|Re: OT: New Version of TI-Nspire|
Message #2 Posted by Don Shepherd on 10 Mar 2010, 2:12 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Gerry Schultz
I'm so glad to have them but I rarely use them. What's that all about?
That's about owning something today that was built years ago to last decades, and has! I feel the same way about my HP-65 I got about 3 years ago; built like a tank and still works great after all those years. There is nothing like those flashing LEDs while your program is running. And there is something very satisfying about implementing an algorithm in a programming space that is limited to 100 lines and 9 registers.
HP's new 30b is primarily a financial calculator but it does have the trig functions, a keystroke programming capability (it could use a lot more program space, however), and a blazingly-fast ARM processor.
You will like the NSpire, I predict. As an educator who has had the CAS unit for the past 3 years, I can upgrade to the CAS TouchPad version for free. I sent my old unit off a couple of days ago and, hopefully, will receive the new one shortly. I had already downloaded the new OS2 onto my old unit to see how it worked, and I was satisfied with it. Here are the principal changes.
The home screen now includes something they call a "scratchpad" that lets you play around with calculations and graphs without worrying about saving them in documents (although you can if you change your mind). Personally, that's kind of nice, but I was always able to play around with calculations and graphs on the old unit without undue work.
I think the new OS will let you solve simultaneous equations and polynomial equations on the regular NSpire (non-CAS) unit, whereas you needed the CAS version to do that before. Since I had the CAS, that's not an advantage for me.
The touchpad looks interesting. It will make navigation between screens and windows and documents easier, I think, but a real touch-screen and stylus would have been a revolutionary improvement; maybe next time.
I'm anxious to see what the real screen looks like on the new units. One of my complaints during the last 3 years was that you really need a very strong light source to be able to see what's on the screen. I remember when I first got the old NSpire, in a TI training class in Nashville, they dimmed the room lights so we could see the overhead projector images, but dimming the lights made the NSpire screens almost invisible. A backlight would have worked wonders. Another poster said that the new screen really does look as good as the image in one of the other threads, and I hope so. You can choose between 3 font sizes, but even the largest is rather hard to read with my old eyes.
From the beginning, the NSpire was not a very good programming platform, which is one of my main interests. As originally issued, you could only code functions. They added programs almost immediately, but it was hard to edit them on the handheld unit itself. Then they gave you a program editor and user libraries, which were good improvements. But the biggest problem was, there was no INPUT command to get user input during the execution of the program. That crippled the BASIC-like language, in my estimation. I think what drove that was kids creating games and playing them in class when they are supposed to be doing interesting math things like studying box and whisker plots (I'm being facetious a bit, I hate box and whisker plots). But now there is the equivalent of the INPUT command (called Request) and a textbox command (called Text). Those do work, I've tried them out on my old unit.
The NSpire is really meant for students. I suspect that a real engineer will probably be disappointed in it, especially since the trig functions are accessible only via a menu. That's not a big deal to me, but I'm not an engineer.
When you get it, please post your reaction here. We'd all like to know how an engineer view it.