The Museum of HP Calculators

HP Forum Archive 10

[ Return to Index | Top of Index ]

HP 49g
Message #1 Posted by Joe Dirt on 25 Feb 2003, 3:56 p.m.

Was this model discontinued? why?

Re: HP 49g
Message #2 Posted by Dave on 25 Feb 2003, 4:17 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Joe Dirt


Not what the market wanted or needed....

Re: HP 49g
Message #3 Posted by James Stephens on 25 Feb 2003, 7:03 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Joe Dirt

The hp-49g was discontinued, which is unfortunate. The market may not have wanted it, but my gut feeling is that there was--and is--plenty of room in the market for it and there were other reasons for production to have ceased. The hp-49 is a good machine, and I'd like to see it back in production. I hope someone at hp monitors this site and reads my suggestions.

When I bought mine in 1999 there was a lot of interesting material on the web, and some of it may not be available any longer. According to my web-based research, the 49g was designed in Australia by some very good hp-48 experts, so it was designed to be appreciated by loyal hp types who knew their way around an hp-48. HP was also trying to push into the education market, so the requirement to compete with TI (and others) drove the design to some extent. The look of the calculator, and more significantly the fact that it can operate in RPN and algebraic input modes were certainly results of this philosophy. Nothing is wrong with any of this. The calculator looks fine, and although the layout and tactile feedback are a bit different than those of the 48 series, the keyboard is still high in quality and the layout is appealing. The fact that the user could choose algebraic or RPN input should have opened up a good segment of the market, at the expense of complicating the documentation requirement. Documentation (at least in my opinion) is where hp blew it.

These calculators are too complex to master without good documentation. The User's Guide (manual) supplied with the machine was full of statements like "The hp 49g can do..." one thing or another, without explaining how to actually do the one thing or another. Some of the few detailed examples that were in the guide had errors, and the entire document was geared toward algebraic input. I had never used a graphing calc before I bought the hp-49g--had never owned an hp-48 (but was a loyal hp man, having owned a -15c, -32s and -32sII). I took the -49g out to sea on a seismic survey in early 2000 and worked through the manual. I found examples that didn't work, found a few things (such as entering vectors) that didn't "translate" in any obvious way between algebraic and RPN modes, and was sorely tempted to toss the thing into the Atlantic. One bright spot: I bought the calculator for its CAS, with the intention of having an easy-to-use way of evaluating integrals numerically. I did find the Equation Writer to be intuitive, so the machine did what I wanted without a lot of trouble.

I had the impression that HP believed that an experienced hp-48 user should have no problem with the hp-49, but many hp-48 users didn't like it--or more precisely didn't like the fact that the hp-49 worked differently. NB: For those of you who don't know, there is a flag setting that makes the -49 operate like an hp-48, so all of that knowledge--and the manuals--carry over. Still, one shouldn't be required to own an hp-48 in order to be able to use an hp-49.

By producing poor documentation HP alienated its loyal customer base as well as new users. When you by an hp-48 (yes, I got one of these after I got the hp-49), you get three manuals: a User's Guide, an Advanced User's Guide, and a Quick Start Guide. The user's guide is a thick, comprehensive, very-well-written document, as is the advanced user's guide. HP needed to produce documentation of similar quality for the hp-49 (the existing guides are worthless and need to be rewritten). Now, here's the problem: separate user guides would have to be supplied for algebraic and RPN modes of operation. This would be an expensive proposition. Here's the solution: the Quick Start Guide for the hp-48 introduces you to everything (short of programming) that a student or professional user needs to use the calculator (through a series of exercises), so produce a two-part quick start guide for the -49g: section I would be algebraic, section II would be RPN. Include a mail-in card for the full User's Guide of choice (algebraic or RPN), and make the appropriate Advanced guide an extra available for sale.

The machine is capable enough for the education trade, and good documentation and marketing would surely make it a contender. It is rugged (it's a *real* hp) and capable enough (especially in RPN mode) for professionals. HP's designers really did succed in creating a machine to please everyone, but their technical writing and support efforts failed them. OK, I've rambled enough--Jim.

Re: HP 49g
Message #4 Posted by J.C. Randerson on 25 Feb 2003, 8:26 p.m.,
in response to message #3 by James Stephens

"...the keyboard is still high in quality..."

Bull$%#&!!! I had not one, not two, but three sets of HP49 keys go bad on me. Indeed, it was the sorry, low quality of keys that finally made me to quit using the HP49.

" It is rugged (it's a *real* hp) and capable enough (especially in RPN mode) for professionals. HP's designers really did succed in creating a machine to please everyone, but their technical writing and support efforts failed them."

Horsefeathers! Wait till your key markings wear off, your case starts coming apart, and that awful upper screen scratches from no apparent cause. In addition, there were so many bugs in the OS and CAS that users abandoned the machine in droves.

The HP49 was a colossal failure, from its amateur conception, hideous design, atrocious keys, poor programming, and shoddy production quality.

Believe it or not, I used to be a HP fanatic. I was one of those who initially championed the HP49. As a long time HP user I thought it would be a dream machine. But, it failed me every chance I gave it. I'm done with it, I'm glad HP cancelled it. And I sure as heck don't trust the new "Carlyized" HP to produce anything better. - J.C. Randerson

Re: HP 49g
Message #5 Posted by Michel Beaulieu on 25 Feb 2003, 9:11 p.m.,
in response to message #4 by J.C. Randerson

I use a HP-49G at school often since 2 years and i didn't have any of these problem... But you're right : the keys feeling/feedback is not very responsive - it's "spongious" like (but no problem with non-contact or bouncing). I prefer the keys on my 41cv... :-)

The only real inconvenient i can see is that it miss the "expandability" of my 41cv or the 48 IR

Re: HP 49g
Message #6 Posted by Nick Nicholas on 26 Feb 2003, 1:18 a.m.,
in response to message #3 by James Stephens

I agree with your comments, especially regarding the part on the documentation. HP had no hope of selling these machines unless it came with some quality instruction manuals on how to utililize the features of the calculator.

I am surprised that there is minimal help built into the calculator, which would have made learning it easier.

I am not sure why people are complaining about the screen cover. The HP 48 did not have a screen cover so any damage on the screen would have been permanent. What HP should have done was to make the screen cover replaceable so that a new screen cover could be installed if the existing one was scratched or damaged.

The HP 49G has more memory and especially flash memory compared with the 128 KB in the HP 48GX. Has anyone tried to obtain memory cards for the HP 48GX?

Even with two memory cards installed in the HP 48GX, the software to make the functionality of the HP 48GX similar to the HP 49G would have to be installed into one of the memory cards and the functionality would probably be not as good as the HP 49G.

For me the most significant negative aspect was the omission of the infrared ports that would have allowed printing to the infrared printer and wireless communication with other HP 49G's or HP 48GX's.

On the balance, I think the HP 49G is an improvement over the HP 48GX but it was truly unfortunate that the infrared ports were omitted.

Re: HP 49g
Message #7 Posted by J.Manrique López de la Fuente on 26 Feb 2003, 12:47 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Joe Dirt

Discontinued? As far as I know, it haven't been discontinued yet..

Best regards,


#1077 HPCC Member

[ Return to Index | Top of Index ]

Go back to the main exhibit hall