HP Pioneers?



#16

Hi all.

As HP was first to develop the first handheld scientific calc, HP-35 and again, HP was first with the release of the HP-65 as the first mag card programmable, is HP still innovative with calculator technologies?


#17

I'd like to believe it. But you can get a $15 Casio that does just as well. The market for calculators has dried up. That is the reality today.

#18

I would like to believe in the innovation of HP. Although, projects like the WP34S as well as HP's own G/GS/G+ series are giving the graphing calculator market some challenges. As an example, personally, I considered HP-48 series and now with the 50G, HP is giving TI some reason to sweat.


#19

Quote:
HP is giving TI some reason to sweat.

Matt, I don't think TI is worried about HP. TI owns education, at least in the US. TI has representatives in each region that work with math and science teachers and administrators. Not only that, textbook manufacturers refer to TI calculators in their texts. HP would have to make a huge investment to overcome that, and I don't see that happening.

The education market is the only thing going in calculators, and as ipads and similar devices become more prevalent (and less costly), I would expect calculators to go away completely, except for the $3 four-bangers that everyone will want to keep around.

Enjoy your old HP iron, like I do. You'll never see the likes of it again.


#20

A sad truth indeed.

#21

I think there will always be a market for hand-held calculators as I believe there will always be a market for a quality tool dedicated to do a job well. Tablet devices present too many compromises as they try to do too many things in a smallish form factor while being still being bulkier than is ideal for use in the field. They mostly don't have a decent mechanical keyboard (or any mechanical keyboard) with the exception of a few mobile phones. They also lack the robustness and reliability needed in less than ideal working environments. I do think the market has divided into mass market and specialised though. Mass market for simple 4 function calculators and education and specialised covering scientific, engineering, surveying, medical, navigation and flight computers etc.. I think if HP is to survive in the calculator market, it needs to carve a niche for robust, high quality machines tailored to specific needs of engineers and other professionals. As someone else here said, the education market really means TI (and cheaper, lower quality machines) now! I think the only USP for HP is to market based on high standards of mechanical and electronic reliability and to offer groups of feature sets geared to different professions. This is what is lacking in the marketplace and people will always be around who will pay a premium for quality and convenience. Whether HP can deliver the market focus and quality is another issue.


#22

I think you're right. I still haven't found anything else that's an acceptable substitute for a buggy whip!


#23

The buggy whip is actually a growth industry. More asses are harnessed up every year :-)


#24

Ha ha hahahahah ha!

Ain't that the truth!

#25

Quote:
I think you're right. I still haven't found anything else that's an acceptable substitute for a buggy whip!

A column in today's Tampa Bay Times suggests that paying into Social Security is "... an investment on par with an exchange-traded fund focused on slide-rule, buggy whip and record player manufacturers."

Wouldn't a modernized version of the buggy whip be based on the cattle prod technology?

#26

Hi all.

As I see it, the devices that try to add bells & whistles just to say, "Yeah, our product does that, too," have a rather limited version of the features they add. I'd rather have a dedicated device for a particular task rather than a convenient 'do-it-all' device. Although it's a suitcase of stuff, I have a cellphone, iPod and a PDA AND an HP-32S II with me (or whichever HP I'm in the mood for). That way, each machine does what it's meant to do and does it very well.

Edited: 13 Apr 2012, 1:35 p.m.


#27

As I see it, the problem is that everyone is trying to make "do everything" calculators. I think what people want is "do what I need" calculators. A Do It Yourself (DIY) calculator, or a Build Your Own calculator (BYOC). Pick the functions you need and assign them where the ones you use most are unshifted, the ones you need sometimes are shifted, the ones you use rarely but want to have handy are in menus, and everything else is left out.

(Apologies to the DIY4* / DIY5 team. I have a slightly different vision of "DIY" in mind -- where instead of do-it-yourself hardware, the functionality is do-it-yourself assignable by the end user.)

As a manufacturing/process controls engineer, I would want a calculator that has signal conversions (4-20 mA, 3-15 PSI, 1-5 V, thermocouple curves, RTD curves, etc.) available unshifted; trig, log, basic financial and maybe some complex math and basic stats shifted; programmable; and all the advance stats and matrix stuff in menus or left out completely. I'd like to have control valve sizing, relief valve sizing, flow-measurement orifice plate sizing and similar equation-based functions in a built-in equation library (solvable for any variable, like the financial ones do with PV, FV, etc.).

I seem to remember that Eddie was looking to design a machine with lots of statistics capability on the primary keys. A next-gen 32E, if I recall...

All the discussions about the WP34S keyboard layout come about because everybody has a different personal priority for what should be easiest to get to on the keyboard and in the menus.

I don't want a calculator that does EVERYTHING (because I won't be able to find ANYTHING!). I want a calculator that does EXACTLY what I need, and that's easy to set up to do so (say, via some PC software and a USB port).

So right now, in order to do that, I'm building my own prototype with an MCF51JM128 microcontroller, a 4x20 character LCD display, LiIon charger, SD card, maybe USB, some EEPROM and a real-time clock chip. Maybe by the time I retire and don't need it anymore, I'll figure out how to write all that code....

But it will do WHAT I WANT.

So, HP, please come up with a calculator where it's easy for the end user to assign EXACTLY what he/she wants, with enough memory for programming, long battery life, USB and/or SD card. You'll mop up the market, because everybody's job is more and more specialized. Everybody likes to have HIS/HER OWN CUSTOM TOOL that makes the job easier.

My $2.0E-02

Dale


#28

Quote:
My $2.0E-02

Good thing you're not in Canada, where the minimum is now $5.0E-02.

#29

I'm gonna be honest here. I bought a 50G to follow my lineage from the 28 to 48, etc. I found that my 48GX was the last 'comfortable arrangement' in its keyboard design for an HP graphing calculator. In perspective, the 33SII, although numerous with its second and third function sets, is a manageable arrangement. The 32SII was perfectly spaced, colour coded and arranged easily on the eyes. The 35 was also, like the 32SII neatly arranged, widened out correctly and colour coded properly. Perhaps it's just me but, although the 50G is a vastly superior descendant of the 48 series, I'm finding its keyboard much too cluttered and overwhelming. Is this a fair critique?


Edited: 14 Apr 2012, 5:39 p.m.


#30

Quote:
Perhaps it's just me but, although the 50G is a vastly superior descendant of the 48 series, I'm finding its keyboard much too cluttered and overwhelming. Is this a fair critique?

I would agree. The "loss" of the slanted key front, starting with the Pioneer Series and carrying onward through the 48/49/50 series was a recipe for additional keyboard clutter. Comparing the 32SII to the 15C, for instance, I think that the 15C looks more well organized with only one shifted function above the key and and the other shifted function on the key slant. Bringing the key slant back with the most-recent 17BII+, 20b and 30b was a nice thing, IMO. (And thanks to that, we have the WP 34S taking things further a la HP67.)

On the other hand, clutter sometimes has its place. It is interesting that in 1991, Eric Vogel from the HP Corvallis Division visited our Philly HP group (primarily to show off the new HP95LX) and told the story of the origin of the 32SII (for which he led the software team). Apparently, while the 20S and 32S Pioneer models were in the stores, HP was receiving feedback that some people saw the more-cluttered 20S keyboard (with its two shifted key planes), inferred that it was a more powerful machine (despite the fact that this was not the case, since the 32S embedded many of its functions in menus) and chose to purchase the 20S. A direct result of this was that in the 32SII, a second key plane was added (to increase the apparently "awe-inducing" clutter) and a positive outcome (IMO) was that at least 10 menus were able to be eliminated. Still, had the Pioneer series retained the slanted keys from its predecessors, perhaps 48/49/50 might have ended up appearing slightly less intimidating.

Jake


#31

Interesting story. I wonder if sales of the 34c (3 shift keys) were really good compared to the 33c (2 shift keys) and maybe the 67 (3 shift keys) too but that was in a totally different league as was the the 65 (which didn't really have 3 full shifts).

#32

Quote:
As I see it, the problem is that everyone is trying to make "do everything" calculators. I think what people want is "do what I need" calculators. A Do It Yourself (DIY) calculator, or a Build Your Own calculator (BYOC). Pick the functions you need and assign them where the ones you use most are unshifted, the ones you need sometimes are shifted, the ones you use rarely but want to have handy are in menus, and everything else is left out.

Setting aside development and manufacturing cost, I agree
completely. However given the considerable per-configuration
NRE particularly for the physical product, amortizing the NRE
with a more universally appealing design is likely the only way
a meaningful business case exists.

Quote:
So right now, in order to do that, I'm building my own prototype... Maybe by the time I retire and don't need it anymore, I'll figure out how to write all that code....

Why not consider writing substantially less code and leveraging
the available open wp34s codebase? Unless you're interested in
exploring numeric algorithms in that context (which
admittedly has its attraction), it is arguably the fastest route
to a usable custom tool.


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