|Re: why is HP still selling calculators anyway?|
Message #5 Posted by Eric Smith on 17 June 2008, 9:10 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Jan
Now the keyboard of the latest HP scientific shows the same problems as the worst keyboards that TI ever produced.
Hardly! There were many TI keyboards that were mushy and had horrible bounce problems immediately on purchase, not some time later.
The question to be asked isn't whether the 35s keyboard is as good as that of an HP calculator from the "good old days", but rather whether the 35s keyboard is worse than comparably priced (or less expensive) calculators from other vendors. In my (admittedly limited) experience, it is not.
The 34C you mention had a list price of US$ 149 in 1979. Using the official US CPI, that's equivalent to $468 today. Many people believe the CPI significantly underreports inflation, so the equivalent may actually be much higher. If HP could sell a calculator for $468 today, I'm sure it would have an incredibly high quality keyboard. The actual price of the 35s is only 11% of the CPI-adjusted price of the 34C. While it is true that some electronics costs have gone down, many of the other materials costs have gone up. Expecting 34C quality at 11% of the 34C price is unfortunately not very realistic.
This phenomenon is not limited to calculators. When the IBM PC was introduced, it had a very high quality keyboard. Today PCs have keyboards that are much less expensive, but are also very low quality. If you want a keyboard with comparable quality to the original PC keyboard, it will cost you roughly $150 to $300, vs. the common $10 to $20 keyboards.
Unsurprisingly, then, many of those cheap (in both senses of the word) keyboards have key legends that wear off, miss keystrokes, have keys that get mushy over time, etc. Since the same basic technologies are used for calculator keyboards, it would be foolish to expect that calculator keyboards wouldn't succumb to the same kinds of problems. That said, it appears to me that the 35s and 49g+/50g+ keyboards are actually quite good relative to their price points.