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Most underrated programmables
03-23-2014, 08:54 PM
Post: #1
Most underrated programmables
What programmable calculators (or pocket computers) are much more useful than their current prices let on? I imagine most of them would be non-HP brands, as the HP models tend to be fairly high-profile.

HP 20S: Algebraic, but surprisingly capable. 99 program steps, 16 labels, subroutines, and 10 storage registers. Usually pretty cheap for a programmable Pioneer. The 21S is extremely similar, but slightly more exotic, and tends to be priced accordingly.

HP 17BII: Not strictly programmable, but the solver is quite sophisticated, and can be used to good effect for some programming tasks. No trig, but financial models tend to sell for less than scientifics (and it's a very nice financial, I might add).

TI-95: I just got one of these, and it feels like a hybrid of an HP 20S and an HP 41C. It's VERY open about poking at its internals, and gives you access to most of the system, as well as many indirect evaluation/execution capabilities. The user-defined menu functions allow writing a TVM solver that would behave very much like a 12C or 17BII as far as UI. This is keystroke-programmable, rather than the TI-BASIC dialect of the graphers.

TI-86: If I need to use a TI grapher (and don't need a CAS), I'll usually opt for this one. It's very feature complete, and has a good deal more memory than other models of its time - around four times the usable space of a TI-82/83. Lots of different stat regression models, as I recall. Looks like they sell pretty cheap right now.

What else has a really high coolness-to-dollars (or preferred local currency) ratio these days?
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03-23-2014, 11:44 PM
Post: #2
RE: Most underrated programmables
Quote:TI-95: I just got one of these, and it feels like a hybrid of an HP 20S and an HP 41C. It's VERY open about poking at its internals, and gives you access to most of the system, as well as many indirect evaluation/execution capabilities. The user-defined menu functions allow writing a TVM solver that would behave very much like a 12C or 17BII as far as UI. This is keystroke-programmable, rather than the TI-BASIC dialect of the graphers.

TI also made the TI-74. It's very similar to the TI-95 but programs in BASIC. The shared all accessories, even some of the per-programed cartridges I think.

-katie

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03-24-2014, 07:11 AM
Post: #3
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-23-2014 11:44 PM)Katie Wasserman Wrote:  TI also made the TI-74. It's very similar to the TI-95 but programs in BASIC. The shared all accessories, even some of the per-programed cartridges I think.

Not quite. Only the 8KB RAM cartridge works in both devices. The application modules are keyed so as to fit only one or the other machine.

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03-24-2014, 08:28 AM (This post was last modified: 03-24-2014 08:31 AM by HP67.)
Post: #4
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-23-2014 08:54 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  What programmable calculators (or pocket computers) are much more useful than their current prices let on? I imagine most of them would be non-HP brands, as the HP models tend to be fairly high-profile.

I can't imagine a better value than the HP 50g. For 75-80 bucks new it walks all over the popular TIs that are priced from 25 to 90 dollars more (TI 84 Plus, 84 Silver Plus, Ti-89 T). In its price range it has huge RAM, huge performance, SD card support, nicer screen, etc. There's big difference in selling prices between this model which is heavily discounted and the TI models which are very hard to find deals on. In the last six months the TI prices have gone up dramatically. Even then, the 50g had them all beat in price/performance.

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03-24-2014, 09:36 AM (This post was last modified: 03-24-2014 11:47 AM by Thomas Radtke.)
Post: #5
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-23-2014 08:54 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  HP 20S: Algebraic, but surprisingly capable. 99 program steps, 16 labels, subroutines, and 10 storage registers.
It lacks indirect addressing, unfortunately. One could argue that this isn't very useful on a machine with that little memory, but there are applications not working just because of this omission. Also a little problematic are the programs you can load into memory. You just need the manual to make use of them. It was my second programmable and my first HP :-).

The ultimate underrated machines are the X-less 48 series models. It seems everyone goes for a SX/GX, and with some patience I got a like-new 48G including box and manuals for 25 EUR several years ago. Very hard to beat value/money ratio.

(Edited for one typo)
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03-24-2014, 10:26 AM
Post: #6
RE: Most underrated programmables
There was a surplus sale at a university in Michigan, USA a few months ago. They sold 48Gs for 15 USD and 48Ss for 10 USD. I got a few 48Gs, one was in unused condition and the other was the instructor's personal model (had his name/address label on the back) and was obviously opened and put back together badly. It creaks and groans and looks like it went through an automobile accident but the screen is flawless and it still works like new.

48s in general today aren't good values because in average condition they're priced about the same or higher than a new 50g. If you get lucky like you and I did then you can't beat 'em! Wink

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03-24-2014, 12:58 PM
Post: #7
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-24-2014 10:26 AM)HP67 Wrote:  There was a surplus sale at a university in Michigan, USA a few months ago. They sold 48Gs for 15 USD and 48Ss for 10 USD. I got a few 48Gs, one was in unused condition and the other was the instructor's personal model (had his name/address label on the back) and was obviously opened and put back together badly. It creaks and groans and looks like it went through an automobile accident but the screen is flawless and it still works like new.

48s in general today aren't good values because in average condition they're priced about the same or higher than a new 50g. If you get lucky like you and I did then you can't beat 'em! Wink

Damn, wish I had known about that UofM sale. I'll bet they had lots of weird goodies on offer.

A couple years ago, you could get a 48SX pretty cheaply - often under $50 - but it looks like they've slowly increased a bit. Still pretty affordable though. The 50g does bring some nice new features to the table, but the UI always felt like a mess to me. Plus the hardware quality just doesn't match the 48 line.
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03-24-2014, 01:14 PM (This post was last modified: 03-24-2014 01:16 PM by HP67.)
Post: #8
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-24-2014 12:58 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  Damn, wish I had known about that UofM sale. I'll bet they had lots of weird goodies on offer.

They have a site that runs full time, it's a huge place and there is always tons of stuff on sale. Look for msu surplus. No more calculators though.

(03-24-2014 12:58 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  A couple years ago, you could get a 48SX pretty cheaply - often under $50 - but it looks like they've slowly increased a bit. Still pretty affordable though. The 50g does bring some nice new features to the table, but the UI always felt like a mess to me. Plus the hardware quality just doesn't match the 48 line.

You don't get the great keyboard and the S/SX color scheme was probably the best modern HP layout of all time. But the SX display is horrible even next to the G.

The 50g hardware is really pretty nice all things considered and I find the SD card a huge plus since I can backup the whole calculator instantly before I test something. It's faster, the editing is better, the screen is bigger and better, it feels pretty solid to me. (I don't see much UI difference except in the Apps menu but I am not using the CAS features). And you can still buy them new. With the 48 it's hard to know exactly what you're getting when you're buying online like we mostly have to do nowadays. That said, if I could get a like-new 48GX for the same price as a 50g I would go for it. It's just really hard to know. I recently bought another 48 online that looked near perfect in the pics and it turned out I got burned somewhat. You just never know until you know.

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03-24-2014, 02:56 PM
Post: #9
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-24-2014 01:14 PM)HP67 Wrote:  You don't get the great keyboard and the S/SX color scheme was probably the best modern HP layout of all time. But the SX display is horrible even next to the G.

The 48S/SX screen is actually better suited to viewing from a shallow angle while it's sitting on a desk than the G is. The screen on the 48G/GX has this peculiar quality where the contrast is nice and sharp straight on, but if you view the screen from an angle, the pixels cast a shadow on the back reflective layer, and make the image blurred and difficult to read. You end up having to lean over or pick it up. The 48S/SX loses very little visibility at an angle, even though the overall contrast is lower. That's part of the reason I keep a 48SX on my desk, and save the GX for "out and about" use where I'm more likely to be holding it.
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03-24-2014, 03:35 PM (This post was last modified: 03-24-2014 03:36 PM by HP67.)
Post: #10
RE: Most underrated programmables
I didn't notice that. I did notice that the SX display is much darker. Mine anyway, but maybe I got a bad one. Do you notice that the SX has a clear LCD cover and the GX has something that looks like a diffuser when the calculator is off? I wonder if that makes the difference you are talking about.

BTW is the memory card door on your SX the same color as the battery door? I wonder if mine is original or if it was replaced.

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03-24-2014, 05:13 PM
Post: #11
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-24-2014 03:35 PM)HP67 Wrote:  I didn't notice that. I did notice that the SX display is much darker. Mine anyway, but maybe I got a bad one. Do you notice that the SX has a clear LCD cover and the GX has something that looks like a diffuser when the calculator is off? I wonder if that makes the difference you are talking about.

BTW is the memory card door on your SX the same color as the battery door? I wonder if mine is original or if it was replaced.

My SX has a pretty clear LCD; it doesn't look like a matte coating, at least. Don't have my GX handy for comparison.

The battery door is the same color plastic as the rest of the case, but the card cover is a very dark semi-transparent purple to allow for the IR beams.
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03-24-2014, 05:15 PM (This post was last modified: 03-24-2014 05:20 PM by HP67.)
Post: #12
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-24-2014 05:13 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  The battery door is the same color plastic as the rest of the case, but the card cover is a very dark semi-transparent purple to allow for the IR beams.

Thanks. I think maybe mine is ok after all.

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03-26-2014, 09:08 AM (This post was last modified: 03-26-2014 09:17 AM by BarryMead.)
Post: #13
RE: Most underrated programmables
While the WP-34S isn't exactly a retail item, I think it deserves a mention under this topic.

I bought my HP-30B for 17.00 and the overlay for $5.00. The crystal and caps add perhaps another $2.00.
So if you don't mind investing a little time, you can have a superior RPN programmable scientific calculator for less than $25.00!

On a features per dollar basis, I would think the WP-34S is way up there if not in the number one position.
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03-26-2014, 09:31 AM
Post: #14
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-26-2014 09:08 AM)BarryMead Wrote:  On a features per dollar basis, I would think the WP-34S is way up there if not in the number one position.

If it wasn't #1 in this respect, we wouldn't have done our job properly Smile
Even purchasing a pre-installed 34S is pretty good value for money.


- Pauli
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03-26-2014, 04:28 PM
Post: #15
RE: Most underrated programmables
Paul Dale Wrote:

"If it wasn't #1 in this respect, we wouldn't have done our job properly Smile
Even purchasing a pre-installed 34S is pretty good value for money."

I agree, I bought my first WP-34S from Eric Relchin pre-installed along with the printed manual.

I liked it so much that I created a second WP-34S the cheapest way I could.
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03-26-2014, 11:05 PM
Post: #16
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-26-2014 04:28 PM)BarryMead Wrote:  I liked it so much that I created a second WP-34S the cheapest way I could.
That's the fun of it! Smile

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03-30-2014, 11:57 PM
Post: #17
RE: Most underrated programmables
(03-23-2014 08:54 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  What programmable calculators (or pocket computers) are much more useful than their current prices let on? I imagine most of them would be non-HP brands, as the HP models tend to be fairly high-profile.

HP 20S: Algebraic, but surprisingly capable. 99 program steps, 16 labels, subroutines, and 10 storage registers. Usually pretty cheap for a programmable Pioneer. The 21S is extremely similar, but slightly more exotic, and tends to be priced accordingly.

What else has a really high coolness-to-dollars (or preferred local currency) ratio these days?

Thanks Dave for the plug on this one. I've got one from my cousin as a hand-me-down. Its function set and programming features as well as AOS entry structure fit neatly into what I remember of my SR-56 programming. Plus, the addition of labels gives me the branching versatility of the SR-52. Nice blend.
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01-28-2015, 06:13 PM (This post was last modified: 01-28-2015 10:46 PM by Hlib.)
Post: #18
RE: Most underrated programmables
I am sure that the price shan't be the main factor upon purchase of the calculator. For HP-39gii I paid $150, but without regret threw out it in garbage, because it is difficult to call it the CALCULATOR. The HP-48gii like ugly duckling from Anderson's fairy tale appeared in my hands as precious treasure in 2013. He is alive still! In 2000 I bought 2 CASIO FX-2.0 at the price $170 for one device, and they are still absolutely operational. In 15 years there was no one failure in functioning with FX-2.0. SRP-325G (HP-9G) which I bought for $60, works smoothly 9 years already. We don't need "calculators for beggars". I prefer to work at the android with MATHSTUDIO, instead of purchasing new toys from HP. BTW, at this forum nobody recalls about inexpensive qualitative HP-9G. HP is a religion nowadays. IMO, CASIO (TI, HP) nothing of the best didn't make anything since AFX-2.0 plus (TI-92plus, HP-50G).
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01-29-2015, 02:22 PM
Post: #19
RE: Most underrated programmables
I agree on the 50g having a lot of bang for the buck.

Main drawback is its battleship (Walter B) or perhaps aircraft carrier size, not pocketable. Very inconvenient for many venues.
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01-29-2015, 03:14 PM
Post: #20
RE: Most underrated programmables
(01-29-2015 02:22 PM)Dwight Sturrock Wrote:  Main drawback is its battleship (Walter B) or perhaps aircraft carrier size, not pocketable. Very inconvenient for many venues.

I wonder if a 50g could be made as thin as the Prime now. Agreed that it would still be considered enormous in the other two dimensions, as compared to the 20b/30b/34S form factor.

Jake
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