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Full Version: Why are the HP Prime and HP-35s so unpopular?
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(01-29-2021 07:41 AM)Sukiari Wrote: [ -> ]Just another one of a long string of bizarre, near-suicidal moves by HP.

(01-29-2021 06:54 PM)John Keith Wrote: [ -> ]Neither bizarre nor suicidal- just typical corporate behavior. The calculator division is tiny compared to the overall size of HP. The only harm to HP is reputational and there is no column for that in their spreadsheets.

With the HP41C, Hewlett-Packard has brought us the first mobile computer system with an alphanumeric display and apps onto the market. The forefather of the iPhone and modern smartphones. This would have given the brand HP the power to act as a luxury brand in the field of mobile technology.

But neglecting their roots has broken the necks of other companies too. HP is only a shadow of its own and has no longer been on the list of the 10 most valuable brands of the world since about 10 years. The Brand HP was overtaken by Samsung and Toyota.

I think it can be suicidal. Many strong brands have been buried by CEOs who didn't understand the particularity of these companies and poisoning the brand over the years.
I like the Prime a lot, even though it's a big departure from RPN and RPL, it's what a modern calculator should be (backlit color screen, multi-touch, modern programming language, fast, lots of memory, I/O).

The 35s is a great form factor, the keyboard is pretty nice and the display is good, but it's incredibly slow for when it was made. The lack of P->R and R->P commands is mystifying, as is the inability to extract the parts of an imaginary number.

But my biggest complaint with the 35s is the lack of labels. Sure you can GTO and XEQ a line number, but that only helps if you've already written that line! In other words, it's nearly impossible to branch forward. You can write a dummy branch, then add the rest of the code, and then modify the branch. Now let's see, if I delete a branch at line 12 that went to line 19, that moves line 19 to line 18, so does the new branch go to line 18 or 19? Hmm...

And if you branch to a line within another label, the code that adjusts your branches as you code them won't work. Ack! It's like they wanted to give us that HP-25 programming feel with 30kb of memory.

What would have been really nice is if you could use the 26 labels for branch targets, and then delete the labels, causing the program to automatically change branches to go to the correct line number. Now THAT would have been useful.

So as a programming vehicle, it's about as useful as a 32s because of the lack of labels.
(02-02-2021 10:19 PM)David Hayden Wrote: [ -> ]The 35s is a great form factor, the keyboard is pretty nice and the display is good, but it's incredibly slow for when it was made. The lack of P->R and R->P commands is mystifying, as is the inability to extract the parts of an imaginary number.
I don't understand why this calculator (correct me if I'm wrong) was never recalled to remove at least the most important bugs....
(02-03-2021 05:19 PM)aurelio Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-02-2021 10:19 PM)David Hayden Wrote: [ -> ]The 35s is a great form factor, the keyboard is pretty nice and the display is good, but it's incredibly slow for when it was made. The lack of P->R and R->P commands is mystifying, as is the inability to extract the parts of an imaginary number.
I don't understand why this calculator (correct me if I'm wrong) was never recalled to remove at least the most important bugs....

Because that would cost money.
(02-03-2021 05:20 PM)Dave Britten Wrote: [ -> ]Because that would cost money.

True! And for a low-cost consumer product like this, it would be a poor corporate decision.

Let's say, for example purposes, that HP felt an ethical need to compensate users of this calculator due to bugs and issues... The cheapest way to accomplish this would be to just let folks submit a form for a 100% rebate based on their serial number (which has its own issues). No return of the calculator needed, or desired, since that would cost even more! Just give them their money back and be done.

Of course the reputation hit in this example would be 1000x the current level of frustration for users. It just doesn't make sense to do this. Hence why it's never happened, and never will.

(IMHO)
(02-02-2021 10:19 PM)David Hayden Wrote: [ -> ]I like the Prime a lot, even though it's a big departure from RPN and RPL, it's what a modern calculator should be (backlit color screen, multi-touch, modern programming language, fast, lots of memory, I/O).

The 35s is a great form factor, the keyboard is pretty nice and the display is good, but it's incredibly slow for when it was made. The lack of P->R and R->P commands is mystifying, as is the inability to extract the parts of an imaginary number.

But my biggest complaint with the 35s is the lack of labels. Sure you can GTO and XEQ a line number, but that only helps if you've already written that line! In other words, it's nearly impossible to branch forward. You can write a dummy branch, then add the rest of the code, and then modify the branch. Now let's see, if I delete a branch at line 12 that went to line 19, that moves line 19 to line 18, so does the new branch go to line 18 or 19? Hmm...

I'm not sure I would classify PPL as a "modern" programming language. It seems to me to be a step backwards in power and usability compared to RPL. That, combined with the CAS/Home dichotomy and poor documentation lead me to use the Prime a lot less than the older, slower 50g.

I don't worry much about the bugs and misfeatures of the 35s, I just use it as a general purpose calculator in my workshop. It's fine for that purpose and I don't have to worry about messing up one of my good calculators. Big Grin

All IMHO, of course.
After all the information from this thread, I came to the following conclusion for myself.

For me, as well as for most users, the HP35s doesn't have to hide from the HP42s or the Scientific Calculators from the Voyagers.
The often-mentioned bugs will hardly have any real disadvantages for anyone, as they only occur in cases that other calculators either cannot or that limit the real benefit only slightly. The criticisms of the programming options are negligible in view of the lack of mass storage.

In my opinion the main points of criticism are the inability to save programs externally and the not entirely successful design of the 35s.

It looks a little different with the Prime. I even like the often criticized bad connection between CAS and RPN, you could switch between a pure CAS calculator and a Scientific RPN calculator without unnecessary ballast in the respective mode. The Prime has the prerequisites to be a terrific calculator, but the lack of love for some details is precisely why it is particularly annoying. Like a theoretically beautiful diamond with a scratch.

The main point of criticism for me is mostly the poor RPN implementation and the unnecessarily small font in RPN mode.
(02-03-2021 11:03 PM)Peet Wrote: [ -> ]The often-mentioned bugs will hardly have any real disadvantages for anyone, as they only occur in cases that other calculators either cannot or that limit the real benefit only slightly. The criticisms of the programming options are negligible in view of the lack of mass storage.

Of the long list of bugs (22+ in Pauli's list alone), I agree almost all of them will never be encountered or noticed by most users.

But the checksum bug is unforgivable and effectively nullifies reliably entering programs. Old-timers will ask "what did you do to check your programs before machines had this built-in feature to verify them?" which is a reasonable thing to ask. But even after checking the program statements for the umteenth time, if the calculator tells me it's wrong (not consistent with some previously published listing with checksum provided) I'm going to have a tendency to believe it, especially if I'm new to this machine.

When I bought mine new in 2007, happy as a clam at acquiring a new HP RPN machine after so long, the first 3 times I entered a non-trivial program from a list, I could not get the checksum to match. And each time, after checking the code by stepping through the listing and still not getting the right checksum, I basically reset the machine and entered it again. And again. Even worse, I would get different checksums almost every time.

I've not looked back at it since then. Nice looking machone, happy to have one (2 actually, 1 for each case style) for the collection, but that bug is enough for me to ignore it.
(02-03-2021 05:20 PM)Dave Britten Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-03-2021 05:19 PM)aurelio Wrote: [ -> ]I don't understand why this calculator (correct me if I'm wrong) was never recalled to remove at least the most important bugs....

Because that would cost money.

But as it is now it costs reputation to to the brand HP. In this forum there are a lot of HP ethusiasts because in their younger years they experienced great products of this company that were of the highest possible quality. And now students buying the HP 35S learn that the company knows about a lot of bugs in a product they sell and they simply do not care and sell this product with all its bugs and without any correction year after year. For many of them it will be their first experience with the brand HP. What will those students think about HP quality if they are buyers of IT equipment in companies in the decades to come? Will they trust? They won't. And to overcome this will cost much more money than to fix bugs in a calculator!
(02-04-2021 02:21 AM)rprosperi Wrote: [ -> ]Of the long list of bugs (22+ in Pauli's list alone), I agree almost all of them will never be encountered or noticed by most users.

But the checksum bug is unforgivable and effectively nullifies reliably entering programs.

Yes. To me, that's it's Achilles' Heel.
Because of that, I try to use the equation solver instead of programs....even if it's slower....because the checksum works properly for equations.

If I do have to have a program, I'll spent a lot of (unnecessary) time verifying it's proper operation, just because the program checksum function seems to operate more along the lines of a random number generator, lol.
Smile
mike
(02-03-2021 05:19 PM)aurelio Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-02-2021 10:19 PM)David Hayden Wrote: [ -> ]The 35s is a great form factor, the keyboard is pretty nice and the display is good, but it's incredibly slow for when it was made. The lack of P->R and R->P commands is mystifying, as is the inability to extract the parts of an imaginary number.
I don't understand why this calculator (correct me if I'm wrong) was never recalled to remove at least the most important bugs....

That's one reason why companies use rewritable firmware chips now. It would cost too much to send out a new batch of calculators but the cost is reasonable to create new firmware, make it available on the company website and have people download and install it themselves.
Hello!

(02-04-2021 02:21 AM)rprosperi Wrote: [ -> ]But the checksum bug is unforgivable and effectively nullifies reliably entering programs.

How different we all are ;-) For me, this checksum bug is the least significant one in the whole list. I never had a calculator or other device with checksums so I never got used to it. And I am well beyond the age where I will spend half a night keying a program into a pocket calculator from a paper printout. Even less without any means to permanently store it afterwards. But 35 or so years ago when I spent entire nights typing assembly language programs (or even hexcodes) from early computer magazines into early home computers a checksum feature would have been of great help...

Regards
Max
(02-04-2021 11:06 AM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote: [ -> ]For me, this checksum bug is the least significant one in the whole list. I never had a calculator or other device with checksums so I never got used to it.
Same here!

(02-04-2021 11:06 AM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote: [ -> ]And I am well beyond the age where I will spend half a night keying a program into a pocket calculator from a paper printout.
It is great to know that I am still young ... Big Grin

(02-04-2021 11:06 AM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote: [ -> ]Even less without any means to permanently store it afterwards.
+1
I have read all the comments, and I think that, in order to judge a calculator, it is very important to take into account what that calculator is for.

I have recently bought a HP35S, and imho is a great calculator as far as it is used for what it is.

Of course someone who was engineer in the '90s, very passionate for his HP42S, will find it insufficient for his scope, but those machines have very different scopes.
Every time this topic gets bumped, I wince a bit at the presumption in the title. These machines are not unpopular. They have their flaws, and they have their detractors, and the detractors are quite vocal.
(01-22-2021 05:59 PM)aurelio Wrote: [ -> ]I don't think it's a matter for saying a calculatore is bad or good, it's a matter of taste and usage

@Roberto Volpi, @EdS2, i think we could be agree in that
(02-03-2021 05:20 PM)Dave Britten Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-03-2021 05:19 PM)aurelio Wrote: [ -> ]I don't understand why this calculator (correct me if I'm wrong) was never recalled to remove at least the most important bugs....

Because that would cost money.

If I recall correctly, the 35S OS and firmware was outsourced to Kinpo (or perhaps another outfit), and the HP software team played no role in it with the exception of creating the specifications. So I imagine that testing the machine was effectively like working with a "black box". My understanding was that there had been no plans for the domestic calc team to ever have visibility into the underlying code of the 35S (Cyrille, can you expand on this?). To this day, I don't think anyone in the U.S. ever obtained a copy of that code. Again, since the ROM was not flash, there would be no upgrades to existing units. In the 21st century, we probably all agree that while this approach might have looked good to HP at the time (in 2007), it wasn't the optimal solution for customers.

Jake
Jake Schwartz wrote:
Quote: Again, since the ROM was not flash, there would be no upgrades to existing units. In the 21st century, we probably all agree that while this approach might have looked good to HP at the time (in 2007), it wasn't the optimal solution for customers.

I fully understand that HP did not to want take back and change the code of units already sold. This would have been far too expensive. And as long as they did not know about the bugs they could argue that there is nothing like a guarantee for software to be without any bugs.

But the bugs are well known since years and HP still keeps on selling the HP 35S without any change. This can only be interpreted as a signal that HP does not care about the quality of the products they sell. This is very sad, especially for those like me who learned that HP products are of the best possible quaility.
(02-19-2021 08:00 PM)rawi Wrote: [ -> ]But the bugs are well known since years and HP still keeps on selling the HP 35S without any change. This can only be interpreted as a signal that HP does not care about the quality of the products they sell. This is very sad, especially for those like me who learned that HP products are of the best possible quaility.

If I correctly recall Tim's explanation of the situation years ago, they did have access to the source code, which was poorly organized, and sparsely commented in Chinese. The "well documented" bugs were unknown at the time the 35S was released of course. Once known, to go back and correct the bugs well after the project was closed would have required nearly the same investment in software development that management was unwilling to make when the initial outsourcing decision was made.

Most of those complaining about quality either don't understand economics (margin) or didn't experience the impact of outsourcing after the Tech Crash at the beginning of the century (mass layoffs). Compare margin and team size now to that when the original HP-35 was released.
(02-20-2021 01:25 AM)mfleming Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-19-2021 08:00 PM)rawi Wrote: [ -> ]But the bugs are well known since years and HP still keeps on selling the HP 35S without any change. This can only be interpreted as a signal that HP does not care about the quality of the products they sell. This is very sad, especially for those like me who learned that HP products are of the best possible quaility.

If I correctly recall Tim's explanation of the situation years ago, they did have access to the source code, which was poorly organized, and sparsely commented in Chinese. The "well documented" bugs were unknown at the time the 35S was released of course. Once known, to go back and correct the bugs well after the project was closed would have required nearly the same investment in software development that management was unwilling to make when the initial outsourcing decision was made.

Most of those complaining about quality either don't understand economics (margin) or didn't experience the impact of outsourcing after the Tech Crash at the beginning of the century (mass layoffs). Compare margin and team size now to that when the original HP-35 was released.


You are perfectly right!

Before ranting of "HP does not care about their products" we should take into account that calculators are approx. 0,1% of current business at HP.

HP is still in the programmable calculator business either because some old model still sells enough (ex. 12c) without bothering, or because of the educational niche, like the HP35S, that is a way to promote HP brand among young people.

HP cannot be arsed of the opinion of old sports, users of the HP41 in the '70s, who do represent a meaningless fractional part of its already reduced calculators business.
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