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HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
06-28-2016, 10:13 AM
Post: #1
HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
I am aware the 48GX is the cream of the crop in the 48-series, but I wish to focus on comparing the slimmer and lighter HP scientific models in this post.

4 questions:

1. Was there a black LCD edition of either the 48S or 48G?

2. Are the physical dimensions and weight of the 48S and 48G exactly the same?

3. Are there any "must have" reasons to choose the 48G over the S?

4. I hear the 42S is "the best calc HP ever made," and yet many I see on EBAY, selling for $230 to $330, have chipped paint or dents in what appears to be a metal plate in the calculator. How does it sell at those prices despite unsightly cosmetic damage? I've owned a 28S for 26 years and never had such ghastly damage even after a drop. So with that "negative" in mind, what would make the 42S superior to the 48S? Sentimental value alone? Or is it that the 42S is simply thinner and lighter than the 48S? Something else?

Thank you.
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06-28-2016, 01:41 PM (This post was last modified: 06-28-2016 04:07 PM by Ron Ross.)
Post: #2
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
The Hp 42s is simply smaller and a pocket calculator with 8 K of RAM. The Hp 48s and Hp 48G are both superior in functions and features (although, for shear number crunching of complex numbers and complex matrices, the Hp 42s can actually be configured to be more efficient, from my experience). If you have an Hp 28s, the next calculator to replace it is the Hp 48s.
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The Hp 48s was released to provide a student edition of the Hp 48sx. It came with 256K of ROM and 32 K of RAM. Therefore, it has lots of built in math functions and features for its time. The Hp 48G and GX came about 2 years later. The Hp 48G came with 512K ROM and still only 32 K of RAM plus Hp doubled the clock speed ie the calc was about 150% faster. However, the extra ROM was basically a physics pack installed ie the older Hp 48sx ROM card for physics (minus the chemistry).
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The superior black screen you mention may not be available for the Hp 48G version or if it is, it is rare. I believe Hp provided the black screen for the later Hp 48G+ (which directly replaced the Hp 48G) and the later GX versions. The Hp 48G+ is basically an Hp 48G with 128K RAM in place of the 32K RAM and usually the Black screen.
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My personal feeling is that most Hp 42s's are way overvalued, especially if they are beat to H377! Calculators in that condition can fail at any time (heck, any 25 year old calculator can fail, even in pristine condition). It lacks many of the features you might be used to with an Hp 28s, ie no units conversions, RPN 4 stack (not unlimited RPL), one fourth of the RAM and a keyboard that IS NOT optimized for key coding.
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The Hp 48s and Hp 48G calculators are an excellent value for an Hp user. You can get a far superior calculator in usually great shape for about $50 vs a new Hp 35s that is actually oversized and may or may not last 5 years or so. In fact, I always keep an Hp 48G in my desk for the units conversions, often just as fast as looking up an online conversion tool or for back of envelope number crunching. I could use any of the high end models, but I kind of prefer the older look and feel of an Hp 48G (The Hp 48s does have a nicer look, but is about 50% slower and it feels slower, even slower than an Hp 28s too, probably because of the larger screen for the cpu to drive).
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I am of the belief that Hp purposefully makes their new low end Hp 35s with inferior quality (or provides $50 quality 5 year life, when they could provide $60 quality 10 year life) on purpose to perpetuate continued calculator sales. Hp learned its lesson with the Voyager and Pioneer lines. Build it too good and you will never see THAT customer again!!!
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06-28-2016, 01:51 PM (This post was last modified: 06-28-2016 01:53 PM by Jeff O..)
Post: #3
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-28-2016 10:13 AM)JDW Wrote:  4. I hear the 42S is "the best calc HP ever made," and yet many I see on EBAY, selling for $230 to $330, have chipped paint or dents in what appears to be a metal plate in the calculator. How does it sell at those prices despite unsightly cosmetic damage? I've owned a 28S for 26 years and never had such ghastly damage even after a drop. So with that "negative" in mind, what would make the 42S superior to the 48S? Sentimental value alone? Or is it that the 42S is simply thinner and lighter than the 48S? Something else?

Thank you.

My personal take is that the 42S is viewed as the last of the line of the great RPN calculators. While the 48 and other RPL calculators may be technically more powerful, the 42S is at the peak of the curve, so to speak, of the plot of size vs. power vs. ease of use. The high prices are of course a reflection of supply (limited, because those who have them use them and want to keep them) vs. demand (those who recognize the power and want one). The cosmetic damage reflects the fact that these units were well used. Unfortunately, the lifespan of the units is limited. My original 1988 vintage unit has several buttons that are “clicky” or “sticky” (hard to explain, but the key sort-of clicks or sticks after releasing it). There is a well-known issue with a foam compression pad deteriorating and causing the keyboard-to-processor connection to fail. I am also not sold on the long term viability of the keyboard mechanical construction (of all of the pioneers, not just the 42S), which is I believe plastic domes with some sort of conductive carbon spot on the backside, at least not compared to the longevity of the metal strips and domes of earlier and later models.

With the above points about the power and desirability of the 42S said, I view it as another near miss to being a truly great calculator. If it had an “i” key, to allow direct entry of complex numbers instead of requiring them to be assembled using the shifted “COMPLEX” function, and more importantly, had some means to store and retrieve data and programs to some outside storage device, it would have been darn near the most perfect RPN calculator ever made.

Just my opinions, no disrespect to the RPL-o-philes out there.

Dave - My mind is going - I can feel it.
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06-28-2016, 02:10 PM (This post was last modified: 06-28-2016 06:06 PM by Accutron.)
Post: #4
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
1. There is a black LCD version of the 48G+ (128K, no expansion slots.) I've never seen a black LCD 48G. All black LCD G+/GX are late production units made in Indonesia, which are not quite the same build quality as the earlier Singapore units.

2. The 48S/SX/G/GX all have the same physical dimensions. The S/SX weigh a bit more than the G/GX and have a higher build quality (and a less awful keyboard color scheme.)

3. The G/GX have double the internal ROM size of the S/SX and have more built-in functions as a result.

4. The 42S and 48S/SX/G/GX all have an aluminum bezel which is susceptible to picking up dents and scratches. I think you tend to see more beat-up 42S units because they're incredibly popular and get passed around and resold so much, regardless of their cosmetic condition. The 48 is a superior calculator to the 42S in terms of functionality, but it is also substantially larger. I would say that the popularity of the 42S is primarily based on its compact form factor (size vs. power,) RPN instead of RPL, and the fact that it's the heir apparent to the 41C, even though it abandons some key features. Whether or not the 42S is the 'best calculator HP ever made' is highly debatable, but it's definitely one of the top models.

The 48S/SX/G/GX are comparable to a beefed up 28S. The 42S is a very different calculator. If you're migrating from a 28S and want a similar experience, the 48 is definitely the way to go.
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06-29-2016, 01:49 AM
Post: #5
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
Ron, Jeff and Accutron, many thanks for your time and detailed information. I found your replied incredibly helpful and informative.

I am an EE who has used the same HP-28S since 1990. I use it off and on. I love the dual keyboards, making entry very easy and keeping the overall look very clean. It still works except for the up-arrow key on the front which requires me to press against the back of the case to make it function. I don't like the battery door, but that plastic piece on mine still is not broken. Sadly, I can't tell you how many times my code has been wiped only because I cannot swap out batteries within the 90 seconds or so that the internal capacitor keeps the memory alive! (Which means you have to key-in everything again.) So of course when I evaluate other HP calcs I compare with my HP-28S and is why I prefer a BLACK LCD over BLUE.

I like the compact shape and size and color scheme and overall design of the 42S, which is why I have recently looked into it. But to pay $300+ for plastics manufactured in 1990-1993 isn't a prudent buying decision in my opinion, unless you are a collector who intends to put it behind glass.

If HP can make a modern replica of the HP-12C, they ought to do the same for other popular legacy calcs. If built properly, that would theoretically make them last many years. It's not impossible to manufacture something properly these days. You merely have to have the desire to do so.

I agree about the color scheme of the 48S. The light blue and orange silkscreens on black is more aesthetically pleasing than the silk on other 48's.

I've pondered a 50G, but the look of that thing is just awful. (My apologizes to those of you who may like it.) Other than the enter key being small and inappropriately placed, perhaps the biggest eye-sore of all are those round, silver arrow keys. Why round? Why silver? Also, the presence of the silk just above the SYMB key make the arrow keys appear to look shifted downward, rather than being properly vertically centered. There are also gaps in each of the 4 corners of those arrows where there is nothing at all, making the overall appearance of the calc look very unbalanced. I wouldn't even care about these negatives it wasn't for the fact that the 50G's feature set and screen are so appealing.

So while mulling my options I keep asking myself...

• Go with a fast calc with great features that looks awful? (50G)
• Go with a slower calc with good features that looks outstanding? (48-series)
• Get hired by HP as a senior exec empowered to make a great calc again so Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard can finally rest in peace and bring joy to the HP community.
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06-29-2016, 03:27 AM
Post: #6
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-29-2016 01:49 AM)JDW Wrote:  So while mulling my options I keep asking myself...

• Go with a fast calc with great features that looks awful? (50G)
• Go with a slower calc with good features that looks outstanding? (48-series)
• Get hired by HP as a senior exec empowered to make a great calc again so Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard can finally rest in peace and bring joy to the HP community.

or if you are still considering the 42S ...

• Wait for the upcoming DM42 from SwissMicro in September 8-)
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06-29-2016, 03:34 AM
Post: #7
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-29-2016 03:27 AM)Sylvain Cote Wrote:  if you are still considering the 42S ...
• Wait for the upcoming DM42 from SwissMicro in September 8-)

Very interesting. Thank you for the tip!
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06-29-2016, 10:31 AM
Post: #8
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
hello,

maybe you could also consider the Free42 alternative?.

it's an excellent hp42s emulator and works with any adroid phone.
It has import / export features and runs very fast in modern android phones.

On my Galaxy s6 edge +, it runs the 8 queens benchmark in 0,026 seconds, it means 26000 times faster than the original 42s. It's 2.5 times faster than the same benchmark on the HP Prime emulator on the same phone. On my wife Huwaei Play Mini phone (much cheaper), it runs however 10000 times faster the original calc.

Marco
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06-29-2016, 12:55 PM
Post: #9
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-29-2016 10:31 AM)mtern Wrote:  maybe you could also consider the Free42 alternative?

I've never owned an Android device and have no plans to own one. I am aware of all the emulators out there. But let's face it, if emulators were everyone's cup of tea, I doubt so many would be participating in thus forum, myself included.
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06-29-2016, 12:57 PM
Post: #10
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
Sylvain Cote has excellent advice. However, if you cannot wait for September for a replacement, I suggest you buy an Hp 50G or an Hp 48G+. Both are RPL calculators and based upon the Hp 28s and aside from the keyboard, very similar to your Hp 28s. AND both can save and load programs onto a PC so that any programming you do will not be lost with a battery change!
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The Hp 50G has a modern USB interface and an even more popular SD card interface (limited to 2 GB max). The Hp 48G series needs an RS-232 interface and probably older OS on PC to actually upload or download programs. By the way, hpcalc.org is an excellent repository for programs for ALL Hp RPL calculators.
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I suggest the Hp 48G series, probably the G+ as it might become your favorite calculator (it may not, as you may like the fold out Hp 28s forever). As for your Hp 28s, I suggest you buy another as well. They aren't making more. However, I may also suggest you consider an Hp 28c as their battery covers seem to have less breakage problems. Downside is miserably small amount of RAM, but you will be using your new Hp 48G+ or Hp 50G for all of your new programing anyway!!! 8^)
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06-29-2016, 01:37 PM
Post: #11
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
Thank you for the extensive advice, Ron!

I've been reading about 2 performance enhancements for the 48 series:

SpeedUI
Meta Kernel

It seems that SpeedUI can be used on any of the 48 series while the Meta Kernel only works on the GX due to the 128k card requirement. It's not clear though if these can seamlessly work together on a GX or if there is any feature overlap.

But a 50g would beat any 48 in performance regardless of those enhancements, albeit with a much less aesthetically pleasing case and keyboard layout. The SD card would be a strong plus for the 50g though. If I didn't dislike the design so much the 50g would be an easy choice, but the 48G+ is also very appealing.

Ah... decisions, decisions!
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06-29-2016, 03:04 PM
Post: #12
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
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Hi, marco:

(06-29-2016 10:31 AM)mtern Wrote:  maybe you could also consider the Free42 alternative?.

it's an excellent hp42s emulator and works with any adroid phone.
It has import / export features and runs very fast in modern android phones.

I frequently carry and use Free42 in a teeny tiny Palm Z22 which I bought nearly 11 years ago (2005):

[Image: live01.jpg]

It runs like a charm, many times faster than the actual calculator, and the Palm is only 69 x 103 x 15 millimetres (2.7" x 4.1" x 0.6"), 96 grams (3.4 ounces), battery included, so it comfortably fits even in a small pocket, with negligible weight, in fact much less bulk and weight than most any smartphone or tablet.

Also, it conveniently communicates with any pc or device (and recharges) via USB.

V.
.

  
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06-29-2016, 03:16 PM (This post was last modified: 06-29-2016 03:20 PM by dalupus.)
Post: #13
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-29-2016 01:37 PM)JDW Wrote:  Thank you for the extensive advice, Ron!

I've been reading about 2 performance enhancements for the 48 series:

SpeedUI
Meta Kernel

It seems that SpeedUI can be used on any of the 48 series while the Meta Kernel only works on the GX due to the 128k card requirement. It's not clear though if these can seamlessly work together on a GX or if there is any feature overlap.

But a 50g would beat any 48 in performance regardless of those enhancements, albeit with a much less aesthetically pleasing case and keyboard layout. The SD card would be a strong plus for the 50g though. If I didn't dislike the design so much the 50g would be an easy choice, but the 48G+ is also very appealing.

Ah... decisions, decisions!

I own a 28s as well. I keep the battery cover taped to try and keep it from breaking and also almost always leave it open so as to try and keep the heat stakes from breaking (someone hypothesized that it was the snapping open and close of the clamshell that causes them to fail.)

All that said, I love having the full keyboard on the 28s and sorely miss that in the 50G. But the 50g does have much more capability than the 28s. Many of the things I had to write programs to do in the 28s, the 50g has functions to do OOTB. I don't find the layout too horrible, but then again I never owned any of the 48 series. Given you have never owned any of the 48 calculators, I think you would find all of them equally strange in terms of layout.

As for the build quality and keys of the 50G, I don't find it particularly offensive. It isn't like the 28s had particularly great keys either. If faced with buying something from the 48,49,50 series I would personally just go with the 50g as they are cheap and still being made. Most of the programs written for any of the predecessors should work for the most part. Being able to back up to and install programs from the computer is a huge plus.

Given the 50g is currently made, you could order one from Amazon and try it out for a few weeks then return it if you didn't like it. Obviously you wouldn't be able to do that when buying a used 48 off of ebay.
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06-29-2016, 09:11 PM
Post: #14
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-29-2016 01:37 PM)JDW Wrote:  Thank you for the extensive advice, Ron!

I've been reading about 2 performance enhancements for the 48 series:

SpeedUI
Meta Kernel

It seems that SpeedUI can be used on any of the 48 series while the Meta Kernel only works on the GX due to the 128k card requirement. It's not clear though if these can seamlessly work together on a GX or if there is any feature overlap.

But a 50g would beat any 48 in performance regardless of those enhancements, albeit with a much less aesthetically pleasing case and keyboard layout. The SD card would be a strong plus for the 50g though. If I didn't dislike the design so much the 50g would be an easy choice, but the 48G+ is also very appealing.

Ah... decisions, decisions!
Buy paperbag and HP50g, when both have arrived put the 50g to the bag so you don't need to look at it .. problem solved.
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06-30-2016, 12:10 AM
Post: #15
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-29-2016 03:04 PM)Valentin Albillo Wrote:  I frequently carry and use Free42 in a teeny tiny Palm Z22 which I bought nearly 11 years ago (2005)

Valentin, would you mind posting a photo of your device running the actual calculator? I would assume the keys would be rather small seeing how small the screen of your device is.

dalupus, thank you for your advice. I just like the shape and look of the legacy HP keys like the ones on our 28S and many other calcs. Our 28S has a wide ENTER key, and all the keys are not perfectly flat but have a unique downward slant in the bottom side which, for some reason in my crazy retro-loving brain, looks nifty to my eye. That's partly why the look of the Prime's keys appeal to me far more than those of the 50G (no "paperbag" required). But yes, I am aware there is a functionality difference between the 50G and the Prime.

Since we're on the subject of the 50G, and since no one has yet commented on the part of my previous post where I ask about "SpeedUI & Meta Kernel," I'd like to ask if any of you 50G users have installed Tree Browser or GUIMES or other software found here?

http://www.software49g.gmxhome.de/index.html

If you have, and if you also have used an HP48 with Meta Kernel and/or SpeedUI, how would they compare? (Clearly, the 50G would still be faster, but I speed of usability and the UI.)

Thank you.
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06-30-2016, 02:08 AM
Post: #16
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-30-2016 12:10 AM)JDW Wrote:  If you have, and if you also have used an HP48 with Meta Kernel and/or SpeedUI, how would they compare? (Clearly, the 50G would still be faster, but I speed of usability and the UI.)

I use SpeedUI on a 48GX, it is excellent and dramatically speeds up the 48. I have not used Meta Kernel, so cannot comment on if they are usable together. Using all of SpeedUI's modules does use quite a bit if RAM, however it is unlikely you need them all. Ray (author of SPeedUI) will reply within a few days about using the 2 tools together.

If you will be using the 48GX, I strongly recommend you install Filer48, an extremely fast, useful and intuitive file manager. It can be used alone, but also integrates well with other tools such as Jazz and the Hack tools.

I like the feel of the 48, and don't really have much heavy math use, so I prefer it this way for the classic/retro feel. But if you will be making demands on RPL and heavy math, a 50g will serve you much better, it is far faster and has much more built-in capability. The keyboard is actually pretty easy to get used to, SysRPL tools are built-in and the screen is easier to read.

But I like the 48GX too....

--Bob Prosperi
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06-30-2016, 02:37 AM
Post: #17
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
Thank you for the detailed info, Bob.

I'm currently pondering these 3:

48G+
48GX
50G

Not sure what JAZZ is, but the other software you mentioned (including SpeedUI & Filer48) appear to be compatible with the 48G+, not just the GX. I will take that into consideration when determining which to buy.

Thank you!
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06-30-2016, 09:22 AM (This post was last modified: 06-30-2016 12:05 PM by emece67.)
Post: #18
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
Not an easy task deciding where the sweet spot is. The software is better (or, at least, bigger) each year, the hardware is worse (or cheaper) at the same pace. IMHO, the hardware will be unacceptable soon (is it now?), so the future, a sad one, lays in emulators running if your phone.

César - Information must flow.
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06-30-2016, 09:52 AM
Post: #19
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-30-2016 09:22 AM)emece67 Wrote:  so the future, a sad one, lays in emulators running if your phone.

Whose quality will go downhill at the same pace... :)

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06-30-2016, 09:57 AM
Post: #20
RE: HP-48S vs. 48G vs. 42S
(06-30-2016 09:22 AM)emece67 Wrote:  ...so the future, a sad one, lays in emulators running if your phone.

As if that makes the decision easier, seeing there are multiple iOS versions out there:

m48
m48+
i48

And on the m48+ site it says, "An internet connection on your device required at first launch!" If that means "every time you launch the app" then it would rule out use on an iPod Touch without internet connection, which would be yet another reason to have an actual HP calc versus an emulator.
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