|Re: 48sx compared to 50g|
Message #5 Posted by Dave Britten on 13 Jan 2010, 8:51 a.m.,
in response to message #4 by Dave Boyd
True enough, at least as it comes from the factory, but please note that the USER keyboard can be anything you like... and if you use Prof. Dr. Rautenburg's lovely KEYMAN (and perhaps TOPKEYS as well), the sky's the limit. It allows both "long-hold" and "double-press" actions in addition to the usual no-shift, shift, and shift-hold modifiers, and allows all the shifted combinations with them as well, so one key can do a couple of dozen different things instead of just six or seven-- which leads to a different set of usability issues if these capabilities are over-used, naturally. These libraries are not specific to the 50g, but are also available for the 48GX.
Yes, that does work, but it leads to another non-optimal situation. If you use the user keys to group a set of related functionality that's used somewhat infrequently, you're out of luck. In my case, I've got some custom menus, user keys, and a custom Enter that speed up number base work. Being forced to leave the user keys on to remedy the very poor standard keyboard layout would prevent me from having this number-base-oriented keyboard layout ready when I need it. Either that or I'd be stuck with it full-time, which isn't really a workable option.
On a related note, I think adding the shift-and-hold key mappings was a bad idea. Anybody that's tried to go backward multiple pages in a menu on the 50g will know what I'm talking about. (Shift+Prev is actually Last Menu, so you have to keep alternately pressing and releasing the shift key, then the Prev key, or else you'll end up somewhere else entirely.) Plus some of the shifted functions on the number keys open up soft-key menus, but some open up choose boxes. And of those that open choose boxes, a select few will open soft-key menus if you do shift-and-hold. There's no real rhyme or reason to it, either.
And speaking of menus, why are there so many duplicates that differ just enough to be confusing? Try this on a 50g: hit Left-Shift, MTH, then pick HYP. Page through the menu with NXT, and notice it has the 6 hyperbolic trig functions, plus EXPM (e^x - 1) and LNP1 (ln(x + 1)). All well and good. Now hit Right-Shift, TRIG (on the 8 key), then pick HYP again. Once again, here are the 6 hyperbolic trig functions, but in a different order. Then hit NXT and notice this version of the menu doesn't have the two logarithmic functions! Now hit SYMB, then pick the TRIG menu. It's COMPLETELY different from the TRIG menu you get from Right-Shift, 8.
There are plenty of other examples of poorly thought-out menus. For instance, the SYMB key also has menus for CALC and ALG. These are, of course, completely different from the shifted CALC and ALG menus on the 4 key. Left-Shift, MATRICES (the 5 key) is quite different from MTH, MATRX, and MTH, CMPLX bears almost nothing in common with Right-Shift, CMPLX (the 1 key).
All in all, it makes for a very frustrating experience when you have to remember which of several subtly different versions of the same menu has the function(s) you're looking for. The 48 designers had the right idea - put the (mostly) numeric stuff under MTH, the symbolic manipulation functions under ALGEBRA/SYMBOLIC, low-level stuff in PRG, and give a couple more menus for stats, time, units, plotting, etc. In my opinion, if the 48SX had an un-shifted "clear stack" key like the 48GX, it would be perfect. (Let's just say I'm not fond of the 48GX having EDIT/VISIT and PURGE on adjacent same-shifted keys. I've fat-fingered it a couple times with LASTARG disabled...)