The HP 15C LE has little appeal to youngsters



#26

I was looking at the customer reviews at the HP Home & Home Office webstore and noticed that the vast majority of reviewers were in either the 55+ or 40-54 age group. I suspect that the 40-54 age reviewers are closer to 54 than 40. Many of them have been owners of the original Voyagers, and have a nostalgic connection to HP, RPN and vintage calculators. Given that this market is limited and not growing, perhaps HP was wise to issue it as a one-time limited edition. Although they seem to no longer be available though normal channels and at MSRP, there is a flood of unsold units on eB@y and the few that manage to sell are at only slightly higher prices. Most of the people like myself who were interested have already bought them, and the market seems to have evaporated. As for myself, this may be the last HP calculator product, either current or vintage, that I will ever buy. I now own all the vintage calcs that interest me as well as all the current models and don't forsee any future ground breaking models emerging.


#27

The 15 LE has not yet arrived at all markets (e.g. Europe), and many are still hoping that new emissions may come with some of the early bugs already corrected. Maybe its too early in the game to say that the demand is over. The old ones are still selling, due to their perceived quality/reliability. If the new ones can achieve the same perceived quality levels, I believe we will se a new rise in demand.

In any case, maintaining the production line is probably not logistically expensive, due to the existence of the 12c.

Besides, humankind will tend to get wiser :-) (which means loving the 15c)

Being 50 still leaves us (probability distributions not withstanding) with enough time to see how this all thing will end up.

Best
Paulo


#28

My observations having both an original 15C and several new 15C LEs are as follows:

1) The new 15C LE are significantly lower quality than the original 15C and the battery life is vastly lower.

2) There is no indication that the bugs will ever be corrected. Some new models for non-USA markets have already arrived in Asia and they have the same version ROMs.

3) School and college age students will mostly buy the much cheaper 33s and 35s, which can also be used in algebraic mode and are far easier to program. The matrix capability of the 15C LE is hampered by the small amount of memory and the one line display. Anyone serious about matrix computation would probably use a 50g or equivalent.

4) Your optimism about increased human wisdom is admirable, but from what I've seen in young entry level engineers, alas I do not share this view. They tend to be intellectually lazy, and show little interest in understanding problems by working them through manually with calculators. Instead, they gravitate towards canned computer programs with GIGO (garbage in garbage out). Today, I spoke with a young engineer at my former company from which I am now retired, who was trying to use one of my programs without having a clue about the underlying theory. He just wanted me to tell him how to enter data so the program would spit out results w/o error codes. It turned out that the problem he wanted to solve was totally inappropriate for the capabilities of my program. Sigh.

Edited: 20 Jan 2012, 1:13 p.m.


#29

...yep, tell me about it; ever tried explaining the virtues of slide rules while you are at it (some folks don't understand that having gazillions of digits after the decimal point doesn't quite make up for being a few order of magnitude wrong)? ...not to mention trying to buy a new one to see people looking at you with blank stare as if you were from outer space or something... hint: Concise in Japan still make good circular ones, but I digress.

Ok, am I getting old? :-)

#30

I'm 22 with a degree in computer engineering. I bought 2 15C LEs and my 'everyday use' calculator is a 32s that's older than me by a few months. As for the computer program problem, first of all in my area (computer hardware/digital logic) it isn't such an issue: Either you know how to write good HDL code or do competent layouts, board designs, or whatever, or you'll get canned.

In other programs, a lot of it is the universities. They tend to only make students work through a few examples by hand, often picking the most painful and pointless ones possible (Analog circuits that serve no purpose but have tons of nasty arrangements of components resulting in foul systems of equations, mechanical design of something uninteresting like a screw driver or a wrench, etc.) and then tell the students "In the real world, we just let a piece of software do this for us" which convinces the students that doing this work and understanding the theory is a frustrating and pointless endeavor.

#31

Well, i'm 20 years old and have been using and enjoying the HP 15c LE in my EE class's. :)


#32

Have any of your fellow students taken note of or expressed interest in it? Do they still teach phasor analysis in the core part of EE programs, or do you only get that if you go into power engineering? The 15c will nicely handle the complex number calculations needed in such analysis.

Edited: 27 Jan 2012, 10:00 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


#33

At least at my university (Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh), Phasor analysis was taught in our sophomore-level analog electronics class. This was true as of 2009, and I believe the curriculum in that course has not changed since then.

#34

Well my major is Technology with a concentration in Network Engineering so my math class's are generally simpler algebra and calculus. And the two EE class's that I need probably wont turn me into a master in EE. So unfortunately i wont be able to utilize my HP 15c LE to its fullest extent. Although I still hope that it serves me well for the remaining years i still have at my university.

I showed it to a close friend and over the past couple years have tried to tell him what he's missing out on, but he isn't into calculator's as much. :)

I showed my HP 35s to a group of people i knew when we work on projects, and the first thing one of them said is "i really like how the buttons feel". I told him a 30-second lecture on how to use RPN, and he quickly got the hang of it. At least for simple one's like addition and subtraction.

The only problem i have with HP's calculators is that they are simply too expensive. One can purchase a TI-30XA anywhere for 10 bucks and use it well in many of there class's. Granted it's nowhere near the capabilities that the 15c has, but from the class's I have been through a TI-30XA will be just as well suited.

Now, I'm pretty sure this all changes once I step into a full fledged EE major type of discussion.

Edited: 21 Jan 2012, 2:58 p.m.

#35

In my "complain" about "looking for hp calculators", Bill Platt asked "How often and why do you need or find a calculator useful?", and I am going to answer him here for sake of this discussion:

The more basic use of a calculator currently for me is, in first place, simple arithmetic and trigonometry to get distances and angles when working on a FEM-model. But then it is mandatory in my company to do a double check of calculations; first one is thoroughly reviewing the model and the results from analysis to see everything is within reasonable expectations. Second one is to do a simplified independent verification of everything, from the global equilibrium of a structure to the steel area required by software for a concrete column. I do this with my hp, and that´s the reason why I love the 4-line format of the HP 28s, or at least the 2-line format of the 42s. In this stage of the process, a lot of the info used is constant (as the concrete strength for example), but nothing is recorded as this is just a quick independent verification of a structure previously modeled and analysed by state-of-the-art structural software. And this is the moment when I enjoy the most an HP calculator: the sound of the keys, the feeling of the keyboard, the sto-rcl function, rpn...
Reality is I could do this with a sharp, casio, or whatever cheap calulator I find around the corner, just don´t want to.

Quote:
Many of them have been owners of the original Voyagers, and have a nostalgic connection to HP, RPN and vintage calculators...

That´s all: I am so nostalgically conected to the old famous HP and RPN. Plain truth.


Plus:


1. HP 15c (LE or not) is such a powerful calculator, but as you pointed out, with a simple one-line display you don´t love going further into matrix computations, for example. In my humble opinion, 2-lines´ HP42s is a minimum (frequently I fully use the 4-lines HP28s).

2. In Mexico, buying an HP 15c LE from Samson, who send it through UPS, and after clearing customs is around $300-310usd. I am asking myself if I have been the only one to do that crazyness... twice. And so far there is no expectation HP will sell that model in Mexico, as I am pretty sure it is the same in all Latinamerica: Brazil, Argentina, Peru... you name it. But even if it were for sale here, I think it wouldn´t sell that much because of the economical situation; still, in any case, there is no way to measure the appeal to youngsters in this area of the world.


#36

"The more basic use of a calculator currently for me is, in first place, simple arithmetic and trigonometry to get distances and angles when working on a FEM-model...Reality is I could do this with a sharp, casio, or whatever cheap calulator I find around the corner, just don´t want to."

I completely agree, and sounds familiar, too :-)

#37

Quote:
In Mexico, buying an HP 15c LE from Samson, who send it through UPS, and after clearing customs is around $300-310usd.

I would have thought the North American free trade act would prevent that?!


#38

NAFTA only protects applies to duties, it does not prevent UPS from charging exorbitant fees for customs brokerage. NAFTA also does not prevent the receiving country from applying taxes to the imported goods. UPS fees are so bad that I will not bid on items out of country if they specify they will only ship via UPS. When I got my LE I chose shipping by USPS because packages cross the border smoothly to Canada Post, and they never charge any fees for customs clearance. I did however have to pay the 15% HST due in the province I reside in.

#39

Quote:
I am pretty sure it is the same in all Latinamerica: Brazil, Argentina, Peru...

Que pena. I'd have hoped that HP would at least market to Argentina, since "back in the day" three companies there produced their own RPN calculators.

#40

I'm definitely beyond the 40-54 age group but my two sons, brought up on 34Cs then 15Cs, have produced three grandchildren for me between them, ages 16, 14, & 8 and they all love their 15Cs (original versions bought expensively on TAS) Granted for the 8 yr old it is only arithmetic calculations. I think they like them in part anyway because of the RPN, it makes them feel different (superior?). Also partly because their classmates are less likely to steal them - they don't understand RPN.


#41

Lucky skilled you. I have never been capable of forcing the 15c on my kids. Alas, they grew on TI 83's. Will try again when they turn at least 40 ;-)


#42

My 12 yr. old daughter uses my old HP-33S and she's asked me teach her how to use RPN. I guess the kid takes after my extreme dislike of anything TI (especially since I worked for them).


#43

You worked for Texas Instruments?

#44

No shame in that :-). I spent many late nights adoring the smell and looks of my SR 51A. It even did linear regressions! :P

They blew it with the 58s and its unreliable key debouncing, though...

Paulo

#45

The HP 15c LE has little appeal to youngsters because it costs too much as it's ugly.

More younger people than ever (females, too!) are active in tech hobbies. You don't have to browse the web forums for long t figure that out. Micro-controllers, ham radio, basic electronics, Arduino, Linux, the BSDs, etc., etc.

-Sparkfun electronics is doing brisk business, among others: Link: http://www.sparkfun.com/

-Arduio boards and shields are selling briskly.

-PFU/Fujitsu is doing brisk business selling their Happy Hacking Keyboard: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Hacking_Keyboard A minimalist keyboard with the Control key where it belongs. The kids love 'em. Freaking love 'em.

Ti is selling its Launchpad micro-controller and dev board combo for $4.30. Four dollars and thirty cents! Link:http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/MSP430_LaunchPad_%28MSP-EXP430G2%29

-Linux is humongously popular with the hip, tech kids. Debian, Slackware, Arch, etc., etc. They love their X terminals, love to trade super custom .Xdefault files, mutt .confs, etc. Love using minimalist window managers like awesome (http://awesome.naquadah.org/) and xmonad (http://xmonad.org/).

-Ham Radio has been doing quite well, too. After getting rid of the Morse code requirement, the ARRL is finding that many who get their license eventually get interested in Morse code *and* the new digital modes, like JT56B. Lot's of pics of young (again, females, too!)kids getting their licenses, talking to satellites, etc., in my monthly QST.

There's also a regular "tech" get together here in NYC. Hip guys and gals socialize while soldering. I forget the name of this regular event but it was featured in the New York Times.

So, RPN *could* have appeal to all these youngsters. But at an entry price of $99, I doubt it. Make an entry level RPN for $15, $20 or $25 bucks to whet the appetite. Marketing genius ain't required.


#46

Maybe a DIY calc like the 34S would have a chance.

#47

Quote:
The HP 15c LE has little appeal to youngsters because it costs too much as it's ugly.

Confirming the claim,
beauty or lack thereof is in the eye of the beholder.

Quote:
There's also a regular "tech" get together here in NYC. Hip guys and gals socialize while soldering. I forget the name of this regular event but it was featured in the New York Times.

So, RPN *could* have appeal to all these youngsters. But at an entry price of $99, I doubt it.


Let's try to change that:
SAM7 Voyager Schematic

#48

Quote:
The HP 15c LE has little appeal to youngsters because it costs too much as it's ugly.

The HP 15C is many things but I don't think ugly is one of them. And those of my students who care about calculators and the like agree. It's a different aesthetic from an iPhone, but that doesn't mean it's ugly.

I think youngsters don't care about the HP 15C because those who would have been interested in it in the 1980s are already running a symbolic mathematics program on their smartphone or tablet. When you've got a Maple equivalent in your pocket, the appeal of a keystroke-programmable calculator becomes very limited.

Quote:
-PFU/Fujitsu is doing brisk business selling their Happy Hacking Keyboard: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Hacking_Keyboard A minimalist keyboard with the Control key where it belongs. The kids love 'em. Freaking love 'em.

If those youngsters can buy a $300+ Happy Hacking Pro keyboard, they could afford a $99 calculator if they wanted to. Unless you meant the Happy Hacking Lite, which is a mediocre membrane keyboard.


#49

Quote:
The HP 15C is many things but I don't think ugly is one of them

I would argue that it could look a bit dated. Personally, I like the format.


Quote:
If those youngsters can buy a $300+ Happy Hacking Pro keyboard, they could afford a $99 calculator if they wanted to. Unless you meant the Happy Hacking Lite, which is a mediocre membrane keyboard.

The $79 dollar mediocre keyboard is an upgrade path to the Happy Pro. The mediocre membranes give you the same format and ergonomics of the Pro in a cheaper package.

No such entry level calc available to get the RPN word out, sp to speak.

Quote:
When you've got a Maple equivalent in your pocket, the appeal of a keystroke-programmable calculator becomes very limited.

Which still can't be used on exams. HP needs an inexpensive, introductory, *NON-PROGRAMMABLE*, RPN calc to sustain a long term RPN customer base.


#50

Quote:
Personally, I like the format.

This format, you mean! :-)

Link to the source of the original Parthenon picture

#51

Quote:
I would argue that it could look a bit dated. Personally, I like the format.

Don't say "a bit dated", say that it's "old school", and all the cool kids will want one. I suppose HP could glue a few brass gears to the backplate and call it steampunk. Or is that passé already?

Quote:
The [Happy Hacking Lite] is an upgrade path to the Happy Pro. The mediocre membranes give you the same format and ergonomics of the Pro in a cheaper package.

I still see no reason to buy a $79 rubber dome keyboard when you can get a small keyboard with real mechanical keyswitches,
such as the Noppoo Choc Mini
for about the same price.

The Control key position is a non-issue, because that's trivially fixed in software. I've always had Control to the left of A and Escape to the left of 1, even if the keys themselves have "Caps Lock" or "`~" on them.

Quote:
Quote: When you've got a Maple equivalent in your pocket, the appeal of a keystroke-programmable calculator becomes very limited.

Which still can't be used on exams.


Depends on which exams. Last year, I split my advanced calculus final exam in two parts. The first half was strictly without calculators of any kind, and the second half took place in a computer lab and students were expected to use Maple.

Quote:
HP needs an inexpensive, introductory, *NON-PROGRAMMABLE*, RPN calc to sustain a long term RPN customer base.

HP has never made an inexpensive RPN calculator in the past because they never were in the inexpensive calculator business anyway. Today there are cheap basic calculators with an HP logo, but today's HP is not the same company. I don't expect them to be interested in sustaining their RPN user base.

I like RPN and I think that explaining RPN to students is a wonderful way to teach them about the tree structure of an algebraic expression. I always show my freshman calculus students how traditional mathematical notation is just syntactic sugar for a parsing tree.

Despite my love for RPN, I would be extremely surprised to see a basic RPN calculator gain any traction in the marketplace (which is to say, education). The hobbyist market is something else altogether, fortunately.


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