30b - Not Impressed



#2

I have to admit that I haven't taken it out of the package yet. If I do, I can't take it back.

I am having trouble with the size of the thing. It's looks bulky and unwieldy.

Your thoughts?


#3

It's the exact same size as the 20b, and smaller than the 35s. Have you tried or used either of those? What makes you think it's unwieldy or bulky? I actually think it's pretty sweet...

Thanks,

Bruce


#4

It has approximately the same size as an HP 17bii Silver, which compares well with other calc sizes. It's shirt pocketable for sure, though it could even have been made some mm smaller.

#5

I agree with Bruce, I think the 20b/30b package feels pretty good. Much smaller and more nimble than the 35s, for example. My only (slight) complaint is with the sharp edge on the gray plastic outside edge. That can easily be remedied with a file and some sandpaper. I did that to one of my 20b's, now it feels nice and smooth when held in my hand. I haven't gotten around to doing it to my 30b yet, but plan to do so.


...

#6

What's your opinion of the keys, display and overall build quality?

Regards,


John

#7

I have to wonder why one would make judgements like this without even taking the unit out of the packaging. What's keeping one from opening the package???

I too think that the HP 30b size, shape, and style is very well executed. I'd love to see an HP42S-capable machine in the same package. I've been playing with the one I bought at Office Depot last Saturday. The programming model is rather different from any other HP that I've tried. For example:

(1) Number entry is not completed by initiating program execution. The INPUT key must be pushed. Likewise, within a program, entering a numerical value is not complete until INPUT has been programmed after the last digit...entering, say, a LBL 00 after the last digit will not enter the value.

(2) The mathematical routines accessed by the MATH key *within a program* must be selected by the DOWN key (Hold SHIFT and push the DOWN ARROW/DEL key) or by the UP key (Hold SHIFT and push the UP ARROW/INS key). For each push of the ARROW key, the calculator actually performs the indicated operation on the X-value without replacing the X-value until the desired value is selected. For example, to select arctan(x), one must push SHIFT, MATH, INPUT, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN. If this example is performed in run mode, the display will show the value of PI after INPUT, the value of arcsin(x) after the first DOWN, the value of arccos(x) after the second DOWN, and finally the value of arctan(x) after the third DOWN. The program can be shortened slightly (and perhaps the speed improved) in this case by selecting the arctan(x) function with SHIFT, MATH, INPUT, UP. There is no clue given while in program mode how many DOWNs or UPs it will take to select the desired function, nor is there indication within the program listing after the function has been selected just which function has been programmed.

(3) The "programming overlay" included at the back of the "manual" for affixing to the keyboard is helpful. But...even though the 114-page HP 30b User Guide says the overlay is intended to remain affixed for the lifetime of the calculator, the labeling on it rubs away *very* easily after the overlay has been affixed. (The User Guide is not available on the HP website unless one knows the URL of the FTP site where Tim Wessman posted it recently. However, a fair number of "learning modules" are available.)

(4) When inserting a new program step during a program edit, the new step appears in the listing BEFORE the step that was displayed, not AFTER as I would have expected.

(5) While getting accustomed to the quirks of the HP 30b programming model, I somehow caused a "reverse video" display of "Prgm 0" for which the User Guide gave no clue to its significance or cure. I could only make it go back to normal by deleting program 0.

I wrote a version of the well-known Savage Benchmark for HP 30b.

In Prgm 0:

1 STO 0

2 0

3 Input

4 Lbl 00

5 1

6 +

7 sqrt

8 x^2

9 Ln

10 e^X

11 Math

12 Input

13 Up

14 Tan

15 DSE 0

16 Gto 00

17 Stop

(Checksum 22.085)

Set the HP 30b for RPN, RADIANS, and FIX 11. Then execute:

2500

Input

Prgm 0

=

The result is 2499.99946106 (perfect would be 2500). Execution time (from a stopwatch) is 6.5 seconds!

The User Guide states that the CPU speed is reduced to conserve batteries when program execution lasts longer than one second. Regardless of that, the observed HP 30b speed is TEN times faster than the same routine performed by the HP 50g. The HP 50g numerical result is identical to that of the HP 30b, but takes about 65 seconds. That really shows the price paid for the HP 50g having ARM-emulated Saturn coding, rather than native ARM coding.

The HP 30b result takes about seven seconds if the arctan function is selected by MATH, INPUT, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN rather than MATH, INPUT, UP.


Edited: 24 Aug 2010, 9:08 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


#8

If you see "Prgm x" in the display in reverse video, that indicates that the program has been assigned to a key. For example, you could create your own addition routine as program 0 (I dunno what for, but...) and assign it to the "+" key. Once you do that, the display will show "Prgm 0" in reverse video.

You assign programs to keys by going into the program and pressing UP (to move BACK a program step) into Step 0, then press the key you want that program to be assigned to.

You can remove a key assignment by going UP to Step 0 and using the "<-" key to erase the keystroke. Likewise, you can see what key a program is assigned to by doing the same thing, but just don't press "<-". ;-)

Thanks,

Bruce

#9

And yes, the 30b is one of the fastest production calculators on the market right now. It's even faster than the previous champ (the Casio FX-9860G) by quite a margin. It's a marvelous calculator!

Thanks,

Bruce

#10

Quote:
entering, say, a LBL 00 after the last digit will not enter the value

You don't need to press INPUT after entering a label. After you enter the second digit (all labels are 2 digits) it should let you enter the next instruction without pressing INPUT. Also, numbers are terminated with things like STO or RCL, so you don't need to do 12 INPUT STO 4. But just entering a number, like 0, does leave the cursor hanging there. If you want a 0 in the display, use shift+hold ON (clear), rather than 0 INPUT.

You do need INPUT (or =) after menu choices, for example FP (fractional part) is MATH shift+hold UP =. That's a nuisance, but a bigger nuisance is that it takes 3 bytes and not just 1 as in most HP calcs. Because of this, the 290 bytes available is roughly equivalent to the 12c's 99 bytes of program space. And, yes, when entering a program you need to know that FP is math up = and IP is math up up =. But as you use it more you'll remember these.

See the article I put in the articles section recently for some more tips and observations. Programming the 30b is quirky, no doubt about it, but it is fast.


#11

Don, I see that I did not clearly express what I meant.

Within my benchmark program, I initially tried:

1 STO 0

2 0

3 Lbl 00

and expected that the value 0 would be placed in X by the Lbl 00 step. But it was not. I had to use:

1 STO 0

2 0

3 Input

4 Lbl 00

to accomplish what I needed.

In RUN mode, to begin execution of my benchmark, I initially tried:

2500

Prgm 0

=

which behaved as if 0 were in X rather than the desired 2500. I had to use:

2500

Input

Prgm 0

=

to get 2500 in X before starting Prgm 0.

These examples where an INPUT was required to actually get the desired value in X were a surprise to me.


Edited: 24 Aug 2010, 7:25 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


#12

Yeah, I see what you mean, you're right.

It would have been nice if LBL terminates digit entry, like STO and RCL does.

Cyrille/Tim, how about it?

#13

Mike, not that it will solve this particular problem, but I strongly suggest assigning each program to a key and running the program from that key. I never execute programs from within the PRGM environment by pressing =. My favorite key for this purpose is the AMORT key since I never run amortization schedules.

If your program starts out this way:

STO 0
etc.

and you enter 123 and press the key to start your program (or = = within PRGM mode), it will store 123 in R0 as you would expect. But if your code starts out this way:

5
STO 0

you will get 1235 in R0.

Not like most RPN calcs, but that's the way it is for this one.

#14

Quote:
Programming the 30b is quirky, no doubt about it, but it is fast.

Program execution is fast, programming is slow :(

#15

Yeah, I meant execution is fast. Programming is slow, but the more you do it the easier it gets.

#16

is covered in one of the programming learning modules.

The modules covering programming are **much** more detailed sources of information regarding programming that the manual.

One module is dedicated as a *reference* module containing as much information as was available about all sorts of areas related to programming.

So... moral of the story? :-)

Treat the learning modules as extensions of the manual and refer to them when possible.

#17

Don't forget, the case is in that package too, right behind the calculator. The calculator itself is not big and bulky at all.


#18

Thanks - I'll look at it in a new light...


#19

Office Depot will not accept calculator returns if the packages have been opened.

I will never buy from them again, but that's a different story.

#20

Several good sample programs for the 30b are included in the learning modules related to programming and using HP Solve.

Don't forget that HP Solve is present either.

The sample programs include:

PI finder (written by Katie). Shows very nice usage of the CF/STATS data registers that can be accessed indirectly.

Odd Days Loan solver program - very nice if you're buying / refinancing a house!

Lunar Lander game ;-)

etc.


#21

Example 3: Base conversions

This program can be made somewhat shorter. I transliterated an old HP-15C (or whatever)
program to the new 30b syntax.

Here's the original:

001 - 42,21,11   LBL A
002 - 44 2 STO 2
003 - 34 x<>y
004 - 44 1 STO 1
005 - 30 -
006 - 34 x<>y
007 - 44 0 STO 0
008 - 42,21, 0 LBL 0
009 - 45 1 RCL 1
010 - 34 x<>y
011 - 45 2 RCL 2
012 - 10 ÷
013 - 43 44 INT
014 - 43 20 x=0
015 - 22 1 GTO 1
016 - 33 R-v
017 - 20 ×
018 - 33 R-v
019 - 20 ×
020 - 44,30, 0 STO - 0
021 - 33 R-v
022 - 22 0 GTO 0
023 - 42,21, 1 LBL 1
024 - 45 0 RCL 0
025 - 43 32 RTN

And here's the 30b version:

Step    function        comments
1 STO 2 Store the output base in memory 2.
2 ) Swap Performs a stack swap of the X and Y registers.
3 STO 1 Store the input base in memory 1.
4 - Difference of output base and input base.
5 x<>y Performs a stack swap of the X and Y registers.
6 STO 0 Store the number to convert in memory 0.
7 LBL 00 Label 00 is the main loop.
8 RCL 1 Recall input base.
9 ) Swap Performs a stack swap of the X and Y registers.
10 RCL 2 Recall output base.
11 / Divide number by output base.
12 Math Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
13 Up Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
14 Up Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
15 Input Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
16 Input Duplicates value to stack y since GF consumes stack x value.
17 GF 01 Exit loop if value is zero.
18 ( R-v This executes a roll down of the 4-level stack.
19 * Multiply weight by input base.
20 ( R-v This executes a roll down of the 4-level stack.
21 * Multiply dividend by weight.
22 STO - 0 Subtract from the number to convert.
23 ( R-v This executes a roll down of the 4-level stack.
24 Gto 00 Loop back to label 00.
25 LBL 01 Exit from the main loop ends here.
26 RCL 0 Recall final output number in new base.
27 Stop Inserts a Stop command. Program ends execution.

Unfortunately I can't test the program as don't own a 30b. Yet I hope
I didn't forget something this time.

The usage is the same as in the example:

Quote:
Convert 175 base 8 to base 10. Key in 175 = 8 = 10 = and run the program.

How does it work? The number is continuously divided by the output base
while the difference of input base and output base is multiplied by the input base.
The product of dividend and weight is added (or subtracted) from the original number.

175             =    175
17 * -2 = - 34
1 * -16 = - 16
-----
125
===

Quote:
175 base 8 is equal to 125 base 10. Now convert this result to base 2.

125             =        125
62 * 8 = + 496
31 * 80 = + 2480
15 * 800 = + 12000
7 * 8000 = + 56000
3 * 80000 = + 240000
1 * 800000 = + 800000
-------
1111101
=======

In the HP 30b programming example the following is used to get a digit:

Quote:
  • Divide number to convert by output base.
  • Accesses the FP (fractional part) function in the math menu.
  • Multiply fractional part by output base to get digit.

I assume severe rounding errors may happen when trying to convert
big numbers and/or when one of the bases is not 2, 4, 5, 8 or 10.

On the HP 15C you get:

1,234,567,890 ENTER 7 / FRAC 7 *   ->   2.8

While the correct answer for 1,234,567,890 MOD 7 is 3.
On the HP 30b you get probably a similar result.

Therefore I assume the following conversion will not work correctly when
the program from the HP 30b programming examples is used:

123,456,789(10) -> 3,026,236,221(7)

These kind of errors can't happen with the program
above as only integer values are used (given that only integers are entered).

Kind regards

Thomas


Addendum:

Quote:
Bases greater than 10 are not supported by this program.

True, but you may use the following trick to convert a decimal number to its hexadecimal presentation:

51966 = 100 = 16 = 

Run the program to get:

12:10:15:14

This can easily be transliterated to:

CAFE


Edited: 24 Aug 2010, 6:33 p.m.


#22

Hello, Thomas --

Quote:
12      Math            Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
13 Up Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
14 Up Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
15 Input Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.

Hmm, if these 'instructions' are actually recorded as such... that is not good, because they are incomplete and/or relative rather than absolute. It's better to record only the specific command, even if it is reached by scrolling through multiple levels of a menu. For example, the HP-32S and HP-42S record only specific instructions, not all the steps required to reach them.

Quote:
On the HP 15C you get:

1,234,567,890 ENTER 7 / FRAC 7 *   ->   2.8

While the correct answer for 1,234,567,890 MOD 7 is 3. On the HP 30b you get probably a similar result.


Doesn't the HP-30b have the MOD function? The only way to do modulo division robustly is to process entirely at machine-code level. Otherwise, rounding errors can spoil the results.

A few years ago, a number of Forum regulars held a programming challenge to write a robust keystroke program for the MOD function. I did not participate, but no one really succeeded, as I remember.

-- KS


Edited: 25 Aug 2010, 1:44 a.m.


#23

Karl,

Quote:
Quote:
12      Math            Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
13 Up Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
14 Up Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.
15 Input Accesses the IP (integer part) function in the math menu.

Hmm, if these 'instructions' are actually recorded as such... that is not good, because they are incomplete and/or relative rather than absolute. It's better to record only the specific command, even if it is reached by scrolling through multiple levels of a menu. For example, the HP-32S and HP-42S record only specific instructions, not all the steps required to reach them.


Please don't blame Thomas for this. This is not an error, this is a feature of 30b programming :( We all know better programming paradigmas - and you mentioned two of them - but apparently the creator(s) of the 30b did not ... :-/

#24

Just be assured that I didn't feel blamed.

Have a nice day

Thomas

#25

Hi Karl

What's even worse is that several possibilities of these instructions may lead to the same function depending on whether you prefer using up- or down-keys in the menue. This makes reading code a nightmare. Okay, most of us will take the shortest path but this isn't unique in all cases (e.g. COS-1 may be accessed by both Math-Input-Up-Up-Input and Math-Input-Down-Down-Input).

Quote:
Doesn't the HP-30b have the MOD function?

Apparently not. You may also miss the roll-up-key. Instead you have to hit the roll-down-key thrice:

Quote:
From Jeff's program 3:

7	( Rv	        Roll down
8 ( Rv Roll down
9 ( Rv Roll down


Quote:
A few years ago, a number of Forum regulars held a programming challenge to write a robust keystroke program for the MOD function.
I did not participate, but no one really succeeded, as I remember.

Interesting! Do you still remember what can go wrong with the obvious idea:

MOD(Y, X) = Y - IP(Y/X)*X

Kind regards

Thomas

#26

Does anyone remember the early 20b manual seemed to have "Macro" in it?

The 30b programming paradigm is somewhat macro-ish because it records keystrokes and essentially "plays them back".

Hence, the MATH UP INPUT DOWN type of thing. It is also the reason that when you type 12 and then start a program, if the program begins with 3, you get 123 entered as a value because the program has essentially pressed a 3.

When the 30b executes a program, it plays back the keystrokes, very fast, of course.

Think Choose boxes vs. soft menus. It is simply the paradigm being used. Isn't necessarily good or bad, it is just the approach.

The 30b has some amazing capabilities given is speed. It blows the n-queens benchmark program out of the water - roughly 11 seconds to do that program that is easily keyed by the user where the 50g using UserRPL at 203Mhz takes 67 seconds and the 42s in FAST mode takes over 200 seconds and the HP 35s takes over 250 seconds. 11 seconds vs. 250?

All for $49.99?

Would all of us have liked 16MB of ram, a USB connection and a touch screen? Sure! :-)

Key (to me) is movement in the right direction.

Not to mention it blows the TI financial calculators to pieces on a functional comparison. :-)


#27

If the 30b were a bad calc, we won't discuss it here at length. Looking at it from the 20b, it's a step in the right direction for sure. Based on what we experienced in other HP vintage calcs, it seems to be ambiguous (random walk?). Being a technical person like many fellow forumers, and an old European (ambiguous as well ;), I see the achievements but focus on the shortcomings. What I've liked (for the US: loved) to get from HP:

  • a *scientific* calc featuring
  • a display as flexible as in the 17bII+ Silver, allowing soft keys,
  • keystroke programmable like the 42S
  • with the amount of memory the 42S provides.
IMHO, this is kind of a minimum request after 22 years. OTOH I'd be willing to spend significantly more than 50 US$ for this. It may well be within the form factor of the 30b. I appreciate the opportunity to reconfigure this animal, but it's difficult to overcome HW limits. So if HP wants to focus on financial business calcs, and this potential 40b as sketched above will be reconfigurable, I think many of us could live with this as second best solution.

FWIW

Edited: 25 Aug 2010, 12:20 p.m.


#28

And I am not disagreeing. I want a 40b as well. :-)

I'm just trying to provide additional information and make sure that it isn't dismissed as useless if it doesn't have a MOD function. And, that's another :-)

#29

I got my 30b today.

First impression when looking at the sealed blister: Looks very nice, has a nice keyboard layout.
Then I took it out of the package, and the next thought was: Who the hell designed that housing, with the shiny back, and worse, the awful sharp edge around the case!
It can easily be seen that the designer(s) took the Woodstock series as model, but why didn't they also take over the ergonomic idea of the Woodstock series, with case sides which don't hurt the holding hand.

The Woodstock series calcs fit into the hand like a glove around (the hand). The 30b (and obviously the 20b) fit into the palm if you don't try to hold it in place. If you do, the unnecessary sharp edge will press into your fingers, a very unpleasant and unergonomic thing.

One of the first things I tried after turning it on was to switch the calc to RPN.
There are no ALG/RPN legends on the keyboard, and no Alg/RPN menu items.

Believe it or not, the RPN toggle sits behind a menu entry called "Chain". There are three options, Chain, Algebraic, and RPN.

For this I had to consult the manual, which enlighted the issue on page 8. At least for me, the "Chain" mode was rather unexpected.
After all, this mode may make sense on a business calc.

BTW the legends of the shifted functions of keys printed in the manual are next to unreadable.

Quote:
If the 30b were a bad calc, we won't discuss it here at length. Looking at it from the 20b, it's a step in the right direction for sure.

I also believe the 30b is a good calc, technically. But the ergonomics of the case are not very good IMHO. A slope on the back is good for the palm, but the sides should be more finger-friendly. Take a look at the Woodstock series, at the Pioneer series, or even at the 35s to see how it can be made much better.

This is surely the last calc in this housing that I'll ever buy,
and I'm still not sure whether returning it to the seller and get a 17bII silver instead.

Hopefully the 17bII+ silver has a better designed housing. If it's similar to the one of the 35s, it should be ok.

Sorry for the "negative-sounding" impressions, but I was so eager to get my hands on that very interesting 30b, and then the first touch was such a disappointment, that I had to write down my opinions.

Don't get me wrong, the housing feels solid, the keys feel good so far, and overall it is a nice machine, but OTOH it's one of the very few HP calcs which I don't like to hold in my hand because of the unpleasant sharp edge. I remember only one HP calc series with similar bad ergonomics regarding the housing, the Clamshell series. If you fold the left keyboard to the back, the calc sits very unpleasant in your hand.

Sorry for the maybe OT;-)

Ray


#30

Ray,

The sharp edge feel can be significantly improved with a file and/or sandpaper, or even scraped with a knife blade held perpendicular to the edge. It can be rounded over quite a lot without any structural problems. Of course I won't blame you if you feel that you should not have to use such tools on your new calculator.

...

#31

These slopes are the oldest tricks to make calcs looking smaller and more elegant than they really are. An extreme example was the HP-19C. Take a look at the picture on the ad sheet, and compare it with the real thing. Such pictures are usually taken under an angle slightly steeper than the slope of the lower section of the housing so you won't see this part on the picture. The sharper the edge of the upper section of the housing the flatter the calc looks. Simple but successful :-/


#32

The same method is often used for designing and advertising watches. Watch it 8)

#33

I've always admired the Woodstocks more than any other HP line for their natural fit for hand held use. But now the Woodstocks have been relegated to second-place. The HP 30b provides a package that is much better.

The edges on my HP 30b (serial 4CY024xxxxx, made in June) are not sharp in any conceivable sense of the word. They have a definite palpable and visible round-off. (Could there have been a late manufacturing change?) The unit is very comfortable to use in the hand. This is the sturdiest and most attractive calculator of the 30-plus HPs that I've owned in the past 34 years.

I simply love the mechanical/industrial design of the HP 30b!

Edited: 28 Aug 2010, 8:17 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


#34

Quote:
...I don't like to hold in my hand because of the unpleasant sharp edge.

The edges ... are not sharp in any conceivable sense of the word...


Interesting debate. After reading the comments about the sharp edges, I looked up all the side and angled views of this calculator that I could find, and I just don't see them. I guess you have to hold one to get what's being discussed.

#35

The problem is that I didn't find good pictures of the sides of the unit before, else I would not have bought it.

Below are some pics of the 30b comparing to a Woodstock and a Pioneer calculator.

As can be easily seen, the side edge of the 30b is very sharp compared to the Woodstock and Pioneer. On the Woodstock and Pioneers, one holds the calc by pressing the finger and prolonged thumb (palm) against the sides of the housing, which are flat and wide (Woodstock), slightly rounded (Pioneer), or sharp (30b). The finger contact surface is very narrow on the 30b, at least if one holds the calc in a way shown in the pics, to prevent it from slipping out of the hand accidently. This is very uncomfortable for my taste. The Pioneer calc shows how a flat calc can be made, still featuring rounded, finger-friendly sides. The 30b is thicker than the Pioneer series calcs.

Needless to say, my brand-new 30b already has tiny hair scratches on the awful shiny back. I really handled it extremely carefully, and always put it into the protective sleeve immediately after looking at it.

So given that I actually did not really use the unit, it has usage marks, and if I wanted to return it to the dealer, he may not give me a full refund. Now _that's_ an experience I could have lived without:-(


Holding in hand:

The 30b from top. Here one can directly see that this device will be unpleasant to hold in the hand. Even most cheap remote controls have a more ergonomic housing (but worse keys;-)


Both from the side:

and side by side (25C 30b 22S):


#36

Nice pictures, Raymond. I just picked up my 30b and did some calculations, then I picked up my 32s and did some calculations. Yes, there is a different feel because of the shape the two calculators, but honestly I wouldn't say that one is better or worse than the other. To me, either is acceptable.

And, yes, the back of the 30b is shiny, as opposed to the textured back of the 32s. But I won't be looking at the back until I have to change the batteries, so that's not a major factor for me.

It comes down to personal tastes, like most things. Aesthetically and physically, I have no problems with the 30b.

I wish it had more memory, however.

Don

Edited: 28 Aug 2010, 8:42 p.m.

#37

Indeed, the pictures do explain the issue. I would probably say the edges are "sharply angled" (which may be uncomfortable to hold because of the shape), rather than "sharp", which to me implies actually digging in to the hand.


#38

The slope of the sides of the HP 30b and that of the bottom half of the Classic series are very close. I've never heard anyone disparage, say, the HP-45 as "sharp-edged" or uncomfortable in any way.

This issue appears to be one of individual aesthetics, not ergonomics, identical in that aspect to a dislike of the bottom cover color.

The HP 30b has outstanding ergonomics, possibly the best ever on an HP calculator. It is very comfortable when used in the hand, and it is very stable when used on the tabletop. It is an excellent example of superior industrial design.

I kind of like it. :-)


#39

Quote:
The slope of the sides of the HP 30b and that of the bottom half of the Classic series are very close. I've never heard anyone disparage, say, the HP-45 as "sharp-edged" or uncomfortable in any way.
Please read the text and look at the pics, I'm not talking about the bottom half, but the top edge.

Quote:
This issue appears to be one of individual aesthetics, not ergonomics, identical in that aspect to a dislike of the bottom cover color.
It has nothing to do with aesthetics. From an aesthetical point of view the 30b looks very good IMHO, regardless of the fact that I don't like shiny surfaces on calculators. It's the "sharp angled edges" I dislike.


Quote:
The HP 30b has outstanding ergonomics, possibly the best ever on an HP calculator.
This is simply not true. If the "sharp angled edges" would have been smoother, or more rounded, then maybe it would be very good regarding ergonomics. Nearly every other HP calc (except the Clamshells and the 6s) is better from an ergonomic point of view.


Quote:
It is an excellent example of superior industrial design.

No. The Pioneer Series were examples of superior industrial design, the 30b is way behind.

Quote:
I kind of like it. :-)
Glad you like it, but as I wrote, I pointed out reasons why I don't like certain aspects of the 30b.

Overall I'm sure it's a nice machine, but not as perfect as the Pioneer series. And for me, the 30b has some ergonomic flaws.


#40

Raymond,

The HP 30b looks like it was designed to follow the natural angles of the hand while it is in its relaxed position (curved). This allows the calculator to be held in this rested position while maintaining a good grip. Personally, I think it fits very well in the hand and is extremely comfortable because of this design. However, looking at your photos it appears you are doing an almost a flat-palmed wraparound grip. Perhaps you might want to change your approach to holding the device.

Try resting the sides of the 30b against the pads of your fingers, thumb, and thumb side of the palm instead of wrapping your fingers and thumb over the edges (so, behind the edges). Make sure your hand is in its relaxed curved position. You still get an excellent grip this way with minimal force. In fact, holding the 30b this way I can turn my hand over and the device still wont fall on the floor - and that is with little force in my grip.

If you hold it the way I describe, I think you might look at the ergonomic design of 30b in a new light.

Now, if HP can redesign the programming overlay with better ink, I would be very happy. As it stands, my DISP and ISG are almost completely worn off.

I am also hoping they fix the Best Fit bug and the Cash Flow Reset bug, which I reported to them last week. If you or anyone else wants details on these bugs, please feel free to ask and I will describe them in detail. Other than these issues, I think the HP 30b is the best financial calculator ever made. Heck, it is what finally got me to switch from a TI BA II Plus Professional. I've had mine for almost a month and I absolutely love it.

Regards,

Mark

Edited: 29 Aug 2010, 1:36 a.m.


#41

Quote:
Perhaps you might want to change your approach to holding the device.

Are you also an iPhone 4 user? :-)
Sorry, couldn't resist!

Greetings,
Massimo


#42

No, I'm not an iPhone 4 user. However, I have a pretty good sense of humor and your joke wasn't lost on me. :D

Regards,

Mark

#43

Quote:
Now, if HP can redesign the programming overlay with better ink, I would be very happy. As it stands, my DISP and ISG are almost completely worn off.

That's exactly what happened on my HP 30b. All four overlay labels on that row of keys have half disappeared, plus the label above the N key.

I wish there were some way to order replacements, because that overlay is very useful. I'd like to see its labels permanently fixed as part of the keyboard.

But, that's a minor issue on such a great design.

My wish, which Katie explains as reasonably possible with only minor hardware modification, is for an upgraded version with real-time clock/calendar functions and a few K-bytes more programming RAM (plus those permanently affixed programming labels).

Edited: 29 Aug 2010, 12:58 p.m.

#44

Quote:
Indeed, the pictures do explain the issue. I would probably say the edges are "sharply angled" (which may be uncomfortable to hold because of the shape), rather than "sharp", which to me implies actually digging in to the hand.

Many thanks for pointing out a more suitable description. I think I should have written "sharply angled" in the 1st place to avoid any confusion:-)
#45

I can't understand why they can't make the new machines smaller than the 1970s machines. They are thinner, but larger. What's up with that ?!


#46

Smaller is not necessarily better, just cuter. I'd much rather have my hand held calculators be the size and shape of the HP 30b, rather than say, credit card sized.


#47

Yes, credit card sized is too small. But Voyager size is certainly not, and Pioneer is even larger. Both are significantly smaller than the 30B.

The voyager can easily fit in almost any pocket, even a trouser front pocket.

The Pioneer is somewhat too large for that.

The 30b is even larger. So is the 35s. It doesn't make sense.

Nowadays, the calculator is even more marginalized than ever. If it is going to be larger than an ipod touch, then it is sort of useless...you can put a 42s sim on an ipod touch...

Since so many people now carry cell phones around, they will need a really good reason to carry a calculator around...and size really gets in the way of that.

Maybe HP is thinking, "we can't compete with 'mobility' devices" and so we will focus on desktop applications...where it is somehow easier and better than the computer...

It is a tough market for sure!

Edited: 29 Aug 2010, 1:35 p.m.


#48

What strikes me, is there are so many differing opinions on this forum about most recent HP calculators. Some comments are rather strident. Perhaps it's no wonder HP does not appear to "listen". Which voices do they listen to? Angled sides or straight? Smaller or bigger? Landscape or portrait? Menus or shifted keys? I could go on.

About the only commonly held opinion is that the keys must click and actually register!


#49

Quote:
What strikes me, is there are so many differing opinions on this forum about most recent HP calculators.

True, but that's telling in and of itself. I don't think you'll find many (if any) negative comments about the calculators in the voyager or pioneer series. HP got these "right" and even now these calculators are in high demand.

Back in the day, HP didn't ask for our opinions at all. They had a core group of talented people that carefully hashed out the ideas themselves and collectively refined them until they reached near perfection. This takes a large corporate commitment. Although HP has a couple of very talented people in the calculator group now I don't get the sense that the company has made much of a commitment to calculator development. I don't know if we can expect too much in the way of innovative new scientific calculators until HP is willing to commit more resources to their development and support (starting with posting the 30b manual on their main website, for crying out loud).


#50

Quote:
...I don't think you'll find many (if any) negative comments about the calculators in the voyager or pioneer series. HP got these "right" and even now these calculators are in high demand.

Back in the day, HP didn't ask for our opinions at all. They had a core group of talented people that carefully hashed out the ideas themselves and collectively refined them until they reached near perfection. This takes a large corporate commitment...


Katie --

A big "amen" to that!

And the core team must have included electronics engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, mathematicians, and technical writers, as a minimum...

-- KS

#51

Quote:
What strikes me, is there are so many differing opinions on this forum about most recent HP calculators. Some comments are rather strident.
Sorry if some of my comments sounded harsh, I didn't meant to offend anyone...

However, I had (too?) high expectations regarding the 30B, since from what was written in the forum and in the HPCC datafile, it sounded like a machine I had to get my hands on. And I have to admit the 30B looks good, no question!

When I got my hands on a 30B actually, I realized that this machine was not meant for me because of the IMHO suboptimal case sides. I know that I don't like to take this calc into my hands. Therefore I was disappointed. Today, I returned the 30B to the calc dealer. If the price had been about 30 Euros, like in the US, _maybe_ I would have kept the unit for my collection, but here in Germany the 30B costs 50 Euro + shipping, and that's too much to waste for a thing I don't even like to touch. I think I'll get a 17BII+ silver, which at least seems to have a more hand-friendly housing;-)

Quote:
About the only commonly held opinion is that the keys must click and actually register!

This seems to be an immanent problem since (and inluding) the 49g FHB. How does the 17BII+ silver compare in this respect?

#52

Quote:
Sorry if some of my comments sounded harsh, I didn't meant to offend anyone...

I wasn't pointing a finger at you. There have been many, shall we say, strong opinions voiced about HP's recent offerings.
#53

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:About the only commonly held opinion is that the keys must click and actually register!

This seems to be an immanent problem since (and inluding) the 49g FHB. How does the 17BII+ silver compare in this respect?


I had to return mine for a replacement because some keys were registering unreliably despite the click.

#54

Hmmm, doesn't sound too good. Is the replacement more reliable, or does it miss key strokes, too?


#55

Yesterday I got my NIB and still sealed 17bII+ silver/gun (s/g) metallic overlay.

Now _that's_ a difference compared to the 30b! The 17bII+ s/g has much better haptics IMHO.
The housing has a slightly trapezoid form, too, but the upper left and right edges, which were the reason to return the 30b to the dealer, are much better (less sharply) angled on the 17bII+ s/g. The 17bII+ s/g is much nicer and comfortable to hold than the 30b.

The 17bII+ s/g LCD resolution is the same as on the classic Pioneer high-end machines (17BII, 42S), but the contrast is much better.
So far no missed or bounced keys.

And as if this weren't good enough, the price I paid for the new in blister and still sealed unit was 39 Euros incl. shipping, and there was a free promotional QuickCalc in the blister, too.

This 17bII+ s/g was a very good compensation for my annoyances with the 30b:-)

Now if hp made a 42SII based on the 17bII+ s/g , but with a reachable serial I/O connector, I would definitely buy at least one or two units.

Ray


#56

Quote:
This 17bII+ s/g was a very good compensation for my annoyances with the 30b:-)

Now if hp made a 42SII based on the 17bII+ s/g , but with a reachable serial I/O connector, I would definitely buy at least one or two units.


IMHO, the HP 17bII+ is a cheaply-made replacement for the HP 17BII. Other than improved display contrast, there is nothing about the HP17 BII+ that is an improvement over the HP 17BII, or any other HP calculator design. Like the unfortunate HP 35S, it's really too large to be termed a shirt-pocket calculator.

The HP 30b, IMHO, has far better ergonomics, is smaller than the HP 17BII+, has much much better scientific and programming support, is blazingly fast, and is mechanically far better designed and constructed.

But I will admit, there is ONE feature that the HP 17BII+ has that is missing (without any reasonable justification) on the HP 30b: Real time clock/date/calendar functions. I wish I didn't have to pull out my old HP 17BII for those functions.

I would hate to see HP waste time and effort producing an HP42S successor in the obsolete HP 17BII+ package. In that event, I'd just have to be satisfied with my three old HP 42S units. But an HP 42S successor in the form of the HP 30b would be an instant and universal hit. I'd buy several. Especially if it had micro-SD card support, and the battery capability to support it (likely not practical). Serial I/O, if not USB, would be valueless in the modern era.


#57

This is getting boring, but anyhow...

Quote:
IMHO, the HP 17bII+ is a cheaply-made replacement for the HP 17BII.

This is one of the few points we seem to have the same opinion.

Quote:
Other than improved display contrast, there is nothing about the HP17 BII+ that is an improvement over the HP 17BII, or any other HP calculator design. Like the unfortunate HP 35S, it's really too large to be termed a shirt-pocket calculator.

Sorry, here it becomes clear that you never had a 17bII+ silver in your hands. The 17bII+ has much more memory than the 17BII, and more functions.

And about dimensions: The 17bII+ silver has a smaller footprint than the Pioneer series calcs. The 17bII+ is about 1mm thicker than the Pioneers, but the belt size is still smaller, so it fits into smaller shirt pockets than a Pioneer.

The front view of the 17bII+ may be similar to the 35S, and maybe the keys are similar, but the housing of the 17bII+ silver is completely different from that of the (agreed too large) 35S.

It's ok if you more like the 30b, that's why they make different models. Tastes are different, and facts are facts, see above.

Quote:
I would hate to see HP waste time and effort producing an HP42S successor in the obsolete HP 17BII+ package.
I don't think the package is obsolete. IMHO it's the better, but more expensive package.
It looks as if the 20b/30b housing is made for the low-cost entry models with limited graphics, and that's ok.

The 17bII+ package is much more suited as a replacement for the higher-end models, with better display, less sharply edged sides, etc.

Edited: 11 Sept 2010, 2:48 p.m.

#58

Design is a matter of taste, so either you feel it or not.

To the hard ;) facts:

  • The 30b is even some 4mm longer than the 17bii+ Silver, while the latter is 1mm wider.
  • The 17bii+ S has approximately the same size as the Pioneers.
  • Both have slanted keys - an advantage over the Pioneers allowing cleaner keyboards.
  • The display of the 17bii+ S is far more versatile than that of the 30b. Softkeys are only possible on the 17bii+ S.
  • The 30b may be reconfigured, the 17bii+ S not.
So, if HP would give the 30b a reasonable display like the 17bii+ S then I'd be happy :) - as if HP would make the 17bii+ S reconfigurable. I'd be even happier if they would give them a state-of-the-art display and some way of data I/O as well :)), but I've learned that's expecting too much :-/

My 20 milli Euros only.

Ceterum censeo: HP, launch a 43S d8)

Edited since I made a wrong size statement :( Sorry, but corrected now :-/

Edited: 17 Sept 2010, 4:12 a.m.

#59

I've updated the n-queens benchmark with the new result of 9.3 seconds for the 30B.
This speedup was possible by replacing register arithmetic with DSE/ISG commands.

I've also tested the fast mode tsys=on, but the execution speed doesn't increased
significantly. The reason is the DOWN command for accessing the ABS function, that puts the calculator temporarily
(less than 1 second) into the fast mode. With other words DOWN, UP and BACKSPACE can be used
for speeding up loops without using tsys=on. Possibly there is a better way to do this.
Now we know why the 30B is so fast in the n-queens benchmark.

#60

I am also not impressed, but not disappointed either. Ambivalent perhaps.

I cannot comment on the 30bs usefulness as a financial calculator since I do not rely on them.

Aesthetically I feel that its case design was designed just to be designed. Whereas the Pioneer series were minimalist. I still feel that the Pioneer platform was one of the best ever for a calculator. That said the trapezoidal design does fit very well and feel good in the hand. Function trumps form perhaps?

The buttons feel good, but why do I need an overlay for programming? That should have been printed on the face.

The new programming model is different. Neither good or bad. Just different.

The display is easy to read, but I'd give up a little bit of readability for the more flexible 42S screen.

When I look at the 30b it doesn't invoke any passionate response. But it is a business calculator, perhaps it shouldn't.


#61

Quote:
When I look at the 30b it doesn't invoke any passionate response. But it is a business calculator, perhaps it shouldn't.

Now that's an interesting comment, Egan. By inference, a scientific calculator should?

Are all business folks dull? Engineers exciting? I'm liking this more and more.


#62

The first sentence was serious. My initial response to the 30b was, "yet another business calculator." *sigh* I'm sure for many here the response was "Wow! Another business calculator! 2K of RAM! Yippee!!!"

The second sentence was just a friendly jab at our business types on this forum. I probably should have added a smiley face. :-) Or, perhaps since I work for very large three letter company with "business" in their name, their smiley face. :-| Just in case there is any doubt. :-)


#63

Oh, business types have thick skin.

However, rather than "just another business calculator", the 30b does have several advantages.

1) Cheapest RPN programmable from HP.

2) Includes a VERY nice (IMO) set of scientific and statistics functions for a business model.

and

3) Is the fastest native-programming programmable calculator HP has ever made.


Not a bad list.


#64

No arguments here. The 30b represents forward motion. And that is exciting.

#65

Quote:
3) Is the fastest native-programming programmable calculator HP has ever made.

I have to take exception to this. The new 12C+ is faster in some instances. Depending on where the program is located in memory on the 30b the 12C+ is faster in the "loops of addition" test and other programs that require the 30b to do a long label search. Even with a clear program memory on the 30b, the 12C+ is nearly the same speed as the 30b. In addition, many programs that use indirect register access are faster on the 12C+, bubble sort in particular is much faster.

Since the 12C+ is running an emulator of the original 12C processor and the running the original 12C firmware this is a testament to both the efficiency of the emulator and the original 12C code.


#66

Correct me if I'm wrong, but can't you write ARM ASM on the 50g? That'd make the 50g the fastest native-programming programmable calculator HP has ever made. Or does native mean the default language?


#67

Katie, good point. Exception taken! The loop + test does show the 30b faster if Test sys is turned on, but on an "out of the box" 12c+ or 30b running the "normal" + test, the 12c+ is faster. The 30b does have the 12c+ beat on price. :-)

Egan, perhaps I should say "non-assembly language" native programming environment - something you can take out of the box, turn on, type in, and run.

The percentage of any users who can take out a 50g, type up an ARM program on the calculator itself from scratch and run it must be vanishingly small, but I think I will amend my statement to "non-assembly" as above. :-)

And, I also have to imagine it would take a lot longer than writing something in the 12c+ RPN or the 30b "mostly" RPN language.

#68

What I am not impressed by is that it is still not for sale in Europe (ok ... I mean the UK, but I believe there are no European vendors either) :-(

Was there such an enormous delay for the other recent worthwhile HP calculators (35s, 20b)? I don't believe so - I think I bought my 35s just a few months after introduction.


#69

"Believing" means "not knowing" (hope this translation of a German saying is correct): Please see here . HTH


#70

OK - it's available in Germany; it would cost me an extra 13 euros to get it delivered to the UK. I am not too keen on that.

Slightly cagey response there regarding UK and Europe; it is really just a manner of speaking in Britain. Europe can be used to mean Europe proper (that is, including UK), or used to mean the European continent (that is, Europe, excluding UK). I agree it may be a bit much to use the two meanings in a single sentence. Anyway, being from the Netherlands myself (or Holland - don't start on this one as well!), I do not subscribe to anti-European feelings that some people may have here in the UK. And also: it is not as bad as some might think. Do remember that the French, Dutch, and Irish (am I missing out other countries here?) fairly recently voted against one European reform or another - that cannot be said of the British.

#71

Maarten,

Quote:
What I am not impressed by is that it is still not for sale in Europe (ok ... I mean the UK, but I believe there are no European vendors either) :-(

That's a quite interesting statement in the view of basic logic. First you claim UK being a subset of Europe, then you claim UK and Europe don't overlap d;-) I'd vote for part 1.

#72

Before we had the high-speed passenger train Eurostar operating between France and UK (British people would say "between England / The Kingdom and France"), we were joking around...

The British / Brits / Britons news channel reported at every other thunderstorm:

Oh, look at the English Channel (UK) / Aermelkanal (DE) / la Manche (FR), it's really rough today. The Mainland is cut-off!

Tells you a lot ;-))

Auf Wiedersehen,

Joerg


#73

Hallo Jörg,

I know this good ol' joke with the continent being cut-off. Doesn't change the attitude, however.

Tschüß,

Walter


#74

Quote:
Doesn't change the attitude, however.

Rather, illustrates the attitude.

Well, after all, at one time "the sun never sets on the British Empire", and today English is the "international language" (witness this forum). The general principles of English common law prevail in many parts of the world, as does the parliamentary system of government.


#75

Martin,

Quote:
Quote:
Doesn't change the attitude, however.

Rather, illustrates the attitude.

Guess why I added "however"? Hint: Please read Jörg's post.

#76

Well, of course I did read his post, which contained the joke you were referring to, which illustrated the British attitude.


#77

Well, and the change of words (mainland -> continent) didn't change the attitude ;)

HTH


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