Owner's Manuals


OK, we have discussed this topic to death, I know, but maybe if we keep hammering away at it something good might happen. I'm talking about including a comprehensive printed Owner's Manual with each new calculator. Not a file on a CD or DVD, but the real printed copy.

I've recently been playing around with my HP-20S, which came with an absolutely excellent Owner's Manual. It's got plenty of diagrams, a typeface you can actually read, example programs based upon real-world applications, all the technical information pertaining to its functions and operations, complete listing of error messages, a great index; in short, everything an owner would need to get the most out of his/her investment. And it's only 128 pages.

HP should include this type of Owner's Manual with every calculator they sell, and it should be in the package. If it means increasing the cost of the product by $5, fine, do it.

The 30b has a manual, Tim posted a link to it. But how likely is it that a non-member of this forum will ever see it (on the other hand, how likely is it that a non-member of this forum will ever buy a 30b)?

HP, are you listening? Printed User Manuals are not outdated anachronism's, they are essential ingredients of the calculator package.

Do the right thing.

Edited: 26 June 2010, 9:13 a.m.


I hear ya. But I'm thinking that it's a waste of time attempting to make spiritual contact with the ghost of HP. The old printed manuals were written brilliantly, both technically and linguistically, and were as valuable as the calculator itself. Sadly, I'm resigned to the fact that we're unlikely to see the return of good printed owner's manuals.


I agree, a well written printed manual with each calculator is the right way to do it. The 20b/30b manual isn't bad (I hope it will be on the HP website soon) but is lacking an appendix with the formulas used for the various financial functions. It's also lacking in examples, the on-line learning modules are indented to make up for that.

I would like to see the manual expanded to include these things and printed. It's really hard to print a properly sized manual at home with a decent binding. This can be done most cost effectively in mass by HP.


Hi, all;

up until today I use HP manuals as source of information and in-class material. A couple of months ago I showed a Portuguese (Brazilian) HP37 manual to a friend and he felt himself intrigued with its contents. Then I showed him the other two financial-addressed complements and he felt amazed with their contents. He borrowed the three of them and used many parts of them to compose some of its teaching material (amortization, cash flow and the like).

I have already used many examples taken from old manuals: HP55, HP25, HP67/97, HP34 and HP41 application packs/manuals mostly. So I treasure them all in all aspects.

BUT... I'd agree with a mid-term proposal. Sell the calculators with the CD/DVD, a brief, printed 'get started guide' like the ones that came with the HP48G, and a discounted coupon (50%? 75%?) for buying a VALUABLE, WORTH BUYING printed manual. So anyone who wants just the calculator (office? class-room?) would buy them as-is, and anyone who wants to have the manual, readily available at the sales office, would buy them cheaply, considering the affordable, discounted price. And if you loose yours, buying another would not be a problem.

If the HP ghosts are reading and you, guys, agree with, I think it would be harmless to everyone.


Luiz (Brazil)

Edited: 26 June 2010, 1:26 p.m.


I agree - Printed manuals make a huge difference. I just recently gave an HP 35S as a gift to a college freshman. I was hoping I could convert another TI owner to HP RPN. The manual that came with the brand new HP 35S was truly an embarrassment. It was like a flyer and the real manual came in a CD. That is no way to gain new users. I had a real manual that came with my HP 35S when it first came out and gave it to him and ordered another one from eBay for me.

Question: Are there services in the internet where one can send a PDF file and they print a manual, bind it and send it to you for a fee? It would probably be too expensive.

Edited: 26 June 2010, 3:45 p.m.


A manual for the 35s can be had by calling the 800 number listed in the quick ref. There is no charge, they only ask for the serial number of the calculator. I called for one on a Friday and had it on Monday.

LuLu.com is a print on demand service that has reasonable prices. The manual may have to be split depending on page count. I think they can only handle about 600 pages per book.



this is even better! I did not know about this because I have one HP35S (a gift from a friend: GWB, thanks!) without manual, and another one that came with an English manual, so I just red the manual without taking care for the telephone numbers and additional services because they'd not apply to my case.

I wonder where else buyers would have this kind of charge-free service.


Luiz (Brazil)


It's not going to happen. I suspect that 90% of the buyers won't even open the manuals, and 90% of those who open it won't need more than is already provided in a <100 page quick start guide.

It's not fair to the majority of people who don't need the full manual to have to pay for the minority who do, especially when the full manual adds quite a bit to the shipping cost (a full set of manuals for the 50g weighs over 6 pounds!).

I think the best option would be for HP to provide a coupon with each calculator to obtain the full printed manuals at minimal or no cost. Few enough people would take them up on this offer that it wouldn't cost them much, while making everybody happy.



The Coupon suggestion is a great idea!



The Coupon suggestion is a great idea!

True, Coupon idea is brilliant.

And above all, it is Luiz's idea ;)



While I agree that a bound printed manual is nice, the days of printed manuals are gone and have been for quite sometime. When was the last time you received a bound manual of any size for anything you have purchased?

I much perfer the PDF of a manual than the actual bound manual. The one that usually ships is a half size or smaller manual. With a PDF, I can print it out full letter size and it really makes it a pleasure to read with my old eyes. I'm lucky to have a high speed double side printer and then a quick trip to Staples and I have a spiral bound manual.



I suspect that 90% of the buyers won't even open the manuals.
I think a major reason people don't read manuals anymore is that the art of good manual-writing has been lost, and manuals are not clear and attractive. Another reason is that products frequently won't last long enough to warrant the time to read the manual.

The Coupon suggestion is a great idea!
+1. I would always get it.

I much perfer the PDF of a manual than the actual bound manual.[...] With a PDF, I can print it out[...]
When something gets that big, I won't try to print it at home. What I have done many times with technical documents is to email the file to a Kinko's or similar business for them to print it, then I go pick it up later. Even though I have the .pdf file there to see on the screen, I want it on paper. Outside of the computer's "search" function, the paper is faster to find things in, and I can put my notes in it, put markers along the edge with Post-It (or similar) notes, etc..


Agreed -- the coupon idea is brilliant!

I'd easily pay a nominal cost for a printed manual that I can get after the fact.




OK, I'll agree with the coupon idea too. HP, please make a quality printed manual available for ordering for those who want one, and I will want one!


In a way, I think HP would regard the coupon idea as more unattractive (financially) than including it in the package and driving the price up.

In HP's cost-benefit analysis, they would need to consider the total number of manuals sold vs. the cost of production. The cost of production would be dominated by the salary/benefits/fringe/etc. of the technical writer, graphic designer, etc. If you want a clear, well-written manual, that would probably take 3-6 months to produce, which would be in the area of US$40-80k, not counting printing and logistics.

Would HP sell enough manuals to break even? I have no idea, but I suspect that this wouldn't be a clear-enough "win" for HP to go ahead with it. The cost of writing and laying out the manual is a big up-front cost that HP will need to invest whether they're printing one manual or a million.

However: if they're also releasing a PDF version of the same manual either with the calculator or for download (and thus investing in the cost of production anyway), and you're only asking for HP to print and ship a manual on demand, then HP only needs to worry about logistics. Still, HP seems to be pretty conservative about such details, so I would be surprised if they did it anyway.

Edited: 28 June 2010, 12:35 p.m.


Only my .02 EUROs:

Pls. HP take a PDF of (say) the old HP42 or HP17b manuals as a guide and use the very same typeface, keylegends and representations of numbers and symbols - and reformat the (say 30b) manual to a more readable version.

I think most of the PDF preferring forists, as well as the "printing" faction would honor this approach.

No SKU changes, no coupon handling stress - for anybody!

Best regards,

Peter A. Gebhardt


Typefaces/fonts are dictated by the corporate standard of the day. We have no choice in which fonts are used for text. Even the formatting must comply to an extent with this.

The same applies for packaging. It must match whatever the standard is at the time it is launched.


Edited: 26 June 2010, 8:39 p.m.



I feel with you, BUT did you ever try to convince upper ranks in PM or Marketing, that my proposal would only been applied to the PDFs of a "real" manual shipped on CD???

Make it happen (someway) that some "big brass" have to read the (say) 30b SKU "manual" w/o glasses - and look what happens afterwards ... ;-)


Peter A. Gebhardt


I suspect that the "big brass" are MBAs, not engineers. Thus they'll be more concerned about consistent branding than legibility.



Try this. Think of it as another new hobby. :-)



Thanks Bruce, but I don't want another hobby. I'd rather be writing elegant algorithms on my HP calcs, and using HP-written printed manuals to assist me!

: )



I came across this ProClick system a while back. It's cheap, easy to use, close to spiral binding and sort of fun. The downside is that the low end punch machine can really only do 4 pages at time but it goes quickly.

It's much faster than a trip to Kinkos!


Depends on how many pages and how far to Kinkos. (The nearest one to me is 4 blocks).

Someone write an optimization program for this. {:-)


Someone write an optimization program for this. {:-)

You may be closer than you think.

Most word processing programs have an option to print either the odd or even pages. If you do that (print odd, say) and then put the output stack back in the printer (properly oriented - may take a bit of fooling around to determine which side should be up and front or back in the paper tray!) and then print the even pages, you will have a stack of paper ready for Katie's hole puncher.

Also, check out acrobat printing. I have full-blown (i.e. not just the reader) version 5, and it, too, will print odd or even pages. Reader version 9 does not seem to have the odd/even option, but it will create a booklet: in my first try, I got it to print properly organized sheets with two (half-size) pages on one side of a sheet of paper. Then print front and back - using the two pass method noted above. So, the first sheet had pages 1 and 96, the next sheet was pages 2 and 95, etc. These sheets are intended to be folded in the middle. Binding/punching might be trickier. I didn't look for, or try, other page size options.

Many (most?) printers also have multi-page options - you can print 2, 4, 9, or 16 pages (reduced in size, of course) on a single sheet of paper.

So, check your favorite software and hardware. With a bit of experimenting, you may already be ready to print optimized pages.


All good suggestions if you don't have an automatic double-sided printer (or even if you do) but I think...

Someone write an optimization program for this. {:-)

... was referring to the choice between printing/punching yourself vs getting to Kinko's and waiting for them to do it.

My nearest Kinko's is 4 miles away with several traffic lights, I'd need a pretty big document for the Kinko's solution to be optimal. Martin only has 4 blocks so Kinko's is likely always the optimal solution for him -- unless the weather is really bad :)


Edited: 29 June 2010, 3:01 p.m.

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