Alpha Numeric Entry


I am thinking about purchasing a HP33S calculator because I have heard that I can make AlphaNumeric entries of notes, formulas and equations for later retrieval. I am a frustrated engineering student trying to keep up with all the various information needed in my different courses of study. In some classes I am not allowed use of my TI-89 Graphing calculator which I use more it's AlphaNumeric storage of files. I can even type the files out on a word pad style program HP has developed called Note Folio and down load the text to my TI-89. So now I am thinking of the HP33S because of its alphanumeric capabilities. Has anyone used the HP33S for this purpose? Is there a way to type the text on my PC for later downloading to the actual calculator or do I have to actually type the text into the calculator itself?




Dean --

The "alphanumeric entry" capability of the HP-33S is rather limited. You can type in text as pseudo-"equations" using the equation editor, but you'll essentially be limited to A-Z, i, 0-9, pi, ( ), and function codes. No Greek alphabet. There is no electronic transfer capability.

If it had capabilities more advanced than these, it would not be allowed by NCEES for the EIT/FE exams.

-- KS


The 33S was never designed to have serious text handling capability. It does have alpha characters, but they are designed for use in equations with one-letter variables, such as E=M*C^2. The 33S can store and solve such equations, but that's the practical limit of its alpha capabilities.

In theory, you can create and store "dummy" equations that consist entirely of alpha characters. These are effectively text strings. But several limitations make this approach impractical:

- No alpha-lock key, which makes typing quite laborious

- Each "equation" is limited to 255 characters

- No lower-case or Greek letters (except pi)

- No editing tools, except for the "delete" key. If you enter a 25-character "equation", and there is an error in character 10, there is no way to correct it, except by deleting and then retyping characters 10-25, one at a time.

- No connectivity. You cannot prepare text on a PC and download it to a 33S.

If you want a calculator that can store and solve equations, then the 33S may work for you. But forget about storing notes in it.

Edited: 12 Dec 2006, 2:05 a.m.


Actually the best alpha numeric calculator available today is the Hp17Bii. However, it is a business calculator w/o trig. The solver would allow you to add your own trig routines, but a memory loss could be fatal as it doesn't have the basic scientific functions built in.

As this is a museum, many of us know better calculators that USED to be available that are now replaced by the super delux graphics now on the market.

The best pocket calculator for a Ti-user to get the features you want are listed below in (MY) order of preference. None are available retail, but would need to be obtained via ebay or a collector.

Hp 27s. It is an unobtrusive, powerful pocket calculator that just might make you give up your graphics. I personally consider it the 2nd best pocket calculator ever made (and I am an RPN user!). It is however, the most costly option.

Casio fx-6300
Casio fx-5000
Casio fx-4000 are all basic scienctifics with built in basic. The 6300 may not be allowed as it has a small graphics screen, although it appears to be a normal calculator. All should be fairly cheap to buy via ebay.

Ti-67. I like this calculator to play with, but limited text abilities, on par with the Hp33s and probably more costly.

An Hp19B would also work well for you, but it might be mistaken for a graphics. It is, but only barely and would normally not be considered a graphics in most comparisions, but that won't help you with a professer who may not let you use it.

There are lots of pocket computers of the 80's, but they would draw more attention than the above calculators and likely get banned also.

The only pocket calculator with the I/O you really want is an Hp41c series (CV really). But you would have to invest in other periphials and equipment and learn RPN as well as work with hard to find and maintain equipment to support comm transfer.

Of the above, you cheapest easiest solution is probably the Casio fx-4000 or 5000 series. If money is not an issue and you want to invest in a real calculational tool, the Hp27s IS THE BEST way to go. I doubt that you would regret it! However, you would regret losing it, should you come to rely on it. It is a difficult (and getting worse) calculator to obtain. That it is much cheaper than many HPs is solely because it IS NOT AN RPN calculator, but uses AOS.

If you are planning to take the EIT in the future, the Hp33s is still probably your best bet as it is the only high end programmable still allowed on this exam.

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