Opinions on the 20S?


Yes yes, I know it's not RPN. However, I would like to get a nice HP as a gift for my brother. He would probably use it to balance his checkbook and maybe do some metric/Imperial conversions from time to time. I don't think he will ever convert to RPN, either, since he's not the engineering type.

I think 20S's have been discontinued too, no? But they are still selling for peanuts on eBay, so I was thinking now might be the time to pull the trigger on one (or two, hehehe)

I wonder if any of you hardcore HP users secretly use one of these as a daily 'beater'...?



Jeremy --

I just got an unused 1997 warranty replacemnt unit (complete with manual and cover) on eBay for $28, which I intend to use as my "traveling calc" -- nice display, built-in conversions and programmable.

The downside to its programmability is that, if you load any of the six "special functions" from its ROM (integ, root, complex math, 3x3 matrix ops, quadratic solutions, curve fitting), program memory is wiped out. That "LOAD" function might be a unique feature among HP calcs.

Several of my co-workers have the HP-20S, so I knew a little beforehand.


It is a very good and powerful calc. I love it as all functions are available form the keyboard. And in my opinion, it has probably the lowest degree of useless function among all newer HP calcs. It's algebraic with precedence.


ive always thought the 20s to be a pretty good machine. its built fairly well, the screen is even clearer than the 32sii because its segments and its programmable in the normal way. oh, and its a lot cheaper.

as a machine to carry about, pick up and use and not have to worry _too_ much about it getting broke, its the answer.


I've tended to think of it and the 10B as good sources of keyboard parts for battle-worn 32s & 42s units . . .

But I must admit, I've never used the one I have. Having RPN calculators available makes (for me) the Algebraics unnecessary.


Well, it really is a great design. I bought one just recently because of its low price. Then a co-worker bought it off me 'cause he liked it so much. So I bought another couple!

Its only problem is its being algebraic.

20s is in some ways nicer than my favorite 32sii, for instance, the "load" feature--being able to download useful programs from permanent memory to the program space is really great--if you need to do a variety of tasks with a small, cheap) calculator (without lots of memory), and happen to need to do curve-fitting one day, and complex numbers another time, etc it is actually a superior machine to the 32sii, because the "overhead" required to key in the (functionally equivalent) programs on the 32sii is time-consuming. But if you are at your desk, curve-fitting is automatically an spreadsheet task.....

The lack of menus is also nice--for instance, getting statistics results is only 2 keystroke, rather than 3 (32sii requires going to the menu).

And the segmented display is GREAT in low-light.

The fact that it is a keystoke programmable ALGEBRAIC, is quite facsinating.

However, being a total RPN thinker, I find it cumbersome and error-prone for involved calculations, and the programs I have concocted myself require more lines, and more de-bugging than is the case with the 32sii -- but the latter is entirely due to my RPN preference.

But the end-game is already here as far as calculators go. Except for really cheap (say, less than $40 or so) there is just no reason to build powerful calculators:

If you buy a handspring, or a palm, or a Clie etc, you can load ALL SORTS of very good RPN machines (including the 48g series--the EMU48 or a similar em has been ported) right on--and there is GOBS of memory. And it is only a matter of (not very much) time before the high-powered $250+ machines with nice (really!) built-in keyboards (they click like an HP) are down to the $100 level.

the world is really changing fast......

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