HP 40 vs HP 39


I have always had the (wrong) impression that the mathematics is a truly international science without borders. Now I know that US students use HP 39 and European students use HP 40.


Interesting: it appears that the major difference is the presence of the CAS in the 40G, for use by European students. The HP pages list both as suitable for AP/SAT, but go on to feature the 40's "intelligent editor", and the CAS's "dynamic algebra" and "step by step" mode.

However, the 40G doesn't have infra-red I/O. But both *do* have the stat functionality I previously feared was missing.

Pretty clearly, the 39G/40G are there to augment the 38G, which means that HP now has 3 calculators (38,39,40) directly and solely aimed at the student market, and three more (48G+, 48GX, 49G) with a design *strongly* influenced by the student math market. There's also the 6S (schoolkid stuff), 20S and 30S (both algebraic, and strongly promoted as such). That leaves the 32SII as just about the only RPN keystroke-programmable engineering calculator. With only 384 bytes of memory, no I/O, modules, printer or card reader, it's pretty lame compared to its forebears. If it sells poorly, it's not because it's RPN, it's because it doesn't have the desired features.

As a marketing consultant, I'd have to say that HP's calculator product line suffers from insufficient product differentiation (too many similar student graphing and algebraic scientifics), lots of cross-product cannibalization (39/40 will surely eat potential 49 sales in the college market) and gaps in the line. They've had some great opportunities for line extension with strongly-differentiated products (RPN, for example) or clear positioning of products for target markets such as surveying and engineering and have consistently ignored the opportunities. They've let a strong brand wither and die and wasted customer loyalty by producing me-too products that simply follow TI and Casio. Don't even let me get started on the quality of documentation. . .

Am I right?


You are certainly right. The only reason so many people on this forum bemoan the passing of the powerful programmables: HP-41, HP-71B, HP-42, etc... is because though expensive (My 41CX cost me more in 1985 than my new 366MHz computer just cost) they were truely functional field calculators. There just aren't any modern calulators I have run across that I find as useful outside a classroom. I'm a process control engineer, and I need a shirtpocket calculator I can use on the plant floor. I finally gave in and bought a PDA that works pretty well, but I'd still prefer a nice shirtpocket sized programmable.

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