|dream HP calc...and fire HP's MBAs!|
Message #1 Posted by Bill Wiese on 25 Mar 1999, 3:15 p.m.
Don't think it surprises many of us that HP's calculator quality, fit & finish - and to some extent usability - have gone down over the years. My HP2X "Woodstocks" can just about be used as wheel chocks and still function; the fit to my hand, keyboard layout and "click" feel all contribute to the aura of a quality, durable, useful product. (And my HP46 desktop is built like a tank - IBM Selectric-grade keyboard, metal case, robust power supply. This was definitely a piece of "capital equipment" in the early 70s.)
The latest HP48 series is so feature laden it's difficult to use and is almost NOT a calculator. Unless you're a student - for which the 48 seems to be designed - it's easier to turn to Matlab, MathCAD, or other programs on one's PC, laptop or workstation. The goal of a decent calc, in my mind, is quick elegant solutions to smaller problems, not as a computer replacement.
While overall I'm a big fan of the 41C series and the 42S, there's always something a bit "cheesy" regarding the post-Woodstock HP calcs. In particular I'd have liked to have seen the 41C in a larger Woodstock-type case, and not have those inter-board elastomer connections that don't age too well.
While I love the 42S - and would choose it for a calc over the 48 anyday, it does not have as nice a keyboard - layout, feel, durability - as the orig. 41's do. It also lacks an input port - something w/8KB or more of RAM should have at least IR I/O and/or serial I/O connection.
We've prob. seen the last of "real" calculators - they're now either commodity $10 - $25 items sold at a drugstore or feature-fat near-computers designed to attract teachers, students, and parents who like to spend money on their kids thinking a cool calculator will get their kid a good grade in math.
Perhaps we could convince HP to squeeze one more iteration out of the Voyager series before the MBAs take over totally -- a "42S-II" that has more RAM, real serial and infrared I/O ports, flash ROM for customization, financial and other application functions.... I miss 4-level RPN on the new HPs.
I'd also like to see HP put a good non-48 RPN calc app out for their handheld Jornada 420. Perhaps this is the one to add more bells & whistles to....
The Jornada 820 notebook WinCE machine (12+ hrs. battery life, great for a notebook!) and its 190MHz StrongARM CPU would be fine for a Matlab/MathCAD style application. Somebody's gotta port the public-domain Octave app over to Jornada's WinCE - that would be a great math platform!