First impressions of new TI-NSpire CAS



#2

This isn't an in-depth review, just some first impressions after playing with it for a few days.

Calculator

keyboard

back of keyboard

The display is comparable to the original NSpire display. It is still hard to see without a strong bright external light source. A backlight, like on the Casio fx-9860g Slim, would be a most welcome addition.

The touchpad does make navigating easier, but it is tedious to move the cursor with the touchpad. A real touchscreen would be another welcome addition.

The home screen concept is better than the original NSpire. It encourages experimentation and makes documents easier to find.

The removeable keyboard (on the CAS model) is something new, although the TI-84 keyboard apparently will not work with the CAS model. That's unfortunate.

There are two new instructions in the BASIC-like programming language; Request to input a number and RequestStr to input a string. Both are very welcome. There is also a Text instruction to output a text box.

The NSpire is primarily a tool for students. It has many features that allow for experimentation; for example, to see how the formula of an equation changes in real-time as you change the shape of the curve. Some kids will learn from that.

It is not an engineers calculator. It is rather big and heavy and the trig functions are accessible via a menu rather than dedicated keys.

All in all, a worthy calculator for experimentation and number theory work.


#3

Where can you purchase one? Did you get a pre-sale unit because you are on a special list with TI?

Also where did you get the info on the additional programming commands? I was looking at the programming commands of the older TI Nspire and it had no input commands that prompt the user to enter values--only input is the arguments that you give the program or function!!

Namir


Edited: 3 Apr 2010, 7:27 a.m.


#4

Page 34 of the release notes talks about the new programming instructions.

I have seen the new units advertised in a couple of places online, I'd Google it. I was able to swap my old NSpire CAS for the new one because I'm a teacher, and they let teachers do that.


#5

Thanks Don! I plan to buy one when TI starts selling it. I have the TI Nspire from 2008, but did not have time to tinker with it. I plan to do more with the new version.

Namir


#6

I think the new NSpire is definitely an improvement over the old one, but not a revolutionary improvement. A revolutionary improvement would have been a display that you could actually read in low (or normal, really) light conditions, and a real touch-screen with stylus. Although the screen has a very good degree of resolution, you just can't read it easily most of the time, and that really takes away from the usability of the device, in my opinion. You can choose the font size among three settings, but even when you choose large font, it doesn't help much. And the new touchpad does make navigating between pages or items on a page easier, but a real touchscreen and stylus would be so much better.

From my perspective, the major improvements in the new version are a new keyboard layout with the alpha keys relocated (I was always hitting those green alpha keys when I didn't want to) and, of course, the programming instructions for getting user input during the execution of a program. When I saw that the original NSpire did not have any programming input commands, I wrote TI and told them that you might as well not even offer a programming language if you are going to have that restriction; looks like they finally listened.

By the way, the alpha keys on the new unit have a distinctive "click", a la HP, so you know when it registers. That's good.


#7

The display problem you mentioned reminds me of the same problem with the Casio ClassPad. I ended up using the emulator for that calculator more than the calculator itself. The revised version of the ClassPad had a better LCD display.

I am glad that you wrote TI about the lack of program execution input commands.

I remember in July 2008 I was in a big grocery store in the south of France looking for a Casio Graphics calculator with an SD card port. My son Joey said "Dad! You'd better look at this!" as he pointed to the new TI Nspire CAS and non-CAS versions. I picked two CAS units and he demanded one (as he was an avid TI-89 user). I figured that would be OK as I will go back in \a few days to the same grocery store and buy a second Nspire CAS for me. I was very surprised to see the store remove the CAS version units!!! I ended up buying the second TI Nsire CAS from the US.

Namir


#8

Quote:
I was very surprised to see the store remove the CAS version units!!!

Hey, maybe HP online sales hired the guy from that store!!

:)


#9

I think they were removed because French schools (like most in the world) did not want students to have the CAS features that would make them bypass the need to learn more basic algebra and calculus.

Namir


#10

Bonjour Namir,

in fact, I guess you are not correct assuming that the TI Nspire CAS was removed from stores shelves due to its CAS features. Things are nit ruled the same way in France than in the US on this topic. Evidence of this is that this calculator has always been, and still is, available.
I think it is more a concern with this particular store you mentionned in your post rather than a complete removal of this calc from shelves. Another evidence of this is the CASIO Graph 100+ (at least named like this in France) which also has CAS features.
I checked this morning, and found only the first version of Nspire on sale.

Bonnes fêtes de Paques !

JM.


#11

In addition to the Carrefour grocery store, I did see only the non-CAS version at the nearby FNAC store, and I assumed it's the same reason. Sounds like it's the choice of these stores.

In any case, I stand corrected.

Have a Happy Easter!! You guys are also off tomorrow!!!

Namir

#12

You know that the new OS loads fine in an older unit? So you get the new commands without shelling out money.

#13

Quote:
From my perspective, the major improvements in the new version are a new keyboard layout with the alpha keys relocated (I was always hitting those green alpha keys when I didn't want to)

An improvement, but not by much. Those are some TINY buttons!!


#14

True, they are tiny, and I wouldn't want to use them to type a letter or write a report, but they do have a distinctive key-click, and my initial experience using them is that I don't press the wrong key when I use them, so they work for me.

What I'd really like is a more readable display.


#15

Nintendo sells millions of small LCD touch screens. Why doesn't TI adapt those to a calculator?

Maybe because someone else has:

http://www.engadget.com/2005/04/21/emulate-a-ti-85-on-your-nintendo-ds/

http://www.walkingrandomly.com/?p=682


Edited: 4 Apr 2010, 8:04 a.m.


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