So, for a budding math student ...
02-27-2014, 05:56 PM
Post: #1
 Glenn Becker Junior Member Posts: 13 Joined: Dec 2013
So, for a budding math student ...
Hi all --

It's [perhaps too] often said "this is not intended to start a flame war," but ...

If I was going to get a graphing calculator for someone who wanted to self-study calculus and perhaps some topics beyond calculus, would the Prime be a good choice? or would something like the nSpire, with its longer-developed software and larger user base be better?

For what it is worth 1) I do have a bunch of HPs and certainly prefer 'em in principle, despite my minimal presence in these fora 2) the "budding math student" is me ...

... I'm taking online astronomy courses, working toward a Master's degree, and thus have a constant need to shore up and improve my math skills. So there is a lot of self-study going on. This is necessary for my work, too. A good graphing calc -- with color -- would be an aid to this effort ... I think. So I'm trying to set brand loyalty aside and get whatever would be preferable in a pedagogical (at least self-teaching) sense.

Any opinions would be welcome, apart from "stop trying to start a flame war and geddoudahere." :^)

/Glenn

PS I recently purchased a used ThinkPad and will keep a small Windows install on it so that I can do updates to HP calcs, etc. Previously the Prime was not an option because I am an all Linux/BSD house.
PPS I'm REALLY NOT trying to start a flame war!
02-27-2014, 07:42 PM
Post: #2
 Tugdual Senior Member Posts: 755 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
If math student means you want to use it for exams I would recommend to avoid it due to lack of maturity of the product. For fun, experimentation, discovery, rich features, very good hardware (except screen which has poor view angle and colors of the keyboard difficult to read) I would say, go for it. For me it became a geek toy but when I need serious CAS I go for maxima on PC and when I need a RPN calculator I go for a HP15C LE which is both convenient and fast.
I don't know TI products so I cannot compare and I'm an old HP fan. If you're interested in other brands, don't ignore Casio and Sharp.
02-27-2014, 07:47 PM
Post: #3
 debrouxl Member Posts: 257 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
Quote:PS I recently purchased a used ThinkPad and will keep a small Windows install on it so that I can do updates to HP calcs, etc. Previously the Prime was not an option because I am an all Linux/BSD house.
Indeed, libhpcalcs does not implement firmware upgrade mode, even though we gathered firmware upgrade dumps a while before performing the initial reverse-engineering of the normal mode's protocol...

Being an old-timer from the TI community, I'm not very familiar with the whole range of possibilities offered by the Prime's CAS, so I'll leave detailed comments about the Prime to others
Out of the box, the Prime's CAS can do a number of things that the Nspire's CAS doesn't do; both CAS engines can be expanded through user programs.
Other topics from this section show that the Prime's CAS has its share of bugs and limitations, the Prime is still a young platform... However, the Nspire's CAS isn't bug-free either. All Nspire OS versions released since April 2011 have CAS bugs that the earlier Nspire OS versions, or even the TI-68k OS versions (the Nspire's CAS is a continuation of the TI-92's CAS from 1995, same core data structures and functions), didn't have.

The math possibilites of Casio's offerings, i.e. the Classpad 300/330, or the horribly overpriced, underpowered '2013 fx-CP400 "Classpad II" (barely an upgrade over the CP300/330), are not on par with TI's or HP's offerings, AFAICT.
02-28-2014, 08:37 AM
Post: #4
 parisse Senior Member Posts: 1,130 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
(02-27-2014 07:42 PM)Tugdual Wrote:  For me it became a geek toy but when I need serious CAS I go for maxima on PC.
Do you mean that the Prime CAS is not a serious CAS or that you can't do serious CAS computation on a calculator? If it's the first, I would be curious to know what you can do on maxima and can't do on Xcas. Because I know several fields where Xcas outperforms maxima.
02-28-2014, 12:09 PM
Post: #5
 Glenn Becker Junior Member Posts: 13 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
(02-27-2014 07:42 PM)Tugdual Wrote:  If math student means you want to use it for exams I would recommend to avoid it due to lack of maturity of the product. For fun, experimentation, discovery, rich features, very good hardware (except screen which has poor view angle and colors of the keyboard difficult to read) I would say, go for it.

The latter is what I'm interested in -- I won't really be concerned with "live" exams although I may be taking some of the exams in MIT's OpenCourseware offerings. It's all about wanting a discovery tool.
02-28-2014, 12:11 PM
Post: #6
 Glenn Becker Junior Member Posts: 13 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
(02-27-2014 07:47 PM)debrouxl Wrote:  Indeed, libhpcalcs does not implement firmware upgrade mode, even though we gathered firmware upgrade dumps a while before performing the initial reverse-engineering of the normal mode's protocol...

First I've read of libhpcalcs. Nice!
02-28-2014, 04:54 PM
Post: #7
 Han Senior Member Posts: 1,831 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
(02-27-2014 07:42 PM)Tugdual Wrote:  If math student means you want to use it for exams I would recommend to avoid it due to lack of maturity of the product.

I would go as far as saying avoid any calculator, really, if your focus is to truly understand mathematics and to develop an appreciation for the aesthetics of mathematics.

Quote:For fun, experimentation, discovery, rich features, very good hardware (except screen which has poor view angle and colors of the keyboard difficult to read) I would say, go for it. For me it became a geek toy but when I need serious CAS I go for maxima on PC and when I need a RPN calculator I go for a HP15C LE which is both convenient and fast.
I don't know TI products so I cannot compare and I'm an old HP fan. If you're interested in other brands, don't ignore Casio and Sharp.

This is true for _all_ calculators, but there are some models which are not so "open." As some have pointed out, the nSpire series is very locked down when compared to the other TI models. HP has generally embraced their users when it came to tinkering with their calculators. The exception is when people purposely try to break something they deem essential. I don't know what will happen if someone tries to circumvent the exam mode on the HP Prime, but in the past, they removed the CAS feature in the HP39G in later revisions (HP39G+) of that series once someone figured out to enable it. (The HP39G was marketed as a machine without CAS when in reality it was essentially the same as the HP40G with a CAS, but with the feature disabled.)

Graph 3D | QPI | SolveSys
03-07-2014, 09:03 PM
Post: #8
 Chris Pem10 Junior Member Posts: 22 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
You stated that you already have some HP calcs; so perhaps you could get by with just using what you already have. In my approximately ~180 credit hours of engineering and mathematics coursework in college (late 1990's) I rarely found myself using the plotting features of my calc. I had been introduced to Mathematica early on and never looked back. To be clear; I and my classmates nearly wore the buttons off our HP48s... but we didn't use them to plot anything, just derive and solve equations. I still use Mathematica today (in Linux) and gladly pay the $295 license for home use. You may look into "lesser" HP scientific calcs for a good bargain. In all fairness, the Prime plots very fast and you can do more with the plots once you've displayed them (compared to the 48s and 50)... but the Prime cannot (easily) plot output from the CAS... which is where you'll be spending time if you are self-exploring math. Coupled with the "rage-inducing" inability to use common variable name as you see fit on the Prime, I just cannot in good faith send you down a path of spending ~$120 on this calc. This calc suffers from "inconsistancies" in syntax and execution. The underlying XCAS is powerful... but that's of little use when the interface to it is less than consistant. You can get a new HP50G for ~$90 and save yourself some serious heartburn. Or just download XCAS for the PC for free. To sum up my feelings: The ~$120 Prime is a cludge that sits on my shelf and collects dust. I regret buying it every time I see it. I really wanted the Prime to replace the HP50, but that just isn't going to happen. Mathematica is a 25 year old language that is clean, well thought-out, simple to learn, predictable, repeatable syntax... in short it works. Comparing a hand held calc to Mathematica is like comparing a skateboard to an F16. And it only costs ~2X as much. About the only groups pushing calc these days are.... calc companies !

Further proof: HP Prime forums are filled with stories of disapointment and people trying to work around the machine. Go spend some time at Mathematica Stack Exchange and you'll see the exact opposite.

I will gladly trade my Prime to anyone here in exchange for a new HP50. And I'll pay shipping both ways (US).
03-07-2014, 09:24 PM
Post: #9
 jebem Senior Member Posts: 1,330 Joined: Feb 2014
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
Interesting discussion here...

If the goal is to have fun and learn/refresh mathematics, no matter your age, then HP-Prime is excellent, specially because it has a few "issues" that I hope to see fixed by HP along the way.
We can learn a lot when facing "issues" and investigate to understand what is the root cause of them.

Me? I have one HP-48G+, one HP-48GII, one HP-49G+, one HP-50G and the Prime, just to mention the more recent ones from HP. I also have a bunch of good CASIO and TI machines to compare against HP.

Currently, I keep the 50G side by side with the Prime on my home desk, and it is fun and informative to compare how they answer for the same input.

Jose Mesquita

03-08-2014, 03:39 AM
Post: #10
 rprosperi Senior Member Posts: 4,383 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
(03-07-2014 09:03 PM)Chris Pem10 Wrote:  I will gladly trade my Prime to anyone here in exchange for a new HP50. And I'll pay shipping both ways (US).

How about trading your Prime for a like-new HP-48GII with all accessories, manual, pkg, etc., plus a low-mileage HP-12C and I'll pay the shipping?

--Bob Prosperi
03-08-2014, 07:15 AM
Post: #11
 Dominik Holenstein Junior Member Posts: 35 Joined: Jan 2014
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
I am using like others here the HP 50g for cross checking the results on the HP Prime. While the HP Prime is the main calculator on the desk in the meantime I still use the HP 17bii+ as well.

Dominik
03-12-2014, 03:28 PM
Post: #12
 CR Haeger Member Posts: 275 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: So, for a budding math student ...
(03-07-2014 09:03 PM)Chris Pem10 Wrote:  I will gladly trade my Prime to anyone here in exchange for a new HP50. And I'll pay shipping both ways (US).

Hi Chris - PMed you for my new HP50G if your Prime is still available.
 « Next Oldest | Next Newest »

User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)