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HP 50g

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Ackbach

Indicium Physicus
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,197
My beloved TI-85 died. It had served me quite well for 16 years, and I still think it's one of the very best calculators TI ever put out. But after changing the button battery, for some reason it started to refuse to display anything, eventually reaching the point where it wouldn't even turn on.

So I started casting about for a new calculator, since I used mine at work nearly every day. I thought of the TI-89 Titanium. But then I remembered that HP had a good line of calculators - at least they did. I do not think they have maintained their quality quite so well as they used; but their latest offering, the 50g, was quite impressive. What turned the tide for me to switch from TI to HP was the Daniel Doherty review on Amazon. I envisioned myself stepping through a complex calculation with RPN and the HP stack, and thought it would be a good tool. I've definitely found that to be the case. Seeing all your intermediate steps is incredibly helpful! I find that more helpful than getting the expression to look exactly like it does on the page (and the 50g can do algebraic notation more like the TI's, if you like, although I think the real power of the HP is RPN and the stack). Each atomic calculation done on the stack I can review for whether or not it's reasonable, before moving on to the next one. I like!

Its programming features seem quite well thought out. You can program the thing in C, if you so desire! But even its regular language, RPL, seems well thought out. I have been able to write a simple script or two to make things a bit quicker to access, such as the units menu, which I will likely use constantly.

All in all, I'd highly recommend the HP 50g. It's probably the most powerful calculator on the market. It does have a slightly higher learning curve than the TI, but I would definitely say it's worth it.

Disclaimer: my father-in-law bought me my HP 50g; but even then, it's less expensive than the less powerful TI-89 Titanium even if I had had to buy it myself.
 

Jameson

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Jan 26, 2012
4,052
Nice review. It looks pretty similar in its layout to the TI-89 from what I remember. I bought a TI-89 in 2005 and haven't used it much since. I prefer the TI-83 Plus actually for basic graphing and calculator use. Navigating the 89 was a bit of a pain. It's most appealing feature was solving indefinite integrals and checking derivatives.

Being able to program in C is a great feature. I'm curious though as to why you don't use Mathematica at work mostly or something on a laptop? Is it faster on a handheld device?
 
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Ackbach

Indicium Physicus
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Jan 26, 2012
4,197
It's faster for quick computations than Mathematica, mainly because of "instant on". I do use Mathematica at work from time to time. However, I use Excel and a calculator much more often for what I do.