[OT]TI-Nspire CX


After quite a bit of speculation it is official now


Shall we wait for a HP answer to this?


Looks nice ... but where is the WiFi feature???? Did I miss something?


Edited: 26 Feb 2011, 3:24 p.m.


Apparently that is coming later, probably not developed in time for this release. Just my thoughts. I'm going to see if I can trade my touchpad CAS in on a color one, as a teacher.


I'm sure that WiFi will be available soon based on this.

What really caught my eye was that it will have 64Mbytes of operating RAM (twice what the previous version had), 1000 times what the Casio 9860 series (and Prizm) have and many times more than any other calculator available. This is going to allow for some pretty powerful applications, serious programming environments and/or alternative operating systems.


Except is is 120% locked down. The entire OS is encrypted to prevent "tampering".



That ought to put it squarely under Federal DMCA protection...


A big thank you to you folks at HP for *NOT* doing that with your calculators!!!!


120% locked down??? So it will take Cyril and yourself an extra 15 minutes to crack down the OS??????




I don't know whether they've done it, but if TI has responded to the brute-force cracking of the 512-bit signing keys used in their older calculators by going to larger keys such as 2048-bit or more, then it will take people a lot more than an extra 15 minutes. Barring the availability of quantum computing or breakthroughs in factoring, a brute force attack against a 2048-bit RSA key is not expected to be computationally feasible until 2030.

The downside to using long keys is that it takes much longer for the calculator to verify the signature. This is particularly a problem on calculators with relatively slow processors.


Is this Nspire CX more encrypted than the older ones? There's plenty of stuff out there on how to hack an Nspire.


There's plenty of stuff out there on how to hack an Nspire.

AFAICT, not to the extent of installing a modified or non-TI operating system on it. They're just injecting code via bugs they've found in the TI code, which may be fixed in later firmware releases.


Now even TI features a big ENTER ;)

Don't hold your breath for HP's answer - I guess it will take some time if they'll answer at all. IMHO, the new TI is a great toy but I doubt it will be a great tool for the advancement of science or engineering. Just my personal view, of course.


I'll bet the HP calculator marketing department has been sweating this and therefore has been working overtime to develop new products.

One possibility is to sell a retro 30bii Heathkit style where the buyer has to assemble the pieces and then program the calculator. The new product will open up another 256 bytes of RAM and sells for only 10% more than a standard 30b. :-(



I can't possibly take that seriously - it doesn't have [hyp] [sin] [cos] [tan] keys!!


Bruce, I'm not an engineer so I'm unfamiliar with HYP functions, but a press of the TRIG key brings up: sin, cos, tan, csc, sec, cot, sin-1, cos-1, tan-1, csc-1, sec-1, and cot-1.

The NSpire is not a scientist or engineer's calculator, it is for students only.


Sorry Don - just me being silly. So many calcs for so many years have had [hyp][sin][cos][tan] on prominent, dedicated keys that it has become a joke that you can't sell a calculator without them any more.


Thanks Bruce. I think that sin/cos/tan had their own keys on the first NSpires, but TI decided to add a trig key to free up space for gosh-knows-what.

I'll probably eventually get one of these because, from the beginning, the worst characteristic of the NSpire was it's unreadable screen, especially in low-light situations. I would imagine this screen will be excellent, if it is anything like the Prizm's.

The release notes don't mention anything about additional program commands (in BASIC) to take advantage of this new color screen (the Prizm's programming language did include new commands).

Frankly, I rarely use my NSpire in teaching.



Looks as though it's still shackled with the lumbering AOS, as evidenced by the
prominent placement of the beloved parenthesis keys. Hopefully, expressions will assemble in "pretty print" while they are being entered. Maybe the current N-spires do this already...I know the 89 only gives you "pretty print in hindsight".


Math input is standard for all Nspires. There are templates for common constructs like integrals. Hyperbolics seem to be missing but they can be easily implemented as user functions.


The Hyp-functions are there. All available functions are under the key with the open book symbol. Both alphabetically and under categories, like trig, hyp, list, string etc.


I stand corrected. I was searching under the letter "h" looking for something like "hypsin" but it's "sinh" instead. My fault.


Beautiful, but is it still a calculator? A computer with mathematical programs could probably do more and do it better. I tend to agree with "Bring back the 15C".


Good question - and with a Memory of 100 MBytes for programs and 64 MBytes for the Operating System....

YES! It is still a calculator. The best one you can buy in 2011!



Is it a calculator or a "math learning tool". Unless they've made radical changes, you are stuck with whatever TI feels is ideal and if you disagree. . . SOL.



Unless they've made radical changes, you are stuck with whatever TI feels is ideal and if you disagree. . . SOL.

What do you mean by this, Tim? It is programmable.


It is programmable.

The previous Nspire's programming commands are less than the TI-89.
The TI-89 was too difficult for the students. :(


I have written quite many "programs" using the possibility to link variables and graphical objects, like the differential equation plotter in the previous Nspire, where the plotting is done by creating tables in a spreadsheet, and then doing a scatter plot of that. The same with drawing 3D graphs.


It's a pity that you cannot draw pixel exact graphics from the programming language on the current models.


Beautiful, but is it still a calculator?

Yes, it has dedicated numeric buttons in a keypad layout.


dona nobis pacem


Is that an SD card slot in the top edge opposite the miniUSB port?


In my opinion, it seems to be a connector for the WLAN module.


Price, please?


$165 according to this site.. I don't know if that's the full retail price or what the expected street price will be.


Thank you, Katie.


Another noteworthy feature - it uses rechargeables. Throwback to the 1970s.


it uses rechargeables. Throwback to the 1970s.

High-quality color displays are generally either backlit TFT, or OLED. Either uses substantially more power than monochrome transflective LCDs, and battery life is substantially reduced. Passive color displays with no backlight look very washed out and are difficult to read except when there is bright external illumination.

Unless you don't mind buying a lot of disposable batteries, for a calculator with a high-quality color display you're really going to want to use rechargeable ones.

There are also no commonly available disposable batteries that have high capacity and are thin enough for a slim calculator. (An *actual* slim calculator, not the Casio "Slim" which is anything but.) Lithium-polymer cells are just about the only option when you want both a high-power display and a slim package.

In the 1990s it seemed like few people wanted devices (including calculators) that needed to be recharged frequently. Cell phones have changed that; now most people are accustomed to recharging consumer electronic devices frequently.

There will likely be a market for calculators with monochrome displays and long battery life for the forseeable future, but I expect that many future high-end calculators will use rechargeable lithium polymer cells.


if the probability of the batteries in a schoolkids rechargable-battery-powered calculator going flat in any 1-hour long class is 3%, and the average class size is 30 pupils, then the overall probability of no calculators suffering flat batteries during said class is (0.97)^30, which equals 40%. the chances of no flat batteries will diminish rapidly after the first 2 years of service, as the LiIon (or similar) batteries start to reach the end of their relatively short service life.

this will mean that a mathematics teacher, teaching say four 1-hour classes each day, will almost certainly have to face the prospect of at least one student each day unable to complete the lessons.
back in the 1970's this issue didn't arise, as calculators were not an _essential_ part of the teaching/learning process. students could use slide rules, tables, or even (god forbid) their brains as backup.

this is why both laptops AND rechargeable high-end calculators will present a major disruptive force within schools. the ONLY workable solution is if the tools (both computers and rechargeable-battery-powered calculators) are provided by the school within the classroom - either as class sets, or as a computer bolted down to each student's desk.

it is my view that more powerful calculators DO NOT result in smarter, more capable students. all they do is result in RICHER calculator manufacturers.


students could use ... even (god forbid) their brains as backup.

LOL So true!

This also happens with graphing calculators using disposable batteries. I've seen it in classes. I carry a set of spare alkalines for my HP 50g.

The college classes I've taken between 2006 and the present that required calculators have been:

General Chemistry I: basic scientific, not allowed to be programmable - I used an HP-32E

Linear Algebra: TI 85 or 86 required (though not allowed on tests) - I used an HP-49G instead

Engineering (Calculus-based) Physics I, II, III: basic scientific required - I used an HP-50g

In Chemistry and Physics, the calculator is mainly needed for logs, exponentials, and trig functions; the rest can be done by hand. All of it could be done with a good slide rule.

In Linear Algebra, we were expected to use the calculator to do Gaussian Elimination and find determinants, only after we had learned to do those by hand.

Although the Discrete Math class I took did not require a calculator, I found the HP-49G to be useful.


I've seen it in classes. I carry a set of spare alkalines for my HP 50g.

and those batteries are good for, what, 50 or so hours of operation?

out of curiosity (remembering, i left school 1/4 of a century ago) do schools have stationary shops on-campus where students can pop between classes to buy pencils, paper, and BATTERIES? when i was at school we had said shops, where you mostly went to buy ink for your fountain pen!

with a rechargeable calculator and laptop computer the student will need to carry two chargers in their bag - when the batteries go flat they will just plug said charger(s) into the mains outlet(s) that every student desk has... hmmm, i can see a problem...


Somehow those students always manage to have a charged phone.

If students can't be bothered to charge their calculator, it's a safe bet that there are bigger problems at hand.

There is a bookstore on campus, which does sell batteries, but which is closed at most time when I would need it, such as right before my early morning class and right before my evening class.

Edited: 28 Feb 2011, 1:47 p.m.


when the batteries go flat they will just plug said charger(s) into the mains outlet(s) that every student desk has... hmmm, i can see a problem...

Actually, in many newly-constructed (USA; college) classrooms - at least those that I have seen, there ARE power sockets readily available for each seat.


TI claims about 100 hours of operation per charge for the Nspire-CX.


this is why both laptops AND rechargeable high-end calculators will present a major disruptive force within schools.

Ha! You are very fortunate. My wife teaches high school English. The major disruptive forces are discipline problems, lack of motivation, lack of sleep, failure to do assigned work, disrespect, no parental involvement, texting or worse with those rechargeable cell phones that are supposed to be put away, etc.


One of my instructors has written on the course syllabus (which is legally binding) that she reserves the right to answer any cell phone that rings during class. I haven't yet seen it occur.

I was mortified a few weeks ago when my iPhone started making noise in Physics class, despite the switch being set to vibrate. It turns out that if you set an alarm, it will make noise even in silent mode. Somehow I had accidentally set an alarm for 10 AM. I apologized to the instructor after class, and he said it was OK since I turned it off quickly. I guess now I can't take the moral high ground and complain about other student's phones.


There's one more display technology, which I think is just perfect for a calculator: electronic ink. Easy to read and sipping power, enabling the device to need a recharge only about once a month.

The principal disadvantage of these displays, slow update speed, doesn't really hurt for calculator use.

A typical e-book reader has a great resolution for an ultimate graphing calculator. And it's lighter and thinner than any of the TI or HP graphing calcs.

At first glance, it does appear that way.

However, have you actually used any e-ink readers? There is 1 fairly important issue that immediately is noticeable - the update the entire display any time you make a change.

Imagine trying to enter a number, with or without a cursor, and the entire screen fades and reappears every button you press. We're not talking about a Voyager like flicker, but a fairly long delay. I don't know about you, but this would drive me nuts!


Tim, look at them again. The current generation allows updates of any rectangular sub-region without affecting the rest of the display. Typing text is just fine and there's no flicker. There's even a blinking cursor these days.

I bought my Kindle 3 after my iPad. I develop calculator apps for both. They'll be used in different ways, and both devices have their strengths.
A tablet is "loud" and great for interactive exploration.
An e-reader is "silent". Ideal to be clutched in your hand while pacing the room and staring at your math, code, words, etc., while the device is, essentially, off!

My calc on the Kindle has a huge stack. When it changes there is a sub-second refresh of the changed area. Not everyone will see it this way, but, to me, it works very nicely, and I really have no issue with the present-generation lag. For a calculator application, that is. (I do not enjoy web-browsing on this device.)

E-ink displays are very rugged and need no glass for protection. This allows for a low weight of the overall device. (Light enough to be held effortlessly in one hand over an extended period. About as heavy as my iPhone.)

In the education context, the energy savings aspect alone should make this technology appealing. I'd say the "silent" aspect helps, too.
(Giving every student an iPad, conversely, may not be a good idea...)

Good to know that issue is finally resolved. :-)


E-ink displays are great for reading in bright sunlight, unlike most graphic displays. Unfortunately they suck for reading in other situations, as they are *not* black on whie, but rather dark grey on medium grey. The contrast ratio is abysmal. People claim it is just like reading an actual book, but it's like reading a very badly printed book. If you compare it side by side with a cheap paperback, you'll be amazed at how much better the cheap paperback looks.

Amazon brags about how their latest Kindle has "50% better contrast ratio" compared to the earlier model. That's not much to be proud of, as it means they are now at 10:1. The worst TFT LCD displays have 300:1 contrast, and most have 1000:1 or better.

The technology is slowly improving, but between the contrast ratio, and the slow update rate Tim points out, I wouldn't want it in a calculator.

I'm writing this post on a tablet with a backlit TFT display, and it is much easier on the eyes than E-ink.

I did not intend to become an ambassador for e-ink on this forum, but I do feel a little counter-balance to your post is needed:

There're many metrics under which to quantify a display's performance.

I'm writing this on a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro and if I move my head a fraction of an inch sideways, I see the brightness of the entire screen change with me, as the angle-dependency on this notebook screen, and all others, sucks.

Do you know that sunlight is a million times lighter than indoors illumination? Do you condemn indoor illumination for being "too dark"?
The low e-ink contrast ratio is being made up in large parts by your amazing human visual system.

I enjoy tremendously to look at a reflective screen. I find it unoffensive and very pleasing. It works great for me indoors and I would not (and did not) consider curling up with son at night for a goodnight story with a tablet. Too much spewing of light and bulk.

E-ink displays are great for reading in bright sunlight, unlike most graphic displays. Unfortunately they suck for reading in other situations, as they are *not* black on white, but rather dark grey on medium grey. The contrast ratio is abysmal.

Surely the contrast ratio is better than the typical LCD calculator?

No, the e-ink contrast is far worse than most monochrome LCDs. E-Ink is only around 10:1, while typical passive matrix LCDs are at least 50:1 (usually much more), and segmented LCDs are at least 500:1 (usually much more).

Here is another article: http://www.techpoweredmath.com/texas-instruments-announces-color-ti-nspire-cx/

I don't know if TI will ever get the message, but many teachers (at the moment) simply DO NOT CARE for the Inspire. As powerful and feature rich as it may be, its increasing resemblance to a computer equipped with a computer algebra system makes it more of a hassle and LESS appealing as a tool that would be useful in the class. All our faculty members have one, and they are simply collecting dust in our desks. The best use of the Inspire would be for teaching, and not so much for students who want to do calculations. Yet, TI is a long way from creating an easy method for teachers to actually use their Inspire in the classroom.

For those not familiar with the Inspire, it is quite cumbersome to create a "project" on the Inspire. If you want to actually create something to be used in class, you are better off using their software (on the PC), and then downloading it onto the calculator. And the software requires registration as opposed to just being freely available with the unit itself.

Now, if I am already going to have to use a PC to create a project, I would rather just use whatever I already have and am familiar with as opposed to having to learn about yet another piece of software. Secondly, the software TI provides is essentially an emulator -- which raises the question: If I can just show my students what their calculator will do with the software TI has provided, why bother using the calculator? Secondly, every student would need to have such a calculator to see the project; otherwise you would need an additional projection unit should you not want to show them the emulation. It is much more likely that classrooms today are equipped with computers. Not too many classrooms have sets of calculators -- they just are not worth the money.

And the switch to "documents" is actually a pain in the rear. It makes programming the Inspire also a pain (and last I checked, their "language" is rather limited as far as input/output is concerned).

Both TI and HP are so out of touch with the educational sector -- and the funny thing is that TI already invests quite a bit into their calculator line in terms of support (eg conferences and workshops for teachers). Yet most people I talk to in academia have simply tossed the Inspire aside. Too complicated to be a calculator, and yet not powerful enough to be a computer. No one cares for these hybrid units when you have smartphones that are much more powerful.

Edited: 28 Feb 2011, 11:02 a.m.

It makes programming the Inspire also a pain (and last I checked, their "language" is rather limited as far as input/output is concerned).

The BASIC-like programming language of the NSpire started out severely crippled; there were no input commands to get data once the program began, and the only output command was the simple "Disp" to display things on a calculator page. A year or so ago TI answered that complaint with commands to input numbers or strings, and a "msgbox" type command to display data in a text box. Those commands should have been there on day one, but at least TI responded to user complaints.

Like many handheld devices, programming on the device itself is generally a pain. The teacher PC software (or student software) lets you write code on the PC, test it, and download it to the handheld without too much trouble. One of the better features was the introduction of "libraries" which lets you define functions or programs and store them in a library where they are accessible to any NSpire app, including the spreadsheet. So you could write a function to return the nth prime number and include it in a spreadsheet cell as =nprime(155), for example. So there are some good things about the NSpire programming language, but it is not as powerful and robust as many other programming languages.

There are some high schools in the US that have embraced the NSPire, but very few I think.

The question of course is: can the NSpire solve the N-Queens problem?



Of course it can! I'll pull up the benchmark BASIC version tonight and give it a run. I currently have the touchpad CAS; it will be interesting to compare the timing of this versus the new color CAS to see if the new OS is faster or slower (the Prizm executed programs significantly slower than the 9860-g slim, and Katie thinks that is due to the new OS).


The current benchmark file contains NSpire CAS timings for OS version 1.2 (8.3 seconds) and 1.3 (4 seconds). OS version 2.0, which came out about a year ago, runs it in about 4 seconds too.

If I get OS 3 (coming with the new color one) and/or the new color one, it will be interesting to see if it is at least that fast.


Can they really call this a "CX" it if doesn't have the 4 built-in RAM modules, Time and Extended Functions modules as well as the lower portion of extended memory?

:-) :-)


Hi Jake! I guess you are alluding to the 41CX? Unless HP has "CX" copyrighted, I guess TI is free to use it.

TI is not allowing teachers to trade-in their old NSpires on this new color unit, which they have done previously. They are offering a $50 discount coupon, but you can only get one by attending one of the education trade shows coming up this year, which I never attend.

I don't want one bad enough to spend $130.

Hi Jake! I guess you are alluding to the 41CX? Unless HP has "CX" copyrighted, I guess TI is free to use it.

Yeah, I was just clowning around :-)

But it will be REALLY interesting to see if TI comes out with a Halfnut version of the CX :-)

<more clowning>

With round corners around the display? And lower case letters, even adjustable contrast? What an achievement! ;)

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