HP42s - deal?



#2

I have always wanted to have a 42s, because everybody says great things about it... but it's usually more expensive than I can afford. But then, I found one on eBay that was "mislabeled" as a 45s. Maybe for that reason, or because it was in Italy, or because it came with no box or manual... for whatever reason there was no bit war on it, and I got it for 160 euro. It's in (I'd say) mint conditions, no scratches anywhere, no bumps, no discoloration, great keys, the pouch is ok... the only sign of use is that the rubber feet have a "used" look, but they're still in great shape.
So, a few questions...

- Is there some specific defect I should look for? It's a 1987 Singapore unit.

- The display contrast isn't that great. It's better than my 48SX but worse than my 48GX. Is this normal?

- Did I pay a good price for it? :)


Thank you,
Cristian


#3

In my opinion: No, Yes, Yes!

#4

In my experience and with the currency in Mx, it was not the best price, specially as it came with no manual nor box.

Just last December, I guess because of most people were spending in christmas gifts, two HP 42s appeared on ebay, the first one in 129usd, the second one in 140usd. I bought both with no fighting at all. 129usd + shipping is in mx pesos aroung 1850mxp; and your 160 euros alone are 2770mxp.

Compared to the prices now on ebay for the HP 42s, it would seem that it is a good price, but right now prices on ebay are inflated. I think one of the reasons is the recent sell of a supposedly NIB unit that sold in nearly 700usd. BTW, sadly I contributed to that, because from the very begining I increased the bid on that unit to 425usd. I did´n want seriously that calculator (I mean, I want it, but not for those prices), but just wanted to see how the the ultimate crazyness in the market was. And well, the final price says all.

I bought a "mint, like new" HP-28s some few months ago in a fiercely bid. It was in something like 200usd in the last minute, so I entered 350 just to make sure I was the winner. Well, I won it with 325. Yes, 325 for an HP-28S. And to add insult to injury, it was no way near as "mint, like new" as described. Later I bought another one from another seller in 210. She didn´t want to sell overseas, so ask for a premium and that´s why I paid that. In this case, the unit was even better than described; actually it looks like the box was somehow just opened to see it and never used. Recently, in january, 2 units new from an army surplus appeared on ebay, and sold for around 90usd each. Remember, we are talking about the HP-28S, which I love but a lot of HP users seem to hate, so its prices shouldn´t be that high. If you go to ebay now, there´s one unit offered in more thtn 250... is it worth or just inflated?

So, my experience on deseperately hunting down calculators in the last months says: be patient. When prices skyrocket, just slow down and wait for the right time. It always will come.


#5

Quote:
In my experience and with the currency in Mx, it was not the best price, specially as it came with no manual nor box.

Just last December, I guess because of most people were spending in christmas gifts, two HP 42s appeared on ebay, the first one in 129usd, the second one in 140usd.


Well, I don't mind if it's not the best price, as long as it's a good price!
And... buying in the US is problematic. Shipments to Italy are often very expensive, and really slow, and there is a hefty customs tax. And many packages just get lost. I go to the US about once a year, and when I can I have things shipped there so I can collect them there take them back with me, but I don't know when I'll be going there next, so... I just took this chance of buying locally!

In your experience, does it happen often that valuable calculators are mis-labeled on eBay? I found this by chance, and mine was the only offer... If only the base price was lower! :)

And I never "bid-fight". I decide a price, set an automatic bidder, then I don't even look at it until after the ending time. Prevents me from bidding more than I really want to. Many sellers don't like this, but as a user it's a great way to not have buyer's remorse!

Cristian


#6

Quote:
Well, I don't mind if it's not the best price, as long as it's a good price!

I think it was a reasonable price, better than what the HP 42S typically brings on eBay.

I've got two HP 42S units made in 1993 with firmware version C, and one HP 42S made in 1989 with firmware version A. There were only versions A, B, and C, with version B being the rarest apparently.

No one has ever made a RPN calculator that comes even remotely close in capability.

           Checking HP 42S or HP 17BII Firmware Version
--PRESS-- --RESULT--
ON plus Starts step-wise self test.
(fourth
top key
from left)

<-- Starts built-in hexadecimal memory scanner/editor.
(backspace) LCD displays data similar to:
"023F1:750D1F6E2051C11B" (HP 42S Firmware version A)
"023F5:710D1F6E2051C11B" (HP 42S Firmware version C)
"021E8:71FC70E81FC73055" (HP 17BII Firmware version B)

. Executes ROM beginning at address shown on left side.
(period) Results are shown momentarily each time "." is pressed:
"A 7" (HP 42S Firmware version A)
"C 7" (HP 42S Firmware version C)
"B 1" (HP 17BII Firmware version B)

ON plus Exits memory scanner/editor.
(third Gives "Machine Reset" message but causes no memory loss.
top key
from left)

See Craig Finseth's interesting HP 42S info, including some firmware version details and interesting FW memory locations that can be accessed with the memory scanner/editor, at his HP 42S page.

It is normal for all HP 42S units, which were sold by HP from 1988 to 1995, to have LCDs that are not the best for contrast. But all are completely serviceable. The later LCD type is recessed about three times deeper from the front than the first LCD type. However, the display contrast does not differ between these types to any discernible amount.

With respect to the side discussion on the HP 28S, I still have the one I bought new in 1988. I am surprised anyone would pay more than $25 for a new-condition one, and that only if it is without the typical cracked battery door opening. A used-condition HP 28S with cracked battery opening should be a give-away item. Clamshells are bad products, IMO.

Edited: 17 Feb 2012, 3:15 p.m.


#7

I can't resist commenting on the 28S. I have a few of them, most in mint condition and they are my personal favorite HP. I have bought and sold many of them over the years - prices do vary considerably. I have sold 'like new in box' units for $105 to $350 in the last few years (it wasn't mine that was referred to earlier). I've also sold seriously damaged 28S's (not working, no battery door, water damaged) for about $5 (parts?).

I think it all comes down to personal preference. I love the 28S because of it's design, easy access to menus and alpha keys, and nice display. I still have my original from 1990, as well as a few 'extras' (well I am a collector after all!) and rare versions (clear cases, etc).

Yes the 28S has what could be considered a design flaw in the battery door, but considering that the few that I keep and use on a regular basis are in perfect condition after 20+ years, it comes down to how careful you are with battery changing. It is a shame that the rear battery door of the last version of the 19Bii didn't get transferred to the 28S.

My 2c. Keith


Edited: 17 Feb 2012, 10:58 p.m.


#8

I should also add that I have bought 28S's for a wide price range as well. The best deal I got was $17 for a mint (appeared completely unused) Singapore version from an online marketplace (not ebay). The most i've paid is $305 for a complete boxed version (also mint). I recently bought 2 together for $40 (both in working condition). Cheers, Keith

#9

Quote:
...and they are my personal favorite HP.

I knew I was not alone!


#10

Haha - now you just need a 'Fabricio' version like my 'Keith' version!


#11

It won't fit. 'CUBE' will. :-)

I'm not going to open any of my clamshells. To much work for my two left thumbs.

#12

Quote:
Haha - now you just need a 'Fabricio' version like my 'Keith' version!

Keith, I would have said it was a broken calculator... How did you program that?

Cristian


#13

Hi Cristian, I will provide a program listing later (the 28S with this program is at my office), but essentially you take a screen dump (LCD->) of anything (in this case it was just the screen with the STRING menu). Store the screen image in a file, then the program cuts the last character from the string file (the 28S stores a screen image as a 548 character string), then add the last character to the beginning of the balance of the string and XOR it with the original image. You then display this image and do it all over again - repeat 548 times and be amazed with the patterns that appear on the display!! I also tried this with a screen dump of a fractal back in my University days, but I can't get the fractal generator to work again (I converted an old Pascal file back then - lost my touch now!!).

I will provide a separate thread with the program tomorrow.

Keith

#14

Quote:
I love the 28S because of it's design, easy access to menus and alpha keys, and nice display.


Yes the 28S has what could be considered a design flaw in the battery door, but considering that the few that I keep and use on a regular basis are in perfect condition after 20+ years, it comes down to how careful you are with battery changing. It is a shame that the rear battery door of the last version of the 19Bii didn't get transferred to the 28S.

I totally agree with you. I bought HP-28S in 1988 because it has a beautiful design, a revolutionary structured programming language and abundant memory. As I didn't get enough money to buy the succeeding HP-48SX in 1990, I had to sell it with some solution handbooks to one of my college classmates. Twelve years later, I bought an NOS HP-28S from TAS.



I used HP-28S for two years but hadn't found any difficulty in replacing batteries. I'm surprised by cases of broken battery compartment.

Edited: 18 Feb 2012, 2:35 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


#15

I think a lot of the damage to the battery door comes from dropping the calculator, not changing the batteries. I also sold my first 28S in to a friend to buy a 48G - it was in perfect condition when I sold it - he gave it back to me a few years ago (along with my original manuals and receipt for AUD$425!! - lot of money for a student back then!), but the battery door area was very damaged.

He told me that the damage was from a few unfortunate 'drops'. Because the battery compartment area (the case around the door, not just the door) is the weakest part of the calculator, then that is the place that suffers the most damage.

Keith


#16

I have just posted the program in a separate thread. Keith.

#17

Quote:
I think a lot of the damage to the battery door comes from dropping the calculator, not changing the batteries. I also sold my first 28S in to a friend to buy a 48G - it was in perfect condition when I sold it - he gave it back to me a few years ago (along with my original manuals and receipt for AUD$425!! - lot of money for a student back then!), but the battery door area was very damaged.

He told me that the damage was from a few unfortunate 'drops'. Because the battery compartment area (the case around the door, not just the door) is the weakest part of the calculator, then that is the place that suffers the most damage.

Keith

I regard drops as disasters to a calculator. Neither did I lend a calculator to my friends nor use it so carelessly. I treated my HP-15C so badly that it had dropped several times. Fortunately, it still works! :)

#18

Hello Cristian,
That "mis-labeled" 42s didn't went unnoticed: I have it in my records since last october :).
First time it ended on 19/10/2011, its starting price was 210 EUR. Since then it appeared another eight times, lowering the asking price to 199.99, 179.99 and finally 159.99 when, on the second try, you bought it.

I was not interested since I considered it too pricey: I bought my four units for the equivalent of 25, 40, 70 and 85 EUR (the last one an unused replacement unit made in 2000).
Several years have passed, that's true, but I still consider 160 EUR a bit too much for a used 42s... But, hey! That's just me. ;)

Enjoy your new toy! That's the only thing that counts.

Massimo


#19

Hi Massimo,
Wow, eight times, I never noticed it... because I don't regularly search for the 42S and this time I only saw it by chance. I wonder what the base price would have been if I had let this auction pass too! :)

Anyway... now that I see what you paid... let's say I feel guilty again! Did you find those prices on eBay?

Cristian


#20

No, please, don't feel guilty! Just enjoy it: if you felt you had to buy it, then the price was right.

After all I found those calcs around 10 - 12 years ago.

I bought the first and cheapest from a coworker (the only one without manual), one from iBazar (before it was bought by eBay), another on eBay and the last on a local board in Belgium.

Greetings,
Massimo

#21

Benvenuto al club!

Quote:
- Did I pay a good price for it? :)

Was that a rhetorical question? :-)

Five years ago I shipped one in near mint condition to Italy. It cost the buyer US$ 140.00, only slightly above what I had paid for it here, but I was glad to get rid of it because I didn't like the early display style. The buyer got "molto contento", to use the words in his feedback to me:-)

Mine cost exactly 217 euro (the one in the left) and the equivalent to about 180 euro (the other one).

Ciao,

Gerson.


#22

Thank you for the info! :)

Quote:
Was that a rhetorical question? :-)

Actually it was not. I know that many times the eBay prices are "bloated" and out of proportion. And I had no info about prices elsewhere. And I thought that, since it was mislabeled and I was the only bidder, it could be a good price! :)
Anyway I like the calculator, it's really near mint, even the display glass looks like new... Now I would like to find the manual! :) I have the museum DVDs but I like to read manuals on paper - and printing would be too big a job...

Best regards,
Cristian


#23

Does anyone know which version fetches a higher price? The flat screen or stepped screen version: HERE . Cheers, Keith

#24

I was watching over the weeks that calc too, hoping for a further decrease in price. But I think it has been a bargain anyway, considering the current pricing of the 42s.

I recently bought one from a forum member (on eBay, anyway), for about 135 Euros, plus shipping, plus custom duty.

It came with manual, but it was refurbished by the seller, and (probably due to the disassembling and reassembling process) the keys are mushy and sticking or snapping, the good cosmetic condition notwithstanding.

So, congratulation for your recent acquisition! :)

Vince

#25

Quote:
- Is there some specific defect I should look for? It's a 1987 Singapore unit.
Keyboards may fail and require to open it, which appears to be typical for all Pinoneer calculators. This is what has been reported many times.

OTOH, I now have a 20S, two 32SII, a 10B (I gifted it, but it's still within reach and in daily use), and a 27S. None of them failed so far.

#26

You can adjust the contrast by pressing + or - while holding down the EXIT/ON key. You may be able to get it to be a bit more to your liking that way, but don't expect too much. The HP-42S display is widely considered to be a somewhat poor feature in an otherwise excellent calculator.

#27

Quote:
- Is there some specific defect I should look for? It's a 1987 Singapore unit.

A problem that is by far the most serious yet obscure is the remaining lifetime of the calculator. I would like to share my experience with you. I had a HP-48SX bought new in 1990. Its serial number is 3051AXXXXX. I used it quite heavily from 1990 to 1992. After 1992, I used it occasionally. I found that part of the LCD display was dead only several years ago and that the calculator eventually RIP this year. Except some dirt, the calculator still looked mint for about 20 years without any wear or other cosmetic problems. If I had sold it to you several years ago, you would have lost your money!!!



Every one has to risk himself when deciding to buy a calculator used for more than 10 years. Unfortunately, a car has an odometer to log its mileage but a calculator has no corresponding meter to log its usage. Only the owner knows the truth. Even an unused one cannot be guaranteed to survive for long because all electronic components have their respective lifetimes even without much use.

Edited: 19 Feb 2012, 4:23 a.m.


#28

Quote:

Every one has to risk himself when deciding to buy a calculator used for more than 10 years.


Yes... I know. Unfortunately there's no way around that. If some components inside are only just "marginally alive", I can't know. But at least I know there are no already-worn parts.
This is something I hate about new technology. Take an old transistor radio from 40 years ago... you can fix almost any defect. Take anything with custom components... you're out of luck. Even my old Commodore 64 was easily fixed, but only if you had access to spare custom chips.

The same goes with cars... I could keep my old 1983 Alfa Romeo alive for many years, right until it was destroyed in an accident last year. Modern cars have more complex, custom sensors/electronics parts which are not fixable and impossible to substitute with anything else when the stores run out of spares. Oh well, such is life...

Cristian


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