Good HP calculator for middle school child?


What do you guys think of the HP 38g? It looks like a pretty good
match in my opinion. They are dirt cheap on Ebay, unlikely to be
the object of theft, and have pretty much all of the primary functions
he'll need on un-shifted keys. The applet library on looks pretty nice.

Also, if it's built anything like the HP48 series it'll last forever.

Any opinions?

There's also the Smartcalc 300s, and I suppose he could even use my HP 35s, but I'd rather he use something older and/or cheaper.


I would probably prefer the most recent incarnation, a 39gs or 40gs which has more memory and is faster. A USB port doesn't harm either. You find them refurbished for very little money on eBay, too.

The applet stuff isn't bad and you can save the setup for some applet under a specific name. This is very much like the document structure of the TI calculators.


The 30b might not be a bad choice. It's got far more statistics chops than needed for middle school, and it does have some advanced math. It looks great, nice keyboard and clear display. Plus, it's cheap.

Just a thought...


Our kids were handed an HP-33S when they needed a calculator on their school supply list. I think they first showed up in fourth grade. When they hit high school and were told to have a 'graphing calculator', the oldest got an HP-48G, the next one received an HP-49G+.

We didn't go with an HP-35S until my daughter signed up for the Fundamentals in Engineering exam.


From the perspective of a middle school math teacher.

Please don't force your affinity for HP calculators on your middle school math student. If his/her teacher suggests a particular calculator (which, at middle school level, is not likely), then consider that. Otherwise, my experience is that middle school kids don't really need calculators because they won't help them learn what they've got to learn.


I would defer to Don on this, as he has first hand experience teaching at this level, which I don't.

What's I do have experience with is the HP-38g. It's actually the second HP I bought, after the 20s, with about 10 years in between.

Taken by itself, (with nothing to compare it to) it is an excellent calculator. Has a lot of built-in math functions, and the Solver. But it is slow, and memory-limited. I obtained a 48sx later. The 48 will do everything the 38 will, and about 4x more. Yet it seems faster (except in any graphics or Equation Writer mode), and seems to not run out of memory as fast. ???

So while I prefer the straight-laced styling of the 38g, I am sure that Marcus is right that the 39/40 would be a better choice.


There is no calculator requirement at all, and this is strictly for home use for double-checking homework and class assignments.

I'm not particularly interested in forcing any sort of calculator affinity, but I'm not likely to come onto an HP forum and ask for advice on Casio or Texas Instruments!

The 38g doesn't seem to be a very good choice in any event, I downloaded the manual and the emulator and it doesn't seem very good at all. Ordered a smartcalc 300s and a Casio 115es online for $15 total. One of those should be fine.


Brian, using a calculator to double-check homework and other assignments is a good idea as long as the student knows the underlying math. For example, in middle school, especially 6th grade, we do a lot with fractions and a student has to know how to perform the 4 basic arithmetic operations with them, including finding common denominators and converting between improper fractions and mixed numbers. If a student doesn't really have mastery of these skills and tends to rely on a calculator that can handle fractions, it will become apparent during testing. Parents need to ensure that students know the basic skills without relying on the calculator. You seem like that type of parent.

I use a fraction-equipped calculator (HP-32sii) all the time when making test answer keys. I first calculate the answers manually (sometimes in a hurry), and I use the 32sii to verify that my answers are correct. You'd be surprized (or maybe not) at how often my original answer was wrong!



I consider the HP38G to be one of the most ill-conceived and poorly executed calculator designs (HP or otherwise) of all calculators that I've ever seen. This was NOT a successful calculator for HP. There are many reasons why it is so cheap on ebay. It's a real dog.

The LCD also is just terrible...very poor contrast and and tinged an unpleasant green.

Get the recently released and inexpensive HP10bii+ instead. That can be used until something at school specifies the TI graphing calculator that must be used.


Have you considered the WP-34s, running on a 30b platform?

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