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How would you rate your keyboards?
04-06-2018, 10:10 PM
Post: #1
How would you rate your keyboards?
Evaluating a keyboard is certainly not easy, because as stated in another thread, keyboard preference is a subjective thing. Furthermore, when we say that a keyboard is "good", "very good" or "excellent", we implicitly make a comparison with other keyboards. But we don't have the same calculators to make valid comparisons. For example as far as I am concerned, I've never used calculators like the HP Classic, Woodstock, Spice, or the HP41. Perhaps I don't know what I am missing. Smile

My main concerns are reliability and pleasure to use.
Here is my ranking of keyboards:

10/10: HP 15C
I borrowed briefly this strange calculator to my neighbor when a was student, and I remember two striking features : it was very difficult to use (I was not familiar with RPN !), and the feeling of the keys was… impressive!

9/10: HP 48S, 48GX
Excellent keyboards, but they didn't give me the same feeling as the 15C. Perhaps my memory of the 15C is not accurate.

8/10: SHARP PC-1401
Very soft keyboard, no clicks, but reliable and pleasant.

7/10:
HP 50G: very good keyboard, but exceptionally, I get a double entry with a single press. I would rate it 8/10 otherwise.
HP 200LX: the keyboard seems fragile, but works very well.

5/10: DM15 (credit card format)
This is a special keyboard, as it is best used with thumbs. Not very pleasing nor effective, but very reliable.

3/10: NP-25
The small keys are uncomfortable and not very reliable, especially after several months of inactivity. I wonder if some corrosion develops inside. Of course, it is not designed to be a daily calculator, so I'm still satisfied with it.

0/10: TI 57 LCD
I think it's impossible to make a worse keyboard! Totally unusable after three years.

Jean-Charles
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04-06-2018, 10:29 PM (This post was last modified: 04-06-2018 10:33 PM by pier4r.)
Post: #2
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
9 or 10
Sharp 506w / Casio 9860g
I can flow on them

7
50g . A bit too stiff. All the three I have.

7
Ti89 . Not bad but sometimes I'm unsure about the click

6
ti nspire clickpad , too strange and little keys
Ti 34 1987. Maybe worn out but I'm unsure whether I pressed or not

2 or less
Touchscreen keyboards

Wikis are great, Contribute :)
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04-06-2018, 10:32 PM
Post: #3
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
Regarding the HP50g, you can reduce key bounce (repeating) by increasing the KEYTIME value.
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04-06-2018, 10:48 PM
Post: #4
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
I've reduced the keytime value to 569 to avoid missed keystrokes. In fact, those key bounces are really exceptional, so it would require a very long time to see if there is a change.

Jean-Charles
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04-07-2018, 12:55 AM (This post was last modified: 04-07-2018 01:01 AM by Thomas Okken.)
Post: #5
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
(04-06-2018 10:10 PM)Helix Wrote:  I've never used calculators like the HP Classic, Woodstock, Spice, or the HP41. Perhaps I don't know what I am missing. Smile

You don't know what you're missing. Smile

The best calculator keyboards that I've used were those on my HP-25, HP-19C, HP-41C, and HP-41CX. They all had a nice feel, good tactile feedback, not too stiff (the 19C and 41CX were particularly excellent in this regard, not stiff at all and having a crisp click). And they were absolutely reliable: no missed keystrokes and no bouncing ever.

Later models I've owned included several Voyagers, a 28S, and a 48G. Also excellent, but not as nice as my 19C and 41CX.

N.B. These are all calculators I bought new.

I currently own a heavily-used second-hand HP-67, which has a couple of keys that feel a bit mushy (mostly the h key) but still feels surprisingly good for the most part, and is as reliable as all those other calculators that I mentioned.

The DM42 keyboard is too stiff for my taste, but I haven't had any problems with it, other than the ENTER key feeling mushy when I press it left of center.

UPDATE: Ha, almost forgot to mention my HP-42S. Like everything post-41CX, it doesn't feel as crisp as it could be, but it's not stiff and absolutely reliable. I can use it all day long without it bothering me.
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04-07-2018, 10:28 AM (This post was last modified: 04-07-2018 11:02 AM by Maximilian Hohmann.)
Post: #6
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
Hello!

For me it really depends on what to do with the calculator. I can only rate those calculators which I have actually used to do useful work with, not the ones in my collection which I have tried out only.

My best keyboard so far for entering and processing large amounts of data has been the HP-97. Of course this is a desktop calculator with a keyboard which was designed for that purpose. 10 out of 10.

The best keyboards for entering programs (in BASIC) are those of the HP-71B and the Ti Voyage 200. Both have proper typewriter layout and not alphabetically sorted keys which can only be accessed by pressing "Alpha" first - something I truly hate. The 71B provides the better tactile feedback, but the Voyage 200 has an even more typewriter-like layout with a large space key and two (!!! HP: beat that ;-) ) Enter keys and more unshifted functions, so I rate them equal at 9 out of 10.

The HP-67 and the HP-25 (the whole familiy of them) I also rate at 9 out of 10, my trusted Ti-59 could also get 9 would it not be for the occasional key bounce. So 8 out of 10 and somewhat balanced by requiring less shifting - other than the functionally similar HP-67 which has 3 shift keys the Ti-59 does the same with one. I appreciate that.

The most horrible keyboards I have ever come across were in some navigation calculators from Jeppesen (but made by Ti), namely the Avstar and the Prostar. They were expensive calculators back then but their horrible key bounce made them completely unusable which is especially bad because a navigation calculator is used in real time and needs to be 100% reliable. 0 out of 10. Or minus 1 even.
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04-07-2018, 10:46 AM
Post: #7
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
Some Singapore/US made Pioneers have excellent keyboards, but I also like the classics, Clamshells and even the 30b keyboard.

But a brand that never dissapointed me is Casio. The keyboards on all models I own or owned were just right. I think the same manufacturer was behind the HP-30S and later non-R&C HP calculators. Alas, no RPN on those!
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04-07-2018, 03:45 PM
Post: #8
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
(04-07-2018 10:28 AM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote:  - other than the functionally similar HP-67 which has 3 shift keys the Ti-59 does the same with one. I appreciate that.

You don't count INV as a shift key?

I like how their use of INV helps produce an uncluttered keyboard, but the downside of that arrangement is that some operations take more keystrokes, e.g. INV 2nd sin for arcsin.
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04-07-2018, 04:09 PM
Post: #9
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
(04-07-2018 10:46 AM)Thomas Radtke Wrote:  ....but I also like the 30b keyboard.

What have you been smoking ?! lol
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04-07-2018, 05:05 PM
Post: #10
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
(04-07-2018 04:09 PM)Michael de Estrada Wrote:  What have you been smoking ?! lol
I'm sure it's hard to believe, bit every single key works! Wink
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04-07-2018, 07:11 PM
Post: #11
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
10/10:

Voyager keyboard and 71B keyboard. These feel simply perfect to me.

9.5/10:
Pioneers, HP48 series, Classics and Woodstocks, HP 41.
They ask are quite different, but work flawlessly.

9/10 :
Spices (a bit too stiff for my liking), 28C and S (a bit too soft)

8.5/10:
HP 50g. Works fine, just doesn't feel that nice.

8/10:
HP 30B, mine have worked quite well and didn't feel to bad when new. Just durability is a real issue. After a couple of years they have all developed keys that feel funny and/or don't work properly.

7/10:
Swiss Micros DM series. I do get a missed key occasionally. Keys are to stiff but have a good click.

5/10:
Swiss Micros CC series. Keys work well, but are difficult to press.

1/10:
A couple of old Ti30/Ti45s. It is a torture to enter a number longer than two digits. You have a 30% chance of a key double registering. Chances to get a long number correct are very slim...
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04-07-2018, 10:13 PM (This post was last modified: 04-07-2018 10:17 PM by Helix.)
Post: #12
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
Interesting comments.

(04-06-2018 10:29 PM)pier4r Wrote:  9 or 10
Sharp 506w / Casio 9860g
I can flow on them

This morning, I've received a Casio FX-9860G Slim! It probably has a keyboard very similar to the standard model, and I confirm it seems very good.

(04-07-2018 10:28 AM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote:  The best keyboards for entering programs (in BASIC) are those of the HP-71B and the Ti Voyage 200. Both have proper typewriter layout and not alphabetically sorted keys which can only be accessed by pressing "Alpha" first - something I truly hate. The 71B provides the better tactile feedback, but the Voyage 200 has an even more typewriter-like layout with a large space key and two (!!! HP: beat that ;-) ) Enter keys and more unshifted functions, so I rate them equal at 9 out of 10.

This is the reason why a love the HP 200LX: it has not only a typewriter layout, but the keyboard is also available for different languages (French for me), a rather unique feature. But it's not exactly a calculator.

(04-07-2018 10:46 AM)Thomas Radtke Wrote:  But a brand that never dissapointed me is Casio. The keyboards on all models I own or owned were just right. I think the same manufacturer was behind the HP-30S and later non-R&C HP calculators. Alas, no RPN on those!

RPN is available for the Casio FX-9860G Slim: http://www.voidware.com/reckon/
But it is not programmable.

Jean-Charles
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04-07-2018, 11:22 PM
Post: #13
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
The keyboard on the Sharp EL-738C financial is outstanding. LARGE numbers and operators, which, while soft, respond crisply and unambiguously. It also has good two-key rollover, so you can type very quickly and confidently. Functionality is roughly on par with the 10BII+, but it uses the "worksheet" style UI seen on the 14B and TI-BAII Plus.
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04-08-2018, 02:04 AM
Post: #14
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
Subjectively, the feel and the look of a calculator keyboard are two different things for me. Here's (roughly) how I rate my calculator keyboards.
  • fx-82 TL: Fairly crisp feel, reasonably clear legends. My only real issue is that some of the keys are a little small, and are all loose in their sockets (common to all my Casios).
  • fx-82MS: Mushy feel, key caps have definitely aged, but legends are mostly still pretty readable. There's less clutter due to Casio moving some stuff into menus instead of displaying them on the fascia.
  • fx-9750g+, (white fascia): the gold legends have almost the right contrast against the white shell. Almost. The keys feel very crisp in some places with a distinct stop at the bottom of the key travel, a little mushy in other places. They're also pretty close to each other, and the four cursor keys are one "sort-of-circular with four knobs" lump of plastic instead of being separate.
  • fx-9750gII, (dark blue fascia): All the legends are very easy to read against the background. The keys feel very crisp, like the G+. They're also pretty close to each other, and the four cursor keys are one circular lump of plastic instead of being separated. Hm.
  • Canon F-804P: Absolutely the worst fascia design I've used. The legends are very hard to read against the mid-grey they decided to use, and the keys are almost all the same size; tiny.
  • HP 50G (charcoal fascia): keys feel very crisp like my Casio 9750s, but with a very distinct click at the bottom of the key travel. The keys aren't loose in their sockets at all even though they're small. The legends on the fascia are even clearer than on my 9750gII, and they've somehow managed to avoid the "cluttered" look. Thank goodness the cursor keys are all separate, it makes much more sense to me.

Now my comment on the HP 34C (that I used to have): very distinct keyboard with an almost harsh click to actuate. The one I had was still very stiff, and I was prone to not fully pressing down the key to get it to register, at least initially. The two switches were definitely showing their age, sometimes registering a change, sometimes not. The key legends were helped by having a distinct front face (much like the 41C/CV/CX), though the three shift keys were an attempt to expose almost every function to the user. I felt that the tan legends could have had slightly more contrast against the back, but it was still readable if I wasn't flooded by light. The black legends on the key fronts were harder to read due to the size of the print.

I used to have one of the Sharp PC-1247 BASIC calculators, and that had its own QWERTY keyboard with a somewhat spongy feel to the alphanumeric keys though the legends were generally easy to read.

Here endeth my babble...

(Post 197)

Regards, BrickViking
HP-50g |Casio fx-9750G+ |Casio fx-9750GII (SH4a)
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04-11-2018, 05:38 AM (This post was last modified: 04-11-2018 05:41 AM by Graham D. Wilson.)
Post: #15
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
(04-11-2018 01:36 AM)Geir Isene Wrote:  Om the scale 0-10:
Woodstock (HP-21/22/25/27): 10
HP-18C/19/28: 7

Interesting how perceptions can differ.

For me, of the calculators I own, the 28S has the perfect keyboard, rated above the 29C for example.

But the absolute worst are virtual keys on small touch screens. There's no autocorrect for mistyping a number or pressing the wrong operator. Smile
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04-11-2018, 10:11 AM (This post was last modified: 04-11-2018 10:29 AM by StephenG1CMZ.)
Post: #16
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
(04-11-2018 05:38 AM)Graham D. Wilson Wrote:  
(04-11-2018 01:36 AM)Geir Isene Wrote:  Om the scale 0-10:
Woodstock (HP-21/22/25/27): 10
HP-18C/19/28: 7

Interesting how perceptions can differ.

For me, of the calculators I own, the 28S has the perfect keyboard, rated above the 29C for example.

But the absolute worst are virtual keys on small touch screens. There's no autocorrect for mistyping a number or pressing the wrong operator. Smile

The really infuriating thing about virtual keys is knowing that (unlike a real keyboard) it could be easy to switch to a qwerty layout for entering text, but being locked into a calculator layout...or on some phones, depending on which path you take through the contact menus, being locked into a single line of numbers when entering phone numbers. But at least with newer phones one can plug in USB keyboards.

As for correcting errors, any real phone keyboard is much worse....Where is backspace/enter?
And have you ever tried typing a short SMS message into a payphone? It beats using morse code, but only just.

Stephen Lewkowicz (G1CMZ)
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04-11-2018, 02:42 PM
Post: #17
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
I look at it from two angles - layout and key press quality. For quality alone, 71b is tops, with Voyagers and 48 series close behind. If you look at layout, 71b loses out due to space and backspace key placements. Overall, 48 is my favorite, but then I know it so well I hardly have to look at the screen for most operations...

Honorable mention goes to TI 92 plus for best non-HP key quality that I have used. Voyager 200 is a downgrade, but the smaller size makes it easier to use, so a toss.
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04-11-2018, 05:16 PM
Post: #18
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
My personal experience:

10/10 HP-97: really the best
9/10 HP-Prime: short travel, very reliable
8/10 HP-9815: short travel, a bit like the Prime, but not as reliable.
7/10 HP-34C: stiff but very pleasant
6/10 HP-48
5/10 HP-50
4/10 HP-67: very soft and not very reliable, but reading what other has to say, it's probably only my unit.
2/10 WP-34S
1/10 TI-59

François
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04-11-2018, 05:47 PM (This post was last modified: 04-11-2018 05:48 PM by Zaphod.)
Post: #19
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
Maximilian Homann Wrote:but the Voyage 200 has an even more typewriter-like layout with a large space key and two (!!! HP: beat that ;-) ) Enter keys

Count again, there are three Big Grin Wink
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04-12-2018, 07:10 AM
Post: #20
RE: How would you rate your keyboards?
I have not owned many calculators.
Casio fx-8000g: it simply worked, neither good nor bad.
HP48s: fantastic at the touch and in the layout. Unfortunately it was fragile and the function key row no longer works.
HP49g: used for a short time, horrible to the touch and not functional arrangement. The enter button had to stay where it was in the previous hp, the "hist" button is double with "up arrow", "+ - * /" positioned above the numeric keys, space wasted around the arrows ...
HP50g: touch similar to 48 and very good but the same considerations of 49 layout.

Hardware: Hp48S - Hp50g
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