HP Prime - incalculable risks for students


By the way, who the hell is responsible if the HP Prime crashes down in an exam due to uncountable bugs and a student can’t finish his test? Or is it a matter of course that using the HP Prime calculator bears the incalculable risk of panic to students?


By the way, who the hell is responsible if the HP Prime crashes down in an exam due to uncountable bugs and a student can’t finish his test? Or is it a matter of course that using the HP Prime calculator bears the incalculable risk of panic to students?

I am in no way defending HP regarding crashes and bugs. When I give a mathematics exam, I make it a point to make my exams so that students can complete them even without a calculator.

While I am all in favor of use of technology, I have to wonder what sort of exam (and mathematics) are these students having to deal with that they can only solve the problems using a calculator? Philosophically speaking, if a question can ONLY be solved with a calculator, then what exactly is being tested? Their ability to use a technological tool? Or their ability to solve (surely this cannot be it if the only way to solve is via technology and not by hand.) One could easily ask: who is responsible when batteries die? Who is responsible when a student misuses the calculator? Ultimately, the student is responsible, whether they buy a calculator, laptop, or computer algebra system. Let me emphasize again that I am not trying to dismiss the bugs and crashes. Instead, I think the more important issue here is the reliance on technology and the fading distinction between teaching mathematics vs. teaching students how to use a tool (calculator, computer, etc.) When I teach with technology, I always make sure to emphasize that technology can often-times be stupid, or even "wrong." I write "wrong" in quotations because often times the expectations of the user do not match with the intended behavior of the technology.

Full disclosure: I am not employed by HP and I use both HP and TI calculators. I am likewise disappointed by the initial quality of the Prime. Hopefully firmware updates will remedy the issues raised here.


I fullheartedly concur that whatever test in science (incl. mathematics) shall test the understanding and knowledge of the students instead of their ability to buy and operate a particular tool.

That said, I also fullheartedly agree that the apparent quality of the Prime as it is sold now is far lower than the quality of e.g. the HP-42S when it was brought to the market. IMHO the Prime is in beta-test phase still (I wrote this some weeks ago already) and should not be sold but given for free to a limited number of serious beta-testers. And the reaction time for firmware debugging and repair looks far (by orders of magnitude) worse than in a recent hobbyist's project - you know what I mean. What a pity!



HP should have followed their earlier tradition and hired those hobbyists!


HP should have followed their earlier tradition and hired those hobbyists!

It does not look like there's a reasonable budget for something like this.

It rather looks like the calculator devision barely lives from the 12C, 17BII+ and 35s sales and those poor guys like Tim have to fight for every day of betatesting and every hour spending in maintaining software.

I might be wrong, but I think the division lives on the edge.


I agree. All tasks should be solvable without a calculator.

However an advanced calculator offered me a huge advantage in exams - while solving the tasks during exam, the calculator helped a lot to verify the results and gained me a lot of needed extra time.

Almost the same applies to those wicked thermodynamics exams - the 48 was *really* helpful in handling the dimensions and units; something that would otherwise require a lot of manual tracking - doable, but only if you regard this as a personal challenge :)


Totally agree with your point. At my university, calculators are forbidden in all math classes and non-programmable ones are allowed in all the physics related ones


When more advanced calculators were allowed to use in public exams outside Hong Kong, the most powerful calculator that Hong Kong students can use is still the HP-15C. We don't need to worry about a crash during a test or exam caused by any calculator of this level of sophistication.


When I took my professional engineer exam in 1975, I used my HP 35 and we were not allowed to use a programmable calculator such as the HP 65. Some people brought in trunk loads of books and notes, because they didn't know how to solve problems. I had only two books, the AISC Manual of Steel Construction, which had steel section properties that I needed and the CRC Handbook of Standard Mathematical tables. I finished the exam an hour early and scored 97% with 70% needed to pass. Some people with all the extra books and notes did not finish in time and several failed the exam.

So my point is that if you understand the principles involved, then you can solve problems and simply use the calculator as a useful tool. Certainly, one should not have to do long division in an exam, but you should still understand the principles behind it.

Edited: 26 Nov 2013, 2:35 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


did you note that :
when a thread speak about the quality of the prime and the potential update of firmware, pc connectivity software and hardware release with acceptable colors
TIM and CYRILLE dissepear

Edited: 26 Nov 2013, 1:35 p.m.


I don't think that everyone will ever be pleased. If the developers spend a lot of time posting here I am sure that some folks may question whether they are taking too much time away from actually fixing bugs and adding features. And if they don't reply then still others will complain how they are not responsive to the community. Of course reason would suggest that if they are going to bother reading and posting here that an update is being worked on.



we "disapear" because we know our own faults... and honestly, it hurts to be reminded of them all the time... But rest assure that we do any and everything we can to make things better for the user... it just takes time.

We also disapear because we are not at liberty to "make any forward looking statement" (ie, talk about the 'future')...



Thank you, Cyrille, for your straightforward reply. I've several experiences with other "branches" of 'hp' and I have no doubt that you and Tim do your very best within the realms of secrecy and possibility (i.e. the decisions of the management, the market...).

Kind regards and best wishes,


Post scriptum: Personally, I think the truncation from

H E W L E T T • P A C K A R D

to 'hp' speaks a thousand words...

Edited: 27 Nov 2013, 7:57 a.m.

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