The Striker Vivid 9sv is the top end of Garmin’s Striker line - the sv stands for SideVu, and with this unit, you’re getting both down and side imaging. Now, we have a lot to say about this particular unit (that’s why there’s a whole review below this little introductory paragraph). Let’s start with the elephant in the room, though.
This unit does not come with any maps. It also lacks any kind of SD card slot, so you can’t add in more maps. That is a huge minus from our point of view, but it does make the unit less expensive. At the end of the review, we’ll talk about which anglers will get the most benefit out of this unit.
There are many things that the Striker Vivid 9sv does well, too. So without further ado, let’s get into it:
|Traditional: 50/77/200 kHz ClearVü and SideVü 260/455/800 kHz
|9” display, 800 x 480 pixels, HD, backlit
|ClearVu 500 ft, SideVu 500 ft (250 ft per side)
|Internal, high precision
|5000, 100, 50 (50,000)
With a name like Vivid, your unit better have a great display. Fortunately, Garmin does not disappoint. The display is crisp and clear, making it easy to navigate through menus and look for fish. It’s backlit - industry standard at this point, but it means the unit is truly all-weather. You can see the display perfectly fine in rain or shine, night or day.
This is the 9” model, and that means you’re getting excellent definition on pretty much everything, from the arcs you’ll see in traditional sonar mode to the bottom structure you’ll be scouting when you use the ClearVu feature. It also means that several different anglers can all watch the unit simultaneously - the Striker Vivid 9 is a great unit for larger vessels.
There are 7 different color palettes available on the unit. That makes it a reliable choice for anglers who have color vision deficiencies. Honestly, its display is as good as any high-end fish finders we’ve seen, and the color palettes have a lot to do with that - people experience color differently, and one palette might make it easier for someone to differentiate targets than another.
We love a combination screen - they provide a ton of information at a glance, and being able to see what’s happening below you and around you while watching traditional sonar is a huge boon. The Vivid 9 has 3-in-1 combination pages, and you can organize your views in a variety of different ways.
All in all, the display is great. So how does the interface fare?
Not as well, we’re sad to say. While the unit is easy enough to navigate through, featuring a customizable homepage, it doesn’t have a touchscreen. Now, touchscreens have their disadvantages - when the screen gets wet, for example, navigation can become a nightmare.
But buttons are incredibly slow to use - having to scroll down the settings menu with buttons is a real pain when you compare it to the press-and-go nature of a touchscreen. And the problems with touchscreens can be solved through the simple addition of a joystick and select button alongside the touchscreen.
This isn’t to say it’s all bad news - the buttons are well laid out, and there’s everything you need: there are arrows for navigation, a button to set waypoints, a power button that opens and closes menu, and a button to select things.
All that being said, we’ve seen better interfaces. This one is still serviceable, though, and it should be simple enough to pick up even if you’ve never used a fish finder before.
The sonar on this unit is quite good. Fish finders are made, primarily, for finding fish (it’s right there in the name, people), so a good sonar goes a long way in getting a good score from us.
The transducer that the unit comes with out of the box, the GT52HW-TM, is pretty powerful. It ranges up to 800 feet deep, making it a great choice for pretty much every angler who isn’t doing deep sea fishing.
It also comes with CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) sonar, which means you’re getting great accuracy and target separation. While CHIRP is becoming industry standard at this point, it’s still worth pointing out - if only so you can avoid units that don’t use CHIRP.
In terms of sonar features, all the hits are here. This unit is pretty much plug-and-play, with zoom and range set to auto. That means when you’re out on the water, all you need to do is boot up the unit. You can, however, adjust the zoom and range. You can also use split zoom to zoom on a portion of the water column, and still keep the full column on your display.
There’s interference rejection. Variable sensitivity. There’s even Ultrascroll, so you can use your sonar even if your vessel is moving fairly quickly. You can switch on flasher mode if you want to go ice fishing (just be sure to buy a protective case).
These are all options that we’ve come to expect on high-end fish finders, but there’s no point in messing with a good thing. With the various color palettes available and the excellent display, the sonar here is one of the top selling points of the unit. If you’re looking to find fish, the Vivid 9 is excellent at doing just that.
What the Striker Vivid 9 is not so excellent at, on the other hand, is mapping. In the pros and cons, we mention that there are no maps included with the unit, and no way of adding maps. You might expect this mapping section to be pretty short.
There is something we didn’t mention, though - this unit can create maps through Quickdraw Contours. That’s a massive boon because it means you can take advantage of the unit’s internal GPS system.
You’ll create your own charts, then add waypoints to them or create routes and tracks in the same way you would if the unit came with its own charts. For that reason, we can still call the Striker Vivid 9 a chartplotter, even though you have to make all of the charts yourself.
Quickdraw Contours allows you to make maps with 1’ contours. You can also add points of interest onto the maps. Best of all, using ActiveCaptain (which we’ll discuss more in “Other Features”), you can grab charts made by other anglers - and share the charts you create.
The Quickdraw Contours feature helps to seriously reduce the problems inherent in a chartless fish finder. The mapping is still a weak point, but we’re glad they did something to shore up that weakness.
When it comes to networking, the Striker Vivid 9 leaves a lot to be desired. There are no Ethernet ports. There’s no NMEA compatibility. If you were thinking of using your Vivid 9 as a hub for all of the other devices on your vessel, you’re (mostly) out of luck.
You’ll notice we said you’re mostly out of luck - that’s because the unit does support both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. The tech-savvy among you probably already see where this is going - the unit is designed to connect to your phone. That’s because most connectivity is handled through ActiveCaptain, which we’ll discuss in “Other Features”.
Other compatible Garmin devices can be connected to your Striker Vivid 9 using a Data Sharing Cable, or by connecting the blue and brown wires in the devices. Not a lot of anglers use this feature, but it’s there for you if you need it.
All in all, the networking is somewhat lacking for a device at this price point, but ActiveCaptain nearly makes up for that.
The imaging on the Vivid 9 is quite good - it’s arguably the best imaging you can get on a unit at this price point. You’re getting 250 feet per side, and 500 feet down, and you’re getting it in high definition with stunning clarity.
What this means is that you can use the Striker Vivid for all kinds of different fishing ventures. Want to pre-fish a lake? You can see all kinds of bottom structure and find the best spots with ClearVu. Want to find the best spot to fish right now? Turn on SideVu and look around your boat - you’ll see where the fish are hiding.
Imaging is great with the unit’s combo screens - you can have the chart you’ve created on one screen and the imaging on another to get a better idea of the layout of a given body of water. We also love using imaging to find fish and traditional sonar to catch them - and you can use both simultaneously.
You’re getting great detail with the transducer that’s been included - use 455 kHz for more range, and 800 kHz for better clarity.
We’ve been hinting at the benefits of ActiveCaptain for this entire review, so let’s get into it.
It’s an app - and a handy one at that. You can connect your Vivid 9 to the app in order to share charts with other folks who have drawn Quickdraw charts - and you can download the charts they’ve created. You can also use the app to display a map - not of the water, but of the general area. That map includes marinas, anchorages, stores, and more.
The app can also be used to display notifications from your phone onto your Vivid 9. While we’re not huge fans of that feature (we don’t want all the other anglers on our boat reading our text messages), we know some folks love it.
This has been a hard review to write, because it’s somewhat unclear to us who this unit is designed for.
If you read our review for the Vivid 7, you’ll notice it gets better scores, and that we speak about it a bit more highly. That’s because the Vivid 7 is under $500 - it’s a budget unit with incredible imaging. The Vivid 9 costs quite a bit more, but all you’re getting is extra screen space.
That means if you really want that extra two inches of screen, you don’t mind creating all of your charts yourself, and you don’t need networking, this unit might be the right fit for you. But most people getting units of this size want some networking features, or some charting features.
For us, that means the price point is a little higher than we’d like. Around the same price point, you can get a smaller unit, but one that has networking and preloaded maps.
All said, the niche for this unit is small, but hey, if you’re a part of that niche, this unit is the best one available on the market. And if it’s not quite what you’re looking for, you can check out our list of the best fish finders for 2021 to find the right fit for you.