Reasons for choosing a 12c Platinum over the 17bII+?


I am aware that the 12c is the best selling HP calculator ever and also the longest in production; however, I cannot fathom the reasons for this. I'd like your opinions.

My first HP financial calculator was the original 12c, purchased in 1981. Later on, I tried to replace it with a 17B when it hit the market. I liked the features but hated the by then unfamiliar and awkward Algebraic mode, so I returned to my 12c. When HP finally wisened and came out with the 17bII, I got one and soon it became 2nd nature. The keys performed one or two functions at the most and the softkeys were great, with mostly logical and intuitive arrangemets.

Some weeks ago, my aging 17bII gave up the ghost (the LCD just blanked out) and I hurried to the local Office Depot to replace it. As things usually go, they didn't have one, but they did have the 25th anniversary 12c Platinum. The salesman said that the 17bII+ was out of stock and didn't know when they would get more, passingly mentioning that financial calculators were all but replaced by handheld organizer software and spreadsheets.

I returned to my office and tried to get a 17 from the Office Depot internet portal, only to find it was also out-of-stock.

Since I live in Mexico and then in a small place, and while my trades are new car distribution and real-state developement, I cannot live without a good financial calc at hand. I do have some .prc calcs for my Palm but they're just not the real thing.

Thus, I returned to OD and -reasoning that I had previously used and enjoyed my original 12c- I got the 25th anniversary Platinum and headed back to my office to relearn it.

So far, it's been an excercise in frustration. It doesn't display operators, CF solving, that in the 17 was a breeze, is a true bitch, forcing me to go for Excel instead (if I have a computer at hand). Depreciation idem. The only thing that is fairly straightforward are the TVM calcs. I've checked again and OD has the 17bII+ in stock now (on their web portal, not locally). It means an expense of over USD $220, including shipping. Since Ive just spent about $150 on the 12c Pt, I wonder if I should plough on trying to relearn it, or I should bite the bullet and write it off to a necessary but transitory evil.

Any comments on the matter much appreciated.

Jorge (México)


Sounds like you would be happier with a 17BII.

If you aren't in too big of a hurry, you can usually get one of the older models (with good reliable keys) on that auction site for a great price. I'm not selling there, so I have no interest.

If you really want a new model, I understand HP has solved most of the keyboard problems and some folks like the 17BII+. HPs web site offers it in the USA for $99, so $220 sounds like a bad deal to me.

There are also folks on that auction site offering 17BII+ calcs with buy-it-now prices. You would have to inquire about international shipping to Mexico, of course.

Samson Cables is another web resource where you can get either model, and they ship internationally.

Good luck!

Edited: 1 Apr 2008, 5:23 p.m.


I am aware that the 12c is the best selling HP calculator ever and also the longest in production; however, I cannot fathom the reasons for this. I'd like your opinions.

I have the 25th anniversary Platinum and use it as my regular calculator for the RPN, for its professional appearance, and for its easier display readability compared to that of the HP 17BII. (BTW, I prefer the 25th anniversary's silver trim over the gold trim of the original 12c).

However for TVM and cashflow calculations, I find the HP 17BII much easier to use due to the same reason you gave: its softkey menus. To perform the same calculations on the HP 12c that I can perform easily on the HP 17BII, I need to refer to the 12C manual (or to the notes I've taped to the back of the 12c) e.g. Quick: calculate the effective monthly interest rate for a 6% Canadian mortgage, which is compounded semi-annually rather than, US-style, monthly.

The easiest to use financial calculator is my Infinity Software PowerOne calculator on my Treo 680, thanks to its use of templates for TVM and cashflow calculations. But for entering more than a few figures, I much prefer the feel of real keys on an HP calculator over my Treo's 'virtual' HP calculator.

PS. There's a newer, silver HP 17BII+ (aka HP 17BII++) with a double-width input key, introduced in Europe 6-months ago, which will eventually arrive in North America.

Edited: 1 Apr 2008, 11:03 p.m.


the BII+ looks like my old TI-30 LCD from the beginning 80s. That was real rubbish with non-responsive and over-responsive keys right out of the box. Of course you can´t compare these two.




If you had asked "Which is better? A 12C or 17bii+?", then I think you would have heard that the 17bii+ is better. At least from me. ;-)

I was very surprised, when I originally got my hands on a 17bii+, by the power, functionality and flexibility of that model. It quickly rose to the the Top 5 of my favorite HP calculators. Today, I own three different versions of the 17b family, and I love each of them.

Take back the 12c and trade it for a 17bii+.

The new silver one is way cool, BTW



Depends on what you want to do.

If you wish to take the average of 3 numbers and multiply it by the IRR of a set of cash flows, you'll do that faster on a 12c by far!

If, however, you want to be able to easily view the values in a list of 30 numbers you want an average of, the 17b2+ is much much better.

In some ways, the 12cp is the better "manual" calculator, but it is much less user-friendly than the 17b2+.

And, in many many ways, the 17b2+ is much more powerful than the 12cp, hands down.

But, it can be frustrating to power-users by its attempts at being friendly.


I agree with Gene that it depends on what you want to do.

I am an accountant. For my daily work, I prefer 17bII+. It has a clear LCD display (compared to 17BII), HP SOLVE and more user friendly softkey menu operation.

I don't use my 12c/12c Platinum often. I use them in my public examination only as we cannot use calculator which can store alphabetics.


Guys, many thanks for the insightful replies. The price of the 17b2+ here in Mexico is outrageous --due to its Chinese origin duties mainly- but I think I'll bite the bullet and order one from OD tomorrow.

I work regularly with complex cash-flows, perverse TVM calculations the go from 7 day capitalization schemes to 30 day equivalencies, in addition to ordinary statistical forecasts, for which I need at least STD.DEV analysis.

Relearning the 12c has been a fine mental workout, something a >61yo guy badly needs, but for day to day number crunching, it pales besides the understated but more able siblings.

Excel will probably be here to stay, and for serious calculations a spreadsheet is a must. However, for a Q&D calculation when an idea or problem comes along, just to check feasibility, a (HP) calculator plus a squared paper block is hard to beat; at least for me, an oldtimer who went through financial calc in college with the aid of a slide-rule, a log table and a Curta crank calculator. <g>

I just hope this iteration of HP calcs last me until my retirement.



PS, I still wonder why people prefer the 12c...


Have you checked out This Singapore-based store is fine. I had bought a HP calc from them.


I used to purchase from them when I couldn't find some things locally but import duties make it worse than buying here.


Dear Jorge,

If you like to carry slightly more weight, I kindly recommend to you, to look for a used 200LX instead of the 17bII+.

The merits of the 200LX (compared to the new versions of the 17bII+ and it's solver deficiencies) have been discussed here several times.

The auction site, nobody does mention here, usually contains "used" to "like new" offers eg, from "gaexpo" - a reliable and trustworthy vendor I've bought several 200LXs from in the past.

Expect to pay around 100US$ plus shipping.

Best regards

Peter A. Gebhardt

Edited: 2 Apr 2008, 7:24 p.m.


Dear Peter, actually I just gave my 200LX to a friend a couple of years ago; it broke my heart to see it sitting in a drawer gathering dust so I gave it to a guy whose 200 gave the ghost and couldn't replace it.

Of course it's a terrific machine and I used mine for many years until DOS became a dead-end. Now I mostly use a Palm T|X in lieu of it and I have a number of dandy apps loaded in a 2gb card, several covering quite well the functionality of the 200LX (RPN for example is a programmable calculator with advanced scripting functionality, much in the manner of HP solve).

BTW, I used to be a very enthusiastic member of the now defunct Compuserve "HPHAND" forum and there should be one or two software pieces for the 200LX around that were written by me. Heck, I even programmed in C on it... Should've kept it but it's in good hands now.


Now I mostly use a Palm T|X in lieu of it and I have a number of dandy apps loaded in a 2gb card, several covering quite well the functionality of the 200LX (RPN for example is a programmable calculator with advanced scripting functionality, much in the manner of HP solve).

Yeah, I have MathU RPN on my Treo and I love the Dorr skin which looks like real HP 'tall' keys. But since you have a Palm T|X, you owe it to yourself to take Infinity Softwork's PowerOne Financial calculator (optional RPN entry) with its built-in templates for TVM and cashflow analysis, for a free 30-day trial spin. (There are free downloadable skins which are less ugly than those shown on the product page. I use the skin: 'Fall')

Edited: 4 Apr 2008, 1:06 p.m.


If the quality of the 17BII+ compares with that of the 10BII, I wouldn't touch one. I've only seen two or three used 10BIIs, and all had defective displays. The two calcs look similar, so my possibly erroneous assumption is that they will eventually have similar problems. 12s are proven, although I guess I can't really say that about the Platinum.

Edited: 3 Apr 2008, 12:25 p.m.

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