HP Prime too complicated

07132018, 12:05 PM
Post: #41




RE: HP Prime too complicated
(07132018 12:24 AM)Dave Britten Wrote: Just to stir the pot a little: the Casio Algebra FX has separate "home" and CAS modes.Yes, it does, and it's not a very good calculator (I say that having owned one). While we're on the topic of Casio calculators, I want to say that what I've seen about the Prime feels very Casiolike, dividing the functionality into disjointed applications accessed via an icon menu. I once read a review that nicely summarized what I dislike about that: Quote:The Algebra FX 2.0, like Casio's other graphing calculator products, is obviously an educationoriented device. And it shows (and no, I don't mean that as a compliment.) When you first turn on the machine, you'll be presented with a bewildering set of menu options: "RUN", STAT", "RECUR", "CONIC", "EQUA", "CAS", just to name a few examples. Selecting any one of these options activates the corresponding calculator mode, where you can perform the appropriate functions.Source: rskey.org  I'm sure a bunch of MoHPC members know that site. Note that this review was written long before the Prime existed, so "HP's graphing calculators" obviously refers mostly to the HP 48 series. For the record, I used a Casio fx9750G Plus in class, which was the calculator the school recommended. That thing was my first contact with programming, but on this calculator I started to feel the limits of the language and system after about a week of messing around like any heavily mathinterested pupil would. Granted, I treated the manual like a novel, reading it from page 1 to the end twice and soaking up all the information my brain could process. That's probably not quite normal behavior. The Casio Algebra FX 2.0 Plus (its family, consisting of the FX 1.0, FX 1.0 Plus, Algebra FX 2.0, and Algebra FX 2.0 Plus, is often abbreviated as AFX in the Casio community) was meant as an upgrade, but after fixing up the used and deadonarrival calculator (the fix didn't last much longer than a year, though) I found that it wasn't much better. For instance, when I actually wanted the CAS to do the heavy lifting for me, it returned my input unchanged. The CAS also isn't accessible from programs at all. Apart from mostly cosmetic changes (one of which was really annoying: in the restructured function key menus the => token, used for compact IfThen structures, was missing, requiring a PC with link cable to transfer it and then copy it around from one program to the next), the disappointing CAS, and the addin system, it was pretty much the same device as the 9750. The AFX did introduce me to C and x86 ASM, but even that is only due to other community members having hacked their way into the addin functionality; officially only Casio could write addins. When I wanted a proper calculator as a university companion, finding the parts of a dead HP 48G inspired me to get a 50G, which eventually brought me here. Like the reviewer wrote, the HP 48 series gives you one place (the stack view) from which you access everything, allowing you to run a downloaded program, perform some arithmetic operations on its result, plug the results of that into the polynomial solver, and finally draw a graph to visualize the solutions without any mode switches inbetween. On the Casio graphing calculators you'd need to visit three to four different menus (RUN can run the program, so visiting PROG is not strictly necessary; after that, RUN for the arithmetic operations, EQUA for the solver, GRAPH for the visualization), and you'll probably need to write down or remember a few intermediate results because you cannot pull them over to the other menu while switching. Granted, the Prime does many things better than the Casio line (multicharacter variable names? Proper character string support? The list goes on), but the beauty of having all the tools you need at your disposal is missing. Even leaving aside the travesty of crippling RPN to have no access to CAS and to not be programmable, the Prime's design feels inferior to the 50G due to the segregated applications. Yes, it's a capable calculator, but the 50G does roughly the same without forcing an artificial separation of concepts on me. What would have been more appealing to me than the Prime is a 50G with a bigger screen (I don't care for touchscreens, but I'll take color if you offer it and the contrast is good enough), a better CPU, and some improvements to the keyboard layout (get rid of the nexttouseless APPS and HIST keys; give us DEL back as nonshifted key; move +  * / back down where they belong; get the Enter key a doublewidth center position; keep the letters away from keys that can be important in Alpha mode like the / key, probably by adding another row or column next to the cursor keys; but for god's sake, don't reduce the amount of shift keys like on the Prime, and obviously don't add even more useless keys). ... I'd like to apologize for the fact that this post turned into another Primevs50G comparison, but by comparing I can highlight what I feel is wrong. Oh, and as a disclaimer: I don't own a Prime, but I think that's not a requirement for having an opinion about it (based on information collected by reading a wide range of discussions). tl;dr: "the beauty of mathematics is not that it consists of dozens of unrelated topics, but that everything is interrelated." Like the Casios, and unlike the HP 48 series, the Prime forgets this. 

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