other details.
It has two other “real time” sonar modes which, depending on where and how you fish, may be all important or of little importance to you. The way I picture Sidevision is turning a sonar transducer 90 degrees so instead of viewing straight down, it sends and receives pings and echos to the side (or both sides) of the boat. It will show nearby reefs, bridge pilings, rocks on the bottom and fish lurking near these things.
It’s harder to explain Downvision. It’s similar to the regular sonar, except it’s a sort of HD version. Even with CHIRP, if you motor across a sunken tree, a sunken boat or a pile of rubble, each will look like “something” laying on the bottom. With Downvision, the something looks like a tree, boat or rock pile.
Mr. Cool of the four sonar modes is the 3-D vision. The computer brains in the AXIOM uses the information gathered from both the side and downvision sonar returns to create a computer generated three dimensional picture on the screen showing the underwater world you just passed. You’ll see the bottom of the channel, the sunken boat on the bottom, fish suspended above it and the bridge piling the boat hit to cause it to sink.
The unit comes with a Navionics charting chip so when you switch the unit to charting mode, you can set waypoints and use the GPS to navigate to them and back. I’m sure it will do other things I’ve yet to discover. There are multiple choices of overlays so you can customize the screens to your personal needs.
One of the first things I noticed, different from all the other sonar/chart/GPS units I’ve previously used, is I don’t have to take off my polarized glasses or tilt my head to a specific angle to look at the screen and be able to see it. Not only will it see the fish better, I can see the screen better! In my mind that’s the most underrated selling point of this machine.
It’s expensive, but expect many years of use from the unit just as it comes out of the box. Add to that Raymarine offers free software and operating system upgrades so the Axiom you buy today will be nearly similar in power and features to the models they sell three, four or more years from now.
I’m not a trained professional marine electronics installer, but I easily installed my MFD, the transducer and connected it to the boat’s wiring system. Evidently, believing a picture is worth a thousand words, the installation guide is mostly pictorial, the wires and connections are color coded and basically, anyone capable of changing the batteries in a flashlight, will have few problems installing their Axiom.
The above picture shows the Mr. Cool, 3D picture on my 9-inch version. Notice the boat motoring to the upper left and the fish (in blue) I’d passed trailing behind the boat. It comes in both seven and twelve inch screens depending on space or desire. The latest versions are like this, all touch screen, no knobs.