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June's over - No new calcs :) - Interesting TI product
Message #1 Posted by John Stark on 5 July 2011, 6:30 p.m.

To all:

June is over and no rumours or announcements from HP of new (or reintroduced) calculators.

Whaddya' think ??

John Stark


Saw and used for a bit the new Texas Instruments Nspire CX colour-screen calculator.

Stunning packaging,display, and battery life; build quality not bad.

Would be a dream machine if somehow merged with HP-50 series or similar operating system; however TI places this unit as an "educational", rather than a "workaday" calc.

Are you listening, HP ?? Some great display and design ideas here for a high-end calculator.

Nonetheless, can't give up RPN and LED's for now.

Hope all (in USA) had a great 4th ; Canadian friends a fine Canada Day.


Re: June's over - No new calcs :) - Interesting TI product
Message #2 Posted by Thomas Radtke on 6 July 2011, 5:30 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by John Stark

A workhorse doesn't really need the ability to play doom on it, imo. I'm sure b/w displays still offer the best readability, and an operating system stripped down to the absolute minimum reduces the number of bugs contained. Both features characterize a good calculator.

Re: June's over - No new calcs :) - Interesting TI product
Message #3 Posted by David Ramsey on 6 July 2011, 11:45 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by John Stark

The nSpire is a teaching tool, not a calculator in the sense we think of it. As a teaching tool, it seems to be very nice, though.

Re: June's over - No new calcs :) - Interesting TI product
Message #4 Posted by Lode on 7 July 2011, 7:46 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by John Stark

I'm personally not very interested in it because:

-it's for schools, not for engineers

-it does not have a battery life of multiple years, but of multiple hours

-it is more like a smartphone, PDA or computer than like a calculator, I mean, I can just put an app on my phone that does math and I've also got a color screen calculator, it's not very magical (admittedly this is the same as the second point)

-it is not something that makes maximum use of its hardware, but sort of locked down

Edited: 7 July 2011, 8:32 a.m.

Re: June's over - No new calcs :) - Interesting TI product
Message #5 Posted by Cody on 7 July 2011, 11:47 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by John Stark

The sad difference between the Nspire series and say, the TI-89, is that the calculator is incredibly crippled in terms of usability. I've never been more frustrated with any calculator than the Nspire CAS. Much like the iPad makes a good media consumption device, the Nspire seems like its purpose is also simply to consume electronic lesson plans distributed by a teacher.

Actually using the Nspire is maddening how many button presses it takes to accomplish simple calculations. The trig functions are hidden behind a single button, which takes multiple presses or using the navigation pad to navigate to the correct function. Trying to access the solve function is also several menu levels deep with no easy shortcut.

I haven't seen the Nspire CX screen, but the black and white screen of the current models is an abomination completely unreadable under normal indoor lighting conditions. The backlit LCD on the CX series would correct this problem, but then the power consumption jumps, necessitating the use of a rechargeable lithium ion battery, which of course has a limited lifespan before replacement is needed.

TI spent more time locking down the calculator than addressing usability. With just a couple buttons, you can accidentally put the Nspire series in press to test mode, which activates a flashing red led and restricts access to any 3rd party programs along with removing access to built in functions. To get out of press to test requires connecting to a computer or another calculator.

It's true than the Nspire CX is a stunning looking calculator, but all joy ends there sadly. With TI playing a cat and mouse game with developers, they have also alienated an entire enthusiast community.

Aside from the improved hardware, the Nspire series is a significant step down when compared to the HP50g or even the TI-89. If the Nspire series encourages HP to release a new product, at least there will be some benefit to us. Hopefully HP can see beyond the glitz that TI has included just for show and provide a legitimate tool that enables one to quickly and efficiently get the answer for which he is looking.

Re: June's over - No new calcs :) - Interesting TI product
Message #6 Posted by John Stark on 7 July 2011, 7:09 p.m.,
in response to message #5 by Cody

Dear Cody:

You have articulated my feelings completely.

The Nspire IS a locked-down teaching machine, NOT a tool for everyday calculating.

My opinion is that from a styling and physical user experience ("OOB Experience") viewpoint alone, the Nspire is a possible (starting) point for HP to use in a new generation of "RPL" or 49-50G based calculators.

Agreed that battery life and use of rechargeable cells breaks with (recent) HP tradition, but I would LOVE an HP.45 with 80-100 hours between charges.

Li-ion batteries and colour displays, I'm afraid, are the trend of today and tomorrow.

BTW, I believe the future of display technology is somehow linked to E-readers such as the "NOOK", and the "KINDLE"; they have high resolution displays that are easy on the batteries and the eyes.

Just some food for thought. You guys are a lot more hard-headed and experienced in engineering and product design than I am. I operate primarily by feeling, and some elements of the Nspire's design appealed to me, although its functionality STANK.


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