It has nothing to do with China



#2

I see so many messages stating that China is to blame for the poor quality of HP's calculators. I think it's better to think twice before making similar statements. The products of Casio and Texas are being made in China but nearly no problems relating to the keyboard and firmware have been reported so far in local Chinese/Cantonese forums. Anyway, HP is the only one to blame!!!


#3

Quote:
The products of Casio and Texas are being made in China

Apple too. IMHO, Apple is making some of the highest quality consumer devices out there.

#4

Quote:

Apple too. IMHO, Apple is making some of the highest quality consumer devices out there.


Right! There are also thousands of millions of products made in China. Quality control rests on the outsourcing company.

#5

Quote:

Apple too. IMHO, Apple is making some of the highest quality consumer devices out there.


Perhaps so, but one reason I don't buy Apple products is they are mainly made by FOXCONN. Atrocious working conditions, leading to high suicide rates.


#6

Foxconn has a lower suicide rate than the Chinese average. Seems to me that they are doing something right, not wrong.

I'd never buy an Apple product, either, but for different reasons.

Eric

#7

Looks like they don't appreciate criticism about that:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/appsblog/2011/sep/14/apple-phone-story-rejection

#8

Casio and TI keyboards are nowhere near the quality of the typical HP keyboard. They have much cheaper designs and construction. Nobody expects them to perform perfectly, so of course you won't see complaints.


China gets blamed for a reason. Melamine in milk, ethylene glycol in toothpaste, lead paint on kids toys, the list goes on and on.


I worked for a contract manufacturing company for over 10 years. We had a factory in China. I know they lied to us and faked documents sometimes. Once a customer received a batch of brittle plastic parts for a lifesaving device. The device had to be approved by various regulatory agencies and needed the parts to be traceable. The plastic was made here in the US, and the manufacturer added some element for tracing purposes. A lab could test the parts for this tracer material to make sure we used the correct material. Our brittle parts did not have the tracer. The plastic manufacturer's retained sample of material from the lot they shipped us had the tracer. China insisted they used the right material, but clearly they were not telling the truth.


We do not know the whole story here for the calculator that had the wrong firmware, but if it was an HP mistake in telling China how to make these, then the whole batch would be wrong, not one.


#9

Also "China" is not a giant manufacturing plant. There are tons of companies in China, all delivering varying degrees of quality and making different products. HP and TI both seem to be using the same two Taiwanese manufacturing contractors who have factories in China. I would venture a guess that Casio has their own factories, they're a large Japanese manufacturer who moved into other Asian countries early on.

The fact is, HP calculators are more difficult to make than TIs, and this difficulty is largely in the keyboard. Everything else (PCBs, injection-molded cases, plastic keys, manuals, etc.) is a commodity that could easily be made alongside toilet scrubbers and plastic cups.


#10

But the communist Chinese government *is* a monoithically anti-free trade organization. They believe in--support--stealing, counterfieting, cheating, lying. There is a huge chasm between American (and European) business practice, and Chinese practice.

It seems that the only way to get results in China, is to put a HUGE amount of effort OVER THERE with Americans. Otherwise, you get crap crap crap!


#11

Quote:
But the communist Chinese government *is* a monoithically anti-free trade organization. They believe in--support--stealing, counterfieting, cheating, lying. There is a huge chasm between American (and European) business practice, and Chinese practice.

It seems that the only way to get results in China, is to put a HUGE amount of effort OVER THERE with Americans. Otherwise, you get crap crap crap!


The same could be applied to ANY country in some time period. Chinese are not unique.

Doc: No wonder this circuit failed. It says "Made in Japan".
Marty McFly: What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.
Doc: Unbelievable.


#12

Of course. But we are talking about now.

#13

Quote:
@Bill: They believe in--support--stealing, counterfeiting, cheating, lying.

@x34: The same could be applied to ANY country in some time period.


Not.

Edited: 17 Sept 2011, 7:24 p.m.

#14

Quote:
Also "China" is not a giant manufacturing plant. There are tons of companies in China, all delivering varying degrees of quality and making different products.

True enough. "From Hong Kong" you are only partially correct when you state "Quality control rests on the outsourcing company." I would say it depends on the arrangement. In most cases, the specifications rests with the outsourcing company, but manufacturing QC may be the responsibility of the plant.

However, there are products coming from China that originate there; they are not outsourced from USA, Europe, or Japan. There have been significant problems over the years with counterfeit bolts and hardware that were extremely substandard; I know of a man who was almost killed by a Chinese shackle that parted.

Not to mention counterfeit books, CD's, etc. that violate copyright laws.

China does get a black name sometimes, even though we get most our consumer goods there, and most of it is at least of adequate quality, some excellent.

So ultimately, yes, it does have something to do with China.

Edited: 17 Sept 2011, 1:21 p.m.

#15

Quote:
Casio and TI keyboards are nowhere near the quality of the typical HP keyboard.

What's the typical HP keyboard today? 35s? 20b?

Usually, Casio keyboards offer nearly no tactile feedback, but I never had problems with keystrokes not registered.

This 'rotate & click' thing is great, if it works. If not, it turns into a nightmare. No feedback is better than false feedback, imo.

I see the durability of HPs and Casios on par. HPs always shined when it comes to the firmware (with the 35s the exception from the rule, but only due to the bugs). Allthough I started in life with a Casio fx-81p and got used to it, HPs are much less cumbersom.


#16

Quote:

What's the typical HP keyboard today? 35s? 20b?

Usually, Casio keyboards offer nearly no tactile feedback, but I never had problems with keystrokes not registered.

This 'rotate & click' thing is great, if it works. If not, it turns into a nightmare. No feedback is better than false feedback, imo.

I see the durability of HPs and Casios on par. HPs always shined when it comes to the firmware (with the 35s the exception from the rule, but only due to the bugs). Allthough I started in life with a Casio fx-81p and got used to it, HPs are much less cumbersom.


Some folks here are talking about a 'typical' or 'classic' HP keyboard but it's gone already! We cannot deny that a modern HP keyboard isn't robust and accurate enough. It's even unusable at the outset.

Yes, you're right. Nobody care about what keyboard technology HP is using. Users just need a reliable and durable keyboard.


#17

You know, I see all this talk about poor keyboards and inaccurate keyboard response and I simply have not experienced this. I have a 10bii, multiple 10bii+'s, multiple 12C+'s, multiple 12C Platinum's, multiple 15C LE's, multiple 33S's, multiple 35S's, multiple 30b's, multiple 17bii+ Silver's, a 49g+, and two 50g's and not one of these machines has ever had a keyboard problem. In fact the only recent HP machine that I have had a keyboard problem with has been the 20b and that seems to be (and hopefully will remain) a one-off design.

Now I may be one of the lucky ones. And maybe I no longer use my machines as frequently as I used to, but it seems to me, with the range of calculators I have and with every second or third person on this forum complaining about HP keyboard quality, I *SHOULD* have one that has problems.

And when that does happen I'll be the first to admit it. But I would also say, as others have, that no production line is perfect and that some units are going to come out with issues. The question to ask is what is the failure rate?

Cheers,

-Marwan


Edited: 17 Sept 2011, 4:41 p.m.


#18

I have quite a number of the same machines that you list as well and generally have had good quality units. However the F and G keys on one of my 15C LE's do rattle and one key on a 12CP does not register when I feel the click.

I do think that there are production quality control issues in the current Voyager line. There are too many reports to ignore them and I think that HP should be doing something about this -- perhaps they already are.

-Katie


#19

One of my HP15C LE's does have a very slight keyboard rattle. But so does one of my original 15C's and one of my original 12C's. I do wish that the f and g keys were better aligned and didn't rattle but I have not had a problem with them not registering.

There might be a problem with quality control. But sometimes I have to wonder if this is not a case of the squeaky wheel getting the oil, so to speak. Is it just that we hear all the complaints but none of the praise? As I have mentioned before, the only way to get a real feel for the QC of current products is to be able to calculate a failure rate and with the information on hand we are simply unable to do this.

It might actually be possible with the new HP15C LE. We have a large number purchased in a short time frame and if everyone were to report their findings we might be able to obtain some meaningful results. So far I think that I have seen 2 posters say that they have keyboard issues with many, many more stating that their machines are fine. So, what is an "acceptable" failure rate? 1/10? 1/50? 1/100? 1/1000? Obviously the optimum would be none but that is not going to happen. Even my original HP41CV bought new back in '82 had a failure soon after I purchased it and I had to send it back for repairs. It has worked great ever since but the point is that even in their heyday HP was not absolutely foolproof.

Cheers,

-Marwan


#20

Quote:
So far I think that I have seen 2 posters say that they have keyboard issues with many, many more stating that their machines are fine.
IIRC, I have counted six bad units thus far (please don't have me quote the reports) and probably less than 100 delivery reports. This is alarming.

Edited: 18 Sept 2011, 4:34 a.m.


#21

If those are the correct numbers it is alarming.


#22

There is apt to be a strong skewing of negative delivery reports.


#23

I know, but this is likely compensated for by false positive reports (bad units not sufficiently tested, if at all).

However, it develops a 35s taste :-(.

Edited: 18 Sept 2011, 12:21 p.m.


#24

Yes, exactly. We're not a very good random sampling. Perhaps we need a "Who here has a 15C LE that *doesn't* have hardware issues" thread?

#25

Quote:
However, it develops a 35s taste :-(.

I'm sensing the same thing. There are an incredible number of problems with the 15C LE that are being reported in a very short time in every area (except the very deluxe packaging).

- non-registering keys (at least not registering coincidentally with the click) (several cases)

- key alignment/loose keys (f and g on virtually all units)

- wrong firmware loaded (only 1 case so far)

- firmware bugs (PSE, self-tests, improper display flashing)

- bad power management (20ma continuously when a key is down)

- large number of errata in the manual

This just stinks for a calculator that sells for $100 and had a development period that lasted for at least a year. Further this was based on the exsiting 12C+.


#26

Let me add some occasional repeating (double entry) of some keys. This is bothersome as in the past it has been a precendent to key failure.

Edited: 18 Sept 2011, 12:56 p.m.


#27

Quote:
Let me add some occasional repeating (double entry) of some keys.
Ah, HP uses the old TI keyboard blue prints. Great. Coming up: The HP LOGPit.
#28

Quote:

I'm sensing the same thing. There are an incredible number of problems with the 15C LE that are being reported in a very short time in every area (except the very deluxe packaging).

- non-registering keys (at least not registering coincidentally with the click) (several cases)

- key alignment/loose keys (f and g on virtually all units)

- wrong firmware loaded (only 1 case so far)

- firmware bugs (PSE, self-tests, improper display flashing)

- bad power management (20ma continuously when a key is down)

- large number of errata in the manual

This just stinks for a calculator that sells for $100 and had a development period that lasted for at least a year. Further this was based on the exsiting 12C+.



When I bought my HP-15C for about US$100 in 1985 in Hong Kong, I never thought the above problems would happen in an HP calculator. In those days, a popular Casio FX-3600P sold for less than US$20. However, the world order changed after HP-49G came out. A calculator buyer needs to risk himself in buying an HP calculator. What's going on in HP?

Edited: 18 Sept 2011, 1:59 p.m.

#29

I recall that, after the flashable 12C came out, an argument for bringing back the 15C was that producing it would be much cheaper because the 12C PCB could be used, and because the documentation wouldn't have to be changed. Now that the 15C LE has arrived, I notice some interesting things about price and production. It seems to me that producing 10K units of anything in consumer electronics is pretty remarkable. That's a very small stock to try to make any sort of profit on. Selling those units wholesale for something less than $80.00 (based on the early street prices) makes it even more astonishing. The total theoretical upside is something less than 800K bucks, and a realistic estimate is no doubt substantially lower. What does it cost to design and implement an emulator, redesign and implement a replica keyboard, pay setup and production costs, (hopefully reduced, but certainly not nil,) transportation costs and marketing costs? (What else? I bet I've missed a few.)

The only way I can imagine this project could have been sold inside HP would be something like this: "This machine will be cheaper to produce than a new calculator. A limited run has a chance of selling out, based on the market research. The slight profit in this proposal has to be seen in the light of creating good will with our most ardent fans. That represents marketing value of (fill in guesstimate dressed up as fact.) Oh, and it might actually take off with general users, though we aren't counting on that." OK, so maybe HP's most ardent fans are also their most severe critics, but I'm sure that wasn't a featured item in the proposal.

With a shoestring budget, problems are more likely to occur. With a shoestring budget, fixes for those problems will be harder to sell internally. The keyboard problems don't seem to be (that) widespread. We now have a 15C body that actually isn't too bad. As to the firmware problems, the 15C LE is flashable. We can build replacement firmware. That won't help the average user, but the 15C LE isn't aimed at them, it's aimed at us! The 15C LE will never be as big a dud as the 35s, because the really unforgivable problems with that machine are firmware bugs - in a machine that can't be reflashed.

I am pleased as punch with my 2 units. Neither one is a 12C under the hood, and neither one has poorly registering keys. I think the census thread will show that a majority of units received by forum members are in that category. In any event, I'll leave it to the stat-heads to tell me whether we represent a valid sample for purposes of estimating the overall defect rate of this machine. Intuitively I'd guess we aren't, but I don't have a good head for statistics. :)

#30

Quote:
This just stinks for a calculator that sells for $100 and had a development period that lasted for at least a year. Further this was based on the exsiting 12C+.

Why didn't they just get several key enthusiasts under NDA to test it?

Dave.


#31

They did. I believe it was something like 100 people.


#32

Quote:
They did. I believe it was something like 100 people.

And nobody measured the battery consumption?

Dave.


#33

Apparently not.


#34

but every one of the testers did check that the colours of the f and g keys were a suitably faithful match to the original product. and that the LCD contrast was just right, not to forget the shine on the 15C badge.

i've worked for companies with 200+ page test manuals for products - where every new firmware release requires 6 weeks of 8-hour days spent working through those tests one by one. it requires a certain tenacity, and a determination not just to use the product, but to misuse it in every conceivable way.

it would appear that with the 15C LE, quite simply the folks doing the testing were not checking for those things that mattered. not by any fault of the testers personally, but because they were in awe of the absolute awesomeness (from their perspective) of the product...


#35

There were reports that HP handed out 15C LE prototypes last year at the HHC to at least certain people. The key word there is prototypes. There have been posts explaining that the firmware changed since then, so what the testers could check was not the final product that we see now. Also, since they were prototypes, the tools used to mold the keys and housings may be different now.
There could be some different PCBs as well and other different internal parts that could explain the key issues.


#36

Everyone who had the units from last year also received an invite to a private forum to discuss any issues. They also received cables and training on how to use them. The firmware was posted in that forum and quite a few people downloaded it, installed and used for quite a while. That firmware was resolving issues people had found and identified. In the 4+ months before production we did not receive any reports of issues on the shipping firmware.

There is 0 difference between the molds of the original, and the production ones (apart from a few months of wear).

TW


#37

Wow, that was a lot of testing and an impressive plan overall.

#38

that is not a representative sample. they forgot to give a test unit to hpnut ;-)

hpnut in Malaysia, owner of 12C AE no. 00245 from Samson. now waiting for 15 LE

#39

Quote:

Why didn't they just get several key enthusiasts under NDA to test it?

Dave.


Dave, Apparently they did just too bad they didn't get a pre-release unit over to you or to Katie who has measured the current draw.

PS: Would love to see a 15C LE tear down in the eevblog ; )


Edited: 20 Sept 2011, 9:24 p.m.


#40

Quote:
Dave, Apparently they did just too bad they didn't get a pre-release unit over to you or to Katie who has measured the current draw.

PS: Would love to see a 15C LE tear down in the eevblog ; )


Well, if they did send me one, I would have been happy to do a teardown and a review to 10,000+ people on the release day, and generated a lot of hype (as I've done for Agilent and Tektronix under NDA). And of course would have found the battery consumption issue, as I have exposed it on a previous calculator.

Oh well.

Dave.

#41

I'll agree on most counts, because most of the real problems with the 15C are software bugs. HP wrote the software. On the random other mistakes we've seen, however:

12C firmware on a 15C: This was almost certainly a factory screwup. HP would be supplying the firmware images to the manufacturer, but the manufacturer would be responsible for flashing it onto calculators. Anyhow, assuming they're made on the same production line, this is probably an easy enough mistake to make, I just hope there aren't too many of these floating around.

Random intermittent keyboards: I wouldn't assign blame to anyone here. Defective units happen. The mechanical design seems to be OK because there are a ton of 12C+'s, and even 15Cs (The ones that work so nobody ever complained about them on the internet) with keyboards that work fine. You probably don't hear about bad Casio or TI keyboards because they're not as complex to make (rubber dome sheet like a TV remote) and because the kind of person who buys a defective $5 Casio is far more likely to return the thing to the store and get another than they are to post a scathing review on casiomuseum.org or something.

All in all, I agree that we shouldn't be nailing HP's manufacturing contractor to the wall. If they made a few defective units, that happens, this is why you build extras and have a warranty. If they flashed a few with wrong firmware, this is an easy and correctable mistake, hopefully HP's contract requires them to reimburse HP for the cost of this rework. Really, the 15C LE is not that bad. When the new firmware gets released, and the handful of defective units get exchanged, this will be a great product.


#42

Let me give you a perspective of someone who has and still does work on an assembly line. Deisel trucks, cell phones, helicopters, biz jet wings and supersonic fighters are some of the things i have built. It does not surprise me one bit to see that a 15c le got flashed with 12c rom. Here is why. First off the people on the line in general do not have a love or devotion to the product. Second these places all have policies in place to terminate employees who do not make quota or keep up. So if you have to put in a board with 12c rom to keep up so be it.Third i have seen examples of fellow employees who were denied raises,time off etcetera deliberately screw up a product to get revenge. Many of which made it to the customer. Also assembly lines are usually dull windowless environments and the human spirit screams for some relief. It may have been done as a prank. Also employees are usually graded against each other and it may have been done to try and bring a coworker down a notch. Quite frankly even in a small run there are lots of opportunity for error and to have only heard one malfunctioning so far is pretty good.

#43

Quote:
When the new firmware gets released

Do you know that this will happen? I wouldn't be so sure. There are many thousands of 12C+ calculators out there (aside form the 12C 30th AE's) with older buggy firmware and HP has still not released the fixed firmware, or even acknowledged these bugs on their site. If you read this forum and ask, you can get a copy of the fixed firmware, but that's not a "release" in my view.


#44

I have the programming cable for the WP-34S and I hope than an updated 15C LE firmware will be made available for the forum participants.

Then I'm looking for firmware parties where people will bring their 15C LEs to be reflashed :-)


#45

given the complexity of reprogramming, i'd consider a blanket recall more appropriate - especially from a company such as HP and the supposed status of a 'limited edition' product.


#46

A recall would be quite expensive for foreign buyers like me I guess... Because they are not yet available in Europe I ordered mine from the U.S - that's $32 just for shipping :-) so another roundtrip to HP for a repair would cost another $64.

With that money, I should have bought a vintage one on TAS...

#47

The difference could be that for most users, Casios and TI calcs are just that: calculators.

No one really cares about the keyboard of a TI calc, since they grew better over the decades,

and thus are "good enough" for normal use.

The opposite happened with the keyboards of HP calcs, when they changed production _and_ calc type in the late nineties.

Anyone remembers the FHB? or the 49g+ ;-)

At least those users of HP calcs which are lucky enough to have used the high quality keyboards of older HP calcs,

may be somewhat more picky regarding keyboard reliability.


#48

Yes.

#49

Quote:
The difference could be that for most users, Casios and TI calcs are just that: calculators.

No one really cares about the keyboard of a TI calc, since they grew better over the decades,

and thus are "good enough" for normal use.

The opposite happened with the keyboards of HP calcs, when they changed production _and_ calc type in the late nineties.

Anyone remembers the FHB? or the 49g+ ;-)

At least those users of HP calcs which are lucky enough to have used the high quality keyboards of older HP calcs,

may be somewhat more picky regarding keyboard reliability.

In the recent years, Casio, TI and HP calculators are made in China. However, HP's calculators are far more problematic than of Casio and TI. Why? I have been using Casio calculators (nearly 10 models so far) for over 30 years but I haven't got one with missing keystrokes, defective keyboard or buggy firmware at the outset! HP sets a new era of producing defective calculators!


#50

Quote:
I have been using Casio calculators (...) for over 30 years but I haven't got one with missing keystrokes, defective keyboard or buggy firmware at the outset! HP sets a new era of producing defective calculators!

HP has known to make some millions of reliable calculators in the past. Their keyboards were the gold standard of reliabiltity for decades. If they should have lost this knowledge :-( they are sentenced to learn it again or they will vanish from the market >:-(
Anyway, it would have been more cost effective keeping this knowledge ... :-/
#51

Maybe you have been as unlucky as I have been lucky (see my posting above). But I have to say that if a Casio keyboard feels and acts anything like that of a 20b I'll never own one. Because, as far as I am concerned the 20b is nearly unusable--even with WP34S firmware on-board.

I have not owned a non-HP calculator in so many years that I could not even tell you what one feels like so maybe I am wrong about the key feel. But from what I have read I would expect a Casio or TI to feel like a 20b. Sometimes I consider buying one or the other or both just to see how they feel but I can never quite get myself to do so.

After all, I wouldn't have a clue how to use one--they use something called.. darn, it's right there on the tip of my tongue... Oh, that's right! They are algebraic entry!

Cheers,

-Marwan


#52

As a former TI-89 Titanium owner, I'd describe modern TI keys like this: They feel like the buttons on a television remote, except there's a piece of plastic pushing the rubber dome instead of your finger pushing the rubber dome. The keys are somewhat firm, but don't give much in the way of tactile feedback. I definitely made mistakes on my TI-89 before because I didn't push the buttons far enough for it to register, usually in digit entry.

#53

With regard to QC, it seems to me totally insane to expect quality control to occur everyplace in the chain but the factory. You have to have quality measures there. Chinese factories are no exception. Whether given Chinese factories are better or worse at QC in a given situation is immaterial. That's because companies who outsource their manufacturing are responsible for setting QC standards, and for checking the resulting products against those standards. It is those companies, and their customers, who will decide whether the quality level is sufficient to make a successful product.

As others have noted here, this forum is populated by some rather tough customers when it comes to judging quality. Having started my computing career with an HP-41C, I more or less share those values. But I also know the impact and implication of the Walmart effect. It turns out that people have low standards for what is "good enough" quality. I find this maddening, but unfortunately true. As long as customers tolerate shoddy products, the QC in the plant that produced them will match that tolerance level.

Having said all that, I have to say that HP has usually met my "good enough" expectations in recent years. The newer "rotate and click" keyboards seem designed to recapture some of the classic feel of the old machines. For me, that works. I like the feel of the 15C LE keyboard, for example. The reason I got to like that feedback on my 41C was because the "click" meant the key had registered. People have reported problems with that on new machines, but even on my two 35S calculators, I've never seen it. So color me happy with my newer keyboards. The firmware on the 35S is another matter.


#54

Quote:
... companies who outsource their manufacturing are responsible for setting QC standards, and for checking ... against those standards.

Fullheartedly agree. Quality-wise, it's nothing less than manufacturing in-house. BTW we're not alone with our opinion in this matter - see e.g. ISO 9001.

#55

In a recent audit, I was told that doing anything beyond the standards is 'happy engineering'. I learn something new every day :-).

#56

If HP outsource their production to an area of the world not known for its quality control then they are responsible for the results. It is HP who decide what is an acceptable quality level for their products and decide what they pay for product and where they buy from.


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