The HP35S



#2

I recently bought an HP35S so I could see for myself if it was as bad as some have described. A printed copy of the user's guide was not supplied, apparently because HP has "gone green", or in other words, would rather leave it up to the purchaser to print out the 348 pages. I noticed that the white paint on the top of the keys is a lot thinner than the blue and red on the sides. Unfortunate, as the top key markings will get the most wear, particularly when the calculator is slid in and out of its slip case in field environments.
I won't comment on the confusing use of the theta symbol in polar complex form as others have gone over that at length, but can't understand why the designers didn't use the same angle symbol that was used on the 42S.
The way you have to enter hexadecimal characters A through to F is just plain idiotic. The raised position of the negative prefix is almost as irritating as the shifted STO function. Makes me wonder what what the ultimate goal of the designers was - it certainly wasn't to produce a calculator that was a step forward from its outstanding predecessors. If this is the best they can come up with, perhaps its time HP does get out of the calculator business. There were other objections I came across but I've decided not to waste any further time on this device and will accordingly be returning it without delay.


#3

No, that is what the calculator group at the tail end of the "let's outsource all our software and hardware development and make stuff just as good but cheaper and quicker" stage was able to produce under the management and with the budget allocated.

User manuals were cut to fit more units per box. When retailers say "we need to fit <N> more units per box or we are de-assorting you" there is little choice there. Anyone who's ever worked in retail can tell you about those kinds of things.

The A-F hex was a direct result of the 700 page specification document not specifying the exact keys and UI for base 16. Since it wasn't exactly specified, they did what they wanted and be damned the result.

The goal was to a) make money, b) fix the abomination that was the 33s (hey look! It has a modern shape and shiny colors! Look how cool it is!), and c) to give a nice improvement in capability and functionality while still meeting NCEES requirements.

Since then, you've seen the 20 and 30b, 12c+ and 10bII+ which were all done completely in house. Apart from the poor keyboard on the 20b (long story there) and some complaints regarding the shape on the 20/30b, I don't think there are real serious complaints about any of those (cue usual lack of feature X comments here). Now that the finance bump is out of the way. . .

TW


Edited: 25 Aug 2011, 1:06 a.m.


#4

Yet I've got the feeling that a somewhat smaller scientific rpn/eos alg - keystroke/formula programmable, just keeping the professional look of the 35s or 30b, with an usb port, small memory, upgradeable firmware, and running on 2xAAA batteries, for about $100 would still sell like hot cakes... (Throw in alps switches and make it $150 :).)

#5

Hi Tim,

good comments and it does make sense. Hope things get better by keeping the core intact in-house. I definitely like my 12c+ and the 40gs. (but to be frank, I also returned the 35s).

Anyways, 15C is another story. What's going on there? (I'm asking that question first time, right?) It is on the website one day, and then not. It moves around. it is worse than watching soap opera :)

#6

But those are all financial ones!

#7

Quote:
No, that is what the calculator group at the tail end of the "let's outsource all our software and hardware development and make stuff just as good but cheaper and quicker" stage was able to produce under the management and with the budget allocated....The A-F hex was a direct result of the 700 page specification document not specifying the exact keys and UI for base 16. Since it wasn't exactly specified, they did what they wanted and be damned the result...The goal was to a) make money, b) fix the abomination that was the 33s...c) to give a nice improvement in capability and functionality while still meeting NCEES requirements.

Tim, we finally get some real comments from you. Mind you now, I understand the constraints you operate under. But one wonders why the sudden candor. Perhaps the announced re-structuring at HP has something to do with it?

Feel free to ignore... {:-|


#8

Not any new information here. This has all been mentioned or discussed at various points over the years.

Besides, a) is obvious, b) and c) are quite obvious from observation.

I wasn't around back then. The only bit of "inside" knowledge is the size of the specification documentation, and that has been discussed several times at various HHCs. :-)

TW


#9

Quote:
Not any new information here. This has all been mentioned or discussed at various points over the years.

Besides, a) is obvious, b) and c) are quite obvious from observation.

I wasn't around back then. The only bit of "inside" knowledge is the size of the specification documentation, and that has been discussed several times at various HHCs. :-)

TW


Hi Tim,

I like mine, though a few tweaks would be welcome. When the inventory sells through a 35sII would be welcome.

Given the project was outsourced and the team who built it probably long disbanded, does this mean you couldnt bild on whats done?

One positive thing bout the 35s was that it was not old roms run in an emulator. It could have been the start of a new series.

Daniel

#10

Quote:
The A-F hex was a direct result of the 700 page specification document not specifying the exact keys and UI for base 16. Since it wasn't exactly specified, they did what they wanted and be damned the result.

I'm in the software business also and when my management asks why we can't just write specification documents that completely explain what we want, I tell them "if you can completely an unambiguously specify exactly what you want, I'll write a compiler to turn the specification directly into code."

The point isn't flippant. To specify exactly what you want, you need something at the level of source code.

Dave


#11

Quote:

I'm in the software business also and when my management asks why we can't just write specification documents that completely explain what we want, I tell them "if you can completely an unambiguously specify exactly what you want, I'll write a compiler to turn the specification directly into code."

The point isn't flippant. To specify exactly what you want, you need something at the level of source code.

Dave


With the complexity of modern systems it is inevitable that there there are gaps in the specifications. Ideally there would be some to-and-fro communication between specifier and implementer to iron these things out. However, management's unrealisticly tight timescales get in the way and the implementer does what he thinks best (he is already getting blamed for the project being late and thus doesn't have time to go back to find out what exactly was meant) - so the implementation may be the opposite of what the specifier wanted. That is why I have had systems reporting a helicopter going up when it's going down (the sign for vertical speed was not clearly specified) and swapping x and z axis, to name a few. These errors were found during integration testing. That is why in the past I have made comments about having a proper test programme, but again time scales and lack of resources (because of profit reasons - what else) get in the way.

So Tim,
To yourself and please convey to the rest of your team, my thanks that in this current time of management principle that "with impossibly low resourses and little time" you are trying to bring us the products we want.
#12

Never had a problem with the shifted STO. The function allocation was one of the few strong points about the 35s, and certainly better than the 32SII allocation.

@Tim, I'd have loved a debugged 35s, or even a 35sII w/ full P<>R implementation. Many people would, I guess :-(.

#13

You should give the 33s a try if you could get one. I does not look as good as the 35s, but in daily use other points are more important. Numbers are displayed with full precision in a readable form, hex/bin are much more usable, sto/rcl are unshifted and the arrangement of keys is ok for me even without a large enter key.

#14


I really do not understand the objections against such a fine machine the HP 35s is. It has all we expect from a scientific calculator: it looks very sophisticated – not to say complicated – and thus thoroughly cool. It has seemingly endless rows of buttons, and the majority of them with three to four functions. Due to a wise use of psycho-physiological engineering in the fields of para-optical perception (aka visual illusion) some buttons seem to have at least five functions. The color scheme is marvelous. Its deep-chocolate brown base used for the panel and the buttons, and the combination of titanium white, lapis-lazuli blue, pumpkin yellow and cranberry red is a paramount example of post-industrial neo-expressionism. If the HP 35s was part of the still life in Vincent van Gogh's "Still life with coffee pot, dishes and fruit" no one would have noticed it –it would have fit into the scene so perfectly!

I hear some people moan about the poorly organized keyboard. They possibly claim if there were awards for "clutteredness" the HP 35s would be at least among the nominees. But let's analyze this issue closer: Beyond the section of numerals and basic arithmetic operators, the functions appear to be randomly distributed. But this impression is only true for half-hearted scientists. Have you ever seen a scientist's lab? They have all their peculiar system of order, and the HP 35s has a match to the organization of an average lab with bounds of 0.85 to 1.25 within a 95% confidence interval. So it is merely "cluttero-equivalent" to a standard scientific lab.

What is the mean access time you need to grab a random instrument from your bench, tweezers, Phillips screwdriver or the like? And what is the mean access time for a random function HP 35s? You see what my point is: the HP 35s inconspicuously adopts the usability of an arbitrary everyday tool so you never will abstain from it once you have found the button to switch it on.



Its form factor and size alludes to the good ol' classic series, and eventually, the 35s is a reminiscence of the first pocket scientific calculator ever made. OK, you will have to go to a second-hand market to get a shirt with pockets wide enough for the HP 35s, but on the other side, you will never desperately look for it as it may happen with those tiny electronic gadgets people use nowadays in the case they are lost, perhaps in a shirt pocket. The calculator fits perfectly in a man's hand, of course, in a true man's hand with a minimum glove size of 8 (22 cm circumference at the knuckle – for conversion into inches use your HP 35s).



Bug list? Superficially seen, yes, but it is rather an entertainment list because it challenges thousands of users who then may become angry, amused or finally try to circumvent those seeming shortcomings with the most astounding suggestions. Ever imagined how boring a device would be if it was perfect? No postings in the HP Forum with endless threads around similar issues, no engineering of such marvels as the 41CL or the WP34s.

The 5th anniversary of the HP 35s is coming soon and it created so much priceless imagination…



(If there was a font for emphasizing a sarcastic undertone I would have used it. So please, don't take this contribution too serious.)


#15

35S would be great for anyone who don't use polar coordinate, complex numbers, vectors, trigonometric functions nor hex-decimal conversion seriously.

Lack of easy way to decompose complex number is a bad joke.

Lyuka


#16

And who don't mind keypresses not always registering (the showstopper bug for me)

#17

... and for those who love checking their input with the screen at each keystroke.
HP35S is a shame

#18

I've used fourteen different models of HP calculators starting with the HP35 in 1973. Each one performed well and was built to last (the battery door of the HP28S being an obvious exception). There is a corporate objective statement inside the front cover of the HP25 owner's handbook that states:
"The success and prosperity of our company will be assured only if we offer our customers superior products that fill real needs and provide lasting value, and that are supported by a wide variety of useful services, both before and after sale". Personally I don't believe the 35S meets this criteria. Its impaired complex number handling make it useless for computation of survey coordinates in the field. The indifferent response you get from HP's Customer Care facility when you request a copy of the user's guide (promised in the superficial quick start guide) certainly falls short of the kind of support that kept me coming back to buy HP calculators.

"Anniversary" and "Limited Edition" calculators are all very well if you're mainly interested in collecting such things, but I want a calculator that's a robust and helpful working tool, and am willing to pay more for quality.
Just for interest, I challenge anyone to compare the 35S against a simple calculator such as the TI-36X Solar and see which one is less frustrating when you're working with coordinate geometry.


#19

I see you're not familiar with the HP 6S.


#20

Would that be the model that was being sold at a discount at McDonalds fast food outlets? Interesting joint venture - I wonder what Bill Hewlett would have thought of it.

I certainly don't mean to denigrate the good work done by those people developing calculators, as they have to work within the constraints set by those at the top of the corporate food chain.

Nick

#21

Quote:
Its impaired complex number handling make it useless for computation of survey coordinates in the field.


Just for interest, I challenge anyone to compare the 35S against a simple calculator such as the TI-36X Solar and see which one is less frustrating when you're working with coordinate geometry.


Can you give me an example I can try?

Daniel


#22

Try this simple traverse:
S64 degrees 50'00"E 134.43 ft
S25 degrees 08'45"W 162.09 ft
N59 degrees 27'40"W 185.0 ft
N24 degrees 13'08"E 145.12 ft
Find the bearing and distance to close.


#23

Although I'm certainly no fan of the HP35s, it seems like it could handle this problem quite easily, by entering the survey coordinate values as complex numbers in polar form, and adding them. Am I missing something here ?


#24

You run into difficulty when you try to adjust signs of latitudes and departures before adding when working with quadrant bearings. This wasn't a problem on the 48G which could convert from complex to real form.


#25

Quote:
You run into difficulty when you try to adjust signs of latitudes and departures before adding when working with quadrant bearings. This wasn't a problem on the 48G which could convert from complex to real form.

As has been discussed on the forum ad nauseam, the 35s is from the 32S lineage - it does not have the 15C or 42S capabilities and is nowhere near comparable to the RPL series of calculators (you should then rather get the 50G).

Admittedly the R->P and P->R is crap, but it does have better complex number representation than it's 32s/33s predecessors.

BUT, it has 32kB of programming space, surely more than enough (infinitly more than the TI-36X you quoted) to write something to handle your coordinate geometry needs. (e.g. have you looked in the articles section and the internet at large for R->P and P->R solutions? And the many other programmes available?) It is simple keystroke programming, so it shouldn't be too difficult to even write your own.

#26

It's easy enough to write a program for calculating traverses, but my point was to compare the two machines' keyboard functions without the aid of a progam.


#27

But then comparing the 35s to the 48G is totally irrelevant.

#28

I had no clue how to do this but remembered I had a 41CV with a surveying I module. That made the problem easy as pie. :-)

#29

That looks easy. How do you enter this on other calculators? Do you supply quadrant number, so DMS and 1-4?


#30

On calculators where the X and Y coordinates can be separated it's just a matter of setting polarity with +/- and X<>Y depending on the quadrant. N E + +, S E - +, S W - - and N W + -

#31

Quote:
There is a corporate objective statement inside the front cover of the HP25 owner's handbook that states:
"The success and prosperity of our company will be assured only if we offer our customers superior products that fill real needs and provide lasting value, and that are supported by a wide variety of useful services, both before and after sale".

Did the built-in potential disasters due to a defective design of the charger and battery pack circuitry in the Woodstock and Spice models fit that objective?

#32

Good point. The Woodstock models were never ideal for use on a desk due to the shape - they seemed prone to tipping. Not to mention the difficulty of reading the display in bright sunlight. I'm still fond of the early LED models regardless, as they were a quantum leap from using a Curta and a book of six-place tables.


#33

Tipped in desktop use? Bright sunlight? Never experienced that with my 25C in the seventies. Usually held it in my hand while calculating or had it sitting next to a teletype, on a pile of papers, an open book or the like. It did hardly ever see the sun in the lab or during our beam times in accelerator bunkers. And I don't know what I did wrong then, never had a charging problem (bought a repaired unit, maybe they tuned the circuit a bit). But that calculator fitted (and fits) my hand perfectly :-) Those were the days ...


#34

The tipping problem could possibly have had something to do with the 'desktop' often being our table in the beer parlour. We found the dim environment much better for reading the display on bright sunny afternoons.


#35

You may have experienced a dripping problem, too, haven't you?


#36

Might I suggest that Juergen Keller's Lager HP41C is the source of the dripping?


#37

It was the field notes that had the dripping problem after immersion in pools of stale draught beer. Fortunately they were waterproof.

#38

Quote:
Ever imagined how boring a device would be if it was perfect?
Yeah, to miscalculate prices, power consumptions, injections into orbit, radiation doses etc. are certainly a lot of fun.

For it is so darn cool, let's all use a 35s and our lives will change!

#39

The lack of a matte LCD makes it hard to use in an office with fluorescent lights. That is one of the many reasons I sold mine.

#40

DOG PILE ON THE 35S!!!

:)


#41

Guys, you're not being fair to the 35s. It took courage to build a reminescence to the 35, and in some way, it marked HPs re-entry into the market. It's far from perfect, but it shows HPs willingness to stay in the calculator business, and at the same time, it is an acknowledgement of HPs glorious past. With that in mind, the 35s deserves standing ovations from our community. And remember, the best is yet to come.


#42

Quote:
... the 35s deserves standing ovations from our community. And remember, the best is yet to come.

Yeah: 34S ... 31S ... 29S ... ;-)
#43

Not that HP cares in any way, but usually the only chance to get things of improved quality is to ask for it. This doesn't go inline with applauding to crap.


#44

I am talking about appreciating an effort, not applauding to crap.


#45

A company of this size receives just one information: The number of units sold. If you buy one, HP has no intention to ask why you did so.

In the HP forum, there's a thread called something like 'HP listens'. I thought that would be a good place to leave some critics, but got confronted with questions unrelated to the product, so I stopped participating.

There's obviously no chance to give HP a feedback other than buying or not buying a product. If you do buy it, it is perceived by the company as if the quality were ok. If enough people don't buy anymore, the business is given up at all. That's how a kid would react. All large companies seem to work that way. The larger, the more simple the mechanisms.

#46

If it's coming from a Chinese factory, I think perhaps the word "best" might not apply.


#47

The HP 50G is, objectively, the best calculator that is available from anyone, as long as the size and the RPL "feature" are not counted against it. It's made in China.

It's an amazingly powerful machine at a very reasonable price...the opposite to the abominable and obviously substandard HP 35S.

This opinion comes from one who worships at the altar of the HP 42S (whose never-matched 23-year-old feature set will still place it legions ahead of the forthcoming HP 15C LE).

Edited: 25 Aug 2011, 4:58 p.m.


#48

Quote:
The HP 50G is, objectively, the best calculator that is available from anyone, as long as the size and the RPL "feature" are not counted against it.
I concur under these conditions - but personally I'd count size and RPL against it.
Quote:
It's made in China.
Like many products today. This isn't the fault of the Chinese, Nick.
Quote:
It's an amazingly powerful machine at a very reasonable price...the opposite to the abominable and obviously substandard HP 35S.

This opinion comes from one who worships at the altar of the HP 42S (whose never-matched 23-year-old feature set will still place it legions ahead of the forthcoming HP 15C LE).


Surprise? No - the 42S was the successor of the 15C, and in those simple times long long ago, a successor used to be clearly ahead of its precessor :-)

FWIW.

#49

Quote:
It took courage to build a reminescence to the 35

The word courage must have a different meaning in French.

#50

Quote:
A printed copy of the user's guide was not supplied, apparently because HP has "gone green", or in other words, would rather leave it up to the purchaser to print out the 348 pages.

There's a printed manual. You can get it for free by calling HP and asking for it. This is mentioned in the little leaflet that comes with the calculator.

#51

Quote:

There's a printed manual. You can get it for free by calling HP and asking for it. This is mentioned in the little leaflet that comes with the calculator.


No you can't. HP stopped making them a long time ago and will tell you they don't have anymore. They ran out at least 6 months ago, which is when I called and found this out. There were others on this forum and other places who were told them same thing when they called.

The only way to get a full manual now is TAS or print it yourself.


#52

Quote:
No you can't. HP stopped making them a long time ago and will tell you they don't have anymore. They ran out at least 6 months ago, which is when I called and found this out. There were others on this forum and other places who were told them same thing when they called.

Huh. According to my amazon order history I bought my 35S the last week of March of this year. I called HP after I'd had the calculator a couple weeks, and didn't have any problems getting them to send me a manual then.

#53

Amazon?

Look at the reviews for the calculator.

Search for "manual".

Here are the first two reviews with that keyword:



Lacks a printed manual, September 22, 2010

By Wayne Scott

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: HP 35s Scientific Calculator (Electronics)

This is a great calculator, but I am really annoyed that it no longer ships with a printed version of the manual. It does come with a PDF of the ~350 page manual but you have to read it online.

I appears that HP used to mail free copies of the manual if you requested from customer support, but I was told they discontinued that program.

Now to see if I can get it printed at Kinkos.







Good solid HP for the FE exam, October 26, 2010

By J. P. Cuzzourt

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: HP 35s Scientific Calculator (Electronics)

Bought it to use on the FE exam next April (a test I should've taken 16 years ago!) As a long time HP calculator user, I appreciate the solid feel. The somewhat limited functionality is what allows it to be used on the exam, but it provides fast rpn calculations and I was able to transition easily from my 48GX.

At first i was disappointed with the crappy Getting Started guide. I expected a manual. Then, at the end of the getting started guide, HP promises to send you a full manual free of charge if you call HP customer service. But, when I called, HP informed me that they weren't honoring that promise because they'd run out of manuals and weren't planning to print any more! They put me on a "waiting list" but I expect to wait roughly forever for the promised manual. Of course you do get a pdf of the full manual, but that just doesn't cut it for me.

-------

If they started up that program again, that would be news to me. I was also told this switch was done for green reasons.


Edited: 26 Aug 2011, 8:51 a.m.


#54

Quote:
If they started up that program again, that would be news to me. I was also told this switch was done for green reasons.

I can't speak to anyone else's experiences. I can say that I called them back in April of this year and they sent me a copy of the manual.

#55

I am another of those that could *NOT* get one earlier this year. Maybe it depends on who you talk to? I should give it another try just to see.

Cheers,

-Marwan


#56

Quote:
I am another of those that could *NOT* get one earlier this year. Maybe it depends on who you talk to? I should give it another try just to see.

I don't know. I called the number in the little leaflet that comes with the 35S. I told the guy who answered that I'd just bought a 35S and the leaflet said to call to get a printed manual, so that's what I was doing. He said he'd have to check to see if he could do that, came back and asked for an address, and I got the manual in the mail about a week later.
#57

I also couldnt get one!

They said they didnt have any more left.

#58

Quote:
I am another of those that could *NOT* get one earlier this year. Maybe it depends on who you talk to? I should give it another try just to see.

Cheers,

-Marwan


Possibly some of the support people are more familiar with the computer section (where manuals have long since dissapeared) and don't know about the calculator manuals, they just regurgitate the standard "they are not available". Maybe try a couple of times and you might get lucky?

#59

Maybe they got a few complaints, changed their mind, and then printed some more. Or maybe they found a few boxes or a pallet of manuals they didn't know they had so they decided to give them out again. It is hard to say for sure, but I am glad someone reported they were available again. It is worth a shot to call and try to get one.

#60

If anyone needs a manual let me know. I'd be willing to part with mine for a reasonable price.

#61

I just rewrite what I already wrote here some time ago.

The HP35S is a piece of crap. I cannot use it at my work, because it misses keystrokes because of a software/hardware misconception.

That's why I do my work with a 14 year old HP32sii.


#62

Ive had a couple of key presses not register too. The E+ (stats button) on mine needs a good firm press.

Its a shame, as its a pretty calculator.


#63

Very few of us have denied the aesthetics of the 35s, it is a very good looking calculator.


We just question its reliability.


It could have been so much more. I'd love to be able to have a go at re-purposing one but that is not to be.


- Pauli


#64

:-) I'd love to to be able to have a go at re-purposing any calc having

  1. a reasonably small footprint,
  2. a state-of-the-art display,
  3. an uninterrupted row of keys next to the display,
  4. slanted keys with tactile feedback,
  5. sufficient memory and an interface for accessing it.
The HP 35S falls short in more than point.

Walter


#65

Quote:
:-) I'd love to to be able to have a go at re-purposing any calc having
  1. a reasonably small footprint,
  2. a state-of-the-art display,
  3. an uninterrupted row of keys next to the display,
  4. slanted keys with tactile feedback,
  5. sufficient memory and an interface for accessing it.
The HP 35S falls short in more than point.

It looks like the 35s only satisfies #4 above. However given
its mechanical construction it is possible to design a retrofit
PCB for the unit which for the most part wouldn't require
heroics for the average user to install. The display heat seal
interconnect is the major stumbling block although given
the oddball character display I'm not sure it would be
worth salvaging as part of a retrofit upgrade.

I may be in the minority but the form factor of the 35s
doesn't particularly appeal to me. However for those
who feel otherwise it wouldn't be too difficult for a
prospective upgrade to swap in a 128x32 or 128x64 graphic
panel. Navigating the mounting screw land mines will
probably make the board layout interesting and would most
likely need to be 4 layer. The original board appears
to be ~1.3mm so it may be possible to sandwich two 0.8mm
(or perhaps 0.6mm if the clearance is tight) boards
such that you don't need to additionally navigate around
the dome PCB lands on the opposite side.

Could be a fun project particularly if it gets rid of that
character matrix display.

#66

Quote:
I recently bought an HP35S.. ..but I've decided not to waste any further time on this device and will accordingly be returning it without delay.

I too think the 35s is rather disappointing if measured by the
defacto benchmarks HP themselves set years ago. But it isn't years ago and some folks here seem intent
to hold HP to a combination of market * technology * price_point
no longer relevant in modern times. I'd hazard the collective
audience here contributes to substantially less than 1% of total
revenue for current HP calculator products. So frankly
catering to such an insignificant segment of their market
doesn't seem worth their time, resources, and effort. I suspect
any HP representation lurking here is more likely the result
of good will and perhaps personal interest on behalf of the
individuals present.

I have no idea how to effectively influence HP calculator
marketing direction, or whether it is even feasible. But
folks might consider cutting them a little slack seeing as
they have adapted to the present day market in order to viably
compete in it.


#67

Your comment about the present day market could be the key to the problem. In an age when consumers replace their computers and cell phones after only a couple of years it's wishful thinking to expect that currently produced calculators should last for decades the way they used to.


#68

Quote:
Your comment about the present day market could be the key to the problem. In an age when consumers replace their computers and cell phones after only a couple of years it's wishful thinking to expect that currently produced calculators should last for decades the way they used to.

I would for a dux nuts keep for 20 years model, but would you? Hp calculators of yore wernt cheap. If you take their old rrp (not the clearance end of life price) and appreciate it, youll realise they cost some between an iPad and a MacBook. Expecting that mechanical quality for $59 is unrealistic.

It is also, the flaw in hp's dcisions, they never had the budget market, yet thats where they tried to go.


#69

Quote:
I would for a dux nuts keep for 20 years model, but would you? Hp calculators of yore wernt cheap. If you take their old rrp (not the clearance end of life price) and appreciate it, youll realise they cost some between an iPad and a MacBook. Expecting that mechanical quality for $59 is unrealistic.

Is it? We're talking about a 30-40 year mature technology
here. Bringing the required technologyies into existence in
the 70s was a substantial investment which now are far more
prevalent and feed a plethora of other product development
efforts. If someone can't manufacture and profitably market
a modern day 15c, 42s, <whatever> of construction equal to
or surpassing the original versions for US$59, something else
is at play. This is of course assuming business/market
demand exists to justify the effort and recoup the development
expense.

Quote:
It is also, the flaw in hp's dcisions, they never had the budget market, yet thats where they tried to go.

I think it is easy for us all to play arm-chair critic and
point out alleged mistakes, deficiencies, incompetence, etc..
in HP's strategy. But HP holds the award for defining (and
during a substantial term) ruling the calculator market. So
I'd hazard they must have done something right to find
technical professionals some 30+ years later obscessed to the
point of frequent slug fests over their ancient products.


#70

Quote:
... obscessed to the point of frequent slug fests over their ancient products.

Now you've left the realm of English I'm able to understand. Please explain like to a four-year-old <:-) TIA

#71

Walter,

In this case "slug fest" is not a reference to a festival celebrating the lowly gastropod mollusk. It is an English idiom for "fist fight" or "brawl".

#72

I really doubt it could be done well for $59. One son's cell phone had a cracked display and he was eligible for a new one, supposedly free (turns out it's not really free), and when we were going to get it, my wife said she wanted one too because "I like new things!" With the new one that was nearly free, the letters on the keyboard of the one in the display case were already wearing off from customers opening it and poking at it. You won't find that with HP's double-shot keys. The contacts of the phone's keyboard definitely won't last 25 years of daily use like my HPs' either.

The cell phones are cheap partly because of huge production volumes, which you'll never get in a quality scientific programmable calculator. A new calc will definitely be cheaper after adjustment for inflation than they were 30 years ago, because of not having to design a new processor and custom ICs; but LCDs, injection-molded cases, and PC boards were quite commonplace in 1980.


#73

Quote:
I really doubt it could be done well for $59.. You won't find that with HP's double-shot keys. The contacts of the phone's keyboard definitely won't last 25 years of daily use like my HPs' either.

It is really a question of volume such that the up-front
engineering costs could be reclaimed which I'm assuming
is the case for sake of argument. Besides an injection molded
case and double shot keycaps the bill of materials include a
gold/nickel plated 2 or 4 layer board, 1-2 commodity ICs,
tactile domes, matrix/segment reflective LCD and a handful
of discrete electronic and mechanical components. $59 was
just an estimate but my sense it would be in the reasonable
ballpark. The other question is whether manufacturing could
be accomplished within that budget while maintaining legacy
HP quality.


#74

I'm sure the case mold would be by far the biggest up-front cost. Our company owner wanted to do a particular product recently and changed his mind when faced with the $50,000 mold cost. Double-shot keys are a lot less as I remember, and a custom LCD tool-up was only a couple thousand dollars when I looked into it for another product over 20 years ago. First article cost on PC boards is piddly by comparison.

#75

It's called the "Triumph of Crapitalism". When too many people are perfectly willing to put up with an inferior product, it becomes economically unviable to produce a high-quality product, because the necessary economy of scale isn't there. The fact that we have nearly 40 years of technological advance to draw upon isn't sufficient to make it cost-competitive with cheap crap.

No one is going to produce a calculator today with double-shot molded keys and metal dome keyswitches, because people are perfectly willing to purchase calculators with key legends that rub off and unreliable switches. This is exacerbated by the fact that consumers don't *expect* a product to last, so they aren't willing to pay more for one that is claimed to. If the marketing materials for the calculator claim that it will last for years, no one will believe it, because marketing materials are all lies anyhow.


#76

Quote:
It's called the "Triumph of Crapitalism". When too many people are perfectly willing to put up with an inferior product, it becomes economically unviable to produce a high-quality product, because the necessary economy of scale isn't there. The fact that we have nearly 40 years of technological advance to draw upon isn't sufficient to make it cost-competitive with cheap crap.

Unfortunately I couldn't agree more. I'd add to this the
fact HP of yesteryear was pushing new frontiers which I
suspect allowed them the freedom to engineer products as
engineers, for use by engineers. Beyond being a noble
goal it was a legendarily successful effort, but ironically
successful to the extent contemporary HP is now held
accountable to the high benchmark they themselves have set.

Quote:
No one is going to produce a calculator today with double-shot molded keys and metal dome keyswitches, because people are perfectly willing to purchase calculators with key legends that rub off and unreliable switches. This is exacerbated by the fact that consumers don't *expect* a product to last, so they aren't willing to pay more for one that is claimed to. If the marketing materials for the calculator claim that it will last for years, no one will believe it, because marketing materials are all lies anyhow.

All disturbingly true. HP did and perhaps still could have
competed on the premise of extreme quality. But I hesitate to
second guess their marketing data and direction in this area.
Still adapting in order to survive in a sink-or-swim economy
consumer electronic market where scientific calculators of
respectable ability (albeit disposable) sell for US$15 at the
local MalWart has likely forever retired that marketing
differential from the playing field.

Incidentally the arm7 12C and 35s still have metal domes
although the cut/legged version perhaps to simplify board
routing. I don't think they compare favorably to the full
domes formerly used but most probably don't care.

#77

Quote:
It's called the "Triumph of Crapitalism". When too many people are perfectly willing to put up with an inferior product, it becomes economically unviable to produce a high-quality product, because the necessary economy of scale isn't there.

I understand your point, but I think this view puts all the blame on the consumer. To my knowledge, no one wrote Winchester in 1964 and requested they start making 1894's with stamped parts instead of machined ones. No one wrote Emco in 1964 and requested Unimats be cast out of Zamak instead of iron. No one wrote HP in 1990's and asked them to start making calculators with painted key legends. And no one requested HP in 2007 to bring out a crappy 35s for $60 instead of a good one for $100.

Quote:
No one is going to produce a calculator today with double-shot molded keys and metal dome keyswitches, because people are perfectly willing to purchase calculators with key legends that rub off and unreliable switches.

People are willing to purchase crap when they are not given an alternative.

#78

Of course consumers didn't write those letters. They voted with their wallets. If people had continued buying large numbers of the HP models that we in this forum all want, then HP would have continued making them.

The fact that people buy cheap crap puts too much pressure on the companies trying to make a higher quality product, and forces them to reduce their quality also.

I don't see how this can be realistically blamed on anyone OTHER than the consumers who are willing to buy cheap crap.

Another way of looking at it is that if consumers were not willing to buy cheap crap, then there wouldn't be millions of factories in China turning out cheap crap.


#79

I think this is a bit simplistic. Companies have different marketing strategies, and in the early days HP was like Mercedes or BMW, and they catered to a higher class of consumer that wanted the best quality and was willing and able to pay for it. Their volume was lower, but they still made a healthy profit. In the late 1970s, they made a mistake with the Spice series trying to compete on price with TI, and it almost cost them their calculator market. Fortunately, they regained their sanity with the Voyagers, which cost more but had superbe quality and sold extremely well. But HP quality went far beyond the calculators themselves, and extended to the printed documentation as well. I think the quality over price consumer market still exists and can be exploited by HP, because nobody else has entered it and of course there's those three letters R P N. We recently bought, or should I say invested in a Kirby vacuum cleaner system, made in the good old USA and expensive as heck. But it will last forever, is completely rebuildable, built like the proverbial brick outhouse and works better than anything else. It was painful writing a check for several grand, but it sure beats the crappy old plastic Hoover we bought at K-Mart. Just like my old HP-35.

Edited: 29 Aug 2011, 9:16 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


#80

The equivalent in vacuum cleaners here is Vorwerk. These are built like tanks and you can get spare parts for the oldest units. OTH, a single part can cost you the price of a cheap vacuum cleaner.

I think, going cheap and hoping to keep the same customer base will mostly fail. Looking at German car makers, their low end offerings weren't the biggest success and were quickly replaced by higher standard cars with a better reputation, leaving the low budget markets to other manufacturers.

I don't know if the calculator business has the same potential but quality tools normally sell good enough to return their investment.

#81

Quote:
Of course consumers didn't write those letters. They voted with their wallets.

Indeed. Winchester aficionados stopped buying their guns after they cheapened them. "Pre '64" Winchester became term of quality.
Quote:
I don't see how this can be realistically blamed on anyone OTHER than the consumers who are willing to buy cheap crap.

My point is that manufacturers often make internal decisions about "what consumers want" that are in error. Consumers did not want the change, did not initiate it, and did not have a buying alternative after the change. To postulate that all these cheapening changes were caused by consumers just isn't accurate, IMO.
Quote:
Another way of looking at it is that if consumers were not willing to buy cheap crap, then there wouldn't be millions of factories in China turning out cheap crap.

Again I find your logic only partially correct. Yes, consumers are certainly willing to buy the cheap Chinese crap, but they only got the opportunity after a) political decisions to allow "free" trade, and b) corporate decisions to move to China to undercut competition. Both not initiated by consumers.


What if Walmart has mounted a huge advertising campaign in 1980 that went like this: Dear consumer, we propose to start moving procurement to China soon. You will be able to buy a 20" box fan that now sells for $20, for $12 in 2010! And you will trade your fathers/brothers/husbands good-paying jobs for your children making minimum wage at our huge number of Superstores.

How would consumers have voted?

#82

They would have said that they didn't want that, but when the $12 box fan showed up, they would have bought it rather than the $20 box fan. That's voting with their wallet, and it is an historical fact that this is what happened. What consumers say they want, and what they'll actually buy, are often very different. What they say they want is totally irrelevant.


#83

There will always be a niche market for a quality product though. There may not be many customers who will value it enough to spend the money for it, but that's why it's a niche market.

#84

Well, I have been unsuccessful in getting my point across.

#85

I agree, there is short-sightedness in the attitude of buying always the cheapest. But the decisions are made by the 90% of the customers, and that's what they expect, unaware that it is not realistic to get what they want for what they're willing to spend.

I fear the time when it'll be impossible to get a new well engineered tool, as sometimes anything else would simply not do. It takes vision to do what Steve Jobs did with Apple, showing that you can make people to pay good money for your product if it is worth it (actually, that's not always the case with the i-whatever).

HP didn't have that vision. After disassembling a 50g I realised that I couldn't trust such bad soldering and clumsy design, that you would never be able to overcome a failure of the flash boot sector, and that arm emulation was a kludge cheaper than writing a more efficient native OS. I can't pay 200€ (department store, no fuss and easy warranty reclamation) for that, even though I really love the software.

I was willing to get a 35s, but the bugs are annoying, its strengths rather weak, and if I'm not going to get anything better than my casios and ti, there's no point in it.

I really want to get a decent hp calculator, not a collector's item, and I'm sure it can be done with profits for the company (as others have done it). Let's hope it's a question of time.

#86

$500 for a calculator isn't that much when you look at what Curtas sell for these days. It's only a four function machine and you have to supply your own memory.


#87

Many of us did pay $500 for a calculator, or close to it. The HP-67 was $450 when it came out, the HP-97 was $750. Then the HP-41C with a couple of memory modules, printer, tape drive...


#88

I did...and much worse.

My Dietzgen N1725L slide rule was $35 in 1969...$215 in 2011.

My four-function Bomar 901B in 1972 was $130...$703 in 2011.

My HP-67 in 1977 was $450 (no discounts then, plus Massachusetts sales tax at the MIT Coop)...$1678 in 2011.

My TI-59 in 1977 was $300...$1118 in 2011.

That was some real hard cash outlay for a US Navy Lieutenant(JG) making in 1977 only $7600 per annum...$28333 in 2011.


#89

Same could be said about any electronics:

HP-35 was $295 in 1973 = $1500 today

Zenith 19" color TV was $380 in 1972 = $2050 today

Sanyo MBC-555 Computer was $1530 in 1984 = $3300 today


#90

And look at he buk,d qualityt of modern computers! Excepting Apple who Decided not to compromise on that.

Pick up an old IBM PS2 and compare with a HP PC.

Daniel.


#91

Apple hardware has as many compromises as the other major brands. They're made in the same factories from much of the same components as other brands. Apple does a better job of industrial design to hide that, though.

[I guess I'd better don my flame-retardant BVDs now!]


#92

No flamethrower here. Couldn't have said it better myself. You might appreciate this story though. A couple of days ago a friend asks on facebook "droid or iphone"? Several people give their opinion but this one guy gets all agitated and goes on and on about how evil the iphone is and their owners too. That's all fine to be passionate but he goes on to say that iphones are made under opressive conditions in China (true) but then he makes the error of sounding like his droid was made in some factory where every worker is pampered and overpaid. I had a good laugh and gently reminded him that the opressed people that made my iphone made his droid.

#93

So before the MacBook air and iPad who made their cases from a single piece of machined aluminium?

........

And there is still nobody else who does.

Acuse apple of anything you like, but poor build quality is not one of them.


#94

To name a few: Panasonic Toughbook, Dolch, Twinhead, Tadpole, Fujitsu, Sony Vaio, Clevo, Epson. All mil-spec producers since eighties (Honeywell, IBM, ...).

Machined from solid piece of aluminum -- i doubt this, since it is economically prohibitive and makes absolutely no sense.


#95

Quote:
Machined from solid piece of aluminum -- i doubt this, since it is economically prohibitive and makes absolutely no sense.

Here is Apple's video showing how they made the apparently machined-aluminium chassis of the laptop I'm typing this on.


#96

Well, I was wrong considering machined unibody. Kudos to FoxConn and Apple. My list included notebook producers using full-metal body, but I don't know if any have machined unibody.

Edited: 28 Aug 2011, 10:08 a.m.


#97

I had an old Panasonic tough book with a solid metal case and it was cast light alloy that was machined where necessary.

#98

And I do agree lots of manufacturers used to make some nice products, remember old thinkpads? However, in consumer PC's that I can see at my local department store, theyre all pretty flimsy.

I was just thinking that theres not many products made like they used too, except Apple, and they charge a premium.

If HP were to make a calculator today with attention to constructioon quality, it would likely need to sell at a premium over current models, dont you think?

Im not suggesting it would cost $1500, but maybe 20% above current prices?


Edited: 28 Aug 2011, 10:59 p.m.

#99

Quote:
Here is Apple's video showing how they made the apparently machined-aluminium chassis of the laptop I'm typing this on.

That's impressive by any measure and a breath of fresh air
contrasted with the modern day stamp-out-more-cheap-crap
disposable electronic goods migrane. I'd nominate Apple to
the list for an "HP Manufacturing Award of Excellence".

I had toyed with the idea of milling housings for prototype
calculators from Al -- actually a poured casting to minimize the amount of material removal. Compared to doing the same from
a block of ABS (or a glued up blank emulating what you'd start with
with the Al casting), Al is obviously more durable structurally
and easier to machine in thin dimensions. Also the texturing
achieved with injection molded ABS isn't going to be replicatable
with a milled ABS approach. However it would be possible to
sand/bead blast an AL frame to get an approximation.

The point where I paused was that of aesthetics wondering how
to get an agreeable finish on the surface. Leaving it natural
after blasting seemed a little non-traditional for a calc but
maybe I'm just hung up on legacy HP color schemes. Anodizing
it whatever color will look ok until the anodizing wears and
it is downhill from there. ABS to me also feels more inviting
for a handheld device vs. a cold block of metal. But that
may be just what I'm used to.

On the plus side an Al substrate gets us away from heat staking
and is able to hold threads far better than plastic. So from a
serviceability POV a screw-attached PCB is an improvement.
It also provides an inherent ESD cage.


Edited: 28 Aug 2011, 1:32 p.m.

I would agree except for the Ti Books that was a pretty unfortunate design, case was not rigid enough and keytops would scratch the surface of the LCD panel.

I see a market opportunity here.


Introducing the Crapulator 2020

More features than you'll know what to do with. Including such vital things as:

  • Over two thousand functions which give at most 1 significant digit of accuracy.

  • Floppy spongy keyboard that is guaranteed to last at least fifteen key presses. It feels much better than an acid soaked rag to wipe your eyes with.

  • Lots of unreliable flash memory to store your unimportant data in. We even guarantee this wonderful memory for up to two writes or fifteen seconds retention. Trust us, your data is safe.

  • Did I mention the 2k+ functions? You'll never need another calculating device again.

  • Awesome black on black display with a totally insane 2k by 1.5k resolution, so long as everything is black.

  • Over 350 percentage functions to make making up statistics easier.

  • The satisfaction rate with our large user base is well over 115%.

You will love the Crapulator 2020 or your money back in our accounts.


- Pauli


Watch it! I happen to know at least one project heading towards the 2k+ functions ... [[;-)


I've no idea what project this is. The 34S only has 523 distinct functions so that cannot possibly be it.

- Pauli

Quote:
Introducing the Crapulator 2020

You forgot a set of features that is becoming more and more common even today:

  • Requires always-on Internet connection.
  • Animated, flashing banner ads.
  • Automatic cloud storage of all your previous computations, along with GPS, sound and video data. Which will then be sold to the highest bidder.
  • Obligatory non-standard $40 USB cable.
  • Non-replaceable battery that will die out one week after the 90-day warranty expires.

Edited: 28 Aug 2011, 11:28 a.m.


Actually the USB connector is the one thing that is increasingly often standard now rather than proprietary, thanks in part to the EU requiring that cell phones use a standard micro-USB connector for charging rather than a proprietary connector.


Quote:
Actually the USB connector is the one thing that is increasingly often standard now rather than proprietary, thanks in part to the EU requiring that cell phones use a standard micro-USB connector for charging rather than a proprietary connector.

Yeah, and according to Apple there are good reasons why something else must be used. :(

At least my Korean android phones use micro-USB. :)

sdb


The USB spec. does not allow a hand-held battery-powered device to be a controller though. Booooo USB!


Garth,

Quote:
The USB spec. does not allow a hand-held battery-powered device to be a controller though. Booooo USB!

There are exceptions to this rule. You can connect two TI-84s or two Nspires through their USB ports. Looking at the cable you can easily see that one connector has a slightly different shape which will not fit into a standard mini USB B socket. The TIs have a modified socket. This is following a specification named "USB On-The-Go".

Edited: 29 Aug 2011, 4:19 a.m.


It shouldn't be a "modified socket", whatever that is. It is supposed to be a standard micro-AB connector. On older devices, it should have been a mini-AB connector.

Does the USB spec actually prohibit that? I haven't read it cover to cover, but I wasn't aware of any such restriction.

However, a USB host is required to provide 5V at 500mA (2.5W) to a downstream device or hub, and that would blow the power budget of most handheld battery-powered devices.


In the case of USB OTG, the device may limit the current to less then that. The specification contains a definition of a table of supported devices that may be part of a USB OTG controller. Only the mentioned devices are required to work.

The article "HP's grand vision - Aping IBM" on page 55 of the August 27 issue of The Economist states in part

Quote:
...the firm's PC business is the world's biggest, but is not as profitable as HP's other units. What is more, most buyers of HP's machines are consumers, whose demands shift faster and more whimsically than those of corporate customers. ...

This thread, filled with reminiscences of the good old days (which weren't really that good), would seem to contradict that.

Palmer,

The visitors of and contributors to this forum are in no way a representative sample of the set of HP's customers as it is IMHO.

Walter


Quote:
The visitors of and contributors to this forum are in no way a representative sample of the set of HP's customers as it is IMHO.

Nothing illustrates the nature of the contributors to this forum better than that a recent thread "Thanks for a simple, easy to use forum" was followed in just a few days by a thread "Isn't it time to update the museum?"

Quote:
... a recent thread "Thanks for a simple, easy to use forum" was followed in just a few days by a thread "Isn't it time to update the museum?"

This proves some people here are able to distinguish between the forum and the exhibition. Worthwhile in real museums as well, IMHO.

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