Same model calculators manufactured in different countries


I've just noticed that changes to the HP calculators are made when manufacturing changes from one country to another. For example, I noticed that the buttons are no longer shining on the Indonesian versions of the HP 32sii. I have a HP 17bii manufactured in Singapore with the shining buttons but I don't know if the Indonesian version has been changed. Was this done for improvement purposes or to reduce cost? Also, the back rubber feet have been changed as well as the brown body. It is a darker brown and less shining.

What about the 19bii, 12c, 48gx, 20s and 10b? I think these calculators have changed the country of manufacture during the time they were in production.


The reason the buttons on the 17Bii and 32Sii are no longer shiny is because they changed the design of the actual keytop to reduce costs. The original USA and Singapore manufactured units had "double-shot" keytops, where the white legend was a molded piece which was placed inside a second mold and the brown material was molded around it. Technically, this would have been a single mold, but the illustration is better with two separate molds. These means that the key legends can never be worn or scratched off, as the white is plastic embedded within the brown.

The newer machines have matte tops because the legends are printed with process known as sublimation. It's best to think of the ink as an acid based product which etches itself into the plastic. The matte finish is required to get the ink to bond better to the plastic. I don't think I need to explain what can happen to a printed keytop.

With the exception of the 19Bii (I don't have any to check), I know that all calcs you listed are currently using printed keytops. Most Pioneers and the 48 series have been made in the USA, Singapore and finally Indonesia. The 48 was moved to China along with the 12C, at which point the Pioneer line ceased production. So, look for a USA or Singapore unit if you want double-shot keytops. The keyboards from the Indonesian units also have the nasty habit of sometimes clicking, that is one or more keys on some calculators will emit a loud, uncharacteristic click upon release. This is most annoying and must be a process or part variation introduced in the last few years of production.


Thanks for the info. Do the Malaysian made 12c have the same button manufacturing technique as the Indonesian made models?

It is sad to see the Hewlett Packard brand destroyed first by reducing the build quality of their existing products then reducing the design quality of their new products. What distinguishes their products from competing generic products? I thought that was what brand recognition was all about.


Malaysian units, yes, AFAIK. In general, the earlier the manufacturing date, the better the chance of a double-shot key unit. You can use this info to decode a serial number for comparison:

As far as the quality issue is concerned, you point is valid, but I would still take a current production 12C or 48GX over anything made by any other calc mfg out there. They may not be what they were 10 years ago, but they still stand above the others. Just my 0.02 worth.

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