The Simrad GO5 XSE is an advanced sonar system for small watercraft which incorporates navigation, fish finding and obstacle avoidance in a single unit. It is in effect a device which gives any boat an understanding of the underwater environment previously reserved for large naval vessels with complex sonar arrays. With the Simrad GO5 XSE, any bass boat or kayak can have a complete map of what is in the water below, including the presence or absence of marine life. This makes the Simrad GO5 XSE a must-have for those traveling in unfamiliar waters, or waters with a high degree of underwater sediment movement.
The Simrad GO5 XSE is built around an advanced combination of sensors which combines the GPS and sonar readings to confirm not only a vessel's location but the likely and actual conditions under the water. This enables captains to pilot their vessels in shallow or untested waters easily, with the five-inch screen giving them a clear display of where they are and if there are any hazards they should be aware of. Proposed routes can be planned, and the computer can even calculate the best, fastest and safest routes between two points. The display is fully customizable, and the layout can be changed or adjusted to ignore irrelevant data or provide the user with additional displays. This ensures that its use can be changed or customized over time, for example enabling it to serve as a navigation aid on the way to a likely fishing spot, then used to determine the presence or absence of fish upon arrival.
The Simrad GO5 XSE is capable of updating using any standard Wi-Fi connection, and can thus be pre-loaded with the latest map and navigational information before heading out. Additionally, if wireless internet can be obtained via the cellular network or satellite communications, the Simrad GO5 XSE can be continuously updated while the voyage is underway. Proposed routes can be plotted out, with the system assisting any vessel pilot in navigation by suggesting headings and changes in heading in light of conditions, as well as warning of underwater hazards. This not only ensures faster transits to and from established points, but it also helps ensure that the transit is safer, with known hazards being avoided, and approaching hazards being warned of.
The system does all this by using a variety of sonar systems, all transmitted through transducers attached to the underside of the boat. The first is the ForwardScan forward facing sonar, which scans the area in front of the vessel, looking for approaching hazards. This combines with a downward-facing SideScan and DownScan Imaging to look for potential hazards to the sides and beneath the vessel, and also inform the user as to the nature of the underwater structures. Finally, the Broadband Sounder CHIRP sonar can detect the presence of free-floating or otherwise non-structural objects beneath the vessel, most notably schools of fish, or individual fish of significant size.
Additionally, the Simrad GO5 XSE is NMEA 2000 compatible, which means that it will be able to serve as an interface for compatible onboard sound systems as well as display pertinent engine information. Most importantly, engine information can be fed in while underway, enabling the operator to be instantly alerted in the event of oil pressure, fuel or other problems. This can enable the Simrad GO5 XSE to basically serve as a ship's computer, controlling and providing information about much of a vessel's electronics, without the need for the purchase of additional machines.
However, the GO5 XSE does have some limitations. The primary downside of the Simrad GO5 XSE is that, in order to achieve its full functionality, it is necessary to buy multiple compatible transducers. While some multi-function transducers are available, in general, they can only function as one type of sonar at a time, limiting the functionality of the device. Additionally, at only five inches, the screen may prove to be rather small for some, especially when mounted in larger vessels. This is compounded by the rather low resolution 800x480 pixel screen, which seems outdated in an era when even entry-level smartphones have 720P displays.
Still, the Simrad GO5 XSE, when paired with the proper transducers and securely mounted, is capable of providing an incredible amount of useful information to any boat operator. From current underwater conditions to the presence or absence of fish, it is a digital eye for pilots who want to get where they are going quickly and safely. Its small size, while inconvenient on large vessels with plenty of room, does mean that it can be mounted on very small craft. As such, it's an ideal accessory for small boats and kayaks.