Which HP series are the best hardware built?



#16

Hi everyone!

I'm asking that because when we start a collection ( in my case ) I think for how long will last my calcs working in good condition.

I see lot of people with theirs nearly 30 y/old HP41 as a daily use calc and think if my 48GX year 94 with heavy use will work perfectly in 15 years...


Regards!


#17

Yes, my 41CV purchased in 1981 or 82 (I think) is still in perfect shape. On the other hand, the card reader and printer are not.

#18

Good question. How long a calculator will be usable depends on two things, in my view:

1. The initial quality of construction.

With a few notable exceptions (the Spice units, for example), the quality of design and construction of HP calcs is very good. My first 28S failed, but that's the only failure I can recall (from a new calculator that I bought myself).

There are some unknowables: is the keyboard in a 35s more or less durable than the keyboard in a 1972 HP-35? Does the higher reliability of an LCD (vs. LED display) overcome the inherently flawed nature of a rubber pressure-strip connector?

2. How easy it is to repair when something goes wrong.

This is the kicker. Once you get into the late 80s and onwards, HP calcs are simply not designed to be taken apart. You can still repair them, but it takes mad skilz and not a trivial amount of luck to do so.

I think the answer's probably that the first couple of generations of calcs are built to a quality level not seen any more in this class of device, simply because they cost a boatload of money. The $395 for a 1972 HP-35 equates to close to $2,000 today.

About the only thing that ever goes wrong with a first-generation HP is LED and keyboard failures, and even those are rare, and easy to fix albeit with donor parts from another unit.

3. How heavily the calculator is used.

A current HP-35s that's sitting on a shelf with no batteries would likely fire up with no problem a century from now, whereas the solderless connections in a Spice will virtually certainly have degraded by then, rendering the calculator useless. But a Spice in good working condition might hold up better over years of day to day use. This is another one of those "unknowable" things.

FWIW, I think some of the older desktop calcs would turn out to be the robustness and longevity champs, if only for their exceptional keyboards.


#19

Quote:
... simply because they cost a boatload of money. The $395 for a 1972 HP-35 equates to close to $2,000 today.

Whenever I see statements like: "In today's dollars..." I get suspicious and wonder if the quoted figure makes any sense. Just trying to relate to someone spending the equivalent of $2,000.00 on a handheld calculator (in 2009 dollars, that is) is difficult for me. So I researched it. Here is what I found:

1. The average annual inflation rate for the quoted $2000 would have to be 5.3%. I initially found that to be unbelievably high, expecting something along the lines of 2% to 3% - on average. This would give a top end estimate of just under $900. More believable perhaps, but realistic? I do live in Canada but cannot imagine the inflation rates in our two countries to have differed significantly over that period.

2. The following site: http://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/inflation/result.php gives the US inflation rates for the period in question and averages it out to 4.68%. In today's dollars, a HP-35 would therefore cost about US$1600.

This is still a lot of money. I tend to compare the novelty of the HP-35 in 1972 with that of the iPhone in 2008. But the price tags don't compare so well.

Regards,
Jeff Kearns


#20

great link Jeff!!!

BTW, you might know this already, but just in case - if you want to enter a clickable link into your post, you can use the 'Link' button (first button on the left at the bottom of the edit window where you type your post) and it will insert a clickable link.

Cheers

Peter

#21

Quote:
This is still a lot of money. I tend to compare the novelty of the HP-35 in 1972 with that of the iPhone in 2008. But the price tags don't compare so well.

Apples and oranges. :-).

The original 35 fulfilled a specific need for a specific audience (professional scientists and engineers). It was not a general purpose device like the iPhone, the computer, or today's calculators.

Compare the professional (non-student) price of Mathematica, MATLAB, or Maple with your inflated 35. I think you'll find a better comparison in both cost and use.

#22

Quote:
Whenever I see statements like: "In today's dollars..." I get suspicious and wonder if the quoted figure makes any sense. Just trying to relate to someone spending the equivalent of $2,000.00 on a handheld calculator (in 2009 dollars, that is) is difficult for me. So I researched it. Here is what I found:

Shrug. Comparing prices of items like this is always a "guesstimate"; inflation occurs are different rates for different things, and advances in technology make it hard to compare directly.

But I think the $400->$1600 comparison is reasonably accurate. I saved for months to buy my HP-45 (also $395), and it sure SEEMED like a lot of money at the time! This might be difficult for you to appreciate if, as I suspect, you grew up with inexpensive electronic calculators as common things.

Such price drops are even more pronounced today, over much shorter periods of time. I built what at the time (2005) was a very high end PC using an AMD Athlon X2 4800+ processor. It cost over $1,000. Last week I bought the very same processor at Fry's for $39.

Edited: 28 Jan 2009, 12:59 p.m.


#23

Quote:
Such price drops are even more pronounced today, over much shorter periods of time. I built what at the time (2005) was a very high end PC using an AMD Athlon X2 4800+ processor. It cost over $1,000. Last week I bought the very same processor at Fry's for $39.

First of all, the intent of my post was to indicate that your estimate was in fact, accurate! Not the opposite. Secondly, using my HP15C delta% function, I calculate that the equivalent price drop for the referenced processor is: $1000 in 2005 = $1127 in 2009 down to $39 so a 96% drop in price!

That's amazing!

Jeff

#24

You'd have a better appreciation of the $2000 estimate if you had been around to purchase such items in 1972. Inflation rates in the second half of the 1970s and early 1980s were as high as 14 percent per annum.

The $2000 estimated 2009 dollars is almost exactly what the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator predicts ($2007.27). Unless one has a method of unquestionably better pedigree, any other estimate amounts to just being of "I feel that..." or "It seems to me..." quality.

While I was attending Ga. Tech. in 1973, a friend scraped together enough money to buy a $395 HP-45. That was to the rest of us an exorbitant amount of money. He was the envy of us all, but I kidded him (accurately) that he could had purchased a pretty decent used car (which none of us had) for that.

The four-function Bomar 901 was the only calculator I could almost afford, at $120 in late 1972. That corrects to $610 today. I have no doubts at all that the value of the $120 that I spent then equates well to the value of $600 today.


#25

What cost $395 in 1972 would cost $1937.58 in 2007. This is from http://www.westegg.com/inflation/. Your $2000 is very close. Cannot believe I spent $350 for a 41C in 1979 (or 1980?). This calc has probably given me more satisfaction than almost anything I have ever bought. No regrets.

don

#26

Quote:
A current HP-35s that's sitting on a shelf with no batteries would likely fire up with no problem a century from now

Maybe not.

I forget the exact part number of the Amtel ARM processor used, but the internal FLASH memory on ATMEL ARM 7 devices is only rated for 10 years guaranteed data retention.

After that is anyones guess.

Dave.

#27

I bought an HP-41C in 1980, followed by an HP-41CX in 1984. I still have the HP-41CX today, in almost the same condition as it was when new. It has the best keyboard feel of any calculator I've ever used, but it is slow and not very good for complex number handling.

I own a couple of HP48gx units. The keyboard is much inferior to the HP-41-series, but even more bothersome is the LCD display quality. IMHO, the HP48-series have the poorest quality LCDs of any HP calculator. It is fuzzy and indistinct. It was that way even on a brand new unit, seems to get worse with age. I've heard that very late HP-48 units had a clear black LCD such as the HP49g+ and HP50g possess, but I've never seen such an animal.

My favorite HP hardware is the HP42S for RPN (mine is still going strong and appears almost new, even after 16 years) and the HP50g for RPL.


#28

Quote:
I've heard that very late HP-48 units had a clear black LCD such as the HP49g+ and HP50g possess, but I've never seen such an animal.

Oh, they do exist. The display on these 'late" units appears identical to the black display used on the 49/50 series.

I have two-- one slightly beat up, one very nice...

#29

Hi everybody

The voyager series were very solidly built. They had extremely good keys and the display is well protected. No movable parts except the battery door.

Regards

Peter

#30

I haven't got them all to compare, but from what I've had in my hands (and had a chance to dismantle) - Voyagers.


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