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HP Prime or HP 50g
03-18-2014, 08:53 PM
Post: #1
HP Prime or HP 50g
Hello
I want to buy a hp graphic calculator. I want RPN (RPL) calculator. I've seen the HP Prime, the HP 50g. Which of these is better for engineering calculations? I understand that Prime is newer. Is it better suitable for professional calculations?
Thank You for answer
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03-18-2014, 09:18 PM
Post: #2
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
I have both, and I seem to prefer the hp Prime. I like the display and ease of programming on the Prime, more so than the 50g. There is much confusion on either machine, for me, but I seem to dig out and get going more easily on the Prime.

I like the emulator for the Prime better than the 50g emulator, mainly in that it is easier to navigate.

One thing that is missing from the Prime is connectivity to the outside world. If you work with external hardware, this is an unfortunate shortcoming.

Documentation is weak, and and there are errors. Some say there are plans to update things, and others say to limit your expectations. I purchased a Prime a few months ago, so I'd have to say I'm right in the middle of that mess.

For what it's worth, I will keep the Prime close at hand, and the 50g is now in the closet, next to several of it's elder siblings.

-Dale-
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03-18-2014, 09:41 PM
Post: #3
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
Thank You for fast answer. I have HP 35s. This is my everyday calculator. I really like it (RPN), but now I am looking for graphic calculator. There is very small choise of graphic RPN calculators. I have tried emulators of Prime and 50g. You are right, Prime emulator is better. I am confused, that RPN is possible only in home mode on the Prime. How about programming on Prime. I like programming on my 35s. Is it similar on Prime too?
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03-18-2014, 10:43 PM
Post: #4
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
(03-18-2014 09:41 PM)Voldemar Wrote:  Thank You for fast answer. I have HP 35s. This is my everyday calculator. I really like it (RPN), but now I am looking for graphic calculator. There is very small choise of graphic RPN calculators. I have tried emulators of Prime and 50g. You are right, Prime emulator is better. I am confused, that RPN is possible only in home mode on the Prime. How about programming on Prime. I like programming on my 35s. Is it similar on Prime too?
I have a 15C (LE), a Prime and recently a 34S.
For engineering, I would says the prime is the worst choice; the only advantage of the Prime is a blazing speed but I don't think this would be the right tool for engineering.
The 15C LE has a very good keyboard and most common scientific features but the 34S is a total engineer spoil, doped like a tour de france cyclist but unfortunately the keyboard is not as good as others.
I wouldn't be surprised if after buying a Prime, you'd stick on your 35s... like I did with the 15C.
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03-19-2014, 02:12 AM
Post: #5
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
If you are an Engineering student, then you need a calculator you can count on to "just work" every time you take it out of your backpack. Period. No reboots, no crashes, no internet forums to help you get it working. If you do decide to sit for exams with a Prime, it would be wise to have a backup HP50,49,48 handy. You can get a 49 g on ebay for $20.

If you are an Engineer... you stick with the calculator that got you through college !

Interesting to note:
HP48's had a battery life measured in semesters; you can replace the batteries in 30 sec for $2.
HP50 has a battery life measured in months; you can replace the batteries in 30 sec for $2.
HP Prime has a battery life measured in weeks or days; just remember to keep the battery topped off. Else you can replace the battery in 3 minutes with a small screwdriver and a (hopefully) charged spare.
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03-19-2014, 02:52 AM
Post: #6
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
(03-18-2014 08:53 PM)Voldemar Wrote:  I want to buy a hp graphic calculator. I want RPN (RPL) calculator. I've seen the HP Prime, the HP 50g. Which of these is better for engineering calculations? I understand that Prime is newer. Is it better suitable for professional calculations?

The short answer is the HP 50g, which is an RPN calculator that can be programmed in RPL, which is fully RPN stack capable. The Prime cannot be programmed in either RPN keystroke like a HP 35s or in RPL. Also, the Prime is very buggy and unstable, and will crash frequently with loss of work since the last normal shutdown. I'm a retired engineer who used the 50g for many years, and would still use it today for professional work. The Prime is an educational toy.
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03-19-2014, 04:34 AM
Post: #7
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
Go with the Prime, trust in the future.

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03-19-2014, 06:21 AM (This post was last modified: 03-19-2014 06:30 AM by Angus.)
Post: #8
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
Keep in mind what was often stated here: "you are not targeted by the prime!".
HP does and will focus primarily on selling numbers in the education market. Owning the HP35 shows that you are one of those rare HP/RPN likers which are not what the prime is supposed to serve. Sad but true.
Although HP might change their orientation in the future and offer the whole package wich includes the scientific and engineering people, that is not at all sure.
By now I doubt it.

I have the prime and it is really fun playing with it, but the documentation is very poor (it is true: you depend on the internet) and still I find many things annoying and can't comprehend why they were designed the way they are. No I really can't understand why certain aspects were not noticed by HP or were ignored prior to launch.
As far as I know HP does not give insights into their roadmap and what can be expected in the future.
I almost never use it at work by now which is why I would propably not buy it again. But if you have the time and motivation to play with it, are willing to accept workarounds to achieve your goal and if gathering information in the internet is ok for you, it could be an option nonetheless.
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03-19-2014, 09:58 AM (This post was last modified: 03-19-2014 10:02 AM by DrD.)
Post: #9
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
Looking over the list of responses (so far), it looks like there could be a greater number of engineers, than students, who have purchased the Prime. While this may not be generally true, the idea that the Prime was targeted at the educational market, maybe missed the reality target?

Could it be there are more engineer types than students in the pot of Prime purchasers? (I'm also more in an engineering camp, with background in field telemetry and electronic / electrical systems for the last 50 years).

It may be easier to measure the educational market than the population of people generally aligned with engineering applications. Maybe hp's calculator return on investment would be greater if aimed towards a different target, at least at a different marketing vision.

I've only had the physical Prime for a couple of months, (using the emulator, previously), but to answer the original question from my personal point of view:

I have encountered nothing the 50g would do that I could not do with the Prime, except for communication with external hardware (SCADA systems, for example). The Prime is much faster, the display size much bigger, and the future has greater prospects than the 50g. I find the programming to be easier. So, that's why I'm inclined towards the Prime, as favorite for now.
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03-19-2014, 02:26 PM (This post was last modified: 03-19-2014 02:31 PM by Tim Wessman.)
Post: #10
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
Quote:Looking over the list of responses (so far), it looks like there could be a greater number of engineers, than students, who have purchased the Prime. While this may not be generally true, the idea that the Prime was targeted at the educational market, maybe missed the reality target?

I think you are seeing a very large self selection bias.


To put in my response here, it really depends on what kind of user you are and what you want from the unit.

The 48 series was designed with the concept that you are a scientist or engineer who needs a scratchpad problem solving tool. It assumed you knew math and were GOING to be programming it with the tools you need for your workflow. What this user needs is a collection of flexible commands that can be combined in any which way in order to accomplish what is desired. There are often many, many different ways to accomplish something.

Prime was designed primarily for users who may not ever open the manual, who are in the process of learning math, and who most likely will never program the calculator. Prime is much more consistent from a UI perspective (learn one application, all the others function similarly), but currently has issues that are primarily centered around having two different parsers (one in home that is totally under HP's control and behaves much like prior HP calculators - with the exception that objects MUST exist as a name at parse time - and then the CAS parser which was designed by the CAS author). When you try to interact between them, the behavior is not consistent.


It is true that prime is primarily targeted at a different market segment. That does not mean it will not function in engineering applications or work for "higher" users, but depending on what your needs are it may not meet them.

There are plenty of things that prime will do that are far beyond what the 50g can. For example, the statistics are much, much better (48 series was really weak in this area), the graphing is much more capable when comparing similar areas (however Prime still is missing some equivalent capabilities like 3D graphing for example), and the CAS on Prime can do much, much more then the 50g CAS and will continue to pull away.

The 50g is much more uniform when looking at the "command line" only because basically it was designed around that. You will have lower level programming, and the ability to poke into the system at will.


Long term, Prime may end up meeting most/all of the needs of the traditional 50g user as well. If some of those capabilities that Prime doesn't meet yet are important to you *at this moment* though, then I think you already have your answer. Prime is just getting stated, but the 50g is basically a 20 year old mature product with all quirks and limitations known.

TW

Although I work for the HP calculator group, the views and opinions I post here are my own.
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03-19-2014, 08:18 PM
Post: #11
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
My own 2 cents.

You mention that you currently have an Hp 35s. That is an RPN system and NOT RPL. The Hp 50G is an RPL platform. What that really means is that both the Hp 50G and the Hp Prime are both going to be new to you. While the Hp 50G may be more familiar to you, the actual usability of either machine in RPN mode will be new to you with the unlimited stack. The really nice features of the Hp 50g will be unknown to you and the easier to use Hp Prime might actually appeal to you more. The Hp Prime's RPN mode is usable and the stuff you don't have, you won't miss (because you haven't had an Hp 48/50g earlier model).

A concrete example. Units conversions. Even the Hp 50G out of the box sucks at units conversion...... Until you enter RPN mode and set flag 117!!! Then it becomes one of the best calculators for units conversions made, far excelling the Ti-89 for this feature. The Hp Prime, well, it seems like they copied the Ti-89 in their convoluted way of doing units conversions. Your Hp 35s, only 6 units conversions so anything is a step up!!!!

As Tim stated, the Hp 50G is the end of a mature product, starting out as the Hp 28c. Still has bugs, but nearly all of the warts are known! It is at its heart an RPN machine but with a Algebraic mode tossed on to keep it viable as an alternative to the Ti calculators. I suspect that Hp 50G algebraic users outnumber Hp 50G RPN users at least 2-1. We are just a small but vocal minority.

The Hp Prime is an algebraic FIRST calculator with an RPN user option. It has adopted a Casio type interface and seems very user friendly to the initial user. That is probably not an accident. Hp wants the user to buy this calculator after only a few minutes of playing with it. And it does have an excellent look and feel.

If I did not know the Hp 50g so well, and was getting something to augment my Hp 35s, I would most likely buy the Hp Prime and never know what I missed. The Hp Prime is an excellent tool/toy. And truthfully, you should buy it. But I would also suggest you bargain hunt for an Hp 50G too. They can be had for half of the cost of an Hp Prime. If I had to take a high end number crunching physics class, the Hp 50G would have what I needed NOW, where the Hp Prime may be lacking in some critical areas, especially if you insist on driving it in RPN mode.
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03-19-2014, 10:18 PM
Post: #12
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
(03-19-2014 02:26 PM)Tim Wessman Wrote:  Prime was designed primarily for users who may not ever open the manual
Manual? What manual?
In the good old time there was indeed one and I loved to read it...
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03-19-2014, 10:56 PM (This post was last modified: 03-19-2014 10:56 PM by Tim Wessman.)
Post: #13
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
The electronic kind - which are the only ones you ever with any product anymore.

TW

Although I work for the HP calculator group, the views and opinions I post here are my own.
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03-20-2014, 04:09 AM
Post: #14
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
(03-19-2014 04:34 AM)eried Wrote:  Go with the Prime, trust in the future.

As long as HP doesn't start doing what Texas Instruments is currently doing with their new calcs.

A week ago, a new OS came out for the color TI-84+, yet it doesn't fix any bug that were reported to TI many times over one year ago, including by one of their affiliates. The calculator still even has bugs that were also present on the TI-83 way back in 1996.

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03-20-2014, 07:40 AM
Post: #15
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
(03-19-2014 02:26 PM)Tim Wessman Wrote:  Prime was designed primarily for users who may not ever open the manual, who are in the process of learning math, and who most likely will never program the calculator.
I believe that assuming calc users wll most likely never program a calculator is full wrong. It is now mandatory to do some programming in the French highschool curriculum, and I guess it's also the case in other countries or will be soon. Calculators are a good environment to do that because it's much more simple to organize a lesson with the calc than in a computer lab room. And for highschool calc users who do not program on their calc, it is very unlikely that they will buy a Prime because it's much too expensive, they will certainly not pay more than the hp39gii price (70 euros versus 160 euros for a Prime in France). For the same reason, it is very unlikely that Prime users will use Apps like Quadratic explorer or Triangle solver, the target audience will not buy such an expensive calculator.
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03-20-2014, 04:44 PM
Post: #16
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
I am an engineer and work in the space industry.

Until 3 months ago I was using the HP-50G, now I keep the HP-Prime at work.

Both calculators do a good job at every day engineering tasks. The RPN emulation on the prime is fine. Lets face it, most of the time, calculations involve basic operations and trigonometric functions. But recently I had to find the taylor series of a complex transfer function. I switched the Prime in CAS mode and a few keystrokes later, I had my answer.

I agree the the 50G is better for unit conversion, but the prime is 100X faster and with better graphics!

Your choice.

Fran├žois
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03-20-2014, 08:27 PM
Post: #17
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
I find some things increasingly bizarre.

Tim acknowledges that there are "issues that are primarily centered around having two different parsers".

How can you end up with two parsers with different syntaxes meant to be used back and forth in an education-oriented device is beyond my understanding.

Then Bernard argues about teaching programming: "Calculators are a good environment to do that because it's much more simple to organize a lesson with the calc than in a computer lab room"... So the key here is what comes in handy for teachers, nice pedagogical principles.

I can't think of a worst introduction to programming than being forced to code in a non standard environment for a sui generis platform when you have computers at home and a computer classroom at school.

My nieces learnt quite a bit of useful and widespread C with DevCPP when they were 16 at high school (Spain). Maybe it's not perfect, but it's a reasonable approach if you really care about what's good for them, not for you. (BTW, one of them is doing fine at her 3rd year of engineering and that was of help).

I just don't understand this kind of reasoning, maybe there's something wrong with me, that must be it.
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03-20-2014, 09:01 PM (This post was last modified: 03-20-2014 09:03 PM by eried.)
Post: #18
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
Math vs CAS was clearly forced by schools/SAT, etc (option #2 is the wonderful TI solution: 2 calcs).

About programming, I think isn't about the language (they constantly change, and you can't expect somebody writing their daily quick & dirty timesavers in plain C) and HPPPL isn't a mind-messing language like old basic (no goto, no line numbers) so it is a good start point for basic logical thinking (in opposite to the HP50g's programming capabilities, where they make you feel *special* because nobody understand the code; but after few weeks you don't even understand what you wrote).

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03-20-2014, 09:39 PM
Post: #19
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
Thank You for useful comments.
I've played with emulators of the Prime and 50g of late. I think Prime has more friendly Interface. Perhaps 50g requires longer learning time. Calculator for me is mainly for simple calculations. I need graphing occasionally. In my opinion Prime is better in this respect. I do not know how to have a programming on these calculators. 50g is classical RPL, Prime is something new. HP 35s is not my first RPN calculator, but I have not had so called RPL calculator (like 50g or Prime in RPN mode). I want to try unlimited stack RPL. I understand 50g is more RPL calculator, the Prime is algebraic calculator with RPL opportunity. In favor of the Prime: the Prime is newer, the Prime is future, maybe. I do not know but it is possible HP 50g is last real RPL calculator with RPL programming language. In the future, there will be those calculators as Prime. I like Prime design, big ENTER key (50g has small ENTER key, that is not so well), better display resolution. How about Prime build quality, key senses? One thing I dislike, Prime is immature, there are some bugs in the emulator (Version 2013 11 25. Rev:5447). For example, if I input in RPN mode 1234567890123 (number with more than 12 numerals) then ENTER, I got 1234567890120 (last figure turns to zero). Is this only on emulator?
About units, unit conversation, I almost do not use it.
I am structural engineer. Most of the calculations I do with a computer. Calculator is a useful additional tool. Sometimes calculator is the only tool for estimates.
I will think, which calculator to choose of these two.
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03-20-2014, 10:02 PM
Post: #20
RE: HP Prime or HP 50g
(03-20-2014 09:01 PM)eried Wrote:  Math vs CAS was clearly forced by schools/SAT, etc (option #2 is the wonderful TI solution: 2 calcs).

About programming, I think isn't about the language (they constantly change, and you can't expect somebody writing their daily quick & dirty timesavers in plain C) and HPPPL isn't a mind-messing language like old basic (no goto, no line numbers) so it is a good start point for basic logical thinking (in opposite to the HP50g's programming capabilities, where they make you feel *special* because nobody understand the code; but after few weeks you don't even understand what you wrote).

So you need a CAS console to disable the CAS... wow. They already have a 2nd calc, it's the 39 GII.

The fun part about teaching programming with a calculator is when you load the activities onto the calculator with your computer. You could be learning how to program it instead, but it's obvious that coding in the calculator has to be so much better... You can even code in a calculator with the emulator in your PC, how cool is that?

ANSI C hasn't changed since 1989 and probably everything in K&R will run for decades. We're talking about introducing programming to kids, not growing up and having auxiliary tools around, that is secondary. If school is about school things, what's the point of school?
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