The Museum of HP Calculators

HP Forum Archive 21

[ Return to Index | Top of Index ]

I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #1 Posted by eri on 22 Oct 2013, 5:27 p.m.

First thanks much to everyone on this vibrant forum. You've really assisted in my calculator decision. I've joined to provide some feedback to HP which seems to be following along with our experience with the prime. I love hp calculators of old, have been infected with the rpn meme, so I'm in hp's thrall and need to help them to build the tool I want.

1) Loved my hp15 back in the day. It broke due to water damage.

2) Replaced with an HP48S, love it, was stolen after 2 years.

3) Replaced with an HP48G, even better but now after... 20 years! of use the keys have intermittently stopped working on the lower right. I could disassemble and fix but it feels like its time for a new machine since this thing was always a little pokey.

I looked seriously into the Prime, downloaded the emulator (v5106) and switched to rpn. Immediately the emulator was freezing and crashing, I couldn't get anything done, using it was treading a minefield. I found your forum to confirm that the Prime really isn't fully baked in rpn mode. I love that the enter key is in the right place but am not willing to live with and depend on beta software. Maybe in a year or two the bugs will be worked out and I can take another look.

General discussion about desk calc:

1) The world has moved on from the limited symbolic manipulation that's in these calculators. For algebra really I think the bar has moved too far for hp to code their own solution. Wolfram alpha is the benchmark, its what my children use to check their algebra and calculus homework and its just so terrific to have a complete symbolic/visualization solution for difficult issues I may be working on. Maxima is a reasonable free solution. I would love to have access to that sort of power in a battery powered desk unit.

2) The ipod/iphone can run hp48 emulators, but that means needing to have a device charged and doesn't have the tangible feel of nice buttons. Screen is too small, ipod mini is too big and serious for a desk calc and also has the battery charger issues.

3) I'm also versed in emacs calc package, I like its rpn too but still very inefficient for a desk calc so poor battery life.

4) I think its fine for hp to innovate their calculators but its weird that hp has moved away from such a deep and well thought out history. Not to say new things are always bad but there seems to be a loss of respect for the excellent design that came before.

5) Buttons and key placement are very important. You could produce a professional edition with the keys from a 41cv? I want to own it and use it for another 20 years so build it well, I will pay. Make something that the world lusts after, thats a joy to hold and use! Maybe create a cheaper edition for students and use the crappy keys there?

So, long story short I've gone with that old obsolete hp50. On sale on amazon for $80. Yeah, enter key is in the wrong place but I'll live I think.

I'm very excited to try out the hpgcc3 c toolchain. That could be amazing!

Summary for HP:

0) The prime was built by a dedicated core. Thank you so much for trying and building it. Its amazing and huge system.

1) Please fix the prime's rpn mode. It appears to be unusable today. I was confused by how bad it was but maybe I was unlucky with my testing. It appears that rpn mode didn't get much test coverage.

a) For v2: I think you've wasted a bunch of space at the top of the prime keyboard. Touch screen is a win so selector isn't needed. Either implement soft keys on a larger screen or a grid of programmable keys.

b) Sorry you moved away from regular batteries. I'm not interested in charging my calculator I want the batteries to last weeks without thinking, swap new ones in quickly and move on. It aint a phone!

2) Key feel is important. Dig deep and build some nice keys. Ceramic keys with a nice glaze? Seriously what happened here? I'm not harkening for the past like rpl, just something thats nice to use. Make the customer want it!

3) RPN algebra is important. Provide better ways to manipulate: control factor and simplify and solve. I am tempted to implement my own system just to give an example. Emacs calc is almost there in some regards.

4) Spreadsheet is a fantastic feature. I totally want it. RPN spreadsheet inputs to form an algebraic string. I can imagine a day when the rpn stack acts on a column in a spreadsheet? Imagine the unit math! Imagine the base conversions! Possibilities are amazing!

Thanks again. I really look forward to what you will build next.

      
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #2 Posted by Eddie W. Shore on 23 Oct 2013, 12:38 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by eri

HP 50g is an awesome calculator, "obsolete" or not. And I refuse to to believe that the 50g is "obsolete". Then again, I bought an iPad 3rd gen in 2012 and it could be considered ancient to the new iPad Air tablets that will be in the market in a week.

My hope is that the HP Prime does get to that level (personally I am optimistic about this).

      
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #3 Posted by parisse on 23 Oct 2013, 4:22 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by eri

Quote:
1) The world has moved on from the limited symbolic manipulation that's in these calculators. For algebra really I think the bar has moved too far for hp to code their own solution. Wolfram alpha is the benchmark, its what my children use to check their algebra and calculus homework and its just so terrific to have a complete symbolic/visualization solution for difficult issues I may be working on. Maxima is a reasonable free solution.
Xcas is also free, and I believe we are now at least comparable and often ahead of Maxima (this is also true if you compare with mathematica and other CASes in terms of computation speed in areas where huge polynomial/linear algebra computation are involved). And with the Prime port, you don't need any Internet connection.
            
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #4 Posted by eri on 25 Oct 2013, 1:05 p.m.,
in response to message #3 by parisse

Parisse,

Thank you much for your restrained response, Iím honestly humbled to be interacting with you.

I had no idea that so many HP calculators have been built atop of GIAC and XCas. I downloaded the windows edition of XCas and thanks to excellent documentation I was able to quickly try it out. Indeed it is a capable system, far better than I was aware of. It is exactly what I was hoping HP would do in the future! I actually used the XCas documentation to inform my operation of my HP48 and new HP50 and those machines are much more capable than I expected. Lots seems to be hidden in the hp documentation and the clumsy interface.

So, egg on my face for being an uninformed critic. After spending an hour with xcas on pc I switched to my hp48, hp50 and prime emulator. I find the XCas pc interface is fairly intuitive - it doesnít begrudge my swapping between working with equations, isolating, solving and plotting (contour plot!). All it needs is a nice rpn interface as I donít like to switch between keyboard and mouse. In comparison the hp handheld interface is very clumsy and difficult to operate.

On the handhelps I find it tedious to enter multiple algebraic equations into a vector. I would much prefer to build the symbolic equation using RPN, then build the vector from equations on the stack, but for whatever reason my Ď->Ví commands donít want to work with symbolics? I tried using the XCas style Plot* commands from the stack and got nothing which is a shame, on pc it brings up a separate window. I really think that an RPN interface would be a delight for algebraic manipulation. An example of this is the emacs calc package (which is not so powerful despite having a quick keyboard interface).

On the prime emulator Iíve maybe spent an hour with the docs and still canít seem to build symbolic equations at all using RPN. I am able to use the algebraic commands from the stack but rather than wrapping everything in parens Iíd prefer to just enter a set of equations into a vector and then ďn,q<enter>solve<enter>Ē to solve the equations for n and q.

Iím also stumped by the plotting on the prime and hp48/50 as the interface seems so clunkly. Am I really disallowed from entering arbitrary xcas commands into those silly equation slots? Iíd much rather access plot facility from the stack where I can iterate between visualizing and adjusting. Iím not convinced those apps have a place on these machines, or if they do it shouldnít come at the expense of a full featured low level rpn interface.

      
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #5 Posted by David Hayden on 23 Oct 2013, 6:44 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by eri

Quote:
5) Buttons and key placement are very important. You could produce a professional edition with the keys from a 41cv? I want to own it and use it for another 20 years so build it well, I will pay. Make something that the world lusts after, thats a joy to hold and use! Maybe create a cheaper edition for students and use the crappy keys there?
It's my understanding that really good keys are expensive. In the days when you could charge $400 for a calculator, it made sense to include a $40 keypad (just making up the numbers). Your idea of a professional edition is a good one.
Quote:
I'm very excited to try out the hpgcc3 c toolchain. That could be amazing!
Check out my HP Objects library to access calculator objects in a C program. A good rule of thumb is that C programs are about 100 times faster and about 100 times larger than User RPL. You can mitigate the size to some extent by storing the programs on an SD card.
            
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #6 Posted by kc on 24 Oct 2013, 1:36 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by David Hayden

A professional edition with great keyboards sounds pretty great, BUT in marketing perspective it may not work. If you produce a professional edition, the non-professional one, no matter how "professional" it is, people would think that is CHEAP. The non-professional one won't sell well unless the price is really low. iphone 5c is an existing example.

            
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #7 Posted by eri on 25 Oct 2013, 1:09 p.m.,
in response to message #5 by David Hayden

Thank you David for the pointer to the object library.

      
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #8 Posted by Gerson W. Barbosa on 23 Oct 2013, 4:38 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by eri

Quote:
I went for the hp50 over the prime...

Same here!

That's a backup 50g. Too used to RPN/RPL to try something new. The Prime is an outstanding calculator, but addressed to a new target. At work we had an EE intern that would use his hp-49g+ always in Algebraic mode -- and he did it nicely. Perhaps they shouldn't have bothered providing an RPN mode on the Prime.

            
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #9 Posted by RNav on 23 Oct 2013, 8:36 p.m.,
in response to message #8 by Gerson W. Barbosa

I was introduced to the HP28c in 1987 in EE college. Sold it for the 28s. Treated myself to a 48sx (which I still have) when I started grad school. Over the years I have acquired a 17bii and a 50g. I go bonkers using anything non-RPN. But I must say I am amazed by my Prime. You cannot compare these machines. I always found graphing calculators cumbersome to use for graphing, until the Prime. I have been having a ball checking my 15 year old son's pre-calc homework every evening with my Prime... The Prime graphing, CAS, and solve functionality are amazing compared with my 50g and the TI-84 (purchased for my son, I struggled with this but his school uses TI). The Prime is not designed or marketed for users running complex RPL routines. The more I use the Prime, the more intuitive I find the platform. I think the Prime is much more inviting to the new generation of users than the legacy HP's. I am getting used to entering equations in textbook mode for graphing and CAS, then switching back to RPN for number crunching. I am close to removing batteries from my 50g and putting it into a time capsule. My son has expressed interest in the Prime after seeing mine in action versus his TI. I like mine too much to give it to him. HP has now sold two in my household! PS... My wp-34s is still in my pocket at work for impromptu number crunching. Cheers!

                  
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #10 Posted by Tim Wessman on 24 Oct 2013, 11:12 a.m.,
in response to message #9 by RNav

Well thanks!

Question for you. You can directly enter algebraics into the SYMB view and other places just like in the 50g by using ' ' around the algebraic object.

a) were you aware of that? if so, do you still switch? (or did you mean that you enter those equation algebraically and the "switch" is just for number crunching?)
b) if not aware, would simply adding in ' ' automatically when starting to edit an empty line "resolve" the problem there for you avoiding the switch you mention?
c) What are your thoughts regarding getting RPN working in the CAS screen. That is definitely my goal, but I am just curious your perspective or thoughts here.

TW

Edited: 24 Oct 2013, 11:13 a.m.

                        
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #11 Posted by Richard Berler on 24 Oct 2013, 6:42 p.m.,
in response to message #10 by Tim Wessman

I would like to see RPN in the CAS screen. I find it much easier to build a complex function in RPN than algebraic. I feel much more in touch with the problem...in algebraic, I'm just typing in a function...for whatever reason, I don't feel as involved or in touch with what I'm entering, and am more concerned with syntax such as keeping track of parenthesis. I like seeing intermediate results offered by RPN.

                        
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #12 Posted by RNav on 24 Oct 2013, 6:56 p.m.,
in response to message #10 by Tim Wessman

a) Before using any apps, I toggle from RPN to textbook. In CAS, I also toggle out of RPN mode. b) I will try ' ' while staying in RPN mode. I just toggle from RPN to avoid some of the errors I was receiving playing with the Apps. Really does not bother me. It would be cool if we could set RPN as the default to auto-toggle to RPN when in the Home screen and auto-toggle to textbook when in an App symb view or CAS. c) RPN would be cool in CAS, but it does not bother me entering equations in textbook. The Prime is pretty fast. RPN is a must for me when crunching numbers and using/manipulating the stack. Having RPN in CAS would save having to switch back and forth to Home for number crunching and copy/pasting.

I thank you and HP for releasing another innovative calculator! I am as impressed with the Prime as I was when I purchased the 28c in 1987. Everyone needs to more open minded with how they view the Prime, just as we were in the 80's when RPN/RPL was in it's heyday. I am fortunate to be experiencing the Prime through the eyes of an old diehard RPN 28/48/50 user (me) and my 15 year old TI generation son... We are both impressed!

Rob

Quote:
Well thanks!

Question for you. You can directly enter algebraics into the SYMB view and other places just like in the 50g by using ' ' around the algebraic object.

a) were you aware of that? if so, do you still switch? (or did you mean that you enter those equation algebraically and the "switch" is just for number crunching?)
b) if not aware, would simply adding in ' ' automatically when starting to edit an empty line "resolve" the problem there for you avoiding the switch you mention?
c) What are your thoughts regarding getting RPN working in the CAS screen. That is definitely my goal, but I am just curious your perspective or thoughts here.

TW


                              
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #13 Posted by Gerson W. Barbosa on 24 Oct 2013, 7:49 p.m.,
in response to message #12 by RNav

Quote:
I am as impressed with the Prime as I was when I purchased the 28c in 1987. Everyone needs to more open minded with how they view the Prime, just as we were in the 80's when RPN/RPL was in it's heyday.

I had no trouble switching from RPN to RPL when I got my first HP-28S back in 1988. It had been announced as a breakthrough and it really was. It was able to solve this problem in a way my old HP-15C would never dream of. My reluctance towards the Prime has to do with its lack of consistency (RPN doesn't work in all modes) and hardware problems (some crash reports). My original 28S was prone to showing the dreadful "Lost Memory" message (fortunately that never happened during an examination). I may eventually try the Prime, but not now.

Cheers,

Gerson.

                                    
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #14 Posted by Nick_S on 25 Oct 2013, 2:45 a.m.,
in response to message #13 by Gerson W. Barbosa

The HP 28C/S series were such ground breaking calculators at the time they were introduced. The ability to embed algebraic expressions in RPL code made prototyping a solution to a problem very quick. It is a shame they proved rather frail over the years. I treat mine with care, unlike my HP 15 LE which is proving to be pretty indestructible.

One thing I don't get about the Prime is the colour scheme for the key board-- surely it is possible to have distinct contrasting colours that also appeal to the younger education market.

Nick

Edited: 25 Oct 2013, 4:43 a.m.

      
Re: I went for the hp50 over the prime...
Message #15 Posted by eri on 25 Oct 2013, 1:23 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by eri

Three day follow up to my initial post.

I guess I spoke too soon. I received the hp50 in the mail, used it for 2 days and then passed it on to my younger son.

The hp50 is fast and the commands seem to work better and more naturally than the hp48g that I'm so used to. Really is an awesome machine, especially now that I'm informed by the xcas docs.

Too bad about the hp50 keys which I think are nasty compared to the prime's. The sharp corners?

That little enter key on the 50 is in the wrong place. I don't even want to try to get used to that when I could have a prime.

My hp48g isn't totally dead. I'm going to hold as long as I can for the prime's software to be fixed to be the all-conquering RPN dream that I want.

I'm betting that such a capable platform will be extended appropriately.


[ Return to Index | Top of Index ]

Go back to the main exhibit hall