I got a 33s


I just received a used 33s via the auction site. I wanted an RPN calculator I could carry anywhere without major loss if it were damaged or stolen. I prefer to keep my real Pioneers at home or work.

Anyway, the initial review on the 33s is mixed. In many ways I like it:

  • It's fast.
  • The two-line display is very convenient.
  • There's enough memory to store loads of equations w/o running out.
  • The chevron keyboard doesn't bother me at all (I thought it would, but no)
  • I like the rubber grip surfaces on the side.
But there are problems:

- I got one in near-mint condition, but it turned out to have the original version display. Must have been "new old stock" when the seller got it. I can't really complain for $20. The decimal point is unreadable, especially when next to the number "2," and commas are not much better. I can't believe this got past HP. The "shadowing" at all but near straight-on viewing angles is annoying..

- The keys are a little stiff. This is, I suppose, preferable to the mushy rubber junk on many calcs today, but still...

- Not enough labels to fully take advantage of all that memory (but we knew that).

- I really miss the big Enter key. This is mitigated by the trick (found on this forum) of setting the program pointer to a little program, so that R/S executes an Enter.

LBL E // R/S // Enter // GTO E

Incidentally, this program leaves an extra copy of the entered number in the stack. Eliminating the "Enter" in the program works better for routine number keyin--it puts the number on the stack without duplicating it, and the next number just pushes the stack up rather than overwriting the copy in the X register. But if you actually want to duplicate a number to use twice, it's best to use the real Enter key.

- Those of us who know the 32SII well will have "muscle memory" problems. Because some keys are in similar positions to the 32SII, but others have been moved, it creates some confusion. It's neither the same nor different, it's *both*. Perhaps this issue will fade over time. But I honestly think that most diehard HP users just accept that you reach for the Enter key to the left, and when it's on the lower right, the fingers and mind rebel. I understad the marketing reason for doing this-- a concession to the algebraic mode, where it doubles as an Equals key. But it just doesn't seem right.

The firmware bugs are what they are, at least they are known and can be avoided or worked around in most cases.

Conclusion: They don't make 'em like they used to. And if you've had an old one, you know what you're missing. Still, in many ways a nice little machine for the price.


The firmware bugs are what they are, at least they are known and can be avoided or worked around in most cases.

Don't be so sure. Only recently, a new 32SII bug was discovered. I expect more to come for the 33S / 35s models.

I also got a 33s for less than $19 dollar total. Brand NEW in blister pack. Mine luckily, however has the same display, when compared side-by-side, as the 35s.

It's definitely a good toss-around RPN calc. I won't kick myself hard if I happen to misplace it. (Getting old does that to me. Sometimes.)



I initially had the exact same feeling you all did.

However, this little calculator grew on me. It is actually so easy to use and program once you take a short while and get used it in its own right. I don't now even care anymore about its cosmetic aspects. It feels good in my hand and is a pleasure to use. I would now feel awful if I no longer had it.

It is in some ways reminiscent of the 32SII... and in others of the 34C! I think it's more than just a nice little calc, it's very good little calc.

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