HP-42s vs. HP-34s



#27

From several archived threads in the forum, and considering the prices paid on eBay, I think the HP-42s is one of the best (if not THE best) calculator ever made by HP.

How does the HP-42s compare to the HP-34s? Is the HP-34s better in every way, or is there no improvement on the HP-42s possible? Or can't the two be compared at all?

I have neither of these calculators, but I am curious to know which one is the most usable for studying mathematics. I am a Classic fan (HP-35,55,65) but looking for a quality calculator for every day use.

Thank you for sharing experiences and opinions!


#28

Long story made short:

  • The HP-42S is one of the most elegant products of HP. I don't know of any bug it shows.
  • The WP 34S is a repurposed HP-30b - so it's no product of HP anymore. It is a hobbyist's project under development and may still contain some bugs.
  • That said, the function set of the WP 34S exceeds the one of the HP-42S by far - but with some shortcomings. Please see the Index of Operations and Appendix H of the manual for a comparison on command level.
  • The speed of the WP 34S exceeds the one of the HP-42S as well - no wonder after 20 years ;-)
  • The display of the HP-42S is far superior to that of the HP-30b (and thus the WP 34S) - and that's something I wonder after 20 years :-(
  • The WP 34S features I/O: program exchange with your PC via a serial line is built in :-) See the manual for more.
Strictly my personal view only.
#29

I agree with Walter’s statement, a WP-34S is the equal of or superior to the 42S in many ways. The biggest difference, and this is not in any way intended to criticize (or criticise if you prefer) the developers of WP-34S, is the entry, display and manipulation of complex numbers. The issue has been discussed many times (perhaps mostly be me), with the conclusion that the developers are waiting for a more capable hardware platform on which to implement an improved method to handle complex numbers. (I just wish that Marcus had not teased me with this message…)

By the way, I do not believe that the 42S was necessarily the epitome in the area of entry, handling and display of complex values, but it came close. I (and Karl Schneider) have posted on what the ideal might look like. Mostly need an “i" key (with shifted theta) to enable direct entry.

...

Edited: 19 June 2012, 9:53 a.m.


#30

I fully agree on this! Better complex number handling would be brilliant. And yes, the 42S is very good in that respect, but the "i" key would indeed be a good idea!

#31

The main problem is the display... :-(


#32

Certainly the ideal hardware platform would have a display capable of displaying real plus imaginary or magnitude plus angle on a single line, or at worst displaying the components on two lines in the display. Despite my suggestion that the dot matrix area of the WP34S display could be used for that purpose, I will not argue that it would be a very good way to do so. But I will argue that the 15C-style of holding and handling complex values in a parallel, unseen stack, with various commands for swapping and/or displaying the components, would be preferable to the method chosen for WP34S, which is of course a descendant of the 32S family. Certainly the 8 level stack makes this methodology much more workable than the 32S implementation, but I still believe that the 15C way would be better. If you took a poll, my guess is that many or even most users would agree with me. But this has of course been discussed many times, and I am not suggesting that a poll be taken or that the 15C paradigm should be implemented just because I think it would be preferable. It is easy for me to suggest things that would require a lot of work by someone else.

edit - My original post ended with a remark which Valentin pointed out could be taken as an insult or snide remark. I did not intend it as such, so have edited the above to better convey my meaning. (Of course my remark was quoted by Valentin below where he rightly called me out for the remark. There it shall remain for posterity as evidence of my lack of good judgment, as it probably should.) My apologies to Walter, Pauli and Marcus if any offense was taken.


Edited: 20 June 2012, 11:37 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


#33

Quote:
But of course last time I checked, adding features or changes to WP34S by Walter, Pauli or Marcus was not a democracy, so a poll is not necessary.)

That's a completely uncalled-for barb, mister.

None of the outstanding individuals you mention deserve such a snidy remark on your part.

V.

Edited: 20 June 2012, 9:23 a.m.


#34

It was not intended as such, just an admission that WP34S is the fine work of Walter, Pauli and Marcus and they are not beholden to anyone to add features. However, upon re-reading, I can see that it could be taken as such, and for that I apologize.


#35

I don't mind such a remark. It just tells me how strong the community's interest in our little project is. :-)

#36

Hi, Jeff:

Quote:
It was not intended as such, just an admission that WP34S is the fine work of Walter, Pauli and Marcus and they are not beholden to anyone to add features. However, upon re-reading, I can see that it could be taken as such, and for that I apologize.


Thanks a lot for your measured post. On second thought I probably overreacted for which I duly apologize in turn.

Best regards from V.

#37

A great fraction of communication travels with 'subtext' - and I can imagine that said sentence could have been misunderstood.

But back to your intention, Jeff: When the whole matter of complex operations raised many months ago, I frankly admit that I abused it a bit to foster my intention, i.e. establishing a stack of more than four levels. In fact, I wasn't keen on complex numbers at all (I didn't use them all the years after I finished my Ph.D. and don't see any inevitable need to use them now but for curiosity). But they were the ideal 'vehicle' for the extended stack. So after discussing back and forth, Pauli and I agreed on an optional second stack size of eight levels - which can be used for real and complex calculations as described in the manual.

There was no hidden second stack in our discussion - it's nothing usable in real mode AFAIK the HP-15C, so what's the benefit for the common user? And don't forget we knew the HP-42S already, which runs circles around the HP-15C regarding complex number treatment. No - no way back to the HP-15C paradigm.

BTW, I'm happy to see at least some members use the large stack the way it was intended by me: easing RPN calculations by avoiding stack overflows. For sure. What more can I wish? But don't you pass it on to the others ;-)


#38

So on the whishlist for the next model in the WP series we have an 8 level stack that can handle complex numbers like the 42S. And some additionl features over the 42S, like an "i" key, for easy entry and splitting of complex numbers.

Unfortunatley I don't see where the hardware - essentially with a display better suited for the complex numbers and maybe more memory - will come from.


#39

Eric's DIY 5 is the most likely candidate. Good specifications, great screen and uncompromising hardware design.

In theory we could do some more with the 30b hardware if we install some SPI storage inside (and if it is fast enough). We wouldn't be able to do a lot more -- internal flash is close to full and any SPI storage couldn't easily be preloaded as part of the flashing operation -- so no more functions but more storage for user stuff.

The DM-15CC is another option but it is a little lean on RAM for my liking.

The 50g hardware could also be repurposed, but I'm not keen. I don't much want to do a graphics calculator.


Perhaps, we'll get lucky with HP's next offerings :-)


- Pauli


#40

Quote:
The DM-15CC is another option but it is a little lean on RAM for my liking.

... and its display is even less flexible than the one we fight now :-(

I fully concur that we shall not do any great gymnastics unless there is a display being at least as good as the one built in the HP-42S or the HP-17BII+ Silver (showing some twenty years of calculator progress - SICNR). Eric, we count on you :-)


#41

Quote:
... and its display is even less flexible than the one we fight now :-(

You are thinking of HP's 15C LE. I wrote DM-15CC the credit card sized device with a dot matrix display.....


- Pauli


#42

I know :-) But look at the poor dot matrix there ... :-/

#43

Quote:
Eric, we count on you :-)

Eric, if you need a helping hand with the DIY5 design, let me know.
I have been reading this thread and wonder why you don't want to go for two NiMH AA cells that could be recharged from the USB?

#44

Quote:

Perhaps, we'll get lucky with HP's next offerings :-)


As the idea is to repurpose the original machine, it does not have to be an HP RPN calculator. Aren't there any other machines on the market that could be donors? Casio, Sharp, TI...?

Besides, I would be happy if someone wanted to repurpose the 15c LE to be a bug-free 15c...

Edited: 21 June 2012, 7:19 a.m.


#45

Quote:
Aren't there any other machines on the market that could be donors? Casio, Sharp, TI...?

... featuring rotate-and-click keyboards? None AFAIK :-(

#46

Are you sure? The new HP 39gII has a fine keyboard, display, loads of flash, etc. No RPN but new firmware would fix that. What I don't know of is documentation on developing firmware for it. Combined with key labels similar to Eric's for the WP 34S, the results would be spectacular...


#47

I couldn't agree with you more.

Remember the HP-41 "blanknut"? Made to order for a group of enthusiasts like you find on this forum.

Would love to see this kind of product implemented in modern hardware.

How about an HP 39GII "blanknut" with some documentation

#48

Quote:
Are you sure?

When I write 'AFAIK' I'm not ...
Quote:
The new HP 39gII has a fine keyboard, display, loads of flash, etc. ... Combined with key labels similar to Eric's for the WP 34S, the results would be spectacular...

Let my advocatus diaboli see:
  • Keyboard: principally good layout, a bit jammed, cheap looking keys, no slants - could be used probably but could be better :-/
  • Display: If it's able to display Chinese softkeys it should be more than good enough :-) But what to do with the upper half of the LCD? I'm not keen on graphic calcs ... :-I ... but it's nice for matrices, OK.
  • Flash: 80MB should do :-)
  • etc.: Hmmmh, it's another sledgehammer, isn't it? Not really pocketable :-( If Apple is able to produce MacBooks "Air", why does HP produce calculators "Lead"??
Come on, HP, you can make it fitting my shirt pocket and half its present weight! :-)

Ceterum censeo: HP, launch a 43S (the 39gii isn't it yet)!

Walter


#49

We could use a really really big font to allow our old eyes to read a four level stack....

- Pauli

#50

Quote:
  • etc.: Hmmmh, it's another sledgehammer, isn't it? Not really pocketable :-( If Apple is able to produce MacBooks "Air", why does HP produce calculators "Lead"??

  • That reminds me of a TI Business calculator (can't remember the name right now) that I opened a while ago... It had a large piece of metal glued to the back shell, with no other purpose than add weight (ok, probably redistribute the weight too). Apparently with some tools, weight is synonimous of quality! :)


    #51

    It's not the weight but the size.

    #52

    etc.: Hmmmh, it's another sledgehammer, isn't it? Not really pocketable :-( If Apple is able to produce MacBooks "Air", why does HP produce calculators "Lead"??

    This is the first thing i read after waking up this morning. Thanks for the laugh. :)


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