HP 35s... The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


I have made some notes based on my first week with the HP 35s. Most of my observations deal with cosmetic aspects since I haven't had the time to really put the calculator to heavy use. The "good" are commendable features and qualities. The "bad" are design issues--material compromises, part selection, lack of quality assurance testing, or short-sightedness. The "ugly" are production issues and, basically, are inexcusable. The "indifferent" are items that I don't have strong feelings about either way.


Appearance and ergonomics--this calculator looks great.

Body material. The plastic feels good although it could be prone to showing fingerprints.

Big enter key in the correct position.

Key-bound functions are intelligently grouped.

Key label colors are pleasing and easily discerned. The labels are symmetrically positioned relative to each other and on the keys themselves. Only a few of the blue shift labels exhibit any fuzziness--very, very slight, however.

Key tactile feedback. The best since the 1980s.

Key texture. The keys do not have a shiny, slippery feel, but, instead, have a nice barely perceptible coarse surface.

No key or cover rattles. The body, battery cover, and keys have a tight fit (I have one 12c that has loose, rattling keys).

Every key stroke has registered. After having to tweak the 50g key timing several times, I found this to be a relief. Also, two thumb calculations are fast and accurate.

Solid and stiff body, no flex.

Good rubber feet and no rocking during data entry.

Display data (not the top row annunciators!) is easy to view under many conditions. The display still is not of the same quality seen in earlier HP models.

Quick calculation feedback with few busy signals. I entered a couple of simple programs and did a series of statistical tests and the performance was good.

Price seems equitable for what you're getting.


While the body plastic is good, it still somewhat soft and suprisingly easy to scratch. A textured plastic would have been better. The 41CV plastic was superior in this respect.

Base conversions. I'll give the designers a "SYNTAX ERROR" for this one. When you have to use the manual to figure it out and it's still clumsy to use, then the designers failed.

Reflective and soft (i.e. easily scratched) plastic display lens.

Top row display annunciators are too close to the upper edge of the display bezel. Shadows make these difficult to read.

No box. Putting a product in hard plastic packaging implies that it is temporary and disposable. Cheap cell phones still come in boxes--I'll be using this calculator far longer than any given cell phone.


Display alignment. I had to disassemble the unit to realign the LCD glass against its metal backing.

Soldering holding the power wires to the system board was not consistently well done.

Why can't the Chinese find anyone who can stick a serial number label on straight?


The carrying case is not as good as the 50g's, but it's still better than the TI-89 Titanium (a plastic sleeve that slides on either the front or the back).

Product manual seems to be accurate and effective, however, the paper quality is about par for manuals these days. A flat laying binding would be preferred so I don't have to wedge the book under things while working through examples. Regardless, I'll download the PDF version and use it when it's available.

I bought my first HP back in high school. It was a 41CV and I still get it out every once in a while to admire the craftsmanship and feel. Since then, I've bought an HP 28S, a couple of 12Cs, a 50g, and now an HP 35s. However, none of these have ever come close to the HP 41CV. While I don't really require a scientific calculator for my job as a software developer, I have always had an HP handy and the buzz surrounding the HP 35s was too much to ignore. And, just as I was losing faith in HP's ability to make a quality calculator, they introduced the 35s.

In summary, I find this to be an excellent calculator. I found the display alignment issue to be the worst aspect of my particluar unit--something annoying enough that I had to fix it. I hope this signals HPs return and future commitment to better quality calculators. Welcome back big enter key!




Why can't the Chinese find anyone who can stick a serial number label on straight?

Because once they get good at it, they get promoted to painting faces on figurines. (a five cent per day raise in pay!)

<Grin> B^)


dona nobis pacem

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