48g vs. 50g


Hi all. First post. I am an engineering student that has just been shown the light of the HP calculator world. I got a 32sII from work and just purchased a 35s. Now I am looking at possibly upgrading my graphing calculator from a TI-89 to an HP 48g or HP 50g. From my understanding the 48 series is kind of a benchmark. I was just hoping for some opinions on the newest (50g) versus the classic (48 series). Would memory be limiting on the 48g (48g+ a better option)? Is the build quality equal? Or are there improvements to the 50g that warrant it's cost? One other general question, do both allow multi-character program labels versus the 35s' one character? Thanks alot.


Since you are familiar with the TI-89, I would recommend reading the TI-89 and HP-49 comparison at hpcalc.org

Also be aware that the HP-48 and HP-50 series calculators are quite different than all prior four number stack HP calculators like the HP-35S. Among other things, they have an unlimited stack, named (multi-character) variables and programs and are programmed in a high level language (RPL).
Also see:


Actually there are no labels, but you can use many characters including Greek alphabet in long names of your programs.

Perhaps you want download the manuals first.
Search http://www.hpcalc.org/hp49/docs/misc/

I would buy the HP 50g, HPGCC 3.0 is coming and C applications will open up a new world to us.

If you have enough money you could also get the latest TI 89 or perhaps even TI Nspire CAS.


The TI NSpire CAS is something else!
One can't help noticing the similarities between the TI NSpire CAS and the cancelled xpander. I get a faint smell rat.


Hi Chad,

One other general question, do both allow multi-character program labels versus the 35s' one character?

Yes, both HP's (48 / 50G) let you name your programs basically anything you want, and allow as many programs as you want (limited only by the total available memory...which for the 50G is mucho mucho). I would recomment getting a 50G for school. With it's very powerful symbolic capabilities, and very fast processor, it really is a nice machine. The unlimited operations stack / RPN logic is so great for manipulating data, building and decomposing lists, building equations and just plain crunching numbers, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it.

Yes, the 48 series is a benchmark, and if (when?) you start collecting, you'll certainly want to get one of those too!!

Welcome to the forum.

Best regards, Hal


I routinely see 50g at auction for under 100$, I purchased a NIP under 80 a few weeks ago. I have seen them go for as little as 60.
I suppose that some find it overwhelming to learn from scratch.
I was wondering what CPU activity happens when no solution is in progress? Does it run at a slow rate for keyboard polling and display refresh? Are the TI instructions on-line as large as those for the 50g? I find myself in a strange place about TI. Sam


Get the 50g. It is faster, has a larger display, is cheaper and replaceable, has a warranty, SD card slot, and can be programmed in C.


The 50G also has a snazzier operating system and far better symbolic math capabilities than the built-in features of the 48G series.

If you have a 48GX, you can gain many of the capabilities of the 50G -- but you only if you add memory cards and software. The software can be downloaded for free from hpcalc.org; however, the 48GX memory cards are now hard to find and very expensive.

For example, I have 128Kb and 512 KB cards in my 48GX. Current "Buy It Now" prices at eBay for such cards are $89 and $190 respectively, or $279 for the pair. So you could easily pay more for 48GX memory cards than you would pay for the 48GX itself.


IF you feel comfortable with RPL -- and you're for sure young enough to get accustomed to -- THEN take the newest and most powerful model, i.e. the 50G, also for the reasons mentioned above already.

RPL differs from RPN, however, and you'll find many discussions about this significant difference when you search the archives. Making a long story short, RPL is a very powerful tool in regular use, but IMHO annoying if you just want to make some short calculations including a change of some variables once a while (e.g. STO is just strange in RPL).

Multi-character program labels are featured by the 42S, too. See the museum for more.


Chad, despite the near legendary status of the 48G and GX, I would have to recommend the 50G.

I am a happy owner of 49G+, which I use happily despite its icky esthetics. So far, I haven't been cursed with the keyboard issues that led to sharp criticism of the others. The only reason I don't replace it with a 50G is that the 49G+ is basically the same calculator, albeit of slightly inferior build quality. When the 49G+ dies, I will get a 50G.

The 50G has idiot-proof 21st century I/O capabilities (SD card and USB cable), a build quality and keyboard that has won praise after the extensive disappointment with the 49G+, a dazzling scope of functions and features, lots of internal memory, greater speed than the beloved 48 series classics, and, as someone has pointed out, impressive programming capabilities. The 48GX has many of these features, but the i/o interface is arcane and tricky and I have long given up trying to get it to work on my computer.

And, yes, the alphanumeric capacities of the 48 and 49 series calculators are extensive, so nothing to fear there.

Keep in mind that programming these beasts is a whole new world, albeit rewarding. Last year I ported some of my beloved 41CX routines to SysRPL that used extended internal precision, and the speed and accuracy of my routines was impressive, though I did have a lot of reading to do to bring myself up to speed. If you stick to UserRPL, you will notice a syntax more like a "real" programming language. Some people like it. Some don't.

Get a 48 series if you are a buff and collector, but for the ultimate flexibility, usefulness, and enjoyment, you will find the 50G well worth the investment. Folks around here seem to love theirs. A lot of the niggling deficiencies of the 35S are blissfully absent from the 50G, as they should be for three times the price!


Edited: 22 Sept 2008, 6:51 a.m.


Thanks for all the responses everyone. I think the overwhelming conclusion would be to go for the 50g, which certainly makes my decision easier. It's good to hear that nobody really has anything bad to say about the 50g in terms of build or anything else. Thanks again.


Hi Chad, since you seem to believe the 50g is the better calculator and there is nothing to say in favor of the 48g in comparison, I will toss in the following. The 48g keyboard layout is much closer to that of the 35s and 32sII. So for doing quick calculations you may find yourself fumbling and looking at the 50g keyboard to do your work. On the other hand, if you are also comfortable with the TI-89, I don't think you will have such problems. And although I prefer the keyboard layout of the 48g, I use the 50g due to its better and bigger screen. ... Chuck

Edited: 22 Sept 2008, 2:07 p.m.


And although I prefer the keyboard layout of the 48g, I use the 50g due to its better and bigger screen.

Thanks Chuck...you hit the nail on the head. What HP needs to do is make a 50G with a 48G keyboard layout. That would be icing on the cake!!

Best regards, Hal


You mean like the cursor keys not working in the Alpha mode etc...?
just the big [ENTER] where it belongs?
One could need some arrangemants besides an additional row of keys
Keycodes will change anyway - you can't have everything


A minor change to the existing 50g keyboard wouldn't change too many keycodes.

Take the 50g, change the cursor keys back to inverted-T (IIRC, keycodes are already setup for that design). That will open up two spots. One spot would be used by the double-wide [ENTER]. The other spot by any other menu or function (I vote for Lambert-W). Another upshot of this design would be 'Z' no longer needs to rest on divide.

Next, use the 35s keys, recess the keyboard for overlays, and square-up the design, and you'd have a very nice calc.

Now can I have everything? :-)


Yes / the inverted T leaves 24 and 26 keycodes free
and three more keys if 6 keys per row is used for anything above the keypad. ENTER takes two places, but notice how X key is directly on the ALPHA "X" location.
One more thing to notice is that among others % (percent), ! (FACT), <) (angle) AND o (degree) are not marked on the keypad

perhaos the HP 50g+ emerges one day with a separate chrystal for timer alarms plus larger Flash for a bigger ROM with extable2 and other tools and libraries build in. Who knows

A Qonos style iPaq with "just" an emulator plus new RPL/2 and xCas system using full iPAQ Phone Edition RAM with a slide-in calculator keyboard would sell like hotcakes.
Emulator of old style would be for the old programs only.
New system would just be UserRPL compatible while using full RAM and user/adjustable (and programmable) speed.

The power cord would plug into Motorola-style mini-USB (which is also available in the current HP 50g for battery savings)

A vertical VGA/resolution display with touch screen would make the Emulator perfect and allow a whole new world for the new calculator system with full colours for graphing.
A Philips or Sharp inspired (TI-pun intended) dual-layer LCD-screen could even have steroscopic 3D modelling for graphs. pictures, movies, etc (expensive engineering top-model only)

Cyrille - are you on-line?


The power cord would plug into Motorola-style mini-USB (which is also available in the current HP 50g for battery savings)

No, absolutely not. The Motorola-style mini-USB, though it looks standard, is proprietary and does not work with normal chargers. The 50g one is just fine, though. So make it like the 50g, not like the Motorola devices.


ok, 50g -style than...

what about other ideas so far?


Hyvää päivää, Veli-Pekka,

compared to yours, my ideas are really modest. So, I propose a new unit to measure the grade of utopism. Calibration point shall be the presence of a VGA display on an HP pocket calc, equalling 1 VPN ;)

Nevertheless, best regards,


Edited: 27 Sept 2008, 1:30 p.m.


Thanks for the input about the 48g. I wasn't trying to say there was nothing good about the 48, in fact I almost bought one then figured I should get input from some people who actually know what they are talking about. I had read about the keyboard differences and the 'feel' of the keys and that's why I asked about differences in build quality. Maybe I didn't really clarify? It just seemed that the overwhelming response for what would serve me better as a student and then in my profession would be the 50g. A 48g would be a cheaper option for sure, but with so many people recommending the 50g I might just spring for that.


The 50g or even the 49g+ (near duplicate) both allow moving files to and from a laptop easily via SD cards. This, plus the freedom and flexibility to use either type of input method (algebraic or RPN) make these machines a better choice than the 48 for user convenience.

I was lucky enough to get a new unopened 49g+ for less than $50 because early versions had poorly designed buttons. I say I was lucky, because as far as I can tell, my 49g+ has buttons that are absolutely identical to the buttons on a 50g. I have used them both extensively for comparison because I was wondering whether the buttons were different. They are not, except for the color scheme. The date of manufacture for the 49g+ was very late, so I can only suppose that they eventually came around to using the same hardware for the buttons on both machines. After updating the ROM the 49g+ is identical in memory and functionality, with the only exception being that the 50g also includes an RS-232 port.

With all that being said, I would recommend the 50g just to make sure the first experience is a good one.




Today I bought my 3rd 48G, not that there is anything
wrong with the other two.

This one is nearly mint with carrying case and Quick Start Guide.
The purchase set back my finances $4.27USD

Try THAT with a 50g! (insert smiley here)


dona nobis pacem


US$4 for an HP 48G? that's a steal ;-)


I would love to know where to find a 50g for $60 like stated above AND and 48g for less than $30 and I would be happy. Any tips where to look?


Have you ever googled auctions, or 50g sale? Not too hard to guess? Sam


I paid $20 for one of the other 48G's and $40 for the other.

IIRC, the $20 one also came with a beat up box, manuals and serial link.

I first bought the $40 one from a starving student about 4 years ago. The last 2 I bought at Savers, a charity based re-sale store. (Sort of like Goodwill)


dona nobis pacem


Chad, I am glad to have a 48G as a collectible--very good shape and gotten from a student in the mid 90s for $100, though they are not as coveted as the GX and are much cheaper to find today. But I just don't use it. I have to say for regular use and programming I far prefer my 49G+, despite its ugly colour scheme. It still works well enough for me, though if I didn't have it I would love the 50g, which seems to be a little cheaper now than when it came out last year and certainly much cheaper than what I paid for my 49G+ in 2006. For me, the effortless I/O is the dealbreaker. I don't even bother with the USB connectivity, since it is too reminescent of the fussy complexity of the 48G series serial port business, but it is a sheer joy to write the text of a program on a computer, drop it onto an SD card, plug the SD card into the 49G+, pop the textfile onto the stack, do a little hand editing to make it a readable UserRPL program, and voila! SysRPL is even easier--the text files are even simpler and compile readily on the calculator with little tweaking.

I would have to suggest you get a 50g at a good price for powerful day to day use, and a 48G or even 48GX for the sheer pleasure of ownership.

Try out the emulators, which are freely available, and spend a lot of time browsing hpcalc.org for excellent utilities and programs. Last year I downloaded just about everything to do with SysRPL since due to my obsession with full display precision I wanted to write some favourite routines that did all internal computations to extended 15 digit precision. SysRPL is the only way to do that.

As for power, I cant speak for the 50g but I have found that the 49G+ does just fine with good quality NiMH batteries. I put my 49G+ away for several months and when I recently came back to it it powered up fine and the cells tested as still having some good voltage in them. I have found alkalines much less forgiving and have gone thru piles of them. I think the official recommendation for the 48, 49, and 50 series calculators is to use alkalines for the slightly higher voltage rating, but in practice there are lots of people around here who seem to use rechargeables without hassle. A freshly charged set of NiMHs should easily get you thru a 3 hour exam.



Try THAT with a 50g! (insert smiley here)

I firmly believe for student use that a free 48G does not complete with the functionality of a 50g. 48G only bests the 50g on material quality, design, keyboard layout and feel, battery life, and quality documentation. But, clearly loses on speed, storage, functionality, I/O, screen contrast and resolution.

In terms of functionality the closest a 48-class machine will get to the 50g would be a Black LCD 48GX + 128MB card with Metakernel. The cost (unless very lucky) will easily exceed the 50g. And, any 48-class machine is not as easy to replace as a 50g.

Hopefully the OP was talking about the 48G, and not the 48gII. IMHO, that is not a 48 family machine at all. It should have been called the 49gII or 49g- or the "get a 50g". It is clearly part of the 49 family. However, that all said, it is not a bad calc, just a 50g without storage and a smaller screen. Actually it is very close to a Black LCD 48GX + 128MB w/ Metakernel, but with a bad design job and no 48-series keyboard.

I forgot to add that the 50g bests the 48G on color. Why did the 48G series use colors only popular among little girls as fingernail paint? Only worse is the entire 49 family sans the 50g. I would welcome the 48SX color scheme (but change chocolate to black) on a new and improved 50g.

My advice for the OP is download and install debug4x. It has every calc from the 48GX to the 50g. Try them all out, then decide, functionally, which is best for you.


Well the 48s were very well built. So is the 50G. I see no problems with the key board functions. We have software for the 50G. They are very well liked. You may want check out the manuals for free on our site to see what they cover. You need a PDF Reader. Everything is downloadable including the program. They are categorized by subject. No shipping involved unless you are purchasing the unit itself. Good luck on your studies. Owner.

Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Riemann's Zeta Function update (HP-28S, HP-48G/GX/G+, HP-49G/G+/50g) Gerson W. Barbosa 0 388 06-30-2013, 01:01 AM
Last Post: Gerson W. Barbosa
  Transfering programs from HP 48G to HP 50G wildpig 4 567 08-07-2012, 06:04 PM
Last Post: wildpig
  Need a new toy. 48g or 50g? JamesT 11 872 10-22-2011, 01:19 PM
Last Post: From Hong Kong
  Switched from 48G to 50G and need shortcut to RAND function Travis (Kansas) 3 463 07-26-2011, 10:14 PM
Last Post: Allen
  Symbolic Complex Linear System Solver (HP-28S, HP-48G/GX and HP-50g) Gerson W. Barbosa 0 243 03-13-2011, 03:10 PM
Last Post: Gerson W. Barbosa
  HP 48G vs HP 50G Mendl Lategan 17 1,437 09-08-2009, 01:40 PM
Last Post: Martin Pinckney
  Equation Library in 49G+/50G versus 48G Jeff Kearns 1 333 09-09-2007, 02:09 PM
Last Post: Norris
  HP 48GX and 48SX and 48G and 48S and 48G+ Mad Dog ebaycalcnut 2 441 04-17-2007, 08:55 PM
Last Post: James M. Prange (Michigan)
  The Definitive User's Guide to the HP 48g/49g/50g Calculators Gerry Schultz 0 246 10-25-2006, 08:18 PM
Last Post: Gerry Schultz (Los Angeles)
  48G vs 48GX Black LCD vs 50G display Hal Bitton in Boise 8 743 09-14-2006, 02:20 AM
Last Post: Walter B

Forum Jump: