|The New HP47CX ....|
Message #1 Posted by Jim P on 23 Oct 2008, 8:46 p.m.
Having read a number of posts to this forum, in particular those centered around the topics of “What would you like to see in a calculator?”, “what do you like and what don’t you like in HP’s offerings in recent years?”, and “what old model would you like to see brought back by HP?” etc., I couldn’t resist the temptation to add 2 cents…
Being an “accumulator” rather than a “collector” – having purchased several HP calculators over the part 15 years since my venerable TI58 (not the constant memory version) decided it would retire after its own 15 years of service – my perspective is somewhat limited as more of an end-user rather than a tinkerer, and certainly not a programmer. I’m a scientist – spend part of the day in the office, part of it doing biotech research in the lab.
First HP calculator – HP 48G (1993). Still have it – fine condition. Still works, but the on/off button only functions when the slightest pressure is placed just above the menu keys and beneath the display. A favorite for its innovation. Wish I’d gotten the GX though.
Then came the HP49G. The one everyone hated. I did not hate it at all, thought the body was solid and the design quite good. The rubbery keys weren’t perfect but they were unobtrusive. Interface with PC less than ideal. My model still works well but ironically has the same problem as the 48G – on/off key works fine as long as the slightest touch is delivered between menu keys and display – wish I could get THAT sorted out!
When it came out I had to buy an HP50G – HP really got this one right, on lots of counts. Why, oh why, not deliver it with hard copies of the manuals???? This is my everyday office model and is the Cadillac of the whole bunch.
Then there were the everyday scientific calculators. I was intrigued by the 33S after many years of being an RPN convert, but wanting a pocket scientific model rather than the bulk of the graphing models. I’d bought a 30S for grins but hated the algebraic notation and the chintzy feel to it. Donated it to my former workplace. The 33S actually has a lot to like – it crams a lot into a compact package, is light, and feels like you won’t miss it too much if you have to part with it! Negatives we’ve all seen – the careless lack of GTO xyz instructions, the excess of steps with only 26 (27?) labels, and the silly layout of some of the keys. Clunky display with the tiny period. But in ways I do like it, and keep it at home for some specialized uses. And it came with a hardbound manual!
Then came the 35S – HP so nearly got it right with this one – it looks great, feels right, checks pretty much all the boxes with the indirect memory and label/step thing – but it could have done the alphanumerics a bit better. We needed a better upgrade to the 33S than this – it felt more incremental than a major step forward. A hardbound manual would have been a nice idea. But still pretty good, and it’s my everyday model for the lab. Like the case a lot – next upgrade should have a hard clamshell case like that, but made of leather!
My major at home calculator is the 17BII+. I have the “gold” one – and actually really like this form factor. It’s pocketable, has a nice sturdy case, and the uncluttered simplicity disguises its high degree of utility. The solver is the best of the bunch, with lots of hidden capabilities, which are fortunately unleashed with the help of techie manuals such as on the Museum DVD. Now what’s missing from this one is some fundamentals (that are available on the HP20b) such as trig and probability functions – these can be input via equations, but why not put them in up front? Assign them as second functions to the otherwise unlabeled keys?
Where is all this going? There have been some valid points raised “Make a 43s” etc. (although the 3 hasn’t been ideal as some have pointed out) – “Make a 45s and put it in either a Voyager or 35s form factor with an expanded display” – kind of neat – I really like some of the pictures! “Reintroduce the 42s” – why oh why not – but get it right! – so here’s my recommendation that takes care of all of this.
The ideal “pocketable” HP calculator. Has ALL the scientific functions of the 35S. All the matrix/complex functions of the 42s. ALL the business functions of the 17BII+. All the statistics functions of the 42s/20b – even the old 27s (which wasn’t a bad machine but for its lack of programmability and (gasp) lack of RPN!). The alphanumeric prompts/customization options of the 42S/17BII+. The solver of the 17BII+. Programmability of the 35S. 128K memory expandable with an SD card. The display – XYZT stack – 4-line. Sort of like what’s been proposed on these forums.
Kicker #1. A software companion package that allows users to type in a program, equation, etc. on a Windows machine with keystrokes that represent exactly the same as one would input on the keyboard, save it to the SD card, and load it on the calculator with minimum fuss. Of course one can do it the same way as always – punching keys. (Which should have the feel of the 35s or 50g, and a nice big ENTER, BTW!)
Kicker #2. Put it all on in a robust machine that can fit in a pocket. 15c or 17BII+, or at a pinch, 35S are all pretty good but it has to be slim AND sturdy. And a deluxe leather clamshell case as an accessory, with full hardcopy manuals/advanced user guides delivered with the machine.
Kicker #3. What do we call it? HP 47CX -- 47’s never been used before It’s in the 40 series, which means it’ll do a LOT of stuff. Including satisfying all scientists, financiers, statisticians, collectors, and accumulators. The 7 is somewhat symbolic of that, historically – e.g. the HP 27’s of old. And of course – CX reminds one of the 41CX – expandable, brilliant.
OK thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far! HP are you listening? Make me a 47CX for $100 with all the bells and whistles above and I’ll buy it in a shot….maybe three of them.