non-HP RPN knockoffs - the good, bad and ugly



#16

The Compucessory CCS28956 and Victor V12 have been discussed before on this forum. They are basically knockoffs of the HP 12C Platinum, the Victor V12 is a copy of the original version and the CCS28956 is a copy of the newest version, that also adds a cost/sell/margin feature as well. Both calculators can be easily found for less than $15 shipped, although the CCS28956 has to be bought in quantity greater than one to get a unit price under $15. Compare this to a MSRP of $80 for the HP 12CP, and it's clear that the good of these knockoffs is their bargain basement price. Even if they didn't offer RPN, they are still about the cheapest programmable calculators on the market.

The Victor has a decent keyboard with large semi-clicky keys that are laid out exactly the same as the HP 12CP and are spread farther apart for easy desktop use. The bad thing is the choice of red for the color of the shifted functions on the bottom of the black keys, which makes them almost illegible under anything but the brightest ambient lighting. The display is angled up for easy viewing, has large crisp digits with contrast adjustment, but a small decimal point. It's size and bulky case make it non-pocketable and requires two-handed handheld operation. Processing speed is much faster than the original HP 12C and probably comparable to a modern HP 12CP, although I can't make a comparison, since the only HP 12C I own is an original Voyager one from the 1980s. Finally, the Victor has a hard reset button on the back, so there's no need to remove the batteries (2 x AAA) if a reset becomes necessary. It's unfortunate that the Victor lacks the features added to the newer HP 12CP, such as backspace and undo. I don't miss the parentheses, because I never use algebraic mode. Overall, the Victor is mostly good, some bad and no ugly, and offers a good cheap alternative RPN calculator for non-critical situations, where a true HP RPN calculator is not required.

The Compucessory CCS28956 has an absolutely awful tiny mushy keyboard that has the key locations radically changed from the HP 12C as well as the key legends, such as STO changed to x->M, and critical keys such as ENTER are tiny buttons spaced so closely to other buttons that it is near impossible to depress it without hitting other nearby buttons. Also, the different key locations means that the program key codes are meaningless. This is all very unfortunate, because this is otherwise a very good calculator with a clear large display and a small size that makes it easy to use as a handheld device or carry in a pocket. I has a nice built-in plastic cover that makes it no thicker than a Voyager in its slip case, while actually being smaller in width and height. Processing speed is comparable to the Victor. Build quality is not as good as the Victor and it lacks a reset button. Overall, the Compucessory CCS28956 is some good in its compact size and a lot of bad and ugly in the crappy keyboard layout and button size/action. I can really only see using it in situations where I want to carry it around in a pocket and use in my hand.


Edited: 27 Oct 2011, 12:55 a.m.


#17

Nice summary/review, but you left out the first of the 12C/CP clones, the Aurora FN1000. I think it was first discussed here in 2003.

#18

I have a 12C+ which has two CR2032 batteries... They are 3V batteries, connected in parallel, so when you change the batteries if you only remove one at a time, the program memory isn't erased.
If the Victor has 2xAAA batteries, which are 1.5V each, does this mean they're connected in series? If so, this should mean that when changing batteries, the memory is lost, right?

Cristian


#19

Quote:
when changing batteries, the memory is lost, right

For the Victor, if you change the batteries quickly you may be able to preserve program memory, but I wouldn't count on it. The manual says memory is preserved "for a short amount of time" while changing batteries, but I think I removed the batteries for only a couple of seconds and memory was lost. But that was yesterday, when it arrived and I first put the batteries in. Today it seems to keep continuous memory a bit better.

The manual, by the way, is excellent. It is 72 pages and the font size is very large, making it a very easy read. It is a pleasant surprize considering most printed documentation for cheap products, if there is any at all, is a single multi-fold sheet with a font size of about .001. It doesn't have all the detail of the original HP-12c manual (notably absent are formulas used), but I was surprized by the quality of the manual for a $14 calculator.

Oh, regarding speed, the Victor is much faster at program execution than the 12cp 25th Anniversary edition. But it is nowhere near as fast as the ARM-based 12c+

Edited: 27 Oct 2011, 7:12 a.m.


#20

Quote:
The manual says memory is preserved "for a short amount of time" while changing batteries...

Where in the manual did you find this ?


#21

Page 34, first paragraph.

#22

The manual, while good overall, does have a few peculiarities. A table on page 7 refers to the word "block" registers, which I think they use in place of "stack." I'm not sure why they would do that unless they just hate the word "stack" for some reason. On the following page they say that "blocks" will be discussed later in the manual, but if it's there I don't see it. They do refer to "x register" and "y register", so I don't know why they just don't call it stack.

At the top of page 36 I expected to see a picture of Dolly Parton.

:)

#23

Is anything known of the hardware internals of any of these machines? Are pictures or schematics around?

TomC

#24

Quote:
It's size and bulky case make it non-pocketable and requires two-handed handheld operation.

Interesting. Exactly how big is this calculator? Bigger than an actual 12c, I presume?

Something about the design of the calculator itself, and the lack of scale in the marketing images, gives me the impression that it's small, say the size of an iPhone.


#25

No, it's big and rather ugly!

#26

The calculator itself measures 138.4mm x 88.2mm x 22.8mm, with the thickness measurement taken at the top of the display area. Compare this to a Voyager at 128.6mm x 80.0mm x 15.1mm. Inside its carry case it is approximately 147mm x 94mm x 35mm.

#27

Approximately 3.5" by 5.5". The display area is a lot thicker than a normal 12c, presumably to accomodate the AAA batteries. I don't find the angled display to be very legible, certainly not as legible as a real 12c.


#28

Quote:
I don't find the angled display to be very legible, certainly not as legible as a real 12c.

Did you try adjusting the contrast ? I did on mine and it helped.


#29

I think I fooled with it yesterday for a while and it didn't seem to help too much, but I'll try it again.

Here is a side-by-side pic of the Victor and the HP12c+.


#30

Actually, I find there to be more difference between the display on the original Voyagers (12C and 15C) and the new HP 15C LE, than I do between the Victor V12 and the 15C LE. About the only thing I find annoying about the Victor V12 display is the tiny decimal point.


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