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What HP calculator should I buy
01-23-2017, 01:07 PM
Post: #1
What HP calculator should I buy
Hello all,

Potential new HP calculator user here. I mainly use a Casio FX991-ES PLUS for electrical engineering work. It does most of what I need but I really want something with rudimentary programming ability to automate a few tasks which I do regularly. Nothing complicated. The Casio programmables don't cut it really. However after playing with a friend's HP 41 and 48, I'm slightly hooked on RPN/RPL machines. It works how my brain does.

I don't use the Casio for a whole lot, mainly unit conversion, basic calculations (engineering units, trig, polar vecotrs, no calculus) and the solver.

So the question is, ignoring the vintage calculators as I want a new one, which one is likely to benefit me the most: the HP 50G, the HP35s or the Prime?

I'm edging towards the 35s at the moment as 50g's RPL programming is significantly more complicated. That is manageable but I'd rather have something that fits in my head looking at the programming manual for it!

Anything I need to know?
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01-23-2017, 04:33 PM
Post: #2
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
Hello!

(01-23-2017 01:07 PM)setq Wrote:  I'm edging towards the 35s at the moment as 50g's RPL programming is significantly more complicated.

That would be my choice as well. Much quicker for doing a calculation here or there or program a short equation.

The Hp35s is known to have a few bugs and problems, apart from having no mass storage or connectivity. For me the two most annoying issues are short battery life - mine lasts about two months without ever touching it. Reading the posts in this forum, this is specific to certain production batches. Others seem to have rather normal battery lifes. The other is the occasional total hang-up which requires a reset. Both conditions, battery drain and hang-ups, make you lose the contents of the memory so I wouldn't use it to write longer programs or store more than just a few conversion factors.

And regarding the Hp50, my personal alternative - I know, this is heresy here - would be a Ti89 or Voyage 200. Instead of the awkward RPL (you either love it or you hate it...) they are programmed in Basic.

Regards
Max
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01-23-2017, 04:50 PM
Post: #3
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
(01-23-2017 04:33 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote:  And regarding the Hp50, my personal alternative - I know, this is heresy here - would be a Ti89 or Voyage 200. Instead of the awkward RPL (you either love it or you hate it...) they are programmed in Basic.

Not a totally ridiculous suggestion, though I wouldn't recommend the 89 for day-to-day number crunching. They took the 92 Plus OS, which was heavily designed around having a full QWERTY keyboard present, and crammed it into a more traditional calculator layout. There are some very odd omissions on the keyboard that force you to go digging through menus, and the alpha key arrangement is rather bizarre, with X, Y, Z, and T being pulled out from the rest of the flow. It all makes it very unpleasant to do basic calculation, though programming isn't too bad if you can get ahold of one of the external keyboards that TI used to sell.

I would opt for the Voyage 200, which doesn't suffer from the crippled keyboard. Either model has a very nice programming system, though.

Now, the HP 48 is pretty much the king of unit conversions, and the 50 should be about the same in that regard. Personally, I find he 48 a lot more pleasant to use, as it has much better keyboard and menu layouts, and a 48SX is what I keep on my desk.

You may also want to take a look at what Swiss Micros is doing. The DM41L is a (faster) clone of the 41CX, and they've got the DM42 coming out likely this year, which will be like a 42S on steroids (it's running Free42 with customizations under the hood, so no hardware emulation overhead).
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01-23-2017, 06:04 PM
Post: #4
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
After being in a similar situation last year, I settled on the 42s as pretty much close to my perfect calculator, though I wanted a smaller package than a graphing calculator. If I want to graph stuff, I'll use MATLAB.

The DM 42 should be coming out soon and it promises to be fantastic. The 35s has some good quick and dirty programming, but you're really limited on variable names.
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01-24-2017, 05:43 AM
Post: #5
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
(01-23-2017 06:04 PM)Logan Wrote:  After being in a similar situation last year, I settled on the 42s as pretty much close to my perfect calculator, though I wanted a smaller package than a graphing calculator. If I want to graph stuff, I'll use MATLAB.

I wholeheartedly concur with the recommendation for the HP42s – I got one a few months then, and it's my current favourite for whatever calculation tasks I need to do (which are not overly complicated, so the 42s is quite likely overkill).
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01-24-2017, 10:07 AM
Post: #6
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
I can echo the recommendation of the HP-42S as I used one for years (still have it). It took a beating over the years and the paint has flaked off the front plate in some areas Smile

However, don't discount the HP-48G/S or HP 50g just yet. Their RPL may be a bit more cumbersome than what the HP-35S uses but it's worth it. Plus, you can write your stuff on a desktop computer, test/debug it with an emulator and then transfer it to a physical machine once you're satisfied that it's up to scratch.

Even though the HP 50g is technically an emulator itself (an ARM system emulating a Saturn chip) it is significantly faster than the HP-48 series. I have a 48GX and a 50g myself. Another big advantage of the 50g over the 48: it can use a bog standard SD card (up to 1GB) for data storage and transfer. Also, it connects to a desktop/laptop PC via USB (you need to deactivate driver signing enforcement to install the drivers on machines running Windows 8.1 and later) as opposed to the 48's serial connection (how many computers have serial ports these days?).

The 50g doesn't seem to suffer from the "faulty keyboard connection" problem that affects many ageing 48s, mine included.

Look for Emu48+ on the internet. This will allow you to test drive the machines, both 48 and 50g, before you take the plunge and make an informed choice. The user manuals for these machines are widely available on the internet.

Also, there's Free42 for you to look at. It's a great emulator of the HP-42S that doesn't actually need the ROM of the machine to function. Emu48+ does need the ROMs.

Hopefully these things will allow you to make your choice.

One final thought... The HP-42S and HP-48G/S might be a lot harder to come by than an HP 50g.
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01-24-2017, 10:53 AM
Post: #7
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
Thanks for the replies everyone. I managed to find Debug4x's emulator for the 50g and spent three hours on it programming and playing last night. I've written a couple of small programs already to do some of the tasks I've got automated and assigned them to user keys. Very simple drop values on the stack and run type programs but that's all I need. The infinite stack and RPL have sold it for me completely.

One is on the way to me from Amazon. Thanks everyone.

Quick comment regarding the TI89/92 series. I owned a TI92+ for a couple of years and while powerful it was completely inconvenient. I thought if I bought a TI89 (original blue one) things would be better but alas no, it was the same device with even less ability to access all functions.

42s would be nice looking at it but unfortunately availability is a problem. I'll only buy something I can actually replace at any point in time if it's for day to day use. The 42 would require eBay shenanigans which I can't rely on for daily use.

Unfortunately this whole thing has driven a collecting bug. I can see why people are enthusiastic about these machines. I myself tend to collect Heathkit and HP electronic test equipment. HP calculators may get added to that Wink
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01-24-2017, 11:28 AM
Post: #8
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
Hello,

coming from a Casio FX991-ES PLUS I would suggest the HP-35s as the easiest replacement if you just want calculations and direct results for your work.

If you want to go deep in the HP-RPL universe, then HP50G is the one to go.

If there was some big interest in HP calculators then my suggestion would be the HP-42S.

Regards
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01-24-2017, 12:39 PM
Post: #9
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
If you have not used HP calculators before, but intend using RPN - I suggest getting a 50g. It really is not that difficult to learn.

In actual fact with RPL you still have to think in RPN fashion just like programming a 42S.
You are interacting with the stack in RPN fashion - it just doesn't have line numbers.

However it has the added advantage of a stack depth limited only by memory, some additional programming functions (e.g. WHILE loop) and tons of additional functions. Not to mention RAM, SD card and PC connectivity.

Regards.
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09-24-2017, 12:36 PM
Post: #10
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
Hi all. Reporting back after a few months now. Still using the 50g and am very happy with it. I’ve got to the point I’m using it as a CAS and equation solver mainly and I’ve developed a few directories of canned solved design problems I.e things like filter design processes etc. Want to branch into programming now as I have a couple of problems I’d like to port away from the distraction filled computer and they require more intelligence than basic solving. I will ask in another thread about this.

Thanks again everyone.
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09-24-2017, 10:04 PM
Post: #11
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
Quote:I'll only buy something I can actually replace at any point in time if it's for day to day use.

I would perhaps suggest getting a backup 50G, if that's your intention. HP don't sell these any more, they're concentrating more on the Prime as their flagship product—at least for graphing calculators.

Besides which, if you're somewhat insane and have more spare time than the average, you could install newRPL on one.

(Post 93)

Regards, BrickViking
HP-50g |Casio fx-9750G+ |Casio fx-9750GII (SH4a)
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09-25-2017, 12:25 AM
Post: #12
RE: What HP calculator should I buy
(01-24-2017 10:53 AM)setq Wrote:  42s would be nice looking at it but unfortunately availability is a problem. I'll only buy something I can actually replace at any point in time if it's for day to day use. The 42 would require eBay shenanigans which I can't rely on for daily use.

This is exactly the reason why Free42 exists.

The situation with the RPL calculators is a bit different, for one because there are many more of them so they can be found for fairly little money, and for another because the ROMs are easy to get, legally, which has made emulators much more viable than for the 42S.
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