Economical replacement for 42s



#2

During a recent move, I lost my trusty 42s. In looking to replace it, I notice two things. First, they are quite expensive to buy, apparently becoming collectible items while I was busy becoming middle-aged. And second, the current HP models are not nearly as cool as the old ones.

Now, I don't use 10% of the features the old 42s had. I use it for simple around-the-house and at-work calculations.

What I love about the 42s:
the fantastic HP buttons
RPN
the stack
the build quality

Given what I love about the 42s and that I don't need most of its special features or functions, what HP calc past or present can you folks recommend to me as a economical replacement?

Thanks!


#3

I think you would have to be more specific about what features of the 42s you used.

The quick answer is HP expects you to buy a 35s.

But if the feature set is adequate for your needs, then comments on this forum might suggest the new 30b has better build quality.

#4

are emulators an option for you ?
http://delicious.com/elegant.algorithm/calculator+emulator


#5

For basic calculations, there's no better deal (IMHO)than a vintage HP-12C. You can buy one for $10 or less at that auction site, if you watch-- there's always a bunch of them being sold. HP keyboard, RPN, etc. But, personally, I wouldn't be able to sleep well at night without replacing the 42S. I'd pick up a 32S as a backup to that. But that's a collector's point of view..... P.S. Wait until you try an HP-25. You'll like that one, too..... it has LED's.

#6

The 17bii might be a good option if you don't need trig or other advanced scientific functions. They can be found much cheaper than the 42s. The 32s and 32sii are also quite nice if you don't mind spending a bit more. The 30b that was just released looks promising, but I haven't had a chance to try one yet. If a grapher isn't out of the question, the 48SX and 48G have been available at very reasonable prices lately (I'd lean toward the 48SX personally).


#7

Quote:
The 17bii might be a good option if you don't need trig or other advanced scientific functions.

This is actually probably the best suggestion - it has the same form factor as the 42s, also a two-line display, and uses soft keys - RPN option - you'll feel right at home!

#8

Plus it does list-based stats, rather than summation registers, which I much prefer. And you CAN get it to do trig if you're patient enough to (mis)use the solver to implement these functions. Check the articles forum for a few implementations.

Oh, and you can also use it as an alarm clock - the 42s doesn't do that! ;)

I find that it's a very underrated machine, if prices are any indication. (Ditto for the 20s.)


#9

Quote:
... you CAN get it to do trig ... Check the articles forum for a few implementations.

I checked, and found four, I think, by Gerson Barbosa, W. B. Maguire II, and Michael Blankenship. Hope I didn't leave anyone out.

Anyone tried all and compared these methods?


#10

I believe that there are several different calculators, all called 17Bii. The earliest looks just like the HP-42S; it's fine. After that came a multi-coloured model that looks great but apparently has very poor build quality (I don't have one myself). The current 17Bii is silvery-looking and solidly-built; I picked up a second-hand one cheap and (apart from the lack of trig functions) it's one of my favourite machines. I'm hoping that the new 30b has a similar build quality.

Nigel


#11

Quote:
I believe that there are several different calculators, all called 17Bii.

Well, first there was the 17b (algebraic), then the 17bii (added RPN). These looked alike and had a great solver. Then came the brown/gold rubbery case 17bii+, with a less-than-stellar, shall we say, solver. Then about 3 years ago came the 17bii+ silver/retro look, with a great build quality but the same less-than-stellar solver.

And, yes, the 30b has the same build quality as the current silver 17bii+.


#12

Many eB** sellers add to the confusion by not making any distinction between the various ii models in their auction titles. But as far as fiveolddogs is concerned, since he is trying to replace a 42s, IMO only the Pioneer 17bii will do. No +'s.

#13

Ya, I agree, the 17bii is a good replacement for the 42s I find no trouble switching between the two. I also agree it's hard to know what you're buying these days. Most online retailers don't clearly say. In order: 17b (NOT RPN!), 17bii, 17bii+ (gold), 17bii+ (silver)
( images copyright Enterhp.com, used with permission)


Edited: 12 Mar 2010, 4:51 p.m.

#14

If I ever get it finished, the replacement firmware (WP-34s) for the 20b (& 30b I suspect) will do most of what the 42s does (e.g. no matrix, less nice complex). Certainly closer than the 35s :)

Pauli

#15

I got quite lucky with a somewhat marred but perfectly operational 42s for $86. If that sort of price is reasonable for you, and you haven't lost patience with e***y (aka TAS), here's a description of mine:

Two dents, one significant in the bezel, but in the auction photo and in real life, no effect on the display, which starts to darken before achieving the contrast I like, but is fine, really. No discoloured pixels.

Slightly gritty looking keyboard face, but keys all firm and labels clear.

Self test is all pass.

Battery compartment is clean.

Case is from another calculator, maybe 32s.

I haven't tested the IR output yet.

I reason that I got that $86 price because the collectors weren't interested due to the cosmetic problems. I was willing to pay $200, and this was my fifth attempt to snipe at that price. Later I saw a prettier one with a failing display go for $235!

#16

Fiveolddogs, have gotten enough recommendations yet? :-)


#17

Some great information here; I really appreciate it. That last post with the pics of the 17iib's really helped clarify a few things.

I kind of like the idea of grabbing an old 12c, but I don't know if I could handle having only one line of the stack visible at a time. I may get one of these as a backup anyway, just for kicks, if I can find one in that $10-$15 range.

Right now, I'm feeling inclined to skip eBay and go with a new calc. I have to say, it's disappointing there is not a more direct replacement for the 42s on the scientific side of things.

If I understand the recommendations here, a new silver 17bii+ has a solid build with a quality keyboard and will do RPN. If that is correct, I think that's the way I'll go.


#18

Quote:
... I don't know if I could handle having only one line of the stack visible at a time.

If I understand the recommendations here, a new silver 17bii+ has a solid build with a quality keyboard and will do RPN. If that is correct, I think that's the way I'll go.


Correct, but remember the silver 17bii+, like all 17b's, has a two-line display, but the lower line is dedicated to the soft key menus; so you still will only see one stack value at a time.

Just so you know.


#19

Quote:

Correct, but remember the silver 17bii+, like all 17b's, has a two-line display, but the lower line is dedicated to the soft key menus; so you still will only see one stack value at a time.

Just so you know.


Wait. Really? I just assumed those menus were only active in certain circumstances, allowing that line to display the stack most the time.

Okay, let's go back to the 35s. No one recommended this one for me, but it looks like it does 2 lines, RPN, and is a scientific calc. What is the argument against this one?


#20

You never qualified what you NEED in a calculator. If it is a similar form factor, feel and quality of the Hp 42s, the Hp 17Bii is you best physical replacement. Also has long variable names and an extremely easy solver to use. The stats functions are actually superior as its stats are list based.

If you need trig, two line display and programming, the Hp 35s is you your other solution. The programming accesses 32K of RAM but is limited to only single name variables and address numbers. In some ways, the Hp33s (aside from an ugly keyboard and no address lines) has a better keyboard with a better handling of Rect to Polar conversions and HEX,BIN,DEC conversions.

I have both, and while I like the look of the Hp35s better, I preferr to use the Hp33s. Better size and the R->P seals the deal for me. The Hp35s is nearly the physical size of a graphics calculator. It is not really a true pocket calculator.

Hp is just releasing an Hp 30B which you might also consider, but beforewarned, it has only a meager 130 keystroke steps. Not sure if you can segment these out to several programs or not. Looks to be a promising calculator, but is optimized for the business user first so that trig is buried under menus, still a better option than the Hp 17bii if you do need trig though.

Sadly, the only true replacement for an Hp42s is another Hp42s. There is not yet a superior or even close replacement. If I had to replace my Hp42s and didn't have my spare, I would then use an Hp48g over the present offerings.

Currently I am in a Graduate design course and I use an Hp50G and it is fast and has lots of bell and whistles, but I still like my Hp48g better and am seriously considering stepping down to the Hp 48g(ok, +) even though it is lots slower. I just like the keyboard and the number crunching layout BETTER! Knowing this I hesitate to tell you to upgrade to any newer Hp graphics. While they have improved their keyboards and their prices are actually less than their Ti counterparts, they still don't have that old Hp feel that an Hp 48g would probably give you. And while an Hp 48g isn't a pocket calculator, if your Hp 42s sat on your desk, an Hp 48g would probably sit on your desk just as well.


#21

Quote:
Hp is just releasing an Hp 30B which you might also consider, but beforewarned, it has only a meager 130 keystroke steps. Not sure if you can segment these out to several programs or not. Looks to be a promising calculator, but is optimized for the business user first so that trig is buried under menus, still a better option than the Hp 17bii if you do need trig though.

Hi Ron. On the 30b, the SIN, COS, and TAN functions are on the keyboard (shift key), but the other trig functions are under the Math menu, you are right. For keystroke programming, it actually has 290 bytes available, which isn't much, certainly, and many common functions take more than one byte, like STO 1 takes 2 bytes, and STO x 3 takes 3 bytes, so effectively it has the equivalent of about 130 keystrokes as we know them on the 12c, for example. Still, I agree, woefully too small. On the positive side, you can have up to 10 programs stored in those 290 bytes and each can be accessed from whatever key you want.

#22

Quote:
Sadly, the only true replacement for an Hp42s is another Hp42s. There is not yet a superior or even close replacement.

These are the most accurate words written on this subject. HP completely dropped the ball with the clownishly inadequate HP32SII, HP33S, and HP35S units. I'd rather have a $18 Casio fx-115ES than any of those.

The HP50G is the only current HP product that provides the capability of the HP42S, but it is RPL and is more than twice the size and weight. It is nonsense to suggest any financial calc as a replacement, as much as I like my HP17BII for what it does.

I have two HP42S 1993 ROM C models, one still new in box. Still, I jumped at the opportunity to buy a new condition HP42S 1989 ROM A model and manual for $120 at a ham radio flea market last week. (Minor gloat...sorry!)

Unfortunately, there's NEVER been a RPN calculator better than the 22-year-old HP42S design. If I couldn't have an HP42S, my HP50G comes closest, all things considered.


#23

Quote:
Sadly, the only true replacement for an Hp42s is another Hp42s. There is not yet a superior or even close replacement.

These are the most accurate words written on this subject.

The HP50G is the only current HP product that provides the capability of the HP42S, but it is RPL and is more than twice the size and weight. It is nonsense to suggest any financial calc as a replacement, as much as I like my HP17BII for what it does.


All true, but remember the OP stated:
Quote:
Now, I don't use 10% of the features the old 42s had. I use it for simple around-the-house and at-work calculations.

Given what I love about the 42s and that I don't need most of its special features or functions, what HP calc past or present can you folks recommend to me as a economical replacement?


So that is why several recommended some of the financial calcs that
they believe embody:
Quote:
What I love about the 42s: the fantastic HP buttons RPN the stack the build quality

And by the way, fiveolddogs, although I did not quite recommend it, for the record I did state right up front:
Quote:
The quick answer is HP expects you to buy a 35s.

After all, it is scientific, it has a two line display, and it does RPN.
#24

Quote:
Okay, let's go back to the 35s. No one recommended this one for me, but it looks like it does 2 lines, RPN, and is a scientific calc. What is the argument against this one?

Okay, I will go out on a limb and recommend the 35s. I used a 42S for many years and extolled its virtues many times on this forum. I now use the 35s almost exclusively. It has a long list of bugs and/or operating "quirks", but they are easy to avoid or just plain don't come up in normal use. As the first calculator with a dedicated "i" key, I feel I must support it.

Just my two cents, your mileage may vary!

Best regards to all,

Jeff

...


#25

The 35s was my most recent favorite "go to" calculator. It's got a sweet look to it, reminiscent of the calcs of yore, a great keyboard and some good programmability. It is lacking in other areas, though, like use of labels in programs, general useful program options and so on.

However, my new "go to" calculator is the HP-30b. Light years better than the 20b, but retains all of the good things. For example, it has a much improved keyboard (one of the best recently), a nice display, and the programmability is better, IMHO, than the 35s. This because you can display arbitrary strings, do complex conditionals, prompt for values, reassign programs to keys and so on.

I would highly recommend you give the 30b a chance. At $49, it's also cheaper than the 35s. I think you'll be impressed.

thanks!

Bruce


#26

The 30b is a nice calculator. A repurposed 30b
would be awesome. However, in its standard financial calculator form, I do not consider it to be an acceptable replacement for a scientific calculator.


...

#27

You may want to consider the newly released 30b.


Regards,

John

#28

A 42S emulator (like 42S from Byron Foster or Free42 from Thomas Okken) running on an iPod Touch is my preferred option; now I have a 42S with me all the time (while my real 42S is safe at home). Not exactly "economical": you may need to justify the emulator platform with other uses as wi-fi client; music player, photo album, etc. There are many excellent emulators not only for iPod / iPhone but also for PDAs and PocketPCs / Windows Mobile devices. Granted, mechanical key feedback is absent.

The 17 BII Silver is a good option too, I have one and use it from time to time.The upcoming 30B may also deserve its place. On the other hand, I don't like the 33S (because of chevron keyboard and poor display) or the 35S (good looks, but bad display, quirky functions for BASE and R<>P among others, and some strange bugs).

HTH.

Edited: 16 Mar 2010, 7:48 a.m.

#29

I recently bought a Casio fx-9860g slim calculator and installed Hugh Steers' excellent Reckon application on it. The more I play with it, the more I like it. See this video on Youtube for a demo.


#30

Yep, I've been using it on my 9860GII and am very happy with it. Nigel Dowrick's CasioRPN is also good.


Get Reckon here
Get CasioRPN here

#31

If you go 17B11 get the earliest ones.....wonderful keypads. You can find plenty of them on E*** for < $50 with very few cosmetic dings. Mine are all 1990-1991 made in Singapore.

don


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