TI-30 user looking for a change.


Hello all. I found this website while on on odyssey of calculator searching. I am entering the math and physics programs at Purdue University in a couple of weeks (finally realized Poly Sci wasn't going to cut it) and I'm looking to upgrade my calculator.
Calculators are not allowed in any of the upper level courses, but I would still like one for homework, personal use, concept reinforcement, etc.
I have been looking at the TI-89, HP-50G (49.5 from what I've gathered) and the 35-S. I am a little unsure as to what to buy...but in using the RPN calculator on HP's site, I must admit, I have become quite intrigued.
So, any relevant thoughts any one has on graphing calcs (remembering they are verboten at my school generally) and the 35-S would be very much appreciated.
Sorry for the long post; I will try to keep it shorter in the future.


My advice: get a Hp 50g for homework and out of class work. It will handle calculus and physics stuff quite well. At least if I had one in my engineering curriculum for my 3 semesters of calculus and physics it would have greatly helped. And it sure helped in my major classes which were loaded with math. If you can use a 35s on tests, that would be the way to go. Very powerful in the way you can program it. So get one of both if you can.


Your request ist quite general. How about deciding first whether you really need a graphing model? If you can live w/o graphics and CAS, the 35s ist very versatile and quite a bit easier to use. I doubt you'd find another recent non-G that powerful.


remembering they are verboten at my school generally

Hmmh, why did you spell this German? ;-)

IMO, the step from a TI30 to a graphic calc is a pretty big one. Since I finished my studies decades ago, it's hard to guess how the kind of homework was adapted to the ubiquitous (?) availability of high power calcs and PCs. Anyway, there are loads of tasks where a calculator isn't any help at all, and if I were a professor, I'd like to emphasize this side.

Nevertheless, to get some support for the pure (and stupid) mechanics of mathematics, I'd recommend you look for a scientific calc featuring matrix handling, solving systems of linear equations, and able to work with complex numbers nicely. It should feature an (almost) complete set of scientific functions, i.e. incl. hyperbolics. For physics, you'll need sample statistics incl. linear regression additionally. Some programming capability will allow you to tackle repetitive tasks like solving the same equation for several sets of parameters.

Of the calcs I know and being available today (also at auctions ;-) ), I'd recommend the HP 42S if you want a small and light calc you can carry everywhere easily -- if you don't mind carrying a big cannon, then take an HP 48anything. You are young, so you will adapt to any reasonable OS. The 35s is nice and new, and features everything *but matrices* (crucial for your applications IMHO). The 50g will do everything a calc can do, but may be too much overhead.

Just my 20 Milli-Euros

P.S.: There is a very nice and capable emulator of the HP 42S available for free, called Free42 (just search the archives or google using this name and Thomas Okken as keywords). I will run on your Laptop and PDA.

Edited: 3 Aug 2007, 10:34 a.m.


Luke, Walter, (or anyone else!), Walter's advice is generally sound, but from direct experience, the 48G (or G+ or GX) is a bit fragile. It certainly IS a great calculator, or as MoHPC calls, a "do-everything" calculator, but to be that and yet still stay small and light enough to be portable as a calculator, it may not stand up to being tossed in a backpack every morning, whipped out several to very many times a day, tossed on a desk or table, wagged at friends to underscore that your answer might be "more better", and worst of all, dropped. I dropped my 48G only once, and it was still in its case, and now I have a blank row of pixels across the third stack position, unless I strap a rubber band around the top.

So, if you get a 48G series machine, use it at home or in the dorm. The same would apply to a 50G. I mean, these are EXPENSIVE little babies. If you are going into math and physics, you won't need any in class graphing on your calc anyway. So, I'd counsel the use of a 35s or even 33S (which really despite my and others' complaints is a pretty good calculator, but the 35s has more programming space) for class.

I got by (very well, actually) with the then-equivalent of the 33S or 35s (now that it's out), the 34C, a scientific programmable. In actuality, today's two HP scientific programmables are superior in terms of capability; mine was superior only in feel of the keys, weight of calculator and... ahem... appearance. Something about red... LEDs.

I think you might need a graphing calculator not so much at all for its graphing capability, but its much greater programmability and memory capacity.


First of all,

A TI-30 variant (SR-40) was my first calculator (Fall 1979), I still have it but haven't applied power in years. I couldn't afford the HP-2x a classmate had, and I wasn't smart enough mathematically to understand RPN anyway. ( The first day of class the instructor made a
comment how some students didn't know how to add fractions. I sheepishly raised my hand and asked, "How do you add fractions?".)

I now carry a HP-48G in my backpack. To protect it from some of the
daily bangs, it is in a rubber "holster" designed for the TI-8x series. It is a tight fit, but the holster only cost $1 at Goodwill.


dona nobis pacem


I had a TI SR-40 before I got my first HP, the 34C.

In fact, the poor quality and limited capability of the SR-40 caused me to seek out the 34C. Needless to say, it was a huge jump in quality and capability for me. I have to admit though, that the SR-40 had to be almost unusable before I spent the $124 (before tax) dollars of those days for the 34C. The SR-40 actually didn't last long; the keys went just about totally bad before I dug out the money for the 34C. I sort of wish I kept the malfunctioning SR-40. I tossed it as soon as I brought the 34C home.

Interestingly, if the TI SR-40 didn't break down and kept working through college, it is possible I may never have looked for a better calculator and would never have become like you guys, a calc nut. It was the 34C that launched me on this path!


If you can afford the 50G then it is the most powerful calculator around (though the TI-Nspire may have something to say about that).
CAS have their drawbacks on calculators, mainly due to the small screen size. Most ODE solutions will require more than one screen and the way the 50G handles arbitrary constants is not the most attractive. So you will have to learn how to read the output.
The 3D graphing is quite slow and maybe not all that useful.

But why not try out some models?

Here is one emulator

And here is another

The other thing to bear in mind is that something like the 50G will take a long time and no small effort to get the most out of it. Do you think you'll have that time?

Concept reinforcement is a tricky thing. My idea of that is consulting another textbook. Will you use software in your course? That will be more powerful that a handheld. A nice OpenGL plot of some function can be helpful, but handheld's aren't quite there yet.

It's a tough choice you'll have to make.


That is a very tough one. I started using HPs during my sophomore year in 1990, so the 28S was the big thing back then. I used it quite a bit to solve equations, solve definite integrals, and create little functions, but never used it for serious programming or plotting.

To be honest, I've tried plotting with my 28S, 48, and 50g and it's such a pain that I'd rather use Excel or some other program. I just don't see the point in a calculator that plots. The plots are tiny and much more difficult to read and manipulate on that little screen with the limited controls. Even if you can see it, it's not practical to copy it to a report, your HW submittal, etc. You also can't plot lots of different things with different colors, markers, scales, etc. 3D plots are hard to deal with on a computer screen, much less a tiny calculator screen.

You'll have your computer for everything but tests. During tests, if you spend time (you'll usually have very little) monkeying around with your calculator, you're probably toast, LOL.

The 50g's keys are so hard that my hand gets physically tired by the time I get through a page or two of calcs. And no, I'm not a wuss with little weak finger, LOLOL. I've read here that the 35s keys are better. You'll spend a nauseatingly huge amount of time punching those keys in engineering school and your time spent on basic calcs will be hundreds of times more than your time spent using the more advanced functions. Actually, you'll probably use your computer for them anyway.

I think I'd get the 35S. I am thinking of buying one of those and keep my 50g as more of a personal museum piece simply because the keys are so hard.


In engineering grad school, I used a 32sii happily. Most others had simple little sharps, casios, TI, not graphing.

The 48GX is cool and I like it more and more as a working calculator, but it really is overkill and I agree about the time wasted thing. If I had put all the time into calculators while I was in school, I'd never have learned what I really needed and wanted to.

(Now that I am a grown-up, I can spend time on them for the fun of it:)

Ironically becoming a collector is completley opposite why I liked HP calcs from the beginning: The HP helped to *minimize* the time I spent using, buying, replacing or thinking about calculators. Heck, a single 11C served me for 13 years!


Sometimes when there's no ballgames on at night, I try to explore the programmability of my HP programmables. It does tire your eyes out!


I'd like to thank everyone for their input. I'm going to ask a couple more questions on this topic and then I'll put this to rest.
1)The general consensus is that the graphing calculators are often more complex than I'll need (given that calcs aren't allowed on any test at Purdue...and for the real tough stuff I'll be using MATLAB, etc.) I just want to confirm this point.
2)The 35s is a return to simple and powerful HP functionality.
3)There isn't a better scientific calc...TI, Casio, or HP don't offer any scientifics that solve any greater amount of problems.

I guess to clarify my post a bit...I don't give a hoot about graphs necessarily, I feel that is what paper is for at the level of math I am at, but I would like something that could solve more advanced things than my TI-30. Derivatives come to mind.

I am new to the calc rounds, and higher math in general, so please keep the kid gloves on when tearing my post to shreads ;)

Thanks for all of your input and help.


Luke, assuming these were 3 new questions, here are my answers:

1) Yes.

2) Yes - at least it's a major step in this direction.

3) Depends. There were numerous discussions about the "best" nongraphic scientific HP calc in this forum already (and for sure there will me more). You'll find them browsing older posts. Many forum members agree the HP 42S was/is the most powerful RPN calc ever made. You'll find reasons for this verdict in said posts. For assessments of non-HP calcs, other sites may be better suited than this one here, which is a bit biased - of course :-)


Many forum members agree the HP 42S was/is the most powerful RPN calc ever made.

One note I would like to make. Even though I do not have 42s, I do think it was one of the best calculators that HP ever made (I have used emulator of it and like very much). One thing though, is they are very expensive when you find one. A better alternative, and much less expensive more often would be a 15C. I think it would do everything you have asked about (I don't have one, but I have used the emulator quite a bit) including Matrix math.

Jó nap


As for comparisons to other brands, the bottom line from my standpoint is RPN/RPL vs the alternative: algebraic nonsense.

After you get used to it, you will be able to punch through equations much faster with RPN/RPL than with an algebraic calculator. Some HPs only have 4 stack registers and some have many more. I personally like the ones with many more because they let me start at the left end of an expression and proceed to the right. With only 4 registers, you have to start on the inside of some expressions and work your way out. This isn't how I learned, so is unacceptable to me. The 50g has many registers and I *think* the 35s does too. The 33s, for example, is limited to 4. I bought one and it's collecting dust.

I have a funny story. Last fall, I taught a junior level engineering design course. Every single student used a TI calculator. On one of their exams, they had to punch through an equation that took up an entire line and had 3 square roots, 2 of them nested. Of 37, about 3-4 of them made it from one end of that to the other without making a mistake. They were trying to write it out in 3-4 steps, etc.--chaos! I knew they'd complain about this, so I used a stopwatch to test my speed with my HP48. I punched it through 3 times without a mistake, averaging 22 sec./try. Of course they got some hazing in the next class when they complained about that equation, LOL.


The 50g has many registers and I *think* the 35s does too. The 33s, for example, is limited to 4.

The 35s has the classic 4-level stack, same as the 33s.


Are you sure about that, Jeff?

I thought the hp info clearly stated that it had 800 registers. Was that referring to something else?


Jeff was referring to the IMMEDIATE four "registers" (well, I guess they really are, too; they are kind of like the command line plus the "scratch disk" of a VMS operating system on an old mainframe) that the calculator uses as you enter figures, operate on them: when you turn on the machine, you are looking at the X register contents on the bottom of the LCD display and the Y stack level (register) contents are right above it. There are two further stack levels that are unseen, as well, unless you use the ROLL DOWN (or blue SHIFT ROLL UP) key to access them, the Z and T in that order (that the Z is so named is obvious; the T is so called because it is the "top" level).

This means that you can enter four values in the 35s (or any of the pure RPN calcs; the RPL calculators, as the 48G series, 48S series, etc. have an unlimited stack) before losing your first entered figure "out the top". The T stack level has also the property of being replicated, i.e., the value in it is copied for further use, if necessary.

So that is the stack.

Now, the storage memory is comprised of what are more properly called "registers" and as promised in the literature (including the manual), there are 26 directly accessible ones (A-Z) and 801 accessible by using indirection via the I and J registers.

A very cool system methinks. (I had to make an effort to get used to the infinite stack of the RPL machines when I got one. Personally I still prefer the four level stack system of the HP RPN programmable scientifics.)

If you've got more questions on the stack vs. storage registers, there are smarter, more qualified guys here who can easily chip in.

Edited: 3 Aug 2007, 11:38 p.m.


Perhaps I answered a bit too succinctly. Although you mentioned registers in your post, from your discussion and reference to the 33s I decided that your were talking about the 4 level operational stack, which Ed explained quite well. The 33s had a 4 level stack and 32 or 33 storage registers. The 35s has over 800 storage registers, but still has the 4-level stack, which I also prefer to the unlimited RPL stack. (Sometimes a 5 or 6 level stack might be handy, but unlimited just never felt right to me.)


Thanks for setting me straight before I bought a 35S.

I learned mostly on my 48 and go strictly from left to right. Some of our longer equations need 6 stack levels for that, so it would take some work for me to deal with 4. I bought a 33S and don't like it for that reason.

Edited: 4 Aug 2007, 1:13 a.m.


Regarding the use of *any* graphing calc at such an early stage (calculus, physics):

I am a recent grad, and would strongly recommend that you forget the calculators. There will be huge returns for monkeying with your pencil and paper (or just taking mathematical strolls).

Plus, you may be advised in school to get a copy of matlab, (or similar) for small projects or investigations.

Just be sure to dive into the theory, not ebay looking for calculators. Once you get to your second year, or maybe 5th semester, you may want to begin relying on small programs that you write. For those, a 33s, 35s (or graphing if you really want it) will suffice.

In my physics courses, we had to have our calculators personally inspected by the prof. He'd prohibit even programmable SCIENTIFICS!

In my maths (Calc I,II,III,IV,diff eq) there were NO calculators. Once I got to numerical methods, I began using my 33s to scream through repetitive iterations.

Now, if you are disciplined, and can keep a fancy calc in the back pocket for free-time exploration, by all means. Just beware of the danger of losing serious time if you go overboard. Programming can be very addictive!

Best luck, great school!


Very good advice ECL.

Luke, when I study at BME university in Hungary, we were not allowed to use calculator on test at all. We were allowed to only use slide rule. Now Hungary is not as advanced (in some ways) like USA, but it was not a big disappointment that we could not use electronic calculator, because we used to doing math with pencil and paper. I tell my son that pencil, paper and slide rule is Hungarian graphing scientific calculator. He not think I very funny, but ECL is very correct when he say it will help you better understand concept behind everything.

In real world, yes you will use computer or calculator, but you must understand concept before you automate it. As I always say to people laziness bring struggle. Don't be lazy, and it will pay off for you many times.

Best of luck to you my friend. Purdue is a very good school. Your parents must be very proud of you.


would strongly recommend that you forget the calculators.

Agreed, BUT as HP says: (click for complete ad)

Edited: 3 Aug 2007, 7:32 p.m.


Ah, but Leibnitz never had an HP!


That's exactly what I mentioned above in message #4:

...some support for the pure (and stupid) mechanics of mathematics...

What matters is the difference between Calculations and Calculus (=Analysis for the rest of the world).

Edited: 4 Aug 2007, 12:43 a.m.


*Smiling* Thanks everyone for the input. I actually called up TI and HP today, and from what I've heard from both I've made my decision. I'm going to go with the 35s when it is re-released (the fellow at HP said it will be between two and three months, but they are not cobwebbing it as I've seen a couple of people post.)

The guy at HP also said that HP has 'retaken' control of the calculator unit and that they are looking to a return to the HP of 10-15 years ago. Again, I am only quoting this guy, but he said they are looking to get back to double sized enter key as standard and they are going to slowly eliminate the kid-colors (the shift keys will stay colored apparently).

So, as all of you have said, I need to stay to the pencil and paper...but I think the 35s will be a great supplement (and fun to learn I think). In really thinking about it, I will wait for a return to form for an HP graphing calculator just for giggles if nothing else.
Finally, when I spoke to TI and asked them what they had comprable to the 35s, the man laughed and said that they didn't have any 'legacy' models and that RPN was 'impossible' to use. I love my TI-30 single line, and I'll always have one floating around...but I think I've hopped the fence permanently.

Thanks again for everyones help and commentary...I look forward to annoying everyone with dumb questions once I finally get my 35s. Have a great night.


luke; go here


... but international S/H is pretty expensive there, if you need that (I don't know where you live).

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