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Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
03-15-2014, 07:53 PM (This post was last modified: 03-15-2014 07:57 PM by Matt Agajanian.)
Post: #1
Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
Hello all,

Keep in mind I just returned a TI N-Spire CX after severe frustration & disappointment.

Also, from some posts here, unless I'm mistaken, it seems there are still some kinks and bugs which need to be adjusted on the Prime. In light of these, should I wait on the Prime (presuming HP is committed to Prime development and support) or go with a TI N-Spire CX CAS or a Casio or Sharp model? OR, just stick with my 50G and be done with it?

Thanks
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03-16-2014, 10:30 AM
Post: #2
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
I like to think of the hp Prime as a very versatile calculator:

Life:={frustration, disappointment} + {list of things}! // ! factorial symbol

"these are times that try men's souls" (Thomas Paine)
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03-16-2014, 12:41 PM
Post: #3
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
FWIW, if the non-CAS CX Nspire that you returned was manufactured earlier than, say, March 2013 (technically: hardware revision I and earlier), it's easy to make arbitrary OS run on it: the Nspire Linux port, the standard Nspire CX non-CAS OS... and whatever else.

The best platform for you depends on your usage.
The Nspire series is a closed platform, almost purely aimed at teaching / consumption of knowledge. The floodgates of native Nspire code are temporarily open once again, with yesterday's release of Ndless 3.6, but TI usually has the upper hand over the community wrt. locking down the platform.
The Prime is still a young platform, and like the early Nspire, it has its share of bugs and limitations. The PPL is good and very fast, while in its first few months, the Nspire didn't even have BASIC programming abilities, and nearly seven years later, the BASIC still cannot draw pixels to the screen or read individual keys from the keyboard.
Maybe wait and see for a little longer ? Your 50g is still a capable calculator, after all Smile
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03-16-2014, 02:39 PM
Post: #4
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
(03-16-2014 12:41 PM)debrouxl Wrote:  while in its first few months, the Nspire didn't even have BASIC programming abilities

Lionel, Nspire DID have BASIC from day one. I was part of a teacher-training seminar held in Hendersonville, TN, I think in August of 2007, when the NSpire was introduced. At that seminar, I played with BASIC on my Nspire (non-CAS). It did work. It lacked any type of I/O and the programming interface was very awkward, which were significant limitations, of course, and I suggested to TI that they fix those problems, and they eventually did. But BASIC did work.

Also, that original Nspire had very few bugs, compared to what I have read about the Prime.
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03-16-2014, 04:22 PM
Post: #5
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
I think you can't really compare bugs on the nspire CAS and on the Prime CAS, because the nspire CAS was a port of the TI92/89/voyage 200 CAS.
The programming language on the first nspire CAS was also the same as on the ti9x (TI Basic) except that I/O were not available, if my recollection is correct. Again, it was most certainly a port of the ti9x code.
By contrast, the Prime does not use old code from the HP48/49/49+/50G series.
Most of the new code on the ti nspire CAS was in the user interface. And I think that many ti9x/ti89 users found it difficult to learn. I know it's more difficult to learn a system when you are used to an other one, but it's probably the reason why TI made important changes later, like having a "scratchpad" calculator mode.
This just show that any complex system requires some time with real user inputs before it is widely considered to be really comfortable.
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03-16-2014, 04:35 PM
Post: #6
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
(03-15-2014 07:53 PM)Matt Agajanian Wrote:  OR, just stick with my 50G and be done with it?
What would you expect from a replacement? What's missing from the 50g that's important enough to give up the concept of this calculator in favour of one designed for education?
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03-16-2014, 05:02 PM (This post was last modified: 03-16-2014 06:18 PM by DrD.)
Post: #7
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
(03-16-2014 04:35 PM)Thomas Radtke Wrote:  
(03-15-2014 07:53 PM)Matt Agajanian Wrote:  OR, just stick with my 50G and be done with it?
What would you expect from a replacement? What's missing from the 50g that's important enough to give up the concept of this calculator in favour of one designed for education?

For me, the most important feature would be the human interface (display, keyboard, etc.). Newer technology probably means faster processing, which is also important to me.
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03-16-2014, 05:16 PM
Post: #8
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
(03-15-2014 07:53 PM)Matt Agajanian Wrote:  Hello all,

Keep in mind I just returned a TI N-Spire CX after severe frustration & disappointment.

Also, from some posts here, unless I'm mistaken, it seems there are still some kinks and bugs which need to be adjusted on the Prime. In light of these, should I wait on the Prime (presuming HP is committed to Prime development and support) or go with a TI N-Spire CX CAS or a Casio or Sharp model? OR, just stick with my 50G and be done with it?

Thanks

Why the N-Spire disappointed you?

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03-16-2014, 07:22 PM (This post was last modified: 03-16-2014 11:56 PM by Matt Agajanian.)
Post: #9
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
(03-16-2014 05:16 PM)eried Wrote:  
(03-15-2014 07:53 PM)Matt Agajanian Wrote:  Hello all,

Keep in mind I just returned a TI N-Spire CX after severe frustration & disappointment.

Also, from some posts here, unless I'm mistaken, it seems there are still some kinks and bugs which need to be adjusted on the Prime. In light of these, should I wait on the Prime (presuming HP is committed to Prime development and support) or go with a TI N-Spire CX CAS or a Casio or Sharp model? OR, just stick with my 50G and be done with it?

Thanks

Why the N-Spire disappointed you?

Although it is a capable unit. it should have some level of CAS functionality or something that makes symbolic capabilities available. Frankly, I can't validate why TI made both a CAS and Non-CAS version separately. What would have been better is for TI to make just the CAS model with a preference flag in the settings so that teachers can disable the CAS functionality on their students'
calcs during tests.

The above being said, it seems to me, without the symbolic math/manipulation capabilities, the Non-CAS N-Spire is not as capable/functional as calcs I already own, a 48GX and 50G.

***Okay, here's an example:

I entered the following into my 48GX:

'M^3' [ENTER]
'M^2' [x]

Naturally I got 'M^3xM^2'

Next, I did a [SYMB] ==COLLCT== which produced 'M^5'

But, since the N-Spire CX (non CAS) does not handle symbolic expressions, when I tried this on the CX, it returned 'Variable Not Defined.'

It just seems to me that symbolic manipulation on a calc of the N-Spire's magnitude should be a standard feature.

Plus, when I called TI, they informed me that there was no software or firmware code I could install to update the N-Spire to add CAS functionality.
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03-17-2014, 07:55 AM (This post was last modified: 03-17-2014 07:59 AM by debrouxl.)
Post: #10
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
I guess I stand corrected about BASIC on Nspire OS 1.1 - but then, which basic feature was missing from that version and only added several months later ?

Quote:Frankly, I can't validate why TI made both a CAS and Non-CAS version separately.
Compliance with stupid standardized tests.
Quote:What would have been better is for TI to make just the CAS model with a preference flag in the settings so that teachers can disable the CAS functionality on their students' calcs during tests.
Yeah, but standardized testing regulation authorities do not seem to let such simple schemes fly (nor should they if they really cared about tampering - the proper solutions are more costly, such as reflashing calculators right in the exam testing room, or lending calculators to students). But they only fantasize about tampering and do nothing serious about it: they let the "hardware secure" and other nonsense (proven false by the community after an umpteenth attack by TI against its users) about the Nspire's unbelievably weak PTT mode fly.

Quote:It just seems to me that symbolic manipulation on a calc of the N-Spire's magnitude should be a standard feature.
Right, and it is... but only if one knows of the Nspire / Nspire CAS artificial difference beforehand. Sadly, you're far from being the first deceived and disappointed buyer showing up on a community message board...

Quote:Plus, when I called TI, they informed me that there was no software or firmware code I could install to update the N-Spire to add CAS functionality.
There is no official way to do that, indeed, so "TI-doesn't-care" won't hint you about it Smile

However, third parties have been doing it for years (at first with harmless but potentially annoying side effects, reliably for more than a year with contemporary calculators of that time frame):
* the proverbial, unreleased RunOS was showcased in 2010, several months after the initial availability of arbitrary native code execution on the Nspire;
* in April 2011, I made and released OSLauncher for Ndless 1.7/2.0, after an April Fools Prank faking CAS execution on the non-CAS Nspire. It just uncompressed an image (RunOS used raw images) and hot-launched it. It was very unreliable on my calculator (10-30 attempts at launching the CAS OS for it to stick) though other calculators were more lucky for some reason; some strings were messed up due to string ID differences between the non-CAS and the CAS version; a simple reboot made its effect go away. IOW, it was harmless, but being released in April, i.e. close enough to exam testing sessions, I know that it still thoroughly freaked out the standardized testing regulation authorities of a country whose business is vitally important to TI.
* other people ported OSLauncher to newer versions of the OS / Ndless, but they had similar reliability problems.
* on January 1st, 2013, unknown people released nLaunch, which made it possible to "permanently" install (until the maintenance menu was used to remove OS / erase+reformat the filesystem on NAND Flash memory) arbitrary OS on the older Clickpad and Touchpad Nspires, through exploiting an older version of the second-stage bootloader ("boot2"). The reliability of nLaunch is excellent, and as nLaunch let the boot2 go through the full OS installation procedure (only patching the boot2 in RAM to prevent any unwanted protection from derailing the process), the strings were alright even on mismatched calculator / OS type pairs;
* on April 1st, 2013, unknown people (same or different, nobody knows) released nLaunch CX, which provided the same functionality on the CX Nspires, through exploiting the same vulnerability in the then-latest version of the CX boot2. The reliability of nLaunch CX is, again, excellent.

On March 2013, the first CX calculators (hardware revision J) which refuse to run the boot2 version exploited by nLaunch CX were manufactured, and hit the market several months later. According to critor's latest tests and news item last night on TI-Planet, it seems that these hardware revisions had been planned before the first nLaunch was released, which would make HW-J more of an attack on Ndless than we originally thought, not just a retaliation for nLaunch. Both behaviours being equally inappropriate for a manufacturer wrt. its users, of course.
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03-17-2014, 08:14 AM
Post: #11
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
In any case is very unfair to say the TI CX is a disappointment just because you bought the "wrong" one.

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03-17-2014, 02:04 PM
Post: #12
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
(03-17-2014 07:55 AM)debrouxl Wrote:  I guess I stand corrected about BASIC on Nspire OS 1.1 - but then, which basic feature was missing from that version and only added several months later ?

Lionel, I'm not sure. Originally, the simple IF statement did not work as described in the manual, but that turned out to be a documentation problem and they updated the documentation. The program editor did not exist originally, if I recall correctly, and it was a real pain to enter a program (you couldn't press the ENTER or RETURN key until the last line of the program). I think it took them at least a year to get the program editor.

But the biggest initial deficiency, of course, was the lack of any interactive INPUT statement (interestingly, the original Dartmouth BASIC, THE very first BASIC, also lacked an INPUT statement in its initial release of May, 1964 [coming up on its 50th anniversary, BTW]; INPUT didn't arrive in Dartmouth BASIC until version 3, in 1966). Dartmouth BASIC lacked INPUT initially due mainly to hardware limitations. It was no secret that Nspire BASIC lacked INPUT because TI didn't want students playing games on it.
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03-17-2014, 04:06 PM
Post: #13
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
(03-17-2014 08:14 AM)eried Wrote:  In any case is very unfair to say the TI CX is a disappointment just because you bought the "wrong" one.

Well yes. After elaborate overthinking and the fact that my 48GX and 50G are quite robust and realising just how powerful the CX is in its own right, I am going to give it another go.

Like the Joni Mitchell song says, "you don't realise what you've got 'til it's gone.'
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03-18-2014, 04:27 AM (This post was last modified: 03-18-2014 04:29 AM by Kevin Ouellet.)
Post: #14
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
(03-17-2014 02:04 PM)Don Shepherd Wrote:  
(03-17-2014 07:55 AM)debrouxl Wrote:  I guess I stand corrected about BASIC on Nspire OS 1.1 - but then, which basic feature was missing from that version and only added several months later ?

Lionel, I'm not sure. Originally, the simple IF statement did not work as described in the manual, but that turned out to be a documentation problem and they updated the documentation. The program editor did not exist originally, if I recall correctly, and it was a real pain to enter a program (you couldn't press the ENTER or RETURN key until the last line of the program). I think it took them at least a year to get the program editor.

But the biggest initial deficiency, of course, was the lack of any interactive INPUT statement (interestingly, the original Dartmouth BASIC, THE very first BASIC, also lacked an INPUT statement in its initial release of May, 1964 [coming up on its 50th anniversary, BTW]; INPUT didn't arrive in Dartmouth BASIC until version 3, in 1966). Dartmouth BASIC lacked INPUT initially due mainly to hardware limitations. It was no secret that Nspire BASIC lacked INPUT because TI didn't want students playing games on it.

Seeing an older friend in grade 9 playing Tetris and some home-screen version of Snake on his TI-83+ is what convinced me of buying a TI-83+ graphing calculators. If programming what I want was impossible on that calc, I would not have seen any justification in spending $159.99 on a 83+ back in the days just to graph some equations, when I could have gotten a $49.99 Casio graphing calc or borrowed a TI-82 from school.

Games are not the main purpose of a graphing calculator, but I liked the freedom that calculator provided to me while still being useful for class, and since I could not afford a computer at the time, game programming was what convinced me of buying a calc instead of borrowing someone else's or buying a much cheaper one with less features but that can still get the school job done.

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03-22-2014, 01:56 AM (This post was last modified: 03-22-2014 04:17 AM by Matt Agajanian.)
Post: #15
RE: Is the Prime truly ready for prime time?
Hello all.

To be fair and after giving the N-Spire CX CAS a lengthy analysis, an N-Spire CX CAS is now in my calculator ensemble. Since I've renewed my interest in this calc, I am quite inteterested in putting the N-Spire CX CAS through its paces.
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