Are calculators held in the hand?


I see many write about how a calculator feels in the hand, the straight sided one less favored than the contour shaped ones. The 33S even puts rubber grips on the sides. So I pose the question, do users hold the calculator or place it on a surface? I always used mine on a desk. Comments requested. Sam


Sam, usually I hold mine in my left hand when calculating. So a compact, smooth shape is appreciated. That's what I loved at my 25C d:-)


About half the time I use mine in my hand (or even both hands).


Most of the time my 27s or 48sx flat on the desk. Some exceptions:

1. I'm leaning back in my chair musing on some numbers with a 17b.

2. I'm using my 20s in my truck.

3. I'm sitting next to an employee's desk answering her question and I borrow her 32sii.

Edited: 14 Feb 2011, 5:10 p.m.


I generally use mine in my hand)s).

I often hold (or rather, rest) an HP25 to Hp41-sized calc in my fingers and I then run the keyboard with my two thumbs - sounds klutzy, works well.

Bill Wiese
San Jose CA


Prior to my retirement 2 years ago, I worked as an engineer at a company that did a lot of equipment testing, and spent much of my time in test areas where there was no place to set my calculator down. My favorite hand held calculator was my trusty HP-25, which had a rebuilt battery pack with 2500mAh NiMH battery cells that could easily last a full work week. I have very small hands, but could still both hold and operate this calc with my left hand, whilst using my right for other important tasks, such as giving a technician the cutoff signal.


I held my 15c in my hand today and I must report that rumors of its uselessness in the hand are greatly exaggerated.


Given the way displays are not angled on most small calculators, I end up holding one in my hand. Though I will admit there are times when I'm holding two, one in each hand.


Given the way displays are not angled on most small calculators, I end up holding one in my hand.

Same here. I always use on a desk, and have been since I got my 15C in the early '80s. However, I often pickup to get a better read of the display because of the angle. The angle varies based on the desk, chair, and position of the calculator on the desk (and that depends on the volume and placement of clutter). If an eye tracking calculator with auto-positional LCD existed, then it'd be 100% desk.

BTW, this is not a problem with LED or backlit LCD (e.g. emulators on phones). The angle does not matter (unless glare is a factor--rare).


BTW, this is not a problem with LED or backlit LCD (e.g. emulators on phones). The angle does not matter (unless glare is a factor--rare).
LEDs in calculators normally had little magnifiers over the LEDs, making the viewing angle very narrow. You couldn't read them unless you were at just the right angle. Non-multiplexed LCDs have a pretty wide viewing angle. Just looking at my 41 right now, I can read it from a very wide range of angles. That changes with LCDs with a low duty cycle, typically dot-matrix ones with lots of lines.

I use mine in two ways, on the desk or workbench, and holding in the left hand while pressing keys with the right. I never hold my 71 in my hand though. It always sits on a surface and I touch-type on it.


... I often pickup to get a better read of the display because of the angle.

I use Pioneers, mostly. I find that the optimum viewing angle, and the behavior of the display when it is not held at this angle, varies from model to model, but in no case is it 90º. Seems to be intentional design, because normally in use you would not be positioned 90º above the keyboard.

Right now, I have a 21s, 22s, and 17b in front of me, a pretty good sampling of the various Pioneer displays.

Surprise! The low end one has the display with the best response. I get the widest viewing angle with the 21s, with nearly zero ghosting of inactive segments or annunciators.

The 22s (mid-range) has a narrow viewing angle, and when tilted out of its optimum angle, shows a lot of ghosting of annunciators.

The 17b (high end) also has a narrow viewing angle, and when tilted out of its optimum angle, shows no of ghosting of annunciators, but then the screen becomes all black.


Nearly always on my (or someone else's) desk


It varies...

Back when working meant using pen and paper, I'd usually have the calculator sitting on my desk and operate it with one hand while holding my pen in the other. (Back then it used to be a huge annoyance to me that the otherwise wonderful HP-25, HP-19C, and HP-41C often weren't perfectly straight so that not all four of their feet would rest on the desktop. !@#$%^)

Nowadays, working usually means using a computer, and I use Free42, not a physical calculator. The simulator lets me copy and paste numbers between the calculator and whatever I may be working on, and that's a big plus.

Using a calculator when I'm not working at a desk or computer, I hold the calculator in one hand and use the thumb on that same hand to push the keys. If I had to use an actual calculator, I'd prefer the portrait layout because it enables this one-handed operation, and since my hands aren't very large, I prefer the Woodstocks and the HP-41 over the Pioneers and HP-48/49/50 series, in terms of ergonomics... But honestly, that's all moot since I just use Free42 on my iPod touch nowadays. I still prefer the feel of a real calculator, but since I use the iPod's PDA functionality every day, also running a calculator emulator on it means one less device to carry around. I do miss the plastic calculator bodies; the iPod's slick metal back is too slippery for my taste, and the textured plastic used on the old HPs felt much more secure in my hand. Whether the cases' edges are straight or slightly curved doesn't matter, in my experience.


HP34C- always on my desk or drafting table.
HP42S- Left hand while programming, desk while calculating or running programs.
HP71B- Always in my left hand, programming or running.


Good morning!

99 percent on the desk or a kneeboard.


Same here,

my calcs almost exclusively rest on my desk when used. Except for some very quick and dirty math...


I am a Surveyor and when I am in the field the calculator is hand held. In the office it stays on the desk. I am also finding that I use Excell or freeHP42 most of the time in the office.

Sad to but I think that the days of the hand held calculator are numbered. I have been using HP calcs since the early HP35, back in the 1970s


About half-and half between the desktop and the hand. I haven't paid attention to whether I favor one over the other based on the model I'm using - I'll try to pay attention to that.


When using my HP-48GX, I usually hold it in my right hand, or let it sit on the table.

I always use the left hand for typing in numbers, although I'm right-handed (or more precisely both-handed)


come to think of it, I might use the right hand more, even though I am a leftie. Maybe because the pencil and paper are to the left. Or because the extended keyboard is to the right (on a PC XT) or maybe because of using the telephone with receiver in left hand (my tendency from very young)....

Funny, makes me think of handedness and the arbitrary nature of some of it. Like whether you play hockey or baseball first determining which way you will swing a golf club (that is one of my pet theories)


I will be 50-50 for me. It depends more on the kind of calculation. If I'm entering numbers from a paper it's on the desk. If I'm trying to solve something or tuning an already done calculation, usually handheld.

Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Hand Held Products RS232 to HP-IL aj04062 11 3,401 08-31-2013, 07:12 PM
Last Post: Paul Berger (Canada)
  New pictures of HP Prime in hand Mic 52 13,183 06-15-2013, 10:15 PM
Last Post: Peter Murphy (Livermore)
  Hand-in-Hand (har har) Dave Britten 4 1,837 07-19-2012, 01:03 PM
Last Post: Bill (Smithville, NJ)
  held breath, found tapes & drive working Garth Wilson 9 3,079 06-12-2012, 12:52 AM
Last Post: Garth Wilson
  Hand Held Products Corp John W Kercheval 12 3,375 05-23-2012, 01:56 AM
Last Post: Matt Agajanian
  OT: New Hand-Written Math Solver Steve S 0 759 05-27-2011, 07:43 PM
Last Post: Steve S
  How about a pocket / hand held RPL calc? Michael de Estrada 54 9,915 01-28-2011, 07:15 AM
Last Post: Bart (UK)
  Meeting held yesterday in western Denmark Johnny Bjoern Rasmussen 3 1,346 12-01-2009, 01:54 PM
Last Post: Johnny Bjoern Rasmussen
  Before I had HP calculators, I had Sharp calculators hecube 7 2,353 08-26-2009, 06:57 AM
Last Post: Mark Edmonds
  HP 12C--- "c" on the bottom right hand side of the display screen Radha 5 1,818 05-12-2007, 01:37 AM
Last Post: Radha

Forum Jump: