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Calculator recommendation needed

My HP-41C died - a moment of silence please (some of you will understand).

Anyway, I'm in the market for a new calculator, and I have no idea what's "good" these days. Is HP still king? Or is TI the new HP?

I want something with good built-in mathematical / engineering functionality. Capability to do financial calculations would be a bonus. Also, it must be programmable.

Any recommendations?

Nick
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Depends on your need. If you're hooked on Reverse Polish Notation you should probably get another HP. I personally like the TI-89.

Mickey Petersen
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Oh, yeah, TI-89 has two types of programming: Z80 assembler(IIRC), and a BASIC-like language.

Mickey Petersen
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I should clarify. 20 years ago, the HP-41C was the defacto standard calculator for engineering students. Is there a defacto standard these days?

Nick
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I'm sorry, then. I can't help you. Mine is used for mathematics only.

Mickey Petersen
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

My sympathies on your loss.  (For those who don't know how good the HP-41C was, it was used as a backup computer for the Shuttle.  Seriously.)

HP are getting (or have got) out of the calculator business, but they still did a high-end graphing calculator with (optional) RPN last I looked.

I'd buy one whilst you still can - as far as I know, no other company does RPN calculators, and the touch sensitive screens on PDAs are not suitable for *real* calculator work.

David Basil Wildgoose
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Nick,

I have on the window ledge by my desk, right now, an HP41-C, plus card reader with a handful of used, but still RW cards, plus three memory modules, a case and a charger. I think I might even have the original manuals somewhere. What it doesn't have is a NiCd battery pack that will keep its charge for longer than a few picoseconds.

If it's of any use to you, get in touch.

David

David Roper
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

My HP 32SII is getting rusty, too. Unfortunately HP seems to produce mostly algebraic calculators these days. There are only one or two (financial) RPN models...

Frederik Slijkerman
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

HP is really the best for a long term purchase (I am still using daily my 8 years old HP48). I like how the design of their calculators and the flexibility of their user interface as well as the rich mathematical library (numeric and symbolic).
Besides, there is a huge free software library on the internet (I'd recommend starting by the HP calc portal http://www.hpcalc.org where you can find the HP-49 emulator to try it before buying).

dd
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Basically, HP is out of the business. If you want a full-scale HP engineering calculator, you might talk to http://www.samsoncables.com , which seems to have good prices on some of the last high-end engineering calculators HP made.

The TI calculators appear to provide good value for the money. That is probably what I'll wind up with when my current calculator dies.

I've been through an HP-45, an HP-67, and am living with an HP-48G that will need replacing soon. Just to protect myself, I recently replaced the slide rule I gave away about 25 years ago. I've been calculating steel beam weights for a building, and am reminded why slide rules are so wonderful. If several beam sizes are candidates for a span, you can set the span, and see the weights of the corresponding beams all at once.

Dan Brown
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I haven't done any calculator comparison shopping, but I'm going back to school (so I can understand when Joel uses fancy terms like o(n)!), and my college recommends the TI-89 -- I think because of TI's ongoing support.  I got the TI-92 Plus, which has the same internals, but a bigger (in size and pixel count) screen and a full QWERTY keyboard, and I think their "Voyager Plus" also has the same stuff inside.

Anyway, I've found that its "pretty print" feature (which does a rather good job of rendering your equations more or less as they'd appear on paper) is, alone, worth the money I paid for it (about USD$140 on eBay, used).  If you want to try before you buy, you can even get an emulator.  VTI.exe is the best one I've seen, but you'll need to download a ROM image.  You'll be violating the DMCA, but it's easier than convincing the staff at the electronics store to let you open the packaging.  ;>

Otherwise, what about a copy of Mathematica?  (=

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

There are serious rumors that HP is back to the calc business according to http://www.hpcalc.org (see the front page). New versions of the HP49 are expected this fall.

dd
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

HP has disbanded and reformed their calculator group more than once, as business need goes.  You should be more worried if they were stopping active marketing of the HP calculators, which doesn't sound like it's happening anytime soon.  Calculators develop new features far slower than other computing.

If you have used an HP, there's no going back.  A non RPN calc will annoy and befuddle you and it's just not worth the trouble.  Just get an HP 48 or 49 and be done with it.

Flamebait Sr.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I have fond memories of a little HP 15C from my days as an engineering student back in the early '80s.  It was really nothing too special even then, just a workhorse calculator.  Had all the standard scientific functions and a limited facility for programming that I really never used.

What made HP calculators stand out back then were 2 things:  First was the Reverse polish notation (RPN), which as several people in this thread have noted is a beautiful thing that will make you dread ever using another algebraic caclulator where you have to enter parentheses to keep track of things.

Second was the quality of construction.  These little calculators were things of beauty.  They were small, but they had a bit of heft.  They didn't feel like pieces of plastic.  Instead they had some of the feel of a metal ingot.  Plus, the keys had an incredible tactile feel, both because they were kind of nubby and rounded, and because they had a very satisfying noiseless click that you could feel as they were depressed.

This thread made me check on eBay just to see if I could pick one up for old-time's sake.  These calculators cost maybe $70 or $80 back then, not cheap but not all that much for a quality piece of equipment.  I figured they'd sell for a fraction of that now.  But no, it seems they're collectors' items now and I'd have to pay $200 or more.  Damn.  Maybe it would be worth it.  I don't need a scientific calculator anymore.  But it would be awfully nice to hold and caress my little HP again.

Herbert Sitz
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I never used a calculator much, but I wouldn't discount finger memory... one button in a different place, or different button size and... well, you'll probably get used to it, but why go through the hassle?

www.marktaw.com
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I couldn't said put it better Hebert. Eloquently said. With thing one and thing two, you hit it on the head.

[BTW, never read Dr. Seuss to your kids before posting to JoS].

Nick
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

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