Comparing Ti 89 Titanium vs. Ti 84+ SE vs. Hp 50g


Dear all,

Which is a better calculator to use throughout the remainder of high school and college? I'll most likely be an engineer related to math/science/medicine and I'm taking/will be taking AP Calculus, AP Physics C, and AP Stats. I will also be taking SAT I and Math IIC (which covers Algebra 1, 2, geometry, and Precalculus).

I know that Ti calculators have more programs made by other users (which is why I bought them) and some of them are VERY useful (I can do many non-symbolic calculus functions on my Ti-84+ SE). I also know that they are easier to use and more supported by educators.

Which calculuator, out of the three posted in my title, should I stick to (mostly to do better on exams). I've had the Hp 50g for ~1 year, Ti 89 for a few months, and Ti+ 84 SE for about one year also. I'm a junior right now in high school and will be taking all of my important exams the following year (until December of 2008).

I'm thinking about spending a lot of time with the calc I choose over summer. Please help me choose and compare. I'm not a pro in calculators and would appreciate your admonishments/suggestions. Thank you very much in advance.



From what I've seen, the 84+SE will have PLENTY of horsepower, and as you said, has the educator support.

However, from what I've seen, much of the educator support is "mash these buttons to do this."

The 50g might actually help you there. First, in RPN mode, it'll teach you to think more about the equation. Second, because it's NOT a TI, you'll have to learn how to USE the calculator, rather than press buttons on the calculator. Sounds like a curse, but it's actually a blessing in disguise.

(I'll note, BTW, that I actually did learn my 83+, because my teachers didn't know how to use one, either - they suffered along with TI-30s and such.)

And, they do all appear to be SAT legal, so I'd say go for the 50g.


This is an interesting posit ... "to do better on exams." I've taught calculus for over twenty years, and even though I love technology I still don't allow sophisticated (aka graphing) calculators on most exams. If you really understand calculus, a fairly simple scientific calculator will be more than enough.

However, to answer your question more specifically, I personally do not like the TI89. I don't find it as user friendly as others, and often the font is so small I have a hard time reading it. The TI84 is a very capable calculator, and will do most everything you need; it would be my recommendation. However, even though I prefer the TI84 in the classroom, I still use the HP50 as my do-all calculator. So, bottom line, start with the 84, but eventually step up to the HP50.


You already asked this back in October. If you didn't like the answers you got then, what makes you think you'll get answers more to your liking now?

Back then you indicated that you already have a 50g, so use it. If you find you need something that you can't get the 50g to do (which is very unlikely), buy a TI then.


As a die-hard HP collector and calculator user, my advise to you is to get a TI nSpire CAS version. This machine is a little monster and has many super features including an Excel-like application (you can enter formulas in cell, refer to values in other cells, make dynamic copies of cells with formulas, and so on) and a Basic-like programmable language, just to name a few. Of course it supports 2d and 3d graphics, numeric and symbolic calculaus.

You can (and should) also buy the Software Emulator for the TI Nspire CAS, so you can develop, test, and use TI nSpire CAS commands on the PC.

TI spent a few years developing this machine, so it's not going to be replaced any time soon. TI has been very meticulous about promoting the nSpire, so you will be investing in a worthwhile machine that can stay with you for years to come.


Edited: 1 Jan 2008, 12:05 p.m.


You're not even allowed to use a calculator for a good chunk of the AP Calculus exam. Not surprisingly, actually learning the material works best of all for every one of the tests in question.

That being said, you will need to make some simple programs or download some of the stats programs from hpcalc if you plan to use your 50G for AP stats. I found this to be quite helpful:

Really though, any of the calculators you mentioned will be more than enough for what you are planning to do with them.


I made that during, and I do mean during, my AP stats class (which was taught by a teacher who thought the TI-83 was god's gift to statisticians). There were - I'm not making this up - 9 identical TI-83 posters on the wall. When I'd run into something that my blue 49G didn't do, I'd spend the class period making a short routine to do it. By the end of the trimester, it did everything the TIs could do, and quicker.

Turns out a lot of the "simulation" commands I'd made were so helpful that I could bypass a lot of the long, heavy calculations on the AP stat test simply by running a simulation of a thousand repetitions in a second or so and looking at the result. I was done with the AP stat test in about half the time and read a book while everyone else was frantically finishing. Yes, I got a 5.

Of course, I really understood the material and that is the only reason I could use those to do a lot of the stuff, but it was a help to rest my fingers after all that programming. ;-)

AP was great. I had 30-35 credits or so before I started university.



Tim, is your Ti-89 and Hp 49G comparison suitable for comparing Ti-89 Titanium and Hp 50G? I know that the hardware might differ (keyboards, screens). However, software and everything else appropriate for using to compare these two newer versions of calculators?

Thanks everyone for your replies.

Edited: 2 Jan 2008, 3:41 a.m.


It is still mostly the same. Basically, the Ti adds a silly icon interface that doesn't really help anything, and some slight speedups. The 49G was much slower as it still used a 4 Mhz processor. The 50G is about 3-7 times faster than the 49G. It would still probably help you.

Basically it boils down to this - if you are the type of person that likes figuring things out for yourself and doesn't get frustrated when it doesn't do what you think the first time, get the 50. If you hate learning how to do it, the TI will be the way to go.

Once you learn the HP calculator though, you can run circles around TI users when it comes to calculation speed (with the exception of some of the symbolic stuff which takes much more know how on the HP)



I may be many, many years out of date, but really, a good programmable scientific calculator with decent memory is all you really need in college.

By that time you should be able to either know or have a good feel (i.e., "graph in your head") for what most simpler functions should look like between two axes (or if you're really good, among three). It is really not so good to have to rely on a calculator or even a computer to plot everything for you, especially as a student. (Of course, when you have to make real measurements or determinations from data, then you'll have to, but for most things... )

I personally recommend ones like the HP-35s, 33s; I can't say too much about the algebraic ones, as I don't know them well anymore, but as long as it has the right functions on the keyboard, is programmable, and has enough memory for normal calculation and programming, it'll do!


Personally, my choice would be HP 50g. First, you can save your work to a SD card. Second, there are many specialized functions (that's before programming). Third, the Gamma function and the factorial covers all the real numbers. Fourth, the soft buttons beat the menus (although the menus of the 89 are well organized). Fifth, you can make music using the BEEP function (the 50g needs a louder speaker though). Sixth, I am an HP convert from TI - and using a TI hasn't been the same (sorry, I know the 89 is great too).

This is assuming that there is no restriction on which calculator you can use. You can also get a working knowledge of all three and be well-rounded should you run into any calculator restriction.

Hope this helps.


Considering that I only have less than a year to become really familiar with all of a caculator's functions, I'm guessing that the Ti's would be the way to go?

I do not know how to program either, so it will take some time to learn if I decide to. Ti's are much easier to learn though right?


Nerd, if you decide that you want to get into programming on your calculator, the TI-84 uses TI's dialect of BASIC, a simple language that has been around for 44 years and was originally designed for students. The HP-80g uses RPL, a much more difficult language for a beginner to learn, IMHO.

Both are capable calculators, however.


Nerd, if you decide that you want to get into programming on your calculator, the TI-84 uses TI's dialect of BASIC, a simple language that has been around for 44 years and was originally designed for students. The HP-80g uses RPL, a much more difficult language for a beginner to learn, IMHO.

Both are capable calculators, however.

Thank you very much for bring that up. I've heard that Ti 83/84+ series has a different programming language than the Ti 89+ series. Is this true? I read something about a 68kk language or something.

I think I will stick with Ti's for now since they have more available programs free for users. I just need to search through the big list for good ones. I'm guessing many of you Hp users program your own programs for specific purposes that suit your needs.

I really don't have that much time (except mabye over the summer) to learn how to program or learn how to use complicated fucntions.


I've heard that Ti 83/84+ series has a different programming language than the Ti 89+ series. Is this true? I read something about a 68kk language or something.

Both the 83/84 series and the 89 use BASIC. The 89 includes CAS (Computer Algebra System) functions, like the 50g. I rarely use the 89 because its font is too small for my old eyes; I much prefer the 83/84 for programming and general use.

The 89 includes the capability for running M68000 assembly language programs, but I've never ventured there. I would suggest looking at the online manuals for all these calcs to get a feel for their programming capabilities.



You wrote:

... I rarely use the 89 because its font is too small for my old eyes; ...

The font is too small for my eyes too. I had thought that my problem was due to cataracts but surgery last spring removed the cataracts and I still have trouble with the tiny fonts.




I recently graduated with my BSME (and am now working and completing an advanced degree in aerospace), and can tell you that for three calculus courses, and one course on differential eq's, I did not use my calculators (most certainly not on exams!!).

None of us have "time", yet I still managed to write mini programs as necessary for engineering course work and exams. When you begin to tackle large problems later in your undergraduate career, you'll find yourself writing code or using spreadsheets on your mini-laptop (or tablet, or what ever incarnation the PC has taken by then).

Use the calculator to perform what-ifs only upon understanding the material.

Good luck.

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