HP Prime: First 4 Weeks -- Suggestions

First of all, thanks to HP for getting back in the game. The Prime is beautiful and promising and powerful. We first users are well familiar with HP's dedication to quality and know you will sort out the problems. Some of the comments on this forum are too critical, but I for one am willing to be patient while HP gets this product right. Here are my suggestions for improving it:

1. Clarify lowercase vs. uppercase. This is by far the most confusing thing to me. If I want to, say, integrate a function in CAS view that I've already defined in the function app, I have to enter int(F1(x),x,a,b), that is, capital "F1" but lowercase "x," even though the "x" had to be capitalized when I created the function in the app. Yes, you can learn to live with this because the x-t-theta-n key does the right thing, but still, it gives one pause: "Let's see, am I supposed to use lowercase or caps here?" Also, about a quarter of the built-in catalog functions are in all caps (e.g., REVERSE) but the rest are not (e.g., revlist), so you simply have to look in the online help to get the capitalization right because

romberg(F1(x),x,0,pi) --> works, but

ROMBERG(F1(x),x,0,pi) --> does not

This inconsistency is holding me back from becoming adept and quick with the calculator. "Hmm, am I supposed to type Alpha+Shift here to get caps, or is it the other way around?" I recommend lowercase throughout.

2. Fix the key symbol contrast. It's hard to read the blue and orange symbols, especially on the gray number keys. I had to use a magnifying glass to tell what the symbols were on the 9 key. And, young engineers, please remember that there are many of us users who are over 50, so if the fonts look just right to you 20-somethings, that means they're too small.

3. Make it more robust. My Prime crashed a dozen times in the first month. In every case, I diligently tried but failed to replicate the problem so I could report it. In the fifth week, it started crashing more and more frequently until it finally shut down for good. HP promptly shipped me a replacement, so I am grateful for that. (HP: Are you making progress on this, and do you need us to send you exact key sequences that cause crashes?)

4. Get a professional editor to make a pass through the user guide on the Internet. It has a large number of grammatical mistakes. My favorite is on p. 110: "If you now move the trace cursor close to
x = –1 . . . and selected Root gain, the other toot is displayed."

5. Abandon RPN? I love RPN on my HP 11C and so was excited to see the RPN input method on the Prime, but the setting caused so many errors in the apps that I switched permanently to textbook entry mode within the first day. I cannot find a way for RPN and the rest of the calculator to coexist peacefully, so I think you are pretty much forced to abandon RPN. Yes, if you're using the Prime just as a scientific calculator, then you can live happily in RPN mode, but in that case, why did you buy a Prime? An HP 35s would have sufficed.

6. Check all the error messages. Here's one. While showing a student that the exponential function with real exponents is not defined for negative bases, (in home view) I typed in

(-2)^pi --> Error: (X<0)^(<"is not an element of" symbol>Z)

I believe there should be a "Y" just to the right of the second "(". It's the exponent that must be an integer, not the base.

Background: I am a retired computer scientist who is now a math tutor. I want to use the Prime as an educational tool for high school students. Sorry for the long post.


I agree with almost everything you said, except one thing: please don't drop RPN! :) Yes, I could use another calculator for that, but I don't want to carry two around. I don't need fancy RPN functions, just the basics... I'm also OK with it being only in the Home screen. It would even be OK for me to remove it from all the apps altogether, but please keep the option to use RPN in Home view! :)


You said you replaced your first unit that was malfunctioning. Is the replacement any better ? Did you attempt to reformat the flash drive before giving up on it ? I'm also getting a replacement and returning my original unit to HP for inspection. This should allow me to separate problems due to firmware bugs or user errors from those due to defective hardware.


Yes, the replacement is working fine. No, I wasn't able to reformat the flash drive before it died. That may have saved it.


4. Get a professional editor to make a pass through the user guide on the Internet.

Send this guy a free Prime and just let nature take its course... his videos on the HP50G are awesome.


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