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HP35s in the Press (Spectrum Magazine Oct 2007)



#2

For those interested in a dissenting opinion, the latest IEEE Spectrum magazine has a review of the HP35s titled, Blast from the Past with the subheading, 'Hewlett-Packard is offering a calculator that looks like the first one it ever sold. Big deal'.


Blast from the Past


#3

Mr. Foster makes some good points. Unfortunately, he doesn't understand all he knows about the subject, as a colleague used to say. He is correct about the calculator being too "feature rich". This results in an awkward user interface, with some features that I need regularly hard to access, and other features that I never need right there as a primary key function. But the reverse is true for another user, and so on and so on. If I could design my own calculator, it would have just the features I want and no others. So would you. One thing reading the posts on this group has taught me, is that the individual's need for certain features varies widely.

But HP cannot economically make calculators that way. The closest they came was in the Pioneer years, in which they made, at my count, 9 different models in the same form factor; you could choose the one(s) that suited your needs best. But they no longer make these (economics or just marketing?). So the point is that the feature rich aspect of the calculator is a necessary evil from a cost standpoint.

The same may be said of combining RPN and ALG in one machine: its both marketing and economics.


#4

Quote:
Mr. Foster makes some good points. Unfortunately, he doesn't understand all he knows about the subject...

I'll concur with that. Mr. Foster seems to have little knowledge of HP's models of the "extended 1980's" -- specifically the HP-34C, HP-15C, HP-42S, and HP-32SII -- which introduced the functionality he deems superfluous and unnecessary.

-- KS

#5

Chris,

Thanks for the info. I don't subscribe to IEEE Spectrum, but would like to read that review. I wonder how many engineers here at Va Tech use HP RPN scientific calculators? When I was an undergrad (EE major) here in the 80's, most gEEks, I mean electrical engineers, used HP calculators. HP set the standard that all other scientific calculators were trying to beat. Today, it seems most engineers in academics use TI or some other name brand from Japan.

Cheers!

David Bailey

Quote:
For those interested in a dissenting opinion, the latest IEEE Spectrum magazine has a review of the HP35s titled, Blast from the Past with the subheading, 'Hewlett-Packard is offering a calculator that looks like the first one it ever sold. Big deal'.

Blast from the Past




Edited: 11 Oct 2007, 2:13 a.m.

#6

The Spectrum review asks "Who needs all these features?...Perhaps very advanced users might beneĀ­fit from these functions, but I suspect that they would have abandoned the calculator for a computer long before they reached that point."

Well, here's the answer: The tens of thousands of engineers and surveyors who take professional licensing exams annually, who must solve a broad array of quantitative problems, and who are barred from using a computer. This is not the largest niche in the calculator business, but it's a real niche nonetheless. I would bet that the reviewer is not a licensed engineer.

The design features of the 35S criticised in the review, including the rich feature set, the ALG vs. RPN option, and the lack of I/O, actually make sense if the target market is NCEES examinees.

In fairness, the 35S has not yet been approved for NCEES exams, but I predict that this will happen when NCEES conducts its annual review of exam calculators in November. I further predict that the 35S page at amazon.com will suddenly fill up with links to FE and PE exam review manuals -- just as the page for the NCEES-approved 33S already has.


Edited: 12 Oct 2007, 11:43 a.m.


#7

Practising engineers also need these features. They come in very handy when verifying computer output with hand calculations. We're all doing that, right?


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