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The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
12-08-2019, 04:47 PM
Post: #1
The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
I got the Prime (G2) a few months go but despite my best attempts, I can't see how the Prime is more useful to me compared to a conventional scientific calculator. I am in electrical engineering and the type of things I usually usually waste a lot of time on (and would therefore want to be able to quickly do on a calculator) are calculating the Fourier Transforms, doing triple integrals with vectors (like Maxwell equations), checking the response of a system to a step or ramp, looking at the Nyquist/Bode/Root Locus plots and checking the stability margins, etc. You get the point. I cannot do any of these things on the Prime.

Even though the Prime is many times more powerful than the Ti-89, the Ti-89 can do more than the Prime simply because you can find a package for almost anything on the Ti-89. The 3rd-party control toolbox for the Ti-89 is far better than anything on the Prime. You want to do Cauchy integral on the Ti-89? There's an app out there that can do just that. You want to do Stoke's Theorem quickly? There's an app just for that. I can understand if the Prime was some calculator running on a 25MHz processor, but this is a device that is almost as fast as a smartphone from a few years back. Yet, it doesn't make use of all the power. At this point, it seems the only thing the Prime can do better than conventional calculators is boast that it can render a plot quicker, but definitely not in terms of functionality. The Ti-89 still has far more capability (functionality-wise) than the Prime. The prime reminds me of all those cheep phones or android tv boxes you get from china; they have excellent specs but not the software that makes use of the hardware.

Now, we come to the programming part. I thought I could maybe write some of my own stuff. Why does everyone want to have their own programming language? I am not interested in spending hours/days trying to learn another programming language that I can only use on a single device. I'm already proficient enough in Python, like most people that went to school in the past decade or so. Why can't the Prime support python? Oh, it's in development and I need to wait 3 years before it's ready or if it is ready at all. By that time, I have no need for the thing anymore.

I think I am going to sell my Prime and probably continue using my Casio 991DEX or Ti-89 (when it's allowed) and Python/Matlab on my computer for the more involved stuff. The pinnacle of calculators were the Ti-89 and HP 50g. Everything else that came after them were just gimmicks (including the Nspire series). The Prime boasts of a Triangle Solver app. Seriously? This just tells you that the Prime is not meant for people doing serious things. I'll not be buying any new calculator until one comes out that supports Python with numpy and scipy.
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12-08-2019, 05:56 PM
Post: #2
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 04:47 PM)medwatt Wrote:  […]looking at the Nyquist/Bode/Root Locus plots and checking the stability margins, etc. […] I cannot do any of these things on the Prime.

see this thread.

Cambridge, UK
41CL/DM41X 12/15C/16C DM15/16 71B 17B/BII/bII+ 28S 42S/DM42 32SII 48GX 50g 35s 30b/WP34S Prime G2
& Casios, Rockwell 18R :)
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12-08-2019, 06:04 PM
Post: #3
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
Quote:Why does everyone want to have their own programming language?
For the same old kinds of reasons probably: to lock you in, to try to show that they're better than others, to possibly get a monopoly, to conquer the world, arrogance or pride, to play God, etc. Wink
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12-08-2019, 06:25 PM (This post was last modified: 12-08-2019 06:28 PM by HP User.)
Post: #4
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
Quote: The Prime boasts of a Triangle Solver app. Seriously? This just tells you that the Prime is not meant for people doing serious things.

I understand, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that the device isn't meant for people doing serious things, nor that, based on HP people boasting of a triangle solver, it's a device not for people doing serious things.

You can in fact do very serious things with even a mere basic calculator.
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12-08-2019, 07:55 PM
Post: #5
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 04:47 PM)medwatt Wrote:  Now, we come to the programming part. I thought I could maybe write some of my own stuff. Why does everyone want to have their own programming language? I am not interested in spending hours/days trying to learn another programming language that I can only use on a single device. I'm already proficient enough in Python, like most people that went to school in the past decade or so. Why can't the Prime support python? Oh, it's in development and I need to wait 3 years before it's ready or if it is ready at all. By that time, I have no need for the thing anymore.

The Prime's programming language is based on the "HP Basic" in earlier HP student graphing calculators going back as far as HP 38G, but is also based on the Giac (the Prime's CAS engine) programming language (at least for CAS programs).

In any case, it pre-dates MicroPython, and I don't think it has the operating system infrastructure or resources to run a full-blown Python implementation.

Why does everyone want to run Python?

— Ian Abbott
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12-08-2019, 08:16 PM
Post: #6
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 07:55 PM)ijabbott Wrote:  Why does everyone want to run Python?

With its flaws or disadvantages, it's a very widespread and easy general-purpose programming language with a large ecosystem. In some universities it's a standard language to teach computer science principles.
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12-08-2019, 08:58 PM
Post: #7
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
My standard answer for someone displeased with a calculator is to go and fix it.

Given its specifications and the state of the Linux port (https://www.zephray.me/post/hp_prime_g2_linux), there is little doubt in my mind that someone not satisfied with the original firmware of the HP Prime G2 can make one to their liking. If they're willing to put in the effort for it, that is.
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12-08-2019, 09:10 PM
Post: #8
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
I agree with medwatt. HP Prime is a, to certain extent, a toy. (Let's not discuss "expensive" part here.)

That said, let's stir the pot a bit, and have a look at the issue from somewhat broader perspective.
1. It's not an engineering calculator.
2. It's a calculator, not a computer (in a colloquial, not technical meaning of this word). There is certain threshold above which engineering problems should be solved using professional tools.
3. A calculator which would satisfy everybody's needs does not exist. At least not yet.

But, having used quite a few calculators in my life (programmable and not programmable), I found Prime, as buggy and sometimes inconvenient to use as it is, the calculator which I like the most. Discussing pros and cons does not belong to this post, so I leave them aside, maybe with an exception of this one: after I bought it, I spent some some on porting applications I had written on other programmable calculators to Prime; this way I killed two birds with one stone: learned Prime and understood how it works, and configured it to my liking, so I can use it efficiently. Assessment/investment of some sort. Without customization Prime would not be useful for me at all (okay, maybe "at all" is a slight exaggeration).

I still keep a few calculators handy in my office and switch between them depending on the task I am working on, but Prime is the most often used calculator. Maybe it is, indeed, a fascination with a new toy...

Darius
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12-08-2019, 10:07 PM
Post: #9
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 09:10 PM)DrDarius Wrote:  I agree with medwatt. HP Prime is a, to certain extent, a toy. (Let's not discuss "expensive" part here.)

I think I must point out that medwatt stated that

Quote:The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
The word "just" indicates his view is actually much harsher than your "to a certain extent" and the rest of your post (which in part is about your dealing with Prime's problems, getting used to them, etc., which is not a pro nor a con of the machine itself, but your own dealing). Seeing it all together with his post, I think he deems the Prime as it is (without dealing with its problems, and without configuring it, etc.) really below what it should've been bigtime.

I still like the device, or maybe rather I accepted it, but only because I have gotten used to it and so on, and it serves my purposes. I believe this is in principle what you did too.
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12-08-2019, 10:10 PM
Post: #10
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 08:58 PM)Jean-Baptiste Boric Wrote:  My standard answer for someone displeased with a calculator is to go and fix it.

Given its specifications and the state of the Linux port (https://www.zephray.me/post/hp_prime_g2_linux), there is little doubt in my mind that someone not satisfied with the original firmware of the HP Prime G2 can make one to their liking. If they're willing to put in the effort for it, that is.

You could do that, yes, once it's far enough which will probably take some time, but the whole point is that you buy a tool that already should've been very well designed, prepared, and so on. It must work well right now, or it shouldn't have been released. If you release it anyway, something's wrong in your company.
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12-08-2019, 10:21 PM (This post was last modified: 12-08-2019 10:25 PM by HP User.)
Post: #11
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
Since we're having a nice thread here, let me add something Smile

It's nice that a few guys (in the thread about improving the screen physically) are thinking and acting about actually experimenting and so on. This is very good. But of course there shouldn't have been the need to even think about it in the first place: HP should've taken care of business so that its customers may just USE the superiorly designed and manufactured tool to get results they need or want.

We must also beware of buyer's remorse. It's easy to tell ourselves all sorts of things, even deal with some product's issues, so as to avoid this remorse.

I also believe a company could design and construct the ultimate calculator. They just need great vision, ideas, a whole collection of necessary disciplines working together, with someone not tainted by whatever could be bad for the product, and just do it. There's the problem: something is missing, and it could easily be in the design/vision department.
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12-08-2019, 10:50 PM (This post was last modified: 12-08-2019 10:55 PM by toml_12953.)
Post: #12
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 10:21 PM)HP User Wrote:  I also believe a company could design and construct the ultimate calculator. They just need great vision, ideas, a whole collection of necessary disciplines working together, with someone not tainted by whatever could be bad for the product, and just do it. There's the problem: something is missing, and it could easily be in the design/vision department.

I don't believe that. No two people can agree on what the "Ultimate Calculator" is! Look at the endless discussion at SwissMicros just aimed at a decent keyboard for an upcoming calculator! That discussion doesn't even mention features of the machine and yet it's been going on for years! Start a poll and ask what language this chimera of a calculator should use. I'll bet you get dozens of answers, each from a person who thinks the other languages are crap.

My ultimate calculator wouldn't include CAS but would include a full version of cPython, full version of ISO BASIC, would allow installation of other programming languages, have hardware ports for tape drives, printers, disk drives, lab equipment, whatever. It would have battery life measures in weeks, not hours and yet would be the fastest calculating device in existence. Would anyone but me buy one? I doubt it.

No, the "Ultimate Calculator for Everyone"™ doesn't exist and so no company could produce one.

Tom L
I don't care for whom you voted. If you put ice in your beer, you're crazy.
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12-08-2019, 11:30 PM
Post: #13
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 10:07 PM)HP User Wrote:  
(12-08-2019 09:10 PM)DrDarius Wrote:  I agree with medwatt. HP Prime is a, to certain extent, a toy. (Let's not discuss "expensive" part here.)

I think I must point out that medwatt stated that

Quote:The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
The word "just" indicates his view is actually much harsher than your "to a certain extent" and the rest of your post (which in part is about your dealing with Prime's problems, getting used to them, etc., which is not a pro nor a con of the machine itself, but your own dealing). Seeing it all together with his post, I think he deems the Prime as it is (without dealing with its problems, and without configuring it, etc.) really below what it should've been bigtime.

I still like the device, or maybe rather I accepted it, but only because I have gotten used to it and so on, and it serves my purposes. I believe this is in principle what you did too.

(Sorry for quoting entire post, but I believe it's important in the context of my response.)

You are right, my overall opinion about HP Prime is much less harsher than medwatt's. And your sentence about accepting HP Prime's flaws is also correct.

Let me elaborate (just a tiny bit, by no means a full set) on pros and cons. Just for fun.

Pros: capabilities (quite rich set of built-in functions), speed, memory, color display with a touch screen, programming language which allows for more less elegant programming, and handling of crashes which, in most cases, does not lead to losing data.

Cons: bugs, bug, bugs. My biggest pet peeve: during learning the PPL I made many stupid errors in my programs. Some of those errors resulted in calculator's reset, or (worse!) abnormal behavior which could be eliminated only by forcing the calculator to reset. Keep in mind that I was writing in the language that did not allow me to access internal functions of the OS. My errors should be handled by the OS in a way which does not lead to its instability. In other words: the OS could be written better.

For me the calculator is a tool. I learned how to used calculator's resources to aid my work, I learned how to customize the device to my needs in the best possible way. There are many things I would do differently if I were a designer of HP Prime, but I realize that the calculator was not designed especially for me, and I have to compromise. And I believe that HP Prime, albeit not perfect, has the largest number of pros from all the calculators I used in my life.

This, I believe, summarizes the difference between my point of view, and this of medwatt's.

Darius
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12-09-2019, 06:06 AM
Post: #14
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 04:47 PM)medwatt Wrote:  X
Now, we come to the programming part. I thought I could maybe write some of my own stuff. Why does everyone want to have their own programming language? I am not interested in spending hours/days trying to learn another programming language that I can only use on a single device. I'm already proficient enough in Python, like most people that went to school in the past decade or so. Why can't the Prime support python? Oh, it's in development and I need to wait 3 years before it's ready or if it is ready at all. By that time, I have no need for the thing anymore.
X
I didn't notice anything that prevents me, personally, to program the HP Prime.
After seeing a few examples I just used it.
apl might have been nice - or Forth
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12-09-2019, 04:03 PM
Post: #15
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-09-2019 06:06 AM)CyberAngel Wrote:  I didn't notice anything that prevents me, personally, to program the HP Prime.
After seeing a few examples I just used it.
apl might have been nice - or Forth

Or maybe RPL? Rolleyes
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12-09-2019, 06:07 PM
Post: #16
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-09-2019 04:03 PM)John Keith Wrote:  
(12-09-2019 06:06 AM)CyberAngel Wrote:  I didn't notice anything that prevents me, personally, to program the HP Prime.
After seeing a few examples I just used it.
apl might have been nice - or Forth

Or maybe RPL? Rolleyes

Cyrille & Tim !!

RPL operation in C manipulating lists (of elements) which represent stacks (of elements). One could EASILY code a simple Beta using System's existing L0..L9.

Just don't sleep anymore!!
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12-09-2019, 10:37 PM
Post: #17
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-09-2019 04:03 PM)John Keith Wrote:  
(12-09-2019 06:06 AM)CyberAngel Wrote:  I didn't notice anything that prevents me, personally, to program the HP Prime.
After seeing a few examples I just used it.
apl might have been nice - or Forth

Or maybe RPL? Rolleyes

There is an RPL emulator of sorts by Jim Vaccaro.

https://www.hpmuseum.org/forum/thread-13494.html
https://www.hpmuseum.org/forum/thread-13588.html
https://www.hpcalc.org/details/7911

— Ian Abbott
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12-09-2019, 11:52 PM
Post: #18
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-09-2019 10:37 PM)ijabbott Wrote:  
(12-09-2019 04:03 PM)John Keith Wrote:  Or maybe RPL? Rolleyes

There is an RPL emulator of sorts by Jim Vaccaro.

https://www.hpmuseum.org/forum/thread-13494.html
https://www.hpmuseum.org/forum/thread-13588.html
https://www.hpcalc.org/details/7911

Maybe Jim could work together with Tim.
Those two could rhyme.
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12-12-2019, 07:01 PM
Post: #19
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 10:50 PM)toml_12953 Wrote:  
(12-08-2019 10:21 PM)HP User Wrote:  I also believe a company could design and construct the ultimate calculator. They just need great vision, ideas, a whole collection of necessary disciplines working together, with someone not tainted by whatever could be bad for the product, and just do it. There's the problem: something is missing, and it could easily be in the design/vision department.

I don't believe that. No two people can agree on what the "Ultimate Calculator" is! Look at the endless discussion at SwissMicros just aimed at a decent keyboard for an upcoming calculator! That discussion doesn't even mention features of the machine and yet it's been going on for years! Start a poll and ask what language this chimera of a calculator should use. I'll bet you get dozens of answers, each from a person who thinks the other languages are crap.

My ultimate calculator wouldn't include CAS but would include a full version of cPython, full version of ISO BASIC, would allow installation of other programming languages, have hardware ports for tape drives, printers, disk drives, lab equipment, whatever. It would have battery life measures in weeks, not hours and yet would be the fastest calculating device in existence. Would anyone but me buy one? I doubt it.

No, the "Ultimate Calculator for Everyone"™ doesn't exist and so no company could produce one.

But it's possible. We could start by asking this essential question: is it logically possible? (I.e., can the concept exist without logical inherent contradiction?) Yes, it can. Now we need to ask very rationally, very objectively, what such a device would imply and what its definition is. Then, with all humanly or otherwise available knowledge, skill, technology, certainly it is possible to actually design and construct. Problem is it's difficult, something's usually missing, or something else (like people in companies disagreeing).

I think I must point out that I don't mean that the ultimate calculator is only so because of people's personal wishes, agreements, opinions, etc., (and so that many "ultimate ones" could exist (but then what's the point of the word "ultimate?)), but I'm referring to a kind objective ultimateness. Abstractly, we rationally and intuitively and rightly may think that such a device exists. After all, we have been improving things all the time as well, as if there's an ultimate point we understand exist and which we approach, a point where it literally ends, a kind of perfection or completion.

We may not achieve it right now, but it's certainly possible.
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12-12-2019, 07:05 PM
Post: #20
RE: The Prime is just an Expensive Toy
(12-08-2019 11:30 PM)DrDarius Wrote:  
(12-08-2019 10:07 PM)HP User Wrote:  I think I must point out that medwatt stated that

The word "just" indicates his view is actually much harsher than your "to a certain extent" and the rest of your post (which in part is about your dealing with Prime's problems, getting used to them, etc., which is not a pro nor a con of the machine itself, but your own dealing). Seeing it all together with his post, I think he deems the Prime as it is (without dealing with its problems, and without configuring it, etc.) really below what it should've been bigtime.

I still like the device, or maybe rather I accepted it, but only because I have gotten used to it and so on, and it serves my purposes. I believe this is in principle what you did too.

(Sorry for quoting entire post, but I believe it's important in the context of my response.)

You are right, my overall opinion about HP Prime is much less harsher than medwatt's. And your sentence about accepting HP Prime's flaws is also correct.

Let me elaborate (just a tiny bit, by no means a full set) on pros and cons. Just for fun.

Pros: capabilities (quite rich set of built-in functions), speed, memory, color display with a touch screen, programming language which allows for more less elegant programming, and handling of crashes which, in most cases, does not lead to losing data.

Cons: bugs, bug, bugs. My biggest pet peeve: during learning the PPL I made many stupid errors in my programs. Some of those errors resulted in calculator's reset, or (worse!) abnormal behavior which could be eliminated only by forcing the calculator to reset. Keep in mind that I was writing in the language that did not allow me to access internal functions of the OS. My errors should be handled by the OS in a way which does not lead to its instability. In other words: the OS could be written better.

For me the calculator is a tool. I learned how to used calculator's resources to aid my work, I learned how to customize the device to my needs in the best possible way. There are many things I would do differently if I were a designer of HP Prime, but I realize that the calculator was not designed especially for me, and I have to compromise. And I believe that HP Prime, albeit not perfect, has the largest number of pros from all the calculators I used in my life.

This, I believe, summarizes the difference between my point of view, and this of medwatt's.

Darius
Yes, those cons are bad. I agree with the part that they should've made a much better OS.
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