Where does the 17B-II fit in?


Hello all,

Here's what I gather (of course, I'm open to your refinement of my ideas):

1--the 12C remains the top of the line and, since it's still in production as well as the leading business calc in the world, I think it's the top of the line.

2--the 19B-II was a clamshell version of the 12C but perhaps on an order of magnitude, surpasses the 12C.

3--the 10b-II, like the 10C as an entry level scientific programmable, the 10b-II is the entry level business calc.

So, where does the 17B-II fit in? Or, have I missed something and the 30b changes my interpretation?

Edited: 23 Mar 2012, 7:52 p.m.


The 18B, 19B, and 19BII were a series of high-end clamshell financial calculators, but they weren't really anything like a 12C.

The 17B and 17BII were Pioneer (non-clamshell) calculators otherwise fairly similar to the 19B/19BII.

HP probably hoped that the world would migrate from the 12C to the 17/18/19 family, but the 12C remained a best-seller.

The 10B and 14B were Pioneer low-end financial calculators.

Those were all Saturn-based, with the 17/18/19 models using System RPL internally, and the 10B and 14B being programmed in Saturn assembly language.

The newer 10B and 17B models are reengineerd and do not use Saturn, though providing mostly equivalent or improved functionality. The latest model in the 10B family, the 10bII+, is based on the Atmel ARM chip, as are the 20b, 30b, and the most recent 12C.

The 20b and 30b are basically entirely new, not attempting to be comparable to any specific older models.


The 17bii is MUCH more powerful than the 12C. There is a small but enlightened minority of financial people out there who do prefer it over the lowly 12C.

Except that the 12C is programmable in the traditional sense, and the 17b is not--although you can program quite a lot inside the solver (Let and Get and Sum). And the 12C programming is PITA and very limited--not even allowing line insertion!

Edited: 23 Mar 2012, 8:52 p.m.


The 12C's programming capability is so limited that I'd also argue the 17Bii's solver is in fact much more powerful. Plus you can print, which is nice.

The 19Bii and palmtops (95LX, 100LX, 200LX) all have the same solver, if you want a bigger screen and alpha-numeric keyboard. If you want a financial calculator, you really can't beat the 200LX - a calculator with all the 19Bii's functionality, plus Lotus 1-2-3, with integration between the two.


As noted by others the 12C is not the top of the line unit. The 17B, 17Bii, and 17Bii+ are all far more powerful. In addition to a very powerful solver they have many features that the 12C does not have--a realt-time clock among them.

The clamshell models are also more powerful than the 12C. The 10bii+ is a great little calculator if you can get past the fact that it does not have RPN (I really do like the 10bii+ but I like RPN too much to make it a "first choice" when reaching for a calculator). While it does not have programming capabilities and it does not have a solver it is still quite powerful.

If you are looking for a financial calculator I would suggest the 19bii or the 17bii depending on your size requirements. Of course, everyone should have a 12C in one of it's many guises just because it is HP's longest lived calculator.




And now the question, the difference between the 17b II and the II+


There are others here that might be better able to answer that question, but...

1.  The + has more memory.  Just under 7K usable for the ii, just under 32K usable for the ii+.
2. The plus has the currency exchange menu
3. The plus (silver--don't get the older +) has a better display IMHO
4. I personally (and this will be sacrilegious to many) actually prefer the + Silver's keyboard and key
shape. I also prefer the shifted functions printed on the front of the key rather than above the key
on the keyboard itself.
5. And this is BIG... For some solver "programs" the ii+ has a bug that does not exist on the ii. Others
can detail this bug for you. I can't remember right now if I have ever encountered it in any of my solutions.

Not sure if I have missed anything...



Edited: 23 Mar 2012, 10:15 p.m.


Right on all counts. In addition, the + has the international languages available under the Modes function, whereas only 17b and 17bii's made for international distribution have that feature.


Hi Don,

Just the person I was hoping would chime in to confirm or correct my analysis :). I totally forgot about the language option having never used it. Rather provincial of me, I realize.




To add to the list, the + is a complete reimplementation of the 17bii, trying to mimic it as closely as possible. The internals are totally different and so are some of the features, most notably the solver. I wouldn't qualify it as a bug, it just shows an incompatible behaviour in some situations rendering some elaborate solver equations which use L and G not usable without modification.


Marcus, regarding the solver differences between the 17b/17bii and the plusses, it is important that folks understand the nature of those differences, particularly if they intend to do serious work with the solver (like the typical member of this forum might). Marwan ran into a problem about a year ago due to these differences (see this thread).

The solver is an amazing application, and it can do things usually reserved for genuine programming languages, but for those who want to move beyond the standard equation solving type activities the solver in the 17bii+ will be extremely frustrating. But, as you said, if you just want to solve simple equations, it will work fine.


Hi Don,

Thanks for pulling that thread up. I seemed to remember having run into the problem but could not remember the details so I sort of fudged on my answer to whether or not I had experienced the issue.




Sounds as if the B-II is the better operating unit. To sacrifice RAM for an OS that's more stable, logical, consistent and less problemmatic (i.e. bII+'s bugs and solver difficulties), I think what's being said here that the bII is a better device. Right?

Edited: 24 Mar 2012, 1:56 p.m.


For my money, that's certainly true. As for more storage space on the plusses, on my 17bii I've got 18 equations ranging in size from pretty small to one that is huge (over 400 characters), and I'm only using 37% of available memory. Having a solver that really works, and experimenting with its programming possibilities, are what I value.


Thank you, indeed! As I'm only a scientific calculator aficionado who's delved into the shallows of the 35A all the way down to the deep end with the 15C, 50G, 41CX, 42S, 32SII, as well as others in between, afterward and prior, the 17B II is my first and only business calc. So, thanks for the encouragement, expertise and insight. Otherwise, I was going to give it away or sell it.


Note that 7 kilobytes on the new machines does not equal 7 on the old ones. Not even close. The old machines are memory-efficient.

Back when the 33s came out, some of us dug into the details and we quickly discovered that 32k was only equivalent to about 7k. I can't remember if we found exactly the same ratio on the 17bii+


I'm sorry, but I am not following this. I have the 32Sii, the 33S and the 35S and the memory on the newer models is significantly greater. And I am talking USABLE memory which currently contains programs. I have a number of programs on the 33S and 35S any one of which would use up the entire memory of the 32Sii. I also have basically the same set of solver routines in my 17bii and my 17bii+, with the 17bii I have 54% memory left, with the 17bii+ I have 91% left. So while there may be an efficiency difference (even a large efficiency difference) the additional memory on the newer machines more than makes up for it.

Now, on another note, the way the 33S allows the use of that memory, the restricted set of labels being the biggest problem, does mean that you really can't have a large set of programs installed since you quickly exceed the 26 available labels. This problem, not an issue with the 32Sii BECAUSE of it's much smaller memory has been dealt with in the 35S.



Edited: 24 Mar 2012, 4:19 p.m.


I must concur with Marwan. I too have all four the 32S II, 33S, 35S and the 17B II. The 32 maxes out with barely 385 bytes of stuff. I have room for three programs at most. BUT with the 33s and 35s, I have at least 12 programs I've ported from my 67, 34C, 42 and my 15C. And I still have at least 15K left.

Edited: 24 Mar 2012, 4:40 p.m.


I didn't word that well. Of course the 33s has more memory than the 32sii! It just doesn't have "32 kilobytes" if you measure that in the same way it is used on the older machines. It has more like the equivalent of 7k--or very similar to the 42s had...


I know that changes to the OS have in fact increased memory usage. However, I believe that usage would very much depend on the type of program(s) you are writing and the instructions being used. I will have to see if I can find more data on this (and perhaps experiment with it myself) to see just how much less efficiently the newer calculators use memory.

Also, I am not sure if the same statements on "newer=less efficient memory usage" also apply to the 17bii vs. the 17bii+. So far my finding is that the 17bii+ has significantly more usable memory than the 17bii. See my numbers above comparing the two with basically the same set of equations on-board. Part of my response was based on this since the 17bii has just under 7K while the 17bii+ has just under 32K. Taking your statement and extending it to the 17bii+ (which was what this thread was originally about) would indicate that the 17bii+ should hold more or less the same number of equations as the 17bii (just using the equivalence you offer in your earlier post of 32K = 7K). This is very definitely not the case with the these particular machines.




Here are some things I have noticed:

  1. Looking at the manuals for the 17bii versus 17bii+, the 17bii includes a nice Table A-1 that lists the memory requirements for each type of item that requires user memory; the 17bii+ manual does not have that table. One might wonder why they dropped that table in the plusses.
  2. All calculators that lack external storage have a practical limit on available user memory, regardless of the manufacturer-stated amount of physical memory, and that limit depends upon the user's tolerance for re-entering all data in the event of a memory reset, which we all have experienced at least once. Entering solver equations on the 17bii/17bii+ is a tedious affair, especially compared to the 19b/19bii with it's text keyboard.
  3. My experience with changing batteries in these calculators is that it is not unusual to lose memory contents, even if you are careful.
  4. The A76 cells in the 17bii seem to last a lot longer than the 2032 cells in the plusses. The batteries in my 17bii's seem to last almost as long as the Voyagers, while my 17bii+ seems to need new batteries much more often.


1. Looking at the manuals for the 17bii versus 17bii+, the 17bii includes a nice Table A-1 that lists the memory requirements for each type of item that requires user memory; the 17bii+ manual does not have that table. One might wonder why they dropped that table in the plusses.

Interesting. I hadn't looked at the + manuals in detail. I did try to find memory requirements for the 33S in the manual yesterday and couldn't find it. Might still be there since I didn't look for very long.

Can't argue withe your other points. Although I have to say I have been relatively lucky changing batteries. The worst for me is my 42S which has suffered several "memory lost" occurrences and one reason I tend to use the 41 with it's external storage a lot more than the 42. That was always my one really BIG complaint about the 42S--no offline storage.




I did try to find memory requirements for the 33S in the manual yesterday and couldn't find it.

The 33s manual seems to only show how to find how much memory a given equation or program takes, it doesn't tell you how many bytes are required for each character in an equation, like the 17bii and 32sii manuals do.

I see an unfortunate pattern here. The 17bii and 32sii (designed and manufactured by HP) manuals are complete, the 17bii+ and 33s (designed and manufactured by Kinpo) manuals are lacking this detail.

Sometimes the good old days really were the good old days.

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