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Why do calculator manufactures like to reinvent the wheel?
03-11-2014, 07:48 AM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2014 08:06 AM by debrouxl.)
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RE: Why do calculator manufactures like to reinvent the wheel?
Quote:Yes, but we are in 2014: the whole concept of advanced (rechargeable) calculators makes little sense. The only advantages a calculator has are ergonomics and dependability. I suspect that basic scientific calculators will be around for decades, but when everybody has a multi-core computer with lots of RAM in their pocket it's just a matter of time that a killer piece of software capable of doing everything else on the go appears. Wolfram Alpha is getting close, even emulators are.

They can survive (and thrive) because of the educational lock-in. Somehow calculator companies have been successful in convincing people that for high school and maybe a couple of college courses calculators are an effective way to teach Mathematics, they are not (if they were students just would get better at it), but they make so much easy the life of mediocre teachers that they'll probably stay for a while. (And then there are the exam policies requiring crippled devices... it's just broken and sad.) Imagine that electronic dictionaries were compulsory at school, that's more or less the situation.
Agreed, the laughable computing power and functionality of calculators is one of the indications of the failure that the education markets are, from bottom to top. A combination of lobbying, inertia, stupid regulations, parents' will to buy the best tools (even at gold price) to one's children, and other factors.

In the calculator market, the state of the art for computing power is currently mostly defined by the Prime, due to its 400 MHz ARM9 CPU and 256 MB of Flash, even though it only has 32 MB of RAM, while the Nspire CX has had 64 MB since 2011.
In the real world for modern computing, for $100 (two thirds of the price tag of a Prime / Nspire CX CAS), making a calculator whose hardware characteristics stink less (and as a result, where it is easier to implement faster algorithms which require more RAM, or rely even more on hardware acceleration for e.g. the UI) is possible (trivial ?):
* dual-core Cortex-A7 processors and touch screens far larger than the Prime's are the norm in $100 smartphones, and there's a $25 Firefox phone with a 1 GHz Cortex-A5 + 1 GB RAM;
* the $25 Raspberry Pi Model A uses an ARM11, with twice the clock frequency and 8x the amount of RAM that the Prime has; the slightly more expensive devices such as $35 Raspberry Pi Model B (ARM11), $45 BeagleBone Black (single-core Cortex-A8, 512 MB RAM, 2 GB Flash), $60 Cubieboard 2 (dual-core Cortex-A7, 1 GB RAM, 4 GB Flash), $65/$59 ODROID-U3 (quad-core cortex-A9, 2 GB RAM, no integrated Flash but a 16 GB micro-SD card or eMMC card is inexpensive) are better yet.

Quote:Even if schools no longer required calculators, they would still hold a niche market. [...]
Agreed as well Smile
It's just a matter of making their hardware characteristics stink less on the high-end, and brush up / make dirt cheap the low-end as well.
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RE: Why do calculator manufactures like to reinvent the wheel? - debrouxl - 03-11-2014 07:48 AM

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