HP 28S screens


Hello everyone!

I have gone a bit 28S crazy lately, I know own three of them; two are US-built units from 1989 and early 1990, and the third is a Singapore unit from late-1990 (those were the good ol' days when we didn't look at asian-built units with such disdain...I doubt anyone would call a Chinese 12C a marvel of modern manufacturing!)

I have noticed an interesting difference in the screens between the units; where the US-built units have perfectly clear (almost reflective) screens, the newer, Singapore calc has a slightly opaque one. This was a huge improvement IMHO because you can use the calc at your desk without the screen reflecting (oh let's be honest...burning!) an image of your desk lamp's bulb on to your retina!!!

This observation caused a flurry of questions to run through my head. Was this difference simply because of the country of manufacture, or was it an actual production improvement made globally at a given point in time? Are the screens different, or is this simply some sort of cover? Are there any other differences of note?

Any insights would be greatly appreciated! I know that I'm in the minority when I say this, but I love clamshells! Yes, I know...when you're out in the field they're about as easy to use as an 18-foot slide rule, but I'm never in the field...I'm a project manager!

Now I'd like to switch gears a bit and walk down memory lane...I remember when the 28S was first introduced...I was spellbound and in many ways I still am. Unfortunately, those days of running to the campus bookstore when a new HP is launched are long gone...I'm afraid that irreparable harm has been done to the calculator division. The fatal mistake? Letting marketers decide product lines. It's like letting interior decorators author building blueprints and dictate building codes!!

My comment wasn't meant to slight interior decorators; it's meant to prove a point. Everyone plays a role in product design and launch, but if you give a marketer an inch, they'll take 50 miles. They think they know the business better than anyone, and in this case, HP decided to lie down and play dead.

Instead of being full of features that we'd all like to see, HP's new "line" of calculators will probably have pleasant colour schemes, ergonomic designs, and will be targetted at that ever-so-important teen and "tween" demographic. Don't be surprised if you see HP calculator commercials during American Idol and the Simpsons!

What about quality you ask? Well, I'm sure the spin doctors at HP have held focus groups on that. Who knows...maybe it's cool to have a calculator where the "OFF" button doesn't work, or you need to really press hard on the "4" key to get it to register...

The times, they are a changin'
(and yes, I'm done my rant!)


Thanks for your comments on the difference between the HP 28s screens made in US versus Singapore. I found that information useful.

I just want to clarify your comments about the lower quality of HP calculators made in asia in general and China specifically. I understand that HP contracted out their calculator business to Chinese contractors for cost control reasons which have resulted in lower quality products. I would think that HP was completely aware of the quality of the products that were being produced and that they were satisfied with the quality given the costs that they were willing to pay. I would say that if HP kept their manufacturing in Indonesia and pursued the same cost objectives, the higher overhead costs in Indonesia would probably have resulted in even lower quality calculators. The blame for the recent lower quality of HP calculators should rest completely on HP management, not with the country that the products were manufactured. HP's brand no longer conveys quality and value in my mind.


Nick, I agree completely.

Manufacturers in China produce products with various quality levels; some items are very well made and others are not; the decision is made by the customer (in this case, HP). They were willing to cut corners and now we're seeing the result.

I didn't mean to infer that items made in asia are of lower quality than items made in, say, North America. My point, simply, is this; if the engineers at HP were still in the position of deciding what went into the next HP model, they wouldn't accept the current quality levels. The fact that HP doesn't care speaks volumes, and I would be willing to argue that this mindset will be evident when we see the next new calculator!


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