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Full Review of the Color TI-84 Plus

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the the-80s-never-looked-so-cool dept.

Math 233

KermMartian writes "The TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition isn't the first color-screen graphing calculator, or even TI's first color calculator, but it's a refresh of a 17-year-old line that many have mocked as antiquated and overpriced. From an advanced review model, the math features look familiar, solid, and augmented with some new goodies, while programming looks about on par with its siblings. The requisite teardown uncovers the new battery, Flash, ASIC/CPU, and LCD used in the device. Although there are some qualms about its speed and very gentle hardware upgrades beyond the screen, it looks to be an indication that TI will continue this inveterate line for years to come." Lots of screenshots and pictures of the innards too.

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The real question... (4, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#42956319)

Does it have RPN?

Re:The real question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956371)

Does it have RPN?

>not will it blend.

Re:The real question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956495)

I thought that was HP's niche, like in the 48G's. I never noticed an RPN mode in my TI's.

Re:The real question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956609)

Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooosh! Lameness filter encountered.

Re:The real question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956683)

of course not - we need "zomg colour!" screens for maths instead

can it run crysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956691)

can it run crysis?

Re:The real question... (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about a year ago | (#42957305)

Why is this tagged as off topic... Unless I am completely missing sarcasm or an inside joke.. RPN is Reverse Polish Notation.. which is most definitely on topic when it comes to calculators..

Android (1)

mrops (927562) | about a year ago | (#42957423)

Is it to hard to come up with Android ROM to kill this thing once and for all. The kind of battery life this has can be easily had on a Nexus 7.

Put in a custom graphic calculator ROM and let TI RIP.

I realize there may not be such a ROM and the fact its highschool kids who use it, its unlikely a group with capability to actually customize such a ROM will ever do so.

Emulate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956335)

emulate on an emulator. On your smartphone. Free and better.

I'm gonna piss in your ass (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956359)

Pissing in your ass is also better.

Re:Emulate (3, Insightful)

meloneg (101248) | about a year ago | (#42956385)

emulate on an emulator. On your smartphone. Free and better.

And not allowed in the classroom settings that these things are mainly used. Too easy to switch to notes/google/more powerful apps.

Re:Emulate (0, Troll)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about a year ago | (#42956419)

Graphing calculators are typically banned anyway.

The most you'll be taking a test with is a TI-30.

Re:Emulate (4, Informative)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | about a year ago | (#42956487)

Graphing calculators are typically banned anyway.

What evidence do you have for this statement?

The most you'll be taking a test with is a TI-30.

I guess my daughter's math classes (AP math and AP statistics) are outliers then. They're all required to use a TI-84/85.

Re:Emulate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956561)

I believe the OP was referring to standardized tests. If memory serves, when I took the ACT graphing calculators were forbidden since you could easily store all manner of cheat sheets onboard.

Re:Emulate (2)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | about a year ago | (#42956983)

I believe the OP was referring to standardized tests. If memory serves, when I took the ACT graphing calculators were forbidden since you could easily store all manner of cheat sheets onboard.

If that's the case, it wasn't clear to me. So, yeah, I guess that's reasonable.

My other comment was to bring back use of a slide-rule and all of these particular technological issues regarding cheating all go away.

SAT Reasoning (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42957135)

I don't know about ACT, but the math sections of the SAT Reasoning Test require the student to provide a scientific or graphing calculator, and this graphing calculator cannot have a touch screen or QWERTY-arranged keyboard.

Re:Emulate (2)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about a year ago | (#42957379)

When I was in high school and college, we were permitted to use these types of calculators (in my case the HP 48G back in the late 80's early 90's.. I forget exactly when), however the teacher would walk around to each persons desk and hold in the factory reset button, and remove any mem cards (the PSION my friend used to have).

There was never any need to store formulas or anything, as those were provided on a separate sheet in addition to the test questions and answer paper (okay.. it was a huge sheet that included pretty much every formula used in science, math, chemistry, electrical and mechanical eng, so if you did not already know the formula, you would not be able to pick it out of the list anyways.. or rarely)

This was in South Africa many years ago.

Re:Emulate (2)

Joehonkie (665142) | about a year ago | (#42956637)

The requirement of TI-84/85 in so many classes and standardized tests is a freaking sin. It's almost like a government granted monopoly that fills Ti's coffers, despite equal or better alternatives existing since the whole graphing calculator became an option (I say "almost like" because my understanding is that most of these testing agencies and schools are not being controlled directly by the central government and merely make the decision out of laziness and not wanting to review new or competing technology). TI has never needed to lower their price despite nearly no change in the base design and yet an increasing market and cheaper components. Sad.

Re:Emulate (4, Insightful)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | about a year ago | (#42956963)

Oh, I totally agree. I can sort of understand the requirement for having some sort of calculating device that isn't also a smart phone, even though I think that cheaters eventually are going to suffer for the cheating.

I think that slide-rules should be brought back into the high school level. Some can be expensive, but not as much as a graphing calc and it's probably best to learn how to do the math with paper and pencil to really get the deeper understanding rather than "learn how to use the damn calculator first before you try and learn the damn math."

Re:Emulate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956505)

Graphing calculators are typically banned anyway.

The most you'll be taking a test with is a TI-30.

Since when? My TI-82 and TI-89 were both allowed back in my high school and college days, as well as on standardized tests.

Re:Emulate (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#42956585)

Graphing calculators are typically required in advanced math courses anyway.

FTFY.

Re:Emulate (1)

CaptainJeff (731782) | about a year ago | (#42956679)

This statement is incorrect.

Most standardized tests where a graphing calculator would be useful, in fact require such a calculator. The current set of AP tests require/recommend a TI-84 or TI-85. The SAT itself highly recommends a graphic calculator.

Cool story. The SAT specifically does not allow calculators with a QWERTY keyboard. The TI-92 (the original one with the symbolic algebra solving system) had one and was, therefore, not allowed for the SAT. So, TI came out with the TI-89, which runs almost the exact same software as the TI-92, specifically so one could use an SAS-equipped calculator on the SAT. This is why the TI-89 is such an odd beast and somewhat harder to work with; the software was not really designed for that form-factor.

Re:Emulate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42957227)

I loved my TI-89. That thing was a beast that could do it all. The best part was the case was interchangeable with the TI-83, so you could have an 89s innards with the 83 skin and no one would know the difference unless they picked it up. Now there were a few problems with some of the keys, mainly the prog key but if you knew this it was easy to remember and work around. all in all that thing was/is one of the best graphing calculators that TI ever made. The Casios with color were still by far a better all around calc though.

Re:Emulate (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#42956809)

Which is retarded. Why force a student to do hand driven math when most of the work they sit down and do is just repetitive steps that a computer can do in 1/5000th of the time. Well coming up with an equation is important and being able to visualize what your trying to solve is important, doing hand driven calculus isn't. There is no need for me sit here for two hours, reducing an equation only to have it in a form I can finally solve. My calculator should take the equation I came up with, reduce it for me and present me with a nice final state equation I can then solve.

Re:Emulate (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#42957281)

Because the point is to learn the math? The coursework is not designed to teach you how to use a tool, it is to teach you how the underlying pieces work.

Re:Emulate (1)

CWCheese (729272) | about a year ago | (#42957239)

Graphing calculators are typically banned anyway.

The most you'll be taking a test with is a TI-30.

Do you have to bring the TI-30 inside its original vinyl blue-denim case? Looped through your belt?

Re:Emulate (2)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about a year ago | (#42957003)

emulate on an emulator. On your smartphone. Free and better.

And not allowed in the classroom settings that these things are mainly used. Too easy to switch to notes/google/more powerful apps.

It does highlight a major problem with our education system: the reason TI-84s cost so much is because they're required in so many high school math classes. As the summary states, they're antiquated and overpriced. Of course, the cost is negligible to middle class and well off families, so it's just one more factor that holds back those in poverty. Let's face it, there are a lot of bad parents out there who, given the choice between putting their child in a class that requires a $100 calculator and sticking them in Math-4-Dummies, they'll choose the latter.

It's a similar to the well known problem with textbooks.

In many ways this reminds me of the absurdly high price of a version of Microsoft Office. It could be sold at a profit at a fraction of the price it's currently at, but people 'need it' despite the fact that the functionality isn't unique or costly. Microsoft's lock-in is formats that don't play nice, Texas Instruments' lock-in is textbooks they've built relationships with and teachers who can't think outside the box.

Hopefully one day Sal Khan kills textbooks as we know them today and FOSS/ODF just flat out kills MS Office.

Re:Emulate (1)

Turmoyl (958221) | about a year ago | (#42957299)

I'm sure that this is true in many settings, but my Pre-Calculus I instructor at a community college allows me to use Algeo Calculator on my Nexus 7 for tests. This says a lot as he is older, and technically challenged. He made it clear what my limitations with the device are, thereby giving me enough rope to hang myself. I appreciate his trust, and will not take advantage of it.

My large screen, auto-scaling, color graphing and pinch zooming are envied by many of my fellow TI-using students.

Re:Emulate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42957475)

And in my college calculus class, about six years ago now, you were not permitted to bring in any sort of calculator whatsoever. No TI Ninety-Twelve, no dollar store four-function, nothing. (Nobody asked about slide rules; that might have been pretty funny).

Math classes exist for you to learn math.

Re:Emulate (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about a year ago | (#42957367)

Have you found a decent Android calculator app? I'm currently using "Scientific Calculator" by Rohan Laishram, but it has annoying syntax issues (like opening parentheses that need to be manually closed for certain operations and throwing a syntax error if you don't close them)...

battery life (2)

thoper (838719) | about a year ago | (#42956383)

"Power: Rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, ~5-10 hours of use
Battery Life: Officially 5 days of classroom use or 2 weeks of homework use
  "

That's really, REALLY crappy! for a 15Mhz, 1287k ram device! i would have espected at least ten times that!

Re:battery life (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | about a year ago | (#42956565)

Given that my TI-85 used to run an entire school year on maybe 2-3 sets of four AAA batteries, having to charge the thing weekly (and realistically probably more like every couple of days with any real use) is insane. I'd have nightmares about the thing dying in the middle of a test!

Re:battery life (1)

rcamera (517595) | about a year ago | (#42956939)

i wonder how much of that battery usage is going into refreshing the lcd screen? seems like this would be a perfect application for color e-ink displays.

Re:battery life (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#42957129)

"That's really, REALLY crappy! for a 15Mhz, 1287k ram device! i would have espected at least ten times that!"

I've noticed a LOT of gear lately using rechargeables where replaceable batteries would have made a lot more sense.

Take outdoor equipment for example. I've seen a lot of otherwise high-end flashlights and headlamps that use rechargeables... and I won't even look at them twice. If I'm out in the wilderness for 5 days, a regargeable is almost completely useless to me. Same with "lantern" - style devices, and just about anything else that can be battery powered, like cameras.

I mean, seriously. For some of this equipment, rechargeable batteries make no sense at all. Yet they want to sell it for $150 or whatever. I just laugh.

Why are calculators still relevant? (0, Redundant)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#42956395)

For the sake of discussion, can anyone explain why a special-purpose graphing calculator is still useful? It would seem to me that a good smartphone app could replace a device like this, let alone a general-purpose laptop that can run Matlab, R, and Gnuplot.

Disclaimer: I have degrees in math and physics and never saw the use of a programmable calculator before. Generally I worked with equations and a pencil when I was a student and Matlab or C code once I got a job.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (2)

wikid_one (1056810) | about a year ago | (#42956467)

Standardized testing is the only reason I ever had a specialized calculator like this (TI-89). Now that I am out of school it has just been collecting dust in my desk drawer.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956799)

Speaking of which I should probably dig mine up to replace the batteries that are still in it 15+ years later... Ooops

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956493)

because for exams etc. schools want a controlled locked down device so you cannot "cheat"

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956507)

They keep making them shitty enough so that they are allowed into exams.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

FunPika (1551249) | about a year ago | (#42956519)

Many colleges utilize graphing calculators in courses now instead of requiring all work to be done out on paper. Calculator apps on smartphones are generally disallowed due to the possibility of switching into another app (such as a web browser or text messaging) during an exam.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42956567)

Which means students just cheat by storing the formulas in the calculators. That is how we did it.

There were even fake reset the calculator applications.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year ago | (#42956849)

Is it really cheating, or are their tests simply flawed? It sounds like their tests ask you to answer poorly-thought-out questions that don't actually test a student's critical thinking abilities. Probably the typical, "Here's an equation right in front of your face. Now mindlessly repeat those steps you should have memorized in class to solve the equation."

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42956933)

No these were just word problems constructed to make you use some specific formula. Memorizing dozens of them is pointless. In real life people lookup that kind of stuff everyday.

There was no critical thinking involved.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42957427)

Is it really cheating, or are their tests simply flawed? It sounds like their tests ask you to answer poorly-thought-out questions that don't actually test a student's critical thinking abilities. Probably the typical, "Here's an equation right in front of your face. Now mindlessly repeat those steps you should have memorized in class to solve the equation."

When I went to college, many courses had a final exam with a "you can take one A4 sheet with whatever cheat sheet you want to scribble down for yourself" policy. If you hadn't known what you were doing, it wouldn't have saved you anyway.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

bfields (66644) | about a year ago | (#42957455)

Memorizing formulas is the easy part of learning anything, I don't know why that's the thing some students obsess about, and as a teacher I'd be concerned about students not memorizing things they probably should, but it's not the end of the world.

It's when they start trying to message someone to get help that I'd get really worried.... It's not likely to work as well as they think it will, but I still wouldn't want to have to deal with it.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (4, Interesting)

Aaden42 (198257) | about a year ago | (#42956539)

Because teachers are paranoid the chill'ins will cheat in class. Anything with a radio is verboten as a matter of course, and likewise anything "too powerful" isn't allowed. Finagle forbid they actually spend braincycles on solving a problem and leave the arithmetic to something that's designed to crunch numbers quickly and correctly. Far better to keep them busy doing busy work.

Of course any smart phone today could run Derive in a DOS emulator and probably still have enough cycles left over to play Angry Birds, but that would make math "too easy." Can't have that...

Funny story: Talked to a physics teacher (high school level) ages ago in a school where they standardized on HP's line rather than TI's. HP's did infrared communications whereas TI typically requires a physical cable to "network" between devices. The teacher said one day he looked up from his desk during a test and noticed a bunch of mirrors and prisms strewn about the room with students carefully aiming their calculators. Being an extremely cool teacher, he said something to the effect of, "I know what you're doing, but you had to use physics to make it work, so I'll let it slide once. Get ride of the glass and don't do it again."

Magical Black Boxes (3, Interesting)

KalvinB (205500) | about a year ago | (#42956711)

Students shouldn't be allowed to use things they don't understand. Calculators are for solving thousands of calculations and calculations with large numbers. Students should know how to do the same work by hand using smaller sets of calculations and smaller numbers.

If you don't understand the math, you won't be able to know if the answer your calculator gave you is right or how to find the problem if it's wrong.

It's not about making math "too easy." It's about actually understanding math. It's about learning how to actually solve problems and think logically. Just plugging it into a calculator doesn't teach you much. Any monkey can do that.

Re:Magical Black Boxes (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956797)

> Students shouldn't be allowed to use things they don't understand.

Congratulations, you just completely invalidated every driver's ed program in the country.

Re:Magical Black Boxes (1)

Reilaos (1544173) | about a year ago | (#42957073)

And I really wouldn't mind that. Drivers should understand at least the basics of pistons, power braking/steering, and momentum, I think.

Re:Magical Black Boxes (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year ago | (#42956879)

If what they want is to test people's understanding of the math, then perhaps they shouldn't be expecting that students simply memorize formulas and procedures without understanding them. If their students can answer the questions on the test merely by having something ready to solve it on the calculator, then I'd say the test itself is flawed.

Solving tedious problems is not the same as understanding the underlying logic behind why the math works.

Re:Magical Black Boxes (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | about a year ago | (#42956907)

Find me a monkey that can look at a problem and determine the correct formula to plug into their magical black box and know which numbers should replace which variables. Explain to me how understanding (or not) the algebra/calculus/etc. behind an equation influences the correctness of the calculator's answer? Understanding how to frame the problem is the important part. Given the ability to do that, technology can do the math for you, and you'll get the right answer. Absent that human ability, it doesn't matter if you can do math like Rain Main, you're not going to be solving any real problems.

It's quite likely that a student who's, "Bad at math," could learn to identify applications of certain solving techniques, punch them into a suitably advanced calculator, and arrive at the correct answer. They might not have the first clue about how to actually work the numbers that the machine is doing for them, but I have a hard time seeing how there's value per-se in knowing how to crunch the numbers. The value is in solving the problem. If the middle part of the process is "magic," that's surely not optimal, but it's better than being stuck on step one and having no solution at all.

I'm not saying understanding of the math is a bad thing, but crunching the numbers is something that's significantly difficult for many students and causes significant amounts of stress about math class or, "Math is hard," sentiments. Many of these students have approximately zero chance of ever needing to perform differential calculus in their future lives, but they might just find some use in being able to find solutions to some of the types of problems than these math techniques can answer. If you get them past what is to them essentially black magic in the math itself, you can enable them to actually get some benefit in their life. You may also prevent the total shutdown to learning that often occurs when you give a student something that they're completely unequipped to solve and then rub their face in it like a naughty puppy for being too dumb to do it.

Re:Magical Black Boxes (1)

xtal (49134) | about a year ago | (#42957113)

I'm not a mathematician but I do have an Electrical Engineering degree, and have done a lot of very advanced math - and over all those courses in university, I did not use a single calculator on an exam given by the math department. Paper, pencil and an eraser. That's it; that's enough to learn all the mathematics we know. Interestingly also, it was not until my first year of University that I properly seperated in my brain that the concepts and tools math teaches are fundamentally different from math "problems", or puzzles - the most common application of those skills used on tests.

This point is lost on teachers who by and large don't understand and are not qualified to each math. It is a similarly absurd situation to trying to teach Shakespeare in a language you don't understand. It's not going to work.

Computers should be used to turn sets, matricies and functions into pretty pictures that can be visually explored and tweaked.That's what they're really good at.

Just make the numbers work out; use symbols for relationships and functions; there's lots of fun to be had there!

For physics and such, sure, you need something to plug in numbers. Physics uses math. It isn't math.

The elephant in the room - the real "secret" is that taught properly by people who understand and appreciate what math is, math is very simple, very easy, and those who don't understand it are often quite intimidated by those who do.

Math is not solving puzzles. That's what high school math classes are, and it should be a source of national shame.

Other ancient texts (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42957247)

It is a similarly absurd situation to trying to teach Shakespeare in a language you don't understand. It's not going to work.

Is it like trying to teach the Bible if you aren't fluent in ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek?

Re:Magical Black Boxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42957133)

I'm sorry, but that's a total heap of progress-fearing bullshit. In schools there are plenty of cases where students are supposed to apply math, like in physics, construction and electronics.

However, thanks to retarded people like you an insane amount of time, effort and resources -- both on the part of the student and the teacher -- is spent on crunching numbers, or going to waste while you're looking for that misplaced decimal comma, or exactly where in your four-pages long calculation you made some silly error. Time which could have been infinitly better spent trying to understand/teach how to solve the fucking problem in the first place!

Sure, ban calculators all you want in math, but keep the problems on a manageble scale then, and ban the wannabe math-teachers from anything related to real work!

Re:Magical Black Boxes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42957225)

Oh, and I forgot. There's another reason for exiling these wannabe math-teachers.

These verbose, overlong and overcomplicated "solution" where you write and rewrite formulas on no end in order to get "x=" totally obscures what the hell you're actually trying to accomplish, and does not really contribute anything but as an element to wear out and confuse the student. Showing what you're starting with, and what the result is should be enough, you're trying to solve a problem, not to provide proof.

Re:Magical Black Boxes (1)

azadrozny (576352) | about a year ago | (#42957397)

I agree, in part. Students should be given tools only after they have been taught, and mastered, the underlying principals behind the tool. I don't understand why you would prohibit a student from using a tool, like a calculator once they understand basic math. For example, if an assignment or test calls for the student to average a list of number (as part of a larger operation). Why not permit them to use a calculator for that? Sure you could make them do the math on paper, but that can be slow, tedious, and introduce errors that further complicate the lesson. Consider that if they use a calculator, they can practice more problems in a shorter period of time, thus helping them to learn and understand the larger lesson.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956825)

I used an HP-48 during high school as did several friends (1992 or so). We all used the infrared data transfer to... help each other during tests (we aimed our calculators ).

The calculator was so new at the time that none of the teachers had any idea that this was possible.

I look back on the experience and don't consider it cheating, we primarily used it to transfer things that would otherwise need to be memorized (I used it in Poly-Sci for geography answers - no one questioned me having a calculator out...). Mathematical proofs and such were still required knowledge to be successful.

I'm quite proud of figuring this all out back in the day. Made school easier and taught me about wireless data transfer before it was a common thing.

In my physic course we could have anything (1)

aepervius (535155) | about a year ago | (#42957311)

We were being tested on solving a frigging problem, and not on whether we could retain by heart 100 of equation. We were being tested on understanding not tore memory. We could have books, lessons, anything. The math was usually simple enough anyway, approximated to the first number after comma. In the end we did not have all perfect note we had a gaussian around the middle, because the problem given were real world physic, chemistry and engineering problem that we had to solve and show our reasoning.

Who cares about rote memoring ? In real life you can look up any reference. The most interresting stuff is : can you look the correct reference up, do you udnerstand what you were taught, and can you on your own solve a problem.

After you are 7 or 8 year old any rote memory teaching is *lazy* and icnredibly backward in our world.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | about a year ago | (#42957389)

Because teachers are paranoid the chill'ins will cheat in class. Anything with a radio is verboten as a matter of course, and likewise anything "too powerful" isn't allowed. Finagle forbid they actually spend braincycles on solving a problem and leave the arithmetic to something that's designed to crunch numbers quickly and correctly. Far better to keep them busy doing busy work.

The way it would work if they had more powerful devices is that one kid would write a program and the rest of the kids would get him to give or sell it to them. Unfortunately, kids still cheat today, by any means available. My H.S. daughter has regaled me with a few of the attempts she's seen.

Also, great story about the prisms!

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42957413)

What an awesome lesson! Cheating is OK if it involves physics, and if you only do it once.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a year ago | (#42956573)

I have a good emulation of an HP48GX on my phone, however, although the emulation is extremely faithful (it's actually a proper emulation and uses the ROM from the calculator, rather than just an app that looks like the calculator) I'd much rather use a real calculator because the problem is on a small touch screen with no tactile feedback, it's very easy to miskey and I spend half my time correcting miskeys. Also, with the application up and the screen turned on with the phone, and if I'm spending significant time doing maths problems, the phone's battery gets significantly used (my phone isn't brand new and the battery has lost a fair bit of capacity due to age). By comparison an actual calculator will go an awful long time before running its batteries down.

Now I could use the computer to do it, but I'd rather have a separate device that's not using up screen space while using the computer.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#42956621)

The simple answer, to prevent cheating in tests. It's a limited use device that typically can only be used for the intended purpose. (I'm sure some have worked out a way to cheat with them, but if they're inventive enough to cheat with them then they generally have useful life skills and should probably pass anyway, pity about the moral implications though).

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (2)

halivar (535827) | about a year ago | (#42956661)

Crunching the night's XP for PC's and henchmen at the dinner table. That's about it.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#42956877)

Schools and tests. Even back before cellphones hit critical mass, using graphing calculators made life easier. Not just the graph, but having functions, program-ability, the history on a big screen, etc.

Now that cellphones are big... well schools still don't want them using the cellphones in class. Some don't even want them brought into the building. So you can't just allow students to just start using them in class.
Is he googling the answer?
Is he texting someone for help?
Is he using an advanced polynomial solver?
etc.

So, graphing calculators. And a specific kind to perhaps reduce how easy it is to program or the built in features. Heck, there was a TI out while I was a in college that would solve advanced equations and give you the answer as something like Answer = 2x + 1/Pi

I mean sure, pen and paper is fine. But some standardized tests are set up so you barely have time to take the test by plugging stuff into a calculator. And writing it all out and stuff adds a little bit more time and thus makes it hard to finish.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year ago | (#42956925)

Dedicated keys.

While every calculator is a computer, not every computer is a calculator. Having dedicated keys helps streamline problem solving when all you have is graph paper and pencil.

But yeah, Mathematica, Maple, Matlab, Octave, Derive, Excel, have pretty much replaced calcs. I haven't used my HP48SX and HP48GX in years -- partially because of the emulator.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

azadrozny (576352) | about a year ago | (#42957169)

This is the biggest benefit I see. I still keep a (non-graphing) calculator on my desk for quick problems. It is cheap and reliable. I could use my phone or computer, but then you need to unlock it then find the calculator app.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#42957053)

it's called "tenure"
The same professors have been giving the same tests for so long, that the answers are still available on old tripod sites. They fear the internet, not because it would allow their students to cheat... their students cheat all the time... they fear the internet because it makes it obvious that every bit of knowledge required to pass their class can be contained on a single webpage.

Any class that's teaching you a skill that you're expected to use in the real world, should allow you to use all of the tools that will be available to you in the real world on the test. Doing away with the same test transcript they've been using for 40 years might make them miss their evening scotch once a quarter but it's a small price to pay don't you think?

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

Nelson (1275) | about a year ago | (#42957289)

Since you mentioned it, what are the good calculator apps for smartphones? THey all seem to focus on a smaller subset of things, I'd like an HP48 or Ti89 replacement. Either that, or why not Mathematica or Maple or Derive on the iPhone?

Any suggestions?

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#42957325)

Some people like general tools that can do everything mostly well, some people like specialized tools that are designed around doing one thing, it is an old preference argument.

Though setting aside that, one thing people like about these dedicated devices the physical keys and large amount of space devoted to them. A smartphone (assuming one even has one. geeks consider them universal, but they really are not) will generally provide a smaller UI (display + input) and input has no tactile feedback.

As for laptops, that gets into the whole 'computers in the classroom' argument, which has been well covered on slashdot.

Re:Why are calculators still relevant? (2)

bfields (66644) | about a year ago | (#42957409)

We used them when I was teaching introductory calculus as a grad student in the 90's.

A smartphone's certainly capable enough, but I can still think of a number of advantages to a special-purpose calculator:

  • If you're using it an hour at a time in class, something with dedicated calculator buttons is probably going to be more comfortable than the touchscreen interface.
  • There's less to go wrong. In a class with 30 students, I'd be afraid one of them would always have a dead phone battery or a crash or.... (Or worse, I would while I'm trying to demonstrate something.)
  • They're generally No wireless networking, so you can give test problems that might require calculators without having to deal with the whole "how do I know you aren't texting with someone during the test" problem.

But sure maybe some day it will make sense to require everyone to have a phone and standardize on some single calculator app.

But what about battery life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956411)

The linked article says nothing about battery life. If I have to recharge the thing every evening, that's not worth colors on the calculator screen.

what is this review doing here? (2)

fliptout (9217) | about a year ago | (#42956437)

The target market for this calculator is high school.. How many slashdotters are in high school?

Re:what is this review doing here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956551)

I need it for me engineering classes....

Re:what is this review doing here? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#42956575)

I have no idea. Do you? Quite besides which, target markets have never meant much to geeks.

Size of target market (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42957357)

target markets have never meant much to geeks

Unless the target market ends up not big enough, in which case the product never gets mass-produced or falls out of production because not enough people want it. This happened to 4" tablets priced for use without a cellular data plan (such as the Nokia N810 in North America and the three years of Android prior to Galaxy Player introduction in October 2011), it happened to 3-4" tablets with a gamepad (such as GP2X), and it happened to 10" laptops at the end of last year [slashdot.org] .

Re:what is this review doing here? (4, Insightful)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#42956629)

It's an update of a classic gadget that a lot of /.ers would have used. Geeks get nostalgic about gadgets, that's why it belongs here.

Re:what is this review doing here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956785)

Many of us geeks have gone on to sire progeny which have reached or are reaching an age to which these devices are marketed.

I hate how the trend on slashdot is to dictate what does or does not belong on slashdot. Just because it does not pique your interest does not mean the same holds true for all of us.

I am very grateful for the teardown as my daughter will need a graphing calculator next year. I will not be buying this one with it's anemic battery life.

Anecdata (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42957365)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

Many of us geeks have gone on to sire progeny

You must be new here.

But seriously, you're right that many Slashdot users have younger relatives in their mid-teens, such as my younger cousin. So we have your anecdote and my anecdote, and the plural of "anecdote" is "data" [revolutionanalytics.com] .

Color not needed (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#42956457)

Why would anyone need color on a calculator? It just drains battery life! I'd rather like to see standard batteries with long life, a small form factor, tons of easy to use functions including CAS, good keys, and an outstanding printed manual. Apart from the form factor various older HP and TI calculators fit this description, but I'd love to see something like the Casio Slim but with CAS and RPN. ;-)

Actually.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956843)

If it's a transflective screen without a backlight it's not an issue at all.

I have a neo geo color (sadly now missing the battery cover. Only reason I don't use it more.) and that thing will run for at least weeks if not a month on a pair of AA's with a color screen on pause with a real time clock cycling in the background.

Most awesome portable console ever IMHO, if only it had more games....

Re:Color not needed (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#42956913)

The only thing I can think of, is if you're doing something with color / heat maps.

I've seen some stuff like that. But then again not for anything I needed to do, even in college.

Though breaking it down to a high school level, perhaps as an alternative way to depict 2D in a broad way. X, Y, and color-map to visually approximate the Z value for something really complex.

Re:Color not needed (1)

neminem (561346) | about a year ago | (#42957285)

Obvious answer: because games are better in color. Corollary fact: if you're fiddling about with a gameboy in a high school lecture, you'll get in trouble. If you're fiddling about with a TI in a high school lecture, you probably won't unless the teacher sees what you're doing (ever notice just how many variations on the "hide what you're doing screen" program have been written for TIs?)

Color makes sense. ;)

Yes, I fully admit, I played the *crap* out of Tetris in calc in high school.

slashdotted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956491)

Site already slashdotted?

Geek summary - tech specs (4, Informative)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year ago | (#42956513)

Pity the article was too darn lazy to summarize the tech specs:

CPU: custom z80 @ 6 / 15 MHz
LCD: 320x240, 16-bit
RAM: 128K of internal RAM, 21K user-accessible
ROM: 4MB Flash ROM chip, 3.5MB user-accessible.
IO: serial port, miniUSB jack
Keys: 50 dedicated keys
Programming languages: TI BASIC, z80 Assembly

Pity people couldn't provide benchmarks of couple common integrals across the HP48GX, HP49, HP50, TI-82, TI-84, so we can see how fast it is.

Re:Geek summary - tech specs (1)

Joehonkie (665142) | about a year ago | (#42957421)

I also demand screenshots of homebrew video games that are the obvious main purpose of having this thing in a boring math class. (And I wonder why I have trouble with even simple arithmetic)

Most important question (1, Flamebait)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42956547)

Is it $10 or less yet?

A state needs to contract out the creation of calculators to some firm and just get them for $10 a pop. There is no reason TI should be getting $100 for them.

Re:Most important question (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | about a year ago | (#42957445)

Is it $10 or less yet?

A state needs to contract out the creation of calculators to some firm and just get them for $10 a pop. There is no reason TI should be getting $100 for them.

Yes, there is. TI is able to make more money if they're $100 a pop. FWIW, my kid's H.S. requires a TI-80-something for algebra, etc. It really irks me, because A) we weren't even allowed to use a four-function calculator in my high school classes (1972-1976), B) the thing is more sophisticated than the "engineering" calculator I got for college, and C) no one in my daughter's generation seems to be able to figure out how much change they should get/give in their head.

(And yes -- you damn kids get off of my lawn!)

Same calculator and same price for 20 years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956599)

Same capabilities and still >$100. Are we paying for buttons here? This is no longer special.

SAT and ACT demand buttons (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42957385)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

Are we paying for buttons here?

You're paying for buttons because SAT and ACT demand buttons. It's like the handheld video game market, where the developer pays for buttons by navigating the developer and game approval of Sony (PSP/PS Vita) and Nintendo (DS/3DS) for games in genres that aren't very suitable for a phone's touch screen.

I'm surprised (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956669)

I'm surprised nobody has posted this [xkcd.com] yet.

Still Missing (2)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#42956755)

A full CAS, the Ti-84 was a good calculator, I loved mine and it worked great. However it fell short for me because it lacked a good CAS, hence why I bought a Ti-89 Titanium. I know a lot of people, engineers included wonder why anyone would bother getting a calculator with a CAS built in, it's simple, why do algebra by hand and risk making a mistake when your calculator can do it MUCH faster, more accurate and in most cases with a better final answer.

Re:Still Missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42956815)

You may be good with engineering, but your English is terrible.

That's the point (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#42957283)

It is targeted at education and math teachers get all uppity if the calculator can do too much since they don't know how to effectively teach or test their students.

If you want CAS TI's color model is the nSpire CX CAS. More powerful overall and has a full CAS setup on it.

What can it do .... (1)

jopet (538074) | about a year ago | (#42956827)

that I cannot, for example, do with Maxima and octave on my Nexus 7, much more quickly and without that feeling of being trapped in the distant past?

Re:What can it do .... (2)

pavon (30274) | about a year ago | (#42956971)

It can keep a battery charge for more than a couple days.

Re:What can it do .... (1)

jopet (538074) | about a year ago | (#42957141)

Thats true and highly relevant for people who have no chance to get close to a mains plug within 24 hours :)

17 years?!? (1)

mulhollandj (807571) | about a year ago | (#42956839)

Is that how long it has been since I was in high school?

Inveterate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42957009)

> continue this inveterate line for years to come
> inveterate

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

yea, but... (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | about a year ago | (#42957109)

Does it run blockdude?

If it's not broken, don't fix it. (1)

gmclapp (2834681) | about a year ago | (#42957179)

I've never had any complaints with TI calculators. They would charge me more to put a color screen, or a touch screen, or whatever else on it. I don't need that stuff for math, so I don't want to pay for it. I have a TI-89 Titanium that got me through a mechanical engineering degree, and that I use every day at work. It's a rock solid calculator. I've never thought: "man I wish this had a touch screen..."
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