|non-HP RPN knockoffs - the good, bad and ugly|
Message #1 Posted by Michael de Estrada on 26 Oct 2011, 11:40 p.m.
The Compucessory CCS28956 and Victor V12 have been discussed before on this forum. They are basically knockoffs of the HP 12C Platinum, the Victor V12 is a copy of the original version and the CCS28956 is a copy of the newest version, that also adds a cost/sell/margin feature as well. Both calculators can be easily found for less than $15 shipped, although the CCS28956 has to be bought in quantity greater than one to get a unit price under $15. Compare this to a MSRP of $80 for the HP 12CP, and it's clear that the good of these knockoffs is their bargain basement price. Even if they didn't offer RPN, they are still about the cheapest programmable calculators on the market.
The Victor has a decent keyboard with large semi-clicky keys that are laid out exactly the same as the HP 12CP and are spread farther apart for easy desktop use. The bad thing is the choice of red for the color of the shifted functions on the bottom of the black keys, which makes them almost illegible under anything but the brightest ambient lighting. The display is angled up for easy viewing, has large crisp digits with contrast adjustment, but a small decimal point. It's size and bulky case make it non-pocketable and requires two-handed handheld operation. Processing speed is much faster than the original HP 12C and probably comparable to a modern HP 12CP, although I can't make a comparison, since the only HP 12C I own is an original Voyager one from the 1980s. Finally, the Victor has a hard reset button on the back, so there's no need to remove the batteries (2 x AAA) if a reset becomes necessary. It's unfortunate that the Victor lacks the features added to the newer HP 12CP, such as backspace and undo. I don't miss the parentheses, because I never use algebraic mode. Overall, the Victor is mostly good, some bad and no ugly, and offers a good cheap alternative RPN calculator for non-critical situations, where a true HP RPN calculator is not required.
The Compucessory CCS28956 has an absolutely awful tiny mushy keyboard that has the key locations radically changed from the HP 12C as well as the key legends, such as STO changed to x->M, and critical keys such as ENTER are tiny buttons spaced so closely to other buttons that it is near impossible to depress it without hitting other nearby buttons. Also, the different key locations means that the program key codes are meaningless. This is all very unfortunate, because this is otherwise a very good calculator with a clear large display and a small size that makes it easy to use as a handheld device or carry in a pocket. I has a nice built-in plastic cover that makes it no thicker than a Voyager in its slip case, while actually being smaller in width and height. Processing speed is comparable to the Victor. Build quality is not as good as the Victor and it lacks a reset button. Overall, the Compucessory CCS28956 is some good in its compact size and a lot of bad and ugly in the crappy keyboard layout and button size/action. I can really only see using it in situations where I want to carry it around in a pocket and use in my hand.
Edited: 27 Oct 2011, 12:55 a.m.