Advice on using the HP-50G

Hello all.

I would like to give the 50G a fair shake. So yes, my uneasiness with the 50G's cluttered keyboard is my cross to bear but, to put the 50G in a favourable light, can you give me any advice, suggestions, tips on how I can become accustomed and comfortable with the 50G's layout? There is so much to gain from its functionality, flexibility, capability and benefit of RPL, I would rather work towards getting comfortable with the 50G instead of avoiding it.

Your insights are very appreciated.


Edited: 18 May 2012, 11:13 p.m.


Do you have the quickstart guide? I wrote it and there has been a lot of positive feedback on it.



Got it on my desk (and now, it's in my hand). Thanks for such a well-written and concise tour book. The primary issue for me is the cluttered design of the keyboard though.


Cluttered keyboard? Considering all those 2,300+ functions, the keyboard looks quite clean to me.

That's more like my definition of 'cluttered keyboard':

Fortunately, just a joke! :-)


From my perspective, the 48GX layout being a bit more organised, less cramped and allows spaces between the function legends. On the other hand, the 50G layout has so much text on it that it looks as though HP put text all over the keyboard until they ran out of room.

Edited: 19 May 2012, 12:46 a.m.


Regardless of whether you feel it is "cluttered", I think the usability is higher and things do make sense once you understand the added capability. For example, you can use the arrow keys, number keys, and almost all the basic 4 functions while in alpha mode.

There are definitely some mistakes in my opinion (MODES taking a primary key being one of them). It is different then the 48, but I do believe the overall usability is higher. YMMV


Edited: 19 May 2012, 1:43 a.m.


I know this has been shared at prior HHCs at some point, but those 2300+ features came about like this:

Marketing said "give us a number of features". R&D didn't want to do so since it is so hard to define and essentially a meaningless number. They insisted. R&D gave them a list of **all entry points** in the ROM and also counted each userRPL command that operates on more then 1 object (eg. '+' with a character and string is 1, '+' with 2 reals is another and so forth).

Don't know the exact number, but it was probably up in the 30-40K range.

Marketing said "Nobody will believe that. 2300 sounds good". Hence that number came to be. :-)



As I've stated earlier, the functionality and substantial programming versatility are pluses in the 50G's favour. Those are not the issues. So, what tips can you offer so that I can find functions & operations easily? With the 50G keyboard, I spend so much time playing 'hide-and-go-seek' just to locate functions like my logarithm keys and even Pi is put in a very unintuitive place as well as being swarmed by multi-function mnemonics.

Edited: 19 May 2012, 1:59 a.m.


Maybe a HP 50g with a HP 15c side by side: power and simplicity when problem solving. The best of both worlds!

The quick start guide is very helpful.


Interesting history and all too commonplace once marketing gets involved.

Speaking of unrealistic numbers of operations, the 34S has 33,815 op-codes -- not counting the triple alphas of which there are 172,339,200. The reality is about 1,100 distinct commands.

- Pauli


50g and 34S :-)

I might be a little biased however.

Oh, I don't have a 50g either -- my 49g died a sorry death and I've not replaced it yet.

- Pauli


Hello Matt,

of course for a "beginner" using the HP 50g the keyboard of the machine looks like a great labyrinth.

But my experience is: If you want to get familiar with it, you have to use it every time you need a calc or a RPL machine. It is a all a round tool. The possibilities to customize the keyboard for your needs are also gigantic, but of course not to get in an easy way because of the multiple ways doing it.

And the most importing thing: Before you fit the machine to your needs, you have to get clear what your needs are. That begins with the directory structure (new programs?) and maybe ends in a new menue and keyboard layout.

The HP 50g is a very adaptable tool, but you are the one who has to learn how (practise, practise and one more practise again) and this isn't possible in a short post.



What I did like about the pioneer and 48S series is the darker background for items that had menus.


As with many things, familiarity comes with use & pratice. Did you learn to drive in one day? or use everything on your mac in one day? Even it seemed overwhelming at first, persistence paid off. To tell you the truth, I find the 35s keyboard cluttered and spent a lot of time searching for funcions, but managed to get quite a bit use out of it. (Actually I prefer the 32S with it's menus <<gasp!>>, and items that are menu's are easy to see).

Just have fun, if it beeps, you know it doesn't like what you've done but the world will not come to an end and the calculator is not damaged that easily ;-). If you really struggle with particular aspects, you know where to ask :-).


50g and 34S :-)

I only wish the ENTER, the +/-, the EEX, the backspace and the arithmetic operator keys shared the same positions on both calculators. Also I would like the legends of the secondary functions on the WP 34S to be placed above the keys rather than below. This would make things easier when switching from one another. This is asking too much, however. Neither HP nor WP will change their keyboard layouts to match each others.



Yes, you're right. If I just use the 50 as much, if not more often than my Woodstocks, V'Gers and 35S, it has the potential to grow on me and it would allow the location & mass of keyboard legends to be as familiar to me as my other calcs.



Hi there.

As I mentioned in response to Bart (UK), if I use the 50G as often as my Woodstocks, Classics and other HPs, the 50G's layout would not be as confusing and overwhelming. In addition, while unleashing the 50G's potential and discovering its versatility, that may help to tip the balance towards functionality, usability and capability.

Edited: 19 May 2012, 1:52 p.m.


I started out in college with a 48G and loved it, and now I have a 50g and love it too. It took some time to learn the new keyboard, but it's always like that: you get used to something and anything new seems worse at first. I know many of you feel at home with the 41, but I just can't get used to the basic operations being on the left. If I used it everyday I would get used to it, I suppose; and that's the same with the 50g, use it and you will see the "sense" behind its keyboard.

There are a few things I really would change though: 1) I like a big ENTER where it is on the 48; 2) I hate the 50g's arrow keys (not only they feel cheaper, but I prefer the 48's layout); 3) WHY did you have to omit the fundamental shortcuts on the arrow keys - like SWAP and all the others?... I use them *all the time* and it would be nice to see them printed on the keyboard. 4) A different background for menu items would be nice; 5) I really missed the PURGE command being on the keyboard. :)

Other than that, I have to say I really like the 50g, it has some quirks - i.e. worse keyboard than the 48G but way better than the 49; but it's fast and powerful and the screen is very nice; and worse audio output capabilities than the 48G; and it eats batteries faster than the 48; but it's really powerful and fast.



Didn't Eric do a some alternate overlays with the secondary and tertiary functions above the keys?

- Pauli


Yes, he did. I think I'll try that. This morning I found myself trying to access pi on the HP 50g by pressing the white shift and the '3' keys.



... and for all this reasons i keep at the 48 ...


Also I would like the legends of the secondary functions on the WP 34S to be placed above the keys rather than below.

I, for one, really like having the legends below the keys, rather than above. It works well for my hp-97, and I love it for the wp-34s! I think that having the legends below the keys makes them *much* easier to see at an angle on the desk (my guess is that is why they did it that way on the 97).

That said, I do feel your pain when switching between calculators that have the opposite configurations.



Are you referring to the "blue slant" overlays that Eric made (see message #27 in this thread)?
I've been thinking about ordering a couple of these, but I haven't heard of any recent reviews, pro or con, on this formatting (thus my question :-). Sorry.. rereading your post, I realize these aren't the overlays you were talking about.
I apologize for hijacking the topic.

Edited: 22 May 2012, 1:32 a.m.

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