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Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
06-05-2014, 06:29 PM (This post was last modified: 06-05-2014 06:30 PM by eried.)
Post: #1
Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
Hi, I have a general concern about the latest 50g (2-3 years). I have mine since about nov 2006 (from the US) an still works as the first day (I was so frustrated after three 49g+ with broken keys and faded paint). Now, from my website I am receiving increasing amounts of questions about lines in the screen, calculators that won't boot up anymore after months off, even some users say they feel the newer one lighter and cheaply made.

Is this true? Anyone have several ones to compare? (It can feel cheaper as a residual perception from the cheap new case)

My website: erwin.ried.cl
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06-05-2014, 09:46 PM
Post: #2
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
They are still the same and manufactured with the same standards and methods. However, molds for injection do wear out over time and it would not surprise me if some of them are getting quite old which means the tolerances aren't as tight as they once were.

TW

Although I work for the HP calculator group, the views and opinions I post here are my own.
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06-06-2014, 06:27 AM (This post was last modified: 06-06-2014 06:29 AM by HP67.)
Post: #3
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
I bought a few recently but I have no idea how old they are. Only one is out of the packaging so I can't compare. I am satisfied with the build quality. It feels fairly solid, hardly creaks, etc. In the beginning one key wouldn't register reliably. After a few months of use the problem went away. I use it every day and so far I am satisfied, no complaints, especially for the price.

I wish it would have been better balanced and narrower though. If your attention lapses it's going to fly through the air. And there are a bunch of small changes I would like to see but nothing major.

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06-06-2014, 09:07 AM
Post: #4
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
It looks quality made, but mine came with a rattle so i think it will die 2 days after the warranty ends.

I wish someone would make a environmental case for it and wire in some 48 card slots.

Thanks
~~~~8< Art >8~~~~

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06-06-2014, 09:35 AM
Post: #5
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
After the last HP48 made everything is cheaply made.
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06-06-2014, 11:25 AM
Post: #6
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-06-2014 09:35 AM)RMollov Wrote:  After the last HP48 made everything is cheaply made.
Pioneers already were cheaply built, but somehow HP knew how to preserve a certain level of quality and durability. This knowledge is completely lost.
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06-06-2014, 11:33 AM
Post: #7
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-06-2014 06:27 AM)HP67 Wrote:  And there are a bunch of small changes I would like to see but nothing major.

Do you mind putting those changes in writing? We are creating newRPL to improve on the 50g, so if you have good improvement ideas, we want to hear of them.


Claudio
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06-06-2014, 11:47 AM
Post: #8
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-05-2014 06:29 PM)eried Wrote:  Is this true? Anyone have several ones to compare? (It can feel cheaper as a residual perception from the cheap new case)

I have a late beta prototype, which I've used since before the product was released in 2006. I bought a second (brand new) for development less than a month ago.
The weight is the same, they feel about the same. The display in the new one seems to be a lighter tone, but has worst contrast than the old one when used in 16 grayscale mode (perfectly fine under normal use).
I don't see any fabrication imperfections, they both look identical which is a good thing to say, my 8-year old calc was used almost daily and still looks and feels just the same as the new one, if it wasn't for the serial number in the back (my prototype doesn't have one), I would have a hard time telling them apart.

The leather pouch however, peeled off completely several years ago.

My use case is not exactly light: I destroyed several keys of my 49G+ only after 6 moths of use (destroyed as in they would stick on my fingers and fall off, and I had to pick them off the floor to continue typing, how's that for a user experience!), yet the 50g did survive 8 years like new. For today's standards, I'd say it wasn't cheaply made, even the paint on the keys and around the keys is still intact.

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06-06-2014, 12:02 PM (This post was last modified: 06-06-2014 12:03 PM by HP67.)
Post: #9
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-06-2014 11:33 AM)Claudio L. Wrote:  Do you mind putting those changes in writing? We are creating newRPL to improve on the 50g, so if you have good improvement ideas, we want to hear of them.

Hi. I have mentioned some of them in various discussions and threads and so have a few other members. I don't have a complete list off the top of my head right now. A lot of it has to do with not having important functions on unshifted keys and usually it's a change from the 48 where the 48 got it right and the 50g couldn't leave well enough alone.

For example most of us use the PRG menu regularly yet it has to be shifted. If you want the stack menu you have to assign it to a user key or shift PRG then STACK. And whatever you do assign it to a user key it doesn't work inside << >> which is a terrible PITA. There is a long path to get to a lot of stuff that used to be one key or one shifted key away. Everything on the 50g seems to have added 1 or 2 levels of indirection. The device is faster, but using it can actually be slower. There's also the issue of having to use the tool menu to get to PURGE but the tool menu won't display in the middle of entering something. Annoying!

Another thing that's really annoying is the loss of some left shifted menus, for me TIME in particular, since I use it a lot. But it's true of other menus also. And the APPS menu specifically but really all the menus ought to be available as soft menus. The choose boxes have gotten out of control. It's really ugly to see a bizarre collection of choose boxes and soft menus even though you set the soft menu flag. This doesn't seem to have been thought out that thoroughly.

The MODE, TOOL, and HIST keys are a total waste of an unshifted hardware key. They should have used them for MTH, PRG and STACK menus. The single quote key is in the wrong place, so is the tiny ENTER key that should have been large, etc. NXT is also awkward if you use a 48 and a 50g. I don't see they had a whole lot of choice there but it feels like it should have been where TOOL is now. Lots of niggling hardware and interface usability issues. The date display is silly and bizarre. Lots of small annoyances that make a 48 nicer to use unless you're actually running a big piece of code or need a sharp display.

As far as RPL itself since I guess that is what you are looking at specifically I would like to see BREAK/EXIT and ITERATE/CYCLE/CONTINUE statements added but like the Fortran versions, not C's typically broken/confusing version. Other than that, I think RPL is pretty fantastic and doesn't need significant changes but I am pretty new to RPL and don't know how much I don't know yet.

I'd like to see a macro recording facility to help you write a piece of code by allowing you to record keystrokes as you work out a problem, allow you to undo and/or back up some arbitrary number of steps, and then save the whole session as an User or SYS RPL program. That would speed on-device development greatly. I'd like for the debugger to allow you to NOP instructions while debugging.

I'm sure if you open a thread you can get a lot more suggestions.

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06-06-2014, 01:32 PM
Post: #10
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-06-2014 12:02 PM)HP67 Wrote:  For example most of us use the PRG menu regularly yet it has to be shifted. If you want the stack menu you have to assign it to a user key or shift PRG then STACK. And whatever you do assign it to a user key it doesn't work inside << >> which is a terrible PITA. There is a long path to get to a lot of stuff that used to be one key or one shifted key away. Everything on the 50g seems to have added 1 or 2 levels of indirection. The device is faster, but using it can actually be slower. There's also the issue of having to use the tool menu to get to PURGE but the tool menu won't display in the middle of entering something. Annoying!

HP67 - I agree with many of your nitpicks about the 50g keyboard, but most of them can be overcome with some custom key assignments. Here is an example I got from Joe.

Assign this to 21.1 (Apps):

<< IF RCLMENU IP 73. SAME THEN 256. ELSE 73. END TMENU >>

which repeated pressing of that key toggles the menu between the Development Library commands and the Stack manipulation commands, heretofore found only down under PRG.

These 2 menus are ones I commonly use, but you can see how you can adjust it to easily accomodate any pair of menus to be toggled on any key.

Also, with a bit of SysRPL, you can make it a 'TakeOver' key so that it still works while entering programs.

Also, back to the original topic, I think you suggestion of a simple "macro recorder" is an excellent suggestion for extending NewRPL; useful, saves time, and won't break any old code.

--Bob Prosperi
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06-06-2014, 01:39 PM
Post: #11
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
Hi Bob,

I don't think the "normal" non SysRPL key assignments help that much because they don't work inside a program and they have a third behavior (not like standard hardware keys that work in the middle of a command line, and not like the TOOL menu key that doesn't work in the command line) which is that they terminate the command! So they have 2 negative behaviors over a real hardware key making the User keys one step above useless but not a whole lot!

I will look into your SysRPL takeover idea, it sounds like it might fix all of this. Thanks for mentioning it.

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06-06-2014, 05:44 PM
Post: #12
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-06-2014 01:39 PM)HP67 Wrote:  Hi Bob,

I don't think the "normal" non SysRPL key assignments help that much because they don't work inside a program and they have a third behavior (not like standard hardware keys that work in the middle of a command line, and not like the TOOL menu key that doesn't work in the command line) which is that they terminate the command! So they have 2 negative behaviors over a real hardware key making the User keys one step above useless but not a whole lot!

I will look into your SysRPL takeover idea, it sounds like it might fix all of this. Thanks for mentioning it.

Yes, the TakeOver key assignments solve those problems. If you know how to compile/build on the 50g itself, I can post the SysRPL code this weekend, it's quite short and direct. If you know how to compile/build on the 50g. Explaining that is not a topic for a thread, nor would I be the best person to explain it. BUt learn it, as it's really pretty simple and well worth the time it takes to do so.

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06-06-2014, 06:48 PM
Post: #13
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
Just use OT49 which has a command to insert the TakeOver keyword. No learning required.

TW

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06-06-2014, 06:51 PM
Post: #14
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-06-2014 12:02 PM)HP67 Wrote:  Hi. I have mentioned some of them in various discussions and threads and so have a few other members. I don't have a complete list off the top of my head right now.

...


I'm sure if you open a thread you can get a lot more suggestions.

Thanks for the suggestions. Yes we'll ask the question again when the time comes for keyboard assignment (that's going to be a long debate I think). I thought your comments were going to be more about features, missing commands, etc. There's still nothing done on the UI area but what I personally envision is something very similar to your views (I'm also a 48 guy adapted to the 50g):
* More soft menus, less popup boxes (they are so much more efficient).
* Keyboard very open to personalization on all areas.

I have my own keyboard customizations that I saved on a "setup" program, which I put on the SD card. Every machine I touch, the first thing is to run that setup program, which sets all the flags and keys the way I need them.

And since there's no sysRPL, you won't have to deal with that to get good customizations. That's the goal, hopefully we'll get close).

Claudio
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06-07-2014, 12:35 AM (This post was last modified: 06-07-2014 01:25 AM by rprosperi.)
Post: #15
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-06-2014 06:48 PM)Tim Wessman Wrote:  Just use OT49 which has a command to insert the TakeOver keyword. No learning required.

Brilliant! Thanks Tim. I knew it was in one of the libraries in my 50g. I wasn't sure which was harder; locating the right library or dumping the make takeover tool I have. And so, this is much easier.

Sad note, BTW - the website for Prof. Rautenberg's 49/50 libraries is gone. I went to get something last week and it was just not there. While almost all of his libraries can still be found at hpcalc.org, I enjoyed his site, with all the examples and comments. One of the reasons resources like MoHPC, hpcpalc.org and TOS are so valuable.

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06-07-2014, 12:43 AM
Post: #16
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-07-2014 12:35 AM)rprosperi Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 06:48 PM)Tim Wessman Wrote:  Just use OT49 which has a command to insert the TakeOver keyword. No learning required.

Brilliant! Thanks Tim. I knew it was in one of the libraries in my 50g. I wasn't sure which was harder; locating the right library or dumping the make takeover tool I have. And so, this is much easier.

Sad note, BTW - the website for Prof. Rautenberg's 49/50 libraries is gone. I went to get something last week and it was just not there. While almost all of his libraries can still be found at hpclacl.org, I enjoyed his site, with all the examples and comments. One of the reasons resources like MoHPC, hpcpalc.org and TOS are so valuable.

I didn't know he passed away

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06-07-2014, 08:18 AM
Post: #17
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-05-2014 09:46 PM)Tim Wessman Wrote:  They are still the same and manufactured with the same standards and methods. However, molds for injection do wear out over time and it would not surprise me if some of them are getting quite old which means the tolerances aren't as tight as they once were.

Tim, are you 100% certain of this? I respect your opinion very much, given you should know better than any of us, but I really do not think that this is correct.

My first 50g was purchased shortly after they were first released. It is still rock-solid; all of the keys feel excellent, and everything works just as it did when brand new.

I bought a new one from Amazon at the end of 2013, as a backup. This one came with the new fabric case. This new calculator felt very noticeably different from my old one. For one, the mold lines of the plastic on the back were MUCH sharper than my old one. Also, the symbols imprinted onto the plastic on the back of the case were different as well.

The new one also sounded more hollow than the old one, and the keys felt slightly different as well--just a tiny bit 'mushier' and less positive feeling with their click. The paint on the front had a slightly rough texture, which felt cheap IMO, and it also had a lot more of a metallic sparkle to it. It did feel slightly lighter as well.

All of these were not really an issue to me; just different. However, I did feel that the keys did NOT feel as solid or positive as my old 50g, and I quickly discovered upon using it that the left arrow key was very unreliable. It only registered keypresses when I pushed it in a very specific direction. I tried pressing it many times, in hopes that it was just dirty or misaligned somehow and may correct itself, but the issue remained and was easily repeatable. It made the calculator completely miserable to use, and I ended up returning it. My old 50g's keys are extremely reliable; I can press them from any angle and as long as they click, the keypress is registered.

After returning the new one to Amazon, I ended up buying another one on eBay that was in the original, older white/blue packaging. This one feels, looks, and works just like my first one. Even my girlfriend who is not interested in calculators at all immediately noticed the difference and thought that the one from Amazon seemed a lot more cheaply made. The 50g from Amazon appeared to be genuine, and had the hp genuine hologram seal on its packaging.

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06-07-2014, 11:57 AM
Post: #18
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-05-2014 09:46 PM)Tim Wessman Wrote:  They are still the same and manufactured with the same standards and methods. However, molds for injection do wear out over time and it would not surprise me if some of them are getting quite old which means the tolerances aren't as tight as they once were.

I bought a 50g in 2007 and a second one for my son in 2009. The 2009 screen was definitely different. It had a lower contrast with a slightly reddish tint that made it more difficult to read. No amount of adjusting the contrast could make it as good at the 2007 model. (The 2007 50g screen looked the same as a 49g+ screen from 2004.)

I remember this issue was raised on comp.sys.hp48
(https://groups.google.com/d/topic/comp.s...discussion). In spite of the assurances that the screens were all the same, I can say with certainty that they were not.

With the 50g's dropping prices, I've been considering getting another one as a backup. Can anybody confirm whether the 2014 screens still have the slight reddish tint, or was it just a temporary issue?

-wes
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06-07-2014, 06:36 PM
Post: #19
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
How are you determining the manufacture date? I bought a few recently and I have only one open. I have no idea whether I got new old stock or new production. My screen has no red tint that I have noticed.

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06-07-2014, 07:55 PM
Post: #20
RE: Are the latest 50g cheaply made?
(06-07-2014 06:36 PM)HP67 Wrote:  How are you determining the manufacture date? I bought a few recently and I have only one open. I have no idea whether I got new old stock or new production. My screen has no red tint that I have noticed.

I was referring to the purchase dates, but an old comp.sys.hp48 message indicates that on the 49g+ the first digit of the serial number is the manufacture year and the next two are the week. The one I bought in May 2007 has a number starting with 710 which would put it in March of 2007 so that seems consistent.

I'm not sure I would have noticed the very slight reddish tint of the 2009 model by itself, but when I put it next to my 2007 model, it was noticeable. I certainly noticed that I had a harder time reading it.

-wes
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