TI bash - and HP too?


A particularly on-topic XKCD:



Sad but true. As I've written here several times a state-of-the-art LCD is an important feature for advanced calculators. Don't expect customers being satisfied with the standard of 96.



In the case of the TI-83 family, I think there is probably another dynamic going on here. One might say that TI is a victim of its own success, but you don't usually picture a "victim" as driving to the bank with boatloads of cash day after day. I'd say you continue to see a technologically-inferior graphing calculator (TI-83) dominate the education market for the same reason you continue to see another technologically-inferior financial calculator (HP-12c) dominate the financial market: don't mess with a proven winner.

Don't look for revolutionary technical innovation to come from companies with a vested financial interest in maintaining the status quo, although the TI-NSpire and HP-30b do represent some degree of technical innovation.


I feel that it may be counter productive to make to good of a display. These are calculators, whose main purpose is to do math, not be great game machines. Teachers and other educators may balk at great graphics that are mainly used for gaming.

Just my $0.02


I do think color would help sort out which trace is which when you're graphing multiple functions, though. It also might help with making 3D plots more intelligible.

Someone here a while ago said that the TI89 display was terrible compared to the HP50g. Normally, I think both are serviceable. However, after then, I was trying to photograph them for some reason, and the HP50g screen showed up easily while the TI89's did not. So I guess there is some "objective" way in which the 50g's display is better.


Even though the Casio fx-9860g series now as a beautifully readable backlit display, it too should be better by today's standards. It needs to have much higher resolution.

OLED displays, inexpensive enough to be used on the $20 Sansa Clip (in monochrome), would look fantastic in a calculator but they suck up too much power. E-Ink would be a great solution, I think.

One of the success points of the HP-12C is that its display is still the most readable of any financial calculator made. While the 30b can run circles around the 12C in functionality, it's display is nowhere near as easy to see.



I'd like nothing better to have a screen with a decent refresh rate, full color and the like.

The problem is that calculators really have to be "more convenient" then the other options out there or they just don't make sense. Does anyone think a calculator should take 45 seconds to boot?

1) Dedicated buttons/interfaces for inputting and solving math problems means it is quicker and easier to solve a certain level of calculation
2) You can stick it in a drawer/bag and be able to pull it out a week later and it turns on immediately.

Number 2 is a sticking point with all the display technolgies out there unfortunately. :-(



Does anyone think a calculator should take 45 seconds to boot?

Tim is right. In order to save power, when you switch on the current TI-NSpire, if you haven't used it in a few days (I think that is adjustable), it has to "reboot" or copy the OS from some type of memory to another type of memory, and this takes about 30-40 seconds it seems, which we find unacceptable in a calculator. We've come to accept our computers taking awhile to become operational, but we want our calculators to be instant-on.


I don't understand all this. My cell phone takes some time to boot the cellular network, but the display comes on instantly.


Let me guess, you don't use a smartphone?

Even then, my simple, cheapest cell from a cold power on takes about 10 seconds before it is fully running. . .



Let me guess, you don't use a smartphone?

Even then, my simple, cheapest cell from a cold power on takes about 10 seconds before it is fully running. . .


I think there are two issues here. A cell phone takes a long time to boot, but that isn't because it's waiting for the *display* to be fully functional.

Tim may correct me, but I think the problem with putting a more modern display on a calculator is one of battery life. Color, backlit, or OLED displays probably consume more power than acceptable for a calculator.

This thread has pointed out two of the main requirements of a calculator. Meeting these requirements puts limitations on the implementation. The requirements are:

  1. Long battery life
  2. "instant on" boot time.
Sure a cell phone or a PDA has a better display, but would you be willing to recharge your calculator every couple of days? Would you be willing to wait 30 or 60 seconds for your calculator to turn on? And more importantly, would your 15 year old kid be willing to put up with either of these things?


Just a follow on to your comment regarding 15 year olds.

Us young'uns are perfectly willing to charge our phones and things because we use them so much. A calculator that sits in a bag for a week or two though is another story. Makes it far to easy to say "Teacher! I can't take my test because my calculator is out of power. . ." :-)




"Willing" is one thing, but "able" is another. Many young teens are extremely forgetful. They forget to charge their phone, forget to bring their hockey stick to hockey practice. Sometimes it seems that they forget to open their mouth before putting food in it.... :)

But you'll get to experience this special time in what, about 12 years? :) :) :) How is the little one anyway?

Hoping to meet you in person at HHC in September,


A cell phone takes so long to boot because it first has to determine its location in relationship to multiple cell towers it may be receiving and forward that information to Big Brother(BB), so if you're on a watch list, BB can begin monitoring your movements and communications, when that's done the phone will let you use it.



The main difference I see between a 1996 TI calculator and a modern one (other than USB and a restyled case) is that the newer ones (Since about 2003 or 2004) are very poorly made. I think TI just simply does not care, they have a de facto monopoly on the 'calculators for high school' market, and as a result nobody looks outside of TI even in college. (Yeah, I used to own a TI-89 until it got stolen from me, and a friend convinced me to try RPN so I bought an old 48g...)

I've seen lots of TIs start having display problems after 3-4 years. Culprit? The ribbon cable between the main PCB and the LCD is thinner than the cellophane wrapping on a piece of candy, and they make it too long and fold up the excess. Those folds make the tiny carbon traces break, and you start getting dead lines on the screen. I just fixed this on a circa 2004 TI-83 Plus for my roommate, it involved cutting off the ribbon cable and painstakingly soldering on 20 or so little metal wires.


I've seen lots of TIs start having display problems after 3-4 years.

You think this is unintentional that they just happen to die soon after the student graduates high school?



Heh, I'm certain TI sells a lot of TI-89s and n-spire's that way. Unfortunately I can't say anything about the build quality of the HP 50g other than what I've read here, but I couldn't see it being terribly difficult to do a better job than TI, who I'm pretty sure contracts all the hardware design to Inventec... the last TI I disassembled didn't even contain any TI parts. (If HP still does any of their own hardware design)

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