HP50G...should I upgrade?



#22

Hi everybody...


6 or 7 years, faced with the decision in High School of what Calculator to buy (TI-83 or spend the money for the 85) I looked around for information and ended up with a HP 49G...blue plastic cover and all.

I bought the 49G because everybody said HP would never make a calculator again, and so though hated, everybody generally agreed that it was a powerful calculator...in a creaky case with an average screen and an awful keyboard.

I did a lot of on-the-fly learning as we used calculators extensively, but everybody else had the TI. I love my HP though, love RPN, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now I'm in college, things have changed, and HP is making new calculators again. If I was forced to do it all over again I'd buy the 50G in a heart-beat.

Here's my question, or internal debate...

I think I want the 50G. The thing is most the advanced math I do now is done not in Calculator, but in MatLab and Maple. So though I'd love the 50G's better keyboard, screen, USB connectivity, etc. I'm not going to be using much of it's advanced functionality.

So should I bite the bullet and spend the $100+ for a better keyboard and screen, or should I just plug along with what I have?

I know ultimately only I can make the final call, but what are some advantages to upgrading besides the keyboard and screen?


#23

Ryan, I made the same decision you did several years ago. a 49G helped me get by a graduate-level math class in Complex Analysis. The 49g could do many of the series, expansions, and complex math I needed for the course (in which, ironically every answer has Pi or e in the answer).

I had spent most of my college using the 48g series, and had bought the HP 49 only for the CAS functions to use during that one class. Once the 50g came out I opted to buy not one but two. I did not buy them because they have better keyboards, better display, or better CAS than the 49g (although all true), I bought the 50g's and a hundred other HP calculators because the simple creation of the 50g and the improvements gave me hope and a reminder of the days when HP was synonymous with quality, and of the times when I was the only person in class with an HP- and the only one who could appreciate why RPN was better.


Edited: 14 Jan 2009, 8:37 p.m.

#24

Hi Ryan,


Quote:
I'm not going to be using much of it's advanced functionality.

Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

You may not have access to a computer at times, and even when you do, it may be a PC...and we all know what maladies can befall them.



I would get a 50G...it's a lot of bang for the buck.

Best regards, Hal
#25

Quote:
spend the $100+

That's the critical point for a student! As long as your calculator works and you do most of the things on MathLab and Maple: spend that much money on something else you NEED.

People on this form usually don't NEED the next calculator. They WANT it! For reasons even their therapists (and spouses, and family, and friends ... the entire universe) hardly understand. ;-)


#26

Quote:
For reasons even their therapists (and spouses, and family, and friends ... the entire universe) hardly understand.

I think you turned the knife in the wound...

-- Antonio


#27

Quote:
I think you turned the knife in the wound...

It's also my own wound ;-)
I like to torture myself a bit...


Edited: 15 Jan 2009, 4:17 a.m.

#28

He he. Therapists/spouses/family/friends who understand why we want the next calc are probably already on this forum ;)




I happen to have three friends who fully understand. One of them can even be seen on this forum from time to time. It is comforting to know in person some people who approve when you purchase a half-dead Sharp pen plotter and restore it to full working condition, or purchase a mint 41CV and keep it by your bedside, reading its manual for a bedtime story. It must also be good for them to learn that as far as you are concerned, dismantling and restoring the keyboard on a 71B and then polishing and re-varnishing the metal bits with an airbrush is a completely normal behaviour on a Sunday afternoon.




I also happen to have a spouse who doesn't really understand why anyone would want a calc from the seventies, but doesn't think such outright geekiness is something to worry about either. You see, she is a doctor, in the therapy business, and RPN doesn't have a mention in the mental health bible, DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)*. So it's all OK.




* DSM-IV-TR... whoever thought of that title must also have had a vintage calc at hand. Sounds like a series of mnemonics or something.


#29

Quote:
You see, she is a doctor, in the therapy business

My wife also is a psycho therapist [emphasis added!] and understands little of how I think, it seems. Why do engineers and therapists seem to link up so often?


#30

I'll ask my wife this question. She is currently specialising in TA* so I might end up with the explanation presented in the form of a so called "PAC" diagram, a visual TA device which always looks rather cool to me from engineering perspective. (Not that I really know what it means, but it appears to be a mixture of flow diagram, state transition diagram and entity-relation diagram :)




* Transactional Analysis. Another strangely geeky name. Is there a "two phase commit" in TA? Maybe. I could read all the books she'd got, but 41C Advantage Module manual seems so much more attractive...

#31

Dusan

;-)


#32

Speaking as a psychiatrist, I think that having a passion for things in life is very important. Most of the programs I wrote in college were written because I wanted to write them, not because I had to. HP and TI "calculator people" were proud of their machines and their use. You have to factor that in to the expense issue.

I bought my HP-71B in medical school when I was sharing a 1 bedroom basement apartment, eating peanut butter and cheap noodles, using textbooks from the library rather than buying them. Seeing that cursor blink and being able to type in commands was worth every penny to me.

So, you have to consider "needs of the soul" also. (Did I just put a little salve on that wound?)

#33

Hi Ryan, I have the 49G and the 50G (ok I admit I have a pair of 50g(s) and a 49g+ (which is very close to a 50g)). I believe that there is a limited need for a calculator of this power due to the tools available on the PC, such as Excel, matlab, maple ... When the programmable calculator first came out scientists and engineers could not afford a computer of their own. Any computer tools used would be gone with a change of job so the programmable calculator was the tool that you could take with you (to your next job).

However having a good calculator for doing simple calculations that has a good mechanical keyboard and a great screen can be of value and I think this is where you are. If you know someone who will lend you a 50g for a few days you will be better able to make your decision. If you are tight on cash then wait, the differences are nice but not necessary.

As to your question (paraphrased) "are there advantages besides the better keyboard and screen", for you speed might be considered. I have at times seen my 49g seem to go dead for a second or 2 when entering data for a calculation and I don't see this with my 50g (or 49g+). When it happens it is irritating as I am typing and nothing is showing up on the screen.

Best of luck ... Chuck


#34

Hello,

You should upgrade. You are used to the 49 and know it well, so it will be easy for you to adapt to the 50G. A few configuration issues and you will be up and running in no time.

Powerful as the PC software can be, it is better to have a good calculator with tons of functions you don't need on a daily/periodical basis, than needing those functions and not having them at hand.

On the other hand, a calculator is a good complement to paper and pen. Three tools that help a lot to think, but that is just my opinion.

Hope this helps.

#35

Thanks all for the advise.

Quote:
I bought the 50g's and a hundred other HP calculators because the simple creation of the 50g and the improvements gave me hope and a reminder of the days when HP was synonymous with quality, and of the times when I was the only person in class with an HP- and the only one who could appreciate why RPN was better.

Amen to that! That alone should be enough for me to run out and get it.

Quote:
Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

You may not have access to a computer at times, and even when you do, it may be a PC...and we all know what maladies can befall them.


Yeah, I can certainly appreciate the logic there. The only problem is if I am doing things in MAPLE or MatLab, than I am not learning how to do them with the Calculator...so when I do have the Calculator and not the PC, I'll have the power but not the know-how. Still a very compelling argument though.

Quote:
That's the critical point for a student! As long as your calculator works and you do most of the things on MathLab and Maple: spend that much money on something else you NEED.

Yup...yup...that pretty much sums it up.

Quote:
However having a good calculator for doing simple calculations that has a good mechanical keyboard and a great screen can be of value and I think this is where you are.

Yeah, the truth of the matter is I have a bit of RSI in my right wrist, and that means that using the 49G can sometimes literally be a PAIN.

Although a calculator decreases in monetary value, the value it can have to the person using it can be actual and great. I think it's important to have the best tools you can afford.

The actual, full-blown (as opposed to student edition) versions of packages like Maple or MatLab are very expensive, and need to be upgraded from time to time.

That's not to mention the hardware to run the software packages on! I just spent 2 grand on a MacBook Pro to replace my PowerBook G4 of 4 years. In another 4 years I'll probably have to drop another 2 grand to upgrade. (In addition to Math I do video and multimedia. Not as demanding as gaming, but it does require you to keep your hardware up to spec!)

Nobody in their right mind would use software from 20+ years ago. IN fact often times it's not even possible...but Calculators are much less prone to obsolescence.

With that in mind, $125 or so seems like a small price to pay. Heck, I spent more than that just putting RAM in the machine I'm typing this on.

So yeah, I think I'll go ahead and get the 50G. Will I get it this week? Probably not! But eventually.

PS -- Does anybody know what the 49G used to run for? I swear I split the cost with my parents and I still paid well over $100.

Edited: 15 Jan 2009, 4:22 p.m.


#36

Quote:
That's the critical point for a student! As long as your calculator works and you do most of the things on MathLab and Maple: spend that much money on something else you NEED.

Like Beer


#37

I'm at BYU...the stone cold sober campus.


#38

Quote:
Like Beer

I was just going to say "Or condo..." ;-)

Quote:
I'm at BYU...the stone cold sober campus.


But seriously: I would buy the 50G the moment the other calculator breaks or gets lost or stolen. As you can read in this thread and elsewhere, there are many good reasons to buy the 50G. But only to replace a perfectly good one...?

#39

I agree entirely. Why do we keep buying faster and faster computers, higher definition TVs, lighter bicycles, etc.? It's not always that we NEED them; It's what makes the world go round.


#40

I don't see any replies yet that say the CAS (Computer Algebra System) of the HP50g (and the HP49g+, and to a lesser extend on earlier models) has a useful subset of the functionality of Matlab or MAPLE. As someone said, that is not very helpful if you only know how to use the PC systems, but it can be worth learning how the calculator CAS works and being able to use it when away from a desktop or laptop. The CAS functions have a simple help system built in too - useful once you know which function you want to use. The HP49g+ Advanced Manual describes the CAS, but I know of no book specially written for users. So that's another reason to go ahead and buy one.

#41

Quote:
So should I bite the bullet and spend the $100+ for a better keyboard and screen, or should I just plug along with what I have?

Ryan,

There are freely available 50g emulators for Windows/Wine (http://www.debug4x.com/) and Mac/Linux (http://x49gp.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/x49gp/README.QUICKSTART). Give them a try.

I also have a new MBP, both Debug4x (w/ Wine) and the native Mac/Linux versions work great (I prefer the native Mac version because it starts up in a second).

I believe that once you have a 50g you'll find new purpose for it. An option for you not mentioned is the ability to program the 50g in C (http://sense.net/~egan/hpgcc/ and http://sense.net/~egan/hpgcc3/qsosx.html). I find OS/X the best 50g C programming platform. With C I have been able to port MatLab programs to my 50g. I can send you an example if you like. (BTW, GNU Octave is a suitable MatLab replacement and is free, you may want to give that a shot, as for Maple, look at Sage (sagemath.org), both run on OS/X just fine. Given that you like to be different and take risks (i.e. getting the 49g instead of the recommended TI), I think enjoy the challenge.)

If you need any help with any of the aforementioned stuff feel free to ping me. BTW, I am just around the point (Go Utes!).

Edited: 16 Jan 2009, 5:36 a.m.


#42

Well that was quick. I tracked one down today and after about 3 keystrokes I was sold. Should be here Friday or Monday.


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  hp50g screen weird line Sok-khieng Chum Hun 2 735 09-10-2013, 08:11 AM
Last Post: Sok-khieng Chum Hun
  Documentation about Hp50g / 49g+ / 48gII and wikis Pier Aiello 9 1,448 09-10-2013, 04:22 AM
Last Post: Software49g
  "A Penny for your thoughts" on the HP50g Tom Grydeland 3 871 08-01-2013, 03:57 AM
Last Post: Les Koller
  Is there a HP50g emulator for Linux? Matti Övermark 2 761 07-03-2013, 07:40 AM
Last Post: Matti Övermark
  HP50G advanced applications for mathematics CompSystems 0 583 06-17-2013, 08:38 AM
Last Post: CompSystems
  HP50g rebind stat key Chris Smith 1 628 05-26-2013, 06:21 PM
Last Post: Software49g
  How I use my HP50G at work. David Bengtson 7 1,165 05-06-2013, 02:57 PM
Last Post: Ingo
  HP50g emulator Richard Berler 1 584 03-24-2013, 02:43 PM
Last Post: aurelio
  Almost totally OT: Looking for Sharp EL-9900G ROM upgrade Marcus von Cube, Germany 3 770 03-03-2013, 09:35 AM
Last Post: Marcus von Cube, Germany
  HP10BII+ question (ROM upgrade is possible?!?) Csaba Tizedes (Hungary) 6 1,079 02-21-2013, 05:19 PM
Last Post: Eric Smith

Forum Jump: