HP 33s much better IMO than the 35s


Unsatisfied with my HP 35s, I just bought an HP 33s for use at work, and to my surprise, I like it much better than the 35s!
These are some of the advantages I see in everyday use:

  • When I type a long number, the 33s inserts commas every three digits, so that I can easily see the magnitude of what I have entered (e.g., try to enter 120 millions). Not so on the 35s.
  • The ALL mode on the 35s is badly broken, as often the exponent is not fully visible (!!). Not so on the 33s.
  • The STO key in the 33s is unshifted; on the 35s, it is shifted.
  • The displays are more or less equivalent to me.
  • The 35s looks better than the 33s, but the 33s is thinner and ligher, an advantage when you have to carry it around.
  • The ENTER key on the 33s is not bad after all; it is placed close to the arithmetic operation keys, and I use all such keys equivalently often.
  • The 33s is free from many small annoying things in the 35s, such as the inability of entering 1/3 as 1..3 (.1.3 enters 0 1/3, which is visually more confusing).
  • The 33s comes with a real manual.
In summary, I find the 33s a better calculator for everyday use. Do you agree?



Agreed. And if you write programs for it, you will find the execution speed a whole lot faster on the 33s.


I buy them on ebay to give to children. They are basically simple math calculators, with added layers of complexity as you advance. After basic math, you can add formula solving, fractions and programming. I'm sorry that someone had to "style" it and add rubber sides which forces the use of the clunky case rather than the thin slip cases of the past. It is an undervalued calculator, Sam now 81


1) The comma issue is due to a change to a process more like the RPL calculators, which have a command line and appear to be unable to parse a number as it is entered to put commas in place. After all, how does an RPL calculator know if you are entering a number or a pair separated by a comma? If it had already put commas in number for you (with it assuming you were entering a real number) and then you press comma, then the entry is very confusing. I know the 35s does not have that particular issue, but being built on the RPL "shell" or such means it processes values entered in a similar fashion.

2) ALL is troubling. The display will not show all digits with that annoying scroll for the exponent. What should have been done? Show "almost all" and fit the exponent? Not have an ALL mode? Have an "Almost all" mode? :-) This was a problem that was talked about. Not a very good answer, I'm afraid. Not sure the approach chosen is/was the best, but ...

3) STO is a personal choice. Supposedly research exists that shows RCL is used much much more frequently than STO, hence the shifted status. Making STO primary means something else has to go shifted. Keyboard wars are always tough. And, no, I have not seen the supposed research and wish STO were primary myself.

4) The fraction mode is not that big a deal (to me) since it is fairly easy to adjust. Changes happen.

5) The 35s manual is not that bad, if you get a copy of the full manual of course. The quick start guide attempted to fit as much as possible into its 20-something pages. . . so please don't criticize that effort! Retailers often make demands to shrink package size, so perhaps this had something to do with the change. That and the loud requests to go greener from many voices.

My 2 cents and worth probably less than that!


I agree, I like the 33s and tolerate the 35s. The 35s does have some advantages though, and the added functionality is nice (more variables, built in solutions to 2nd and 3rd order linear equations to name some), but the keyboard layout is not good. It has never taken me so long to learn were the keys are on any calculator as on the 35s. Furthermore, the large enter key uses one extra key space, that could have been used for unshifted STO, and the small ENTER down to the right is much better. Actually on my 48G I found that after a while I started using SPACE (which is placed down on the right) to separate input instead of ENTER because that key was better placed.

The way format ALL works on the 33s (and on my older HP:s) is better than on the 35s. I like the ALL mode because I see more digits than I need and can round it of to the needed precision manually. If there is an exponent it should be fully visible and the rest of mantissa can be called using SHOW.


A lot of people flamed the 33s for having the little Enter key at lower right. I thought I would hate it, but I've adjusted to it with surprisingly little trouble. Especially since I could program the R/S key to act like Enter most of the time, to ease the transition.

The "Big Enter Key" on the left is almost a religious icon among those of us who Remember the Good Old Days. I'm sure that's why the 35s has the double-width Enter. We complained, and Marketing listened.

Of course, we also want things to be Just the Way They Were in the Good Old Days. We also want lots of new features and no more complexity.




The 33s was my first HP calculator, and I found much to love even though it was regarded as the red-headed step child of the line. I've never seen the keypad as cluttered. For me, helpful is more appropriate. I wish the computational discrepancies could all be fixed though. It fits perfectly into the tool pocket of a pair of Carhartt work jeans, so it's always right there under my shooting hand, ready for...

Edited: 3 Sept 2009, 10:51 p.m.


The 33s was my first HP calculator ... ... I've never seen the keypad as cluttered. ...

To see a really cluttered keyboard look at an HP-67 where some keys have four functions.

Hi Luca. I agree with you. My 33s sits on my desk and gets used regularly while the 35s sits idle in my desk drawer. Others must agree with you as it's been 2 years since the 35s was released and HP still sells the 33s.



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