48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
05-10-2018, 05:41 PM (This post was last modified: 05-10-2018 06:04 PM by cortopar.)
Post: #1
 cortopar Junior Member Posts: 15 Joined: May 2018
48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
Either old accounts didn’t transfer to the new forum, I’ve completely forgotten how I was registered before, my account has expired from dormancy, or some other situation requires that I create a new account for my first post on the “new” forum.

After skimming through the HP Prime section of the forum recently, I decided that the firmware was surely mature enough to be worth buying one and experimenting. From all the 48/50 vs Prime comparisons I had read, I was expecting a much worse situation than that which I found. I expect there’s a perspective I’m missing, and so that is what drives my question / comments.

I spent a lot of time on a 48SX in the early-mid 90s, but since then have mostly been interested in the pre-RPL keystroke programmable units. I own a 50g, but have done little more than play with it for a few hours in total.

That lengthy preface to say - the Prime seems like a pretty amazing and welcome “next step” from the RPL machines in my limited experience. The RPN support in Home for normal calculations seems mostly the same as the 17bII, 28, 48, 50, etc. The programming is very simple to use if you have any structured programming experience at all. The CAS functions are easy to call from Home, and it only takes a few examples to understand the need to provide nArgs as the parameter for CAS functions you want to interact with the stack.

The CAS mode itself is pretty revolutionary for someone who hasn’t spent hours in front of Mathmatica, et al in school or at their day job. It’s certainly head and shoulders above what I’ve seen on the 50.

The Connectivity Kit, iOS/Android emulators, and ability to easily share data between them and a physical Prime is simple to use and welcome.

While I anxiously wait for my DM42, could you all help me understand the fatal flaw(s) you see in the Prime? I admit that my needs are far more modest than most on this forum, but from the perspective of a normal user/experimenter/enjoyer of HP PPCs, the Prime is a whole lot of value for ~\$120.

Thanks,
Bob
05-10-2018, 06:30 PM (This post was last modified: 05-10-2018 06:30 PM by pier4r.)
Post: #2
 pier4r Senior Member Posts: 2,065 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
Like with the 35s, the community focus mostly on "expected" but missing features (such as records in the HP PPL for example. Or directories that are no directories). Otherwise the prime is quite a monster in my view.

I bought it on android and I don't regret it. On the contrary, I feel quite satisfied for the role I gave to the thing (do intense computation when the 50g would take too much time, aside from employing hpgcc). Then you have the occasional user fixed with a certain view that goes length to say that this or that model is meh. That is only one opinion though.

For example there are people that love RPL machines, while others dislike them. Some RPL lovers dislike the HP PPL, while some others not and so on.

It would be interesting to see a Venn diagram with all the opinions overlapping in sets.

Wikis are great, Contribute :)
05-10-2018, 06:35 PM
Post: #3
 rprosperi Senior Member Posts: 4,396 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
(05-10-2018 06:30 PM)pier4r Wrote:  It would be interesting to see a Venn diagram with all the opinions overlapping in sets.

Perhaps something like this: https://goo.gl/images/FQ5Kqd

--Bob Prosperi
05-11-2018, 01:17 AM
Post: #4
 DavidM Senior Member Posts: 780 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
(05-10-2018 05:41 PM)cortopar Wrote:  Either old accounts didn’t transfer to the new forum, I’ve completely forgotten how I was registered before, my account has expired from dormancy, or some other situation requires that I create a new account for my first post on the “new” forum.

The current forum software uses an entirely different back-end DB, and no conversion of the prior data was done when the new one was set up. So access to the current forum requires the creation of a new account.

(05-10-2018 05:41 PM)cortopar Wrote:  I spent a lot of time on a 48SX in the early-mid 90s, but since then have mostly been interested in the pre-RPL keystroke programmable units. I own a 50g, but have done little more than play with it for a few hours in total.

There's actually a fair amount of functionality that was added to the platform between the 48sx and the 50g, and the performance bump between the two is substantial. The operating model is pretty much the same, of course, there's just a lot more built into the 50g's firmware. In other words, the 50g is much more than just a faster 48sx with a bigger display.

As for the rest of your comments, I think it's fair to say that the Prime is indeed a significant step up in functionality from the previous systems in many different ways. The operating model is very different, though, and I think that is behind a lot of the negative comments you see. If you're willing to learn a new approach to operating and programming a calculator, then the performance and features of the Prime will prove to be a very powerful system for you. Some will probably point out their favorite pet peeves about the Prime (units handling comes to mind), but I believe you'll find much more to like than to dislike about it.

I'm of the opinion that many of us (myself included) are significantly biased in our views of the various models we've used, mostly as a result of when we first started using a given system along with how much time we invested in learning how to optimize its use. Those biases sometimes cloud our judgement, though, and it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our opinions of how a given model works are somehow fundamental truths that transcend all calculators. It's ultimately a matter of what works best for you. Does the Prime have good features for what you want to do with it? Great! That's all that really matters.
05-11-2018, 01:38 AM
Post: #5
 Carsen Member Posts: 199 Joined: Jan 2017
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
(05-11-2018 01:17 AM)DavidM Wrote:  I'm of the opinion that many of us (myself included) are significantly biased in our views of the various models we've used, mostly as a result of when we first started using a given system along with how much time we invested in learning how to optimize its use. Those biases sometimes cloud our judgement, though, and it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our opinions of how a given model works are somehow fundamental truths that transcend all calculators. It's ultimately a matter of what works best for you. Does the Prime have good features for what you want to do with it? Great! That's all that really matters.

Agreed

(Where's the like button? Lol)
05-11-2018, 02:03 AM
Post: #6
 rprosperi Senior Member Posts: 4,396 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
Very well stated David; insightful, clear and probably the most objective comments I've seen about how 'bad' the Prime is.

Objectively, the Prime is clearly the best calculator on the market, nothing can touch it's performance, graphics, desktop integration, etc.

Subjectively, it's just so different from the long history of RPN and RPL (and my beloved 71B BASIC/Forth) that I've used since the mid-70's that it simply isn't comfortable for me to use without a major adjustment period to become re-acquainted with the way it works.

The academic focus/approach and CAS are things that were always secondary in prior machines (since the 48), so were interesting to explore when time and interest allowed, but they didn't 'get in the way' of crunching numbers, quick and dirty programs, etc. For me, the Prime is just the opposite; it's Algebraic/equation first, with amazing CAS capabilities (though still poorly integrated IMHO), but it's harder to wield for cranking numbers and banging out a quick program. Clearly my RPN/RPL bias is the key to these perceptions, but even knowing that doesn't change it.

I've long suspected that switching cold-turkey to the Prime, without looking back to the old machines, would lead to a very different feel (after an awkward transition period) and I'd come to really appreciate it more. But I'll likely never know for sure....

--Bob Prosperi
05-11-2018, 05:57 AM (This post was last modified: 05-11-2018 06:11 AM by tcab.)
Post: #7
 tcab Member Posts: 153 Joined: Dec 2017
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
One of the often quoted issues re HP48/50 vs Prime is the Prime's lack of user programmable soft menus for use in the Home view. HP48/50 has them, the Prime doesn't quite have them.

Note, I'm specifically talking about user softmenus which are active in the home view. This means when the main home view input field (where you type stuff and do calculations) is active. And to be clear, softmenus are the six buttons on the bottom of the calculator screen, which can change their button label dynamically.

Softmenus to me, are so important that their inclusion in the HP42 makes e.g. going back to the HP41 very difficult. The 48/50g generation maintained the user custom softmenu tradition, to:
• invoke functions
Yes the Prime has softmenus all over the place - its just that you cannot create your own custom softmenus that are present in the Home screen view, whilst the home view input field is active. You can only display a soft menu whilst locked into a running program, using DRAWMENU or LibMenu. The point here is that the Home screen input prompt disappears whilst a program is running, which means such custom softmenus cannot just 'sit there always' and be used to quickly choose from a list of variables or to launch user functions, which is what 42/48/50 calculator users love doing.

The alternative in the Prime is
• Hitting the Toolbox button brings up a menu of your user Program Functions
• Hitting the Vars button - ditto for variables
albiet these menus are not customisable, and are just part of the Prime's menu system. You have to wade through a few submenus to get to what you want - no "one click" button invocation (unless you assign specific functions to specific keys in user mode). On the bright side, you can get to everything (user functions, user variables, built in functions and variables) easily. You can double tap on a previous function in the history stack to copy it into the current input prompt. Also, hitting ENTER repeats the last command, which, in conjunction with a function referring to 'Ans' can be a powerful way of feeding the last value back into the current function:

Code:
 2 ENTER X^2     (this creates Ans^2 in the command prompt)   ENTER  (displays 4) ENTER  (displays 16) ENTER  (displays 256) etc.

And finally, if you really, really want custom user softmenus on the Prime, customise this program http://www.hpmuseum.org/forum/thread-9430.html and keep user mode on. Then hitting the template button (the one with the blue 'units' on it) will popup up your custom menu. Thus two keystrokes - yes its not one keystroke but its pretty close. Yeah, and you have to edit a program to maintain your custom menu (though arguably this approach could be improved via more programming and perhaps a custom app to configure?
It could also be turned into a horizontal DRAWMENU style menu). Oh one more thing - this kind of menu doesn't always sit there for you to look at, which is often comforting - it only appears briefly when you invoke the hotkey.

So in conclusion, yes I still miss custom softmenus on the Prime and think that a softmenu system that is active whilst using the interactive home screen would be fantastic. Nevertheless, I have grown to appreciate the Prime and learned to live within its paradigm. The Prime is simply light years ahead and more comfortable for me personally to use. And there are so many alternatives to the softmenu approach that I don't miss softmenus as much as I thought I would!
05-11-2018, 08:48 AM
Post: #8
 Massimo Gnerucci Senior Member Posts: 2,101 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
(05-11-2018 01:17 AM)DavidM Wrote:  I'm of the opinion that many of us (myself included) are significantly biased in our views of the various models we've used, mostly as a result of when we first started using a given system along with how much time we invested in learning how to optimize its use. Those biases sometimes cloud our judgement, though, and it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our opinions of how a given model works are somehow fundamental truths that transcend all calculators. It's ultimately a matter of what works best for you.

Could we please quote this on top of the Forum's page?
So I can have a reminder, at least once a day.

Thank you David.

Greetings,
Massimo

-+×÷ ↔ left is right and right is wrong
05-11-2018, 10:59 AM
Post: #9
 pier4r Senior Member Posts: 2,065 Joined: Nov 2014
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
(05-11-2018 08:48 AM)Massimo Gnerucci Wrote:  Could we please quote this on top of the Forum's page?
So I can have a reminder, at least once a day.

Thank you David.

Support! David wrote it pretty neatly.

Wikis are great, Contribute :)
05-16-2018, 02:49 PM (This post was last modified: 05-16-2018 03:00 PM by acoto.)
Post: #10
 acoto Junior Member Posts: 32 Joined: Sep 2017
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
HP48S/SX is still my favorite HP calculator.

Never liked much the newer "Windows" style of HP48G/GX, even with a faster processor it felt slow, and bloated.

Many moons ago, while taking advanced math courses for EE, I was way faster with my memory limited HP48S, the awesome Math 2.1 symbolic matrix library by César Crusius, and a Laplace/Inverse Lib, than most of my friends with their powerful GXs, and similar (but probably more advanced) symbolic Libs.

I have an HP50G now, but never felt at home in that newer calcs. NewRPL is making a lot of sense to me.

05-16-2018, 03:11 PM
Post: #11
 cortopar Junior Member Posts: 15 Joined: May 2018
RE: 48/50 vs Prime, what am I missing?
The reality is that most of my needs today could be handled by any business/financial/scientific with RPN. I’ve stocked up on ridiculously cheap 17bIIs as my line of last defense.

For “fun,” though... I’m really enjoying the Pascal-esque programming on the Prime. I wish there was better control of softkeys and stack manipulation. The Home/CAS mode things still bite me at times, but it’s a really fun and impressive bit of kit.

This is probably old hat for some, but the ability to use the touchscreen to draw a graph and have the calculator reverse engineer a pretty good guess at an equation that matches is very cool and has provided me a whole lot of fun in exploring numbers and relationships.

So, from my perspective, for daily use: RPN > RPL == Prime
For programming: HPPL/Prime > RPN > RPL
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