HP Forums

Full Version: Why??? Why a 33s and not a real 42SX
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.

I have a lot of gripes about the 33s. Yes, I am glad its here, and I know Hp has the NCEES rules to sneak under, but....

An Hp42sx with the awkward alpha keyboard entry probably would have been allowed if Hp were to re-release it and educate the board at the NCEES (as they did with the 33s). Rip out the IR and leave only a serial port and release an SDK (simple text entry via PC) and give it an algebraic mode for the masses. Toss in a clock and you would have a pocket data collection system. Its capabilities are far better than the 33s and it would be a professional tool and not just a calculator in a small pocket calculator package (much like the Hp41c series).

Actually, the NCEES probably wouldn't crunch this market that much anyway as most Eng grads don't bother for licensure and the oversees market doesn't care. A great pocket calculator is missing from the market, period.

Hp used to make the best and let everyone else, "Catch up". Now they try to please a fashion style market. Guess What? That moron who wants a red slide on cover for his Ti, isn't going to ever buy an RPN priced calculator. He will buy the red cover for his $15 calculator because he doesn't care about math or features, JUST LOOKS and LOW price.

I'd love the Hp33s if it were $20-30 and so would the fashion kid I just mentioned. But at $50 you have excluded the very market you designed the style of the calculator for. Talk about a marketing bunch that should be cut to save $$$$.

Now an Hp42sx would be worth the price of the Hp48GII that is now out. Certainly it would be less complex, so it should sell for no more ($100) and perhaps less ($60 is more realistic). And it would sell as there is still no real equalivent to the 41/42 line.

How many would it sell to?

While you and I want one, there must be a very solid business case to build a 43S or 42SX.

The HP32SII was a solid seller, it appears (and HP has the market data not me). When they could no longer make it, they wanted a replacement because it sold so well.

HP of today does not have the fairly large resources they used to have aka Corvalis days.

The HP42S was discontinued because (from all appearances) it did not sell well.

Ask yourself: Why was the 42S discontinued but the 32SII was still sold?

Sales. Period.

There can't be any other reason.

If there are 50,000 people who buy the 33S vs. 5000 who buy the 42SX, then the 33S will be built.

To paraphraise Metallica, "Sad but true".

Put a serial port in your 42sx and NCEES will ban it. They don't want calcs that have any communication capabilities at all.

Would I like to see an updated version of the 42S? You bet. But don't kid yourself into thinking that the NCEES would allow its use.

Would it sell? Maybe, but not nearly as many units as the 33s.

They kept the price of the 42s artificially high and features low (ie no I/O) So as to not rob from the 48G line of that time.

Now I hear about poor sales. Whose fault is that? In this case it is not really the consumer. The 42s costs no more to make than an Hp27s or Hp17B and both of these were $70-90 calculators at THAT TIME. Price the 42s at $120 and an Hp48G at $99 (I remember as I bought both) and which is a student going to buy?

But later and after school which would find more use?

Don't blame the consumer in this case. It was marketing who pushed the 32s then, and marketing that now comes to the wrong conclusion and is pushing the 33s now. Not that the 33s is bad, it just could have been better and for what it is, truthfully, should be cheaper (if they want that great styling to be appreciated, that is).

A 42/43s would be worth the $60, but a $60 33s that has less features than a graphics and costs more??? Hp sold the Hp20s for $30. Why not continue to keep that price range and quadruple sales (that would more than double profits as these calculators probably cost HP $4-6 max packaged).

Just my $0.02

I have no idea how marketing worked back then and I'm just guessing now.

I have no idea of the absolute sales level.

Lowered prices would of course sell more units, but how many more?

1000 units @ $60 = $60,000 revenue

to set the price at $30 requires 2X the number of units.

Might be a tough sell to the decision makers.

Now if only I WERE the one making the decisions...then we'd have a 42SX tomorrow! :-)

Sorry. There is no market for calculators as "professional tools" anymore. Professionals now rely on computers, not calculators.

The only significant market for expensive calculators is in education. Most high school students and undergraduates don't have computers on their desktops, so they still rely on calculators. But they want graphing calculators. The 42S is not a graphing calculator. In today's education market, the 42S would fare about as well as a DOS computer.

The NCEES exam market, as you suspect, is too small to be significant. It's true that there's a lot of demand right now for the 33S, but it's not sustainable. Tens of thousands of people who were already involved in the exam process were suddenly forced to replace their 48s and 49s because of new NCEES rules. The demand for the 33S will fall sharply as the replacement process is completed.

In any event, the 42S wouldn't get NCEES approval even if the IR port was replaced by a serial port. NCEES doesn't like any ports. They will only approve calculators that have no communications capability, like the 33S.

I agree that the 33S is overpriced. HP can get away with this for now, because so many existing NCEES exam candidates have to replace their old models. But the number of new exam candidates that appear each year is relatively small, probably too small to sustain the production of this model. In the long run, the 33S will have to sell to students to be successful, and it may be too expensive to succeed in that market.

I realize there are two arguments to this paticular issue and you are at the extreme end of one side of the table with me on the other extreme.

I just can't see myself going to every meeting to prove my points or calculations with MathCAD or Excel on my laptop or if I chose, a PDA. Heck, I don't even like to bandish my graphics calculator (it sits in my desk drawer). But I have no qualms about bringing in a pocket calculator to various types of meetings. Yes, I often see other's bring in their laptops and PDA's, but these are most often the business types or are monitoring their email. Its rather annoying to hear the beep of incoming mail.

And in my line of work, I am sometimes jumped for answers on location. And gee, I left my laptop with my MathCAD and Excel worksheets back at the office. Yeah, I could have carried it into a hazardous envioronment, but I didn't want to for that type of work.

For the engineering done soley at a desk or the business type who love their PDA's, a pocket calculator is both redundant and not neccessary. But I feel for my needs, otherwise.

Unfortunately for me, Ti, Casio, Hp (Carly and Co.) feel like you and like your argument best. I lose.

Still I feel that there is a market and it is overlooked. However, the Big guys are not betting on me, but holding with you.

This is not an argument that I want to win. As it happens, I also take my 48GX in the field instead of a laptop. And I would love to have a 42S. So I agree that there is a niche for powerful portable calculators.

Unfortunately, a big company like HP is not interested in "niches". They want to sell to a mass market. The only mass market for calculators is in education. The 42S cannot compete in the education market, so HP will not bring it back.

Yet it's possible for small companies to profit from niche markets. For example, look at Calculated Industries (www.calculated.com). They sell a wide variety of specialty calculators (ElectriCalc, ConcreteCalc, KitchenCalc, NautiCalc, GradeMatic, etc.), which are obviously targeted at niche markets. They are successful and have been expanding their product line.

If some small company could acquire the rights to the 42S hardware and software from HP, they might be able to find a market. That's the best hope for reviving this model. But don't expect HP to do it.

"To paraphraise Metallica, "Sad but true"

Excellent metaphor...

I prefer Metallica circa 1989 AND HP circa 1989.

Though I want my 28S without the IR port. Stupid, stupid, stupid.


My experience is almost the same, it seems. I am a civil engineer, and I use Excel and Mathcad quite a bit. I have emulators on my laptop for the HP-41CX, HP-48, and several other models. I have an emulator for the HP-41CX on my Palm Tungsten T, plus CSIM for the HP-35, -45, and -55. But, I almost never have my laptop at a meeting, and I only use my Palm at a meeting for checking my schedule or finding a phone number. On the other hand, I almost always have my HP-42S, or sometimes my HP-48G+.

However, I don't see a calculator as redundant when I am working at my desk. For certain things, I prefer it to my computer. It is true that over the years, I have transfered much of my calculator work to the computer. There are two main things I still use a calculator for: quick number crunching and running programs I have written, some dating back over 20 years. The most important programs I still run on the calculator are "interchangeable solutions" like the old TVM from the HP-41 basic solutions (?title?) books I have written interchangeable solution programs for hyraulics (Hazen-Williams Equation for water flow under pressure, Mannings Equation, for water flow under pressure pressure, Mannings Equation for open channel flow in pipes and for open channel flow in rectangular/triangular/trapezoidal chaneels, etc), sizing rebar for reinforced concrete, and other such mundane tasks. Excel and Mathcad do not handle these types of "what if" calculations like the HP-42S. I prefer the interchangeable solution for certain problems because, even though the program is much longer than a solve routine would be, it is far more flexible and much faster.

I do see myself as a dying breed--an engineer who still programs and uses a calculator in a significant way, while also using computers for bigger problems.


I looked at the "GradeMatic" calculator that Norris mentioned, thinking that it might be an updated version of the heavy construction calc from Calculated Industries. Instead; i found a calculator made for teachers who can not figure a simple average. I hope that it is a very small nitch but after years and years of single digit SAT scores, who knows. Some of those slow students may have become dumb teachers.

BTW: I have played with the "Heavycalc" and it is a nice package for those who do gradeing (sculpting the earth) as their trade. Unfortunately it is not RPN so i'll just keep my 41cx/survey pac/math pac/conversion programs. Still; if they ever come out with an RPN i am buying it, even if it is just an update of that company's 1970's vintage "Loan Arranger".

Dear Mr. Dying breed,

Would you be willing to share your programs for Mannings, Hazen Williams and rebar sizing with another member of the dying breed? I've been using HP calcs for 25 years but got ahold of my first 41C just a few months ago. Since then, I've been messing around with writing programs for all of the above, but am far from optimizing any of them. I would be interested in studying someone else's programs to see where I may have gone wrong or where I can improve my own. I will certainly understand if you do not wish to share them. Thanks.

Take care.


PS - I have written a pretty good Vertical Curve program which I will share with you if you are interested. I know there is one on the Survey module, but I don't have the module so I wrote my own program.



Please send me an email at fel3@pacbell.net to remind me. I am in the process of creating a new office at home and it will take me a bit of time to find everything…plus, this week is stuffed full. I may have a chance to get to this on Saturday.


I'm an accountant and most math is done through Excel, some accounting package, or the ten-key (with not much invovlment with an outside calculator). Unfortunately, I haven't had the pleasure of going to clients on assignments so I really can not say much about the use of calculators in that arena.

Still, I carry a calculator around (usually the HP49G+ and on occasion 20S/33S/17BII+) because I like the caluclator's portability, easy access to complex functions, and the reliability (calculators last longer than most PCs!). At work, I used my calculator for quick calcuations of payments of annuity, depreciation, and percent change.

Hi Ron,

And in my line of work, I am sometimes jumped for answers on location.

My feelings exactly. Now, of course, I can usually do all the math in my head.....but there are times where either (a) I am too tired to do that well, or (b) it takes so long as to break the train of thought. Most times, a "meeting" is sufficiently high-level that a calculation is not required.

BUT, it does happen where you are suddenly being asked "what if", or you are ship-board and something needs to be figured out immediately---Excel is not going to help here.....

AND if you cannot give some good numbers immediately, sometimes you lose the deal! When an engineer is trying to make a sale to another engineer, truth and viability is in the numbers....not the color scheme!



Edited: 25 May 2004, 3:00 p.m.