HP48SX/GX vs. HP49G+


This may be a stupid question but what is the allure of the HP 48GX/SX versus the newer HP49G+?

My HP48SX was stolen a couple of weeks ago, so I checked E-Bay to see how much it would cost to replace it. My jaw dropped to the floor. People are paying $80-$100 for the SX, while the GX will sell for $270-$280.

I liked my SX and I wouldn't mind having another one. The prices that are being realized are making me consider buying the HP49G+. What gives with the prices?


The HP-48 has a keyboard and documentation that don't suck.

You should be able to find a replacement on Ebay for a reasonable price. People seem to be willing to pay a substantial premium for the SX and GX, which is a waste if you don't have a need for expansion slots. I've seen plenty of 48S, 48G and 48G+ models being sold at relatively low prices.


There is a widespread perception that HP's current calculators do not match older models in terms of construction quality, appearance, or attention to detail. So the value of older models has steadily climbed. The market value of many old HPs (not just the 48GX) is now in the $200-400 range; this includes less powerful models like the 11C, 15C, or 32SII. A 48SX for $80-100 strikes me as a good deal.

There may be a couple of reasons why the 48GX is particularly valuable.

First, the GX is more upgradeable than other old 48 series models (S, SX, G, G+). If you have a GX, you can add more memory via expansion cards, and then you can also add improved operating systems (Java, Metakernel) and computer algebra systems (Alg48, Erable). With sufficient effort and expense, a GX can be upgraded to have most of the same state-of-the-art functionality as a 49G+, plus it offers a classic appearance, more robust construction, and superior keyboard. (In fairness, it should be noted that a new 49G+ would be much less expensive, with much more speed and a larger display).

Second, the GX remains irreplaceable for certain applications, because newer HPs have only limited backwards compatibility. If you are accustomed to using GX software cards, or using a GX to interface with other hardware, then the newer models may not be suitable substitutes.

For example, the GX was widely adopted by surveyors during the 1990s; it interfaced with surveying equipment via a standard serial port and ran commercial surveying software loaded on GX cards. But the newer models that replaced it (the 48GII and 49G+) have different ports, and can't use GX cards. So surveyors that work with GXs are still willing to pay top dollar for a used one.

Edited: 2 Oct 2004, 5:50 p.m.



as the other posters wrote, the real HP-48 series (S, SX, G, GX, G+)

have their advantages.

I'd like to add one (at least for me) important thing: the Display!

Try to get one of the newer HP-48GX or G+ with the high contrast display.

It's much better readable than the display of the SX, or even the GX.

For reference, check these links:






Thanks. That answers many of my questions. I'll just have to bite the bullet and buy the GX. If I have to buy a replacement, I might as well get the updated version.


The fact that you plan to buy a GX, instead of the less expensive G+, implies that you want to put memory cards into it. The only difference between the G+ and the GX (besides price) is the two card slots.

If you were shocked at the current market price of a GX, you may also want to check on the price of GX memory cards. Typically you would want a 128K card for Slot 1 and a 512K or 1M card for Slot 2. These two cards together will cost you another $100-150 or so.

So you are looking at ~$400 for a GX plus extra memory, plus the hassle of downloading and installing upgraded software.

A new 49G+ will only cost about $125, and it will be much faster, with a larger display.

I have a GX with cards, which I bought before the 49 series was available. I like it a lot, but if I lost it and had to replace it, I would probably get a 49G+ instead.


I have a G+ (blue display; must be older) and I don't even mind programming it (I'm not a programming guy) when I need to (thank God for the AUR!!!) and for applications a bit much for a plain scientific like the 33S or 32SII but not enough to go to a PC, it does the job well and this takes into account its relative portability (it's a briefcase sized calc, not pocket).

But if I need expanded memory for whatever reason, I'll go to my 49G+, as it uses relatively cheap SD cards for memory expansion. And, these great HP calc fans with their incredible talent have begun to build a software base for the 49G+ that should soon rival the 48G series' collection of goodies.

I actually desperately wanted a 42S and a 48GX, but after seeing the expansion card prices, and the prices of the nonexpandable (though powerful and pocket sized and aesthetically pleasing) 42S, I opted for a 48G+, even though I already had a 48G, for the G's memory was too restrictively small.

I hope you can get a reasonably priced GX and cards in good shape.


Thanks for the advice. It's still a little puzzling that the 48GX/SX and the accessories are going for such high prices. It's not like there is a 1/4 oz. of gold in the plastic box.

I said previously that I may bite the bullet and buy one off of EBay. I'm not so sure anymore.

I'm looking for reports from 49G+ owners on the quality of the machine. Anyone have one? How is it working for you? Any gripes? Any favorable remarks?


See the usenet group comp.sys.hp48. If your ISP doesn't have it on its server, try http://groups-beta.google.com/group/comp.sys.hp48.

Edited: 3 Oct 2004, 7:19 a.m.


I use to think that the HP-42S is the best calculator for numerics (other would say the HP-15C for its smaller size etc.) and that the HP-48GX with 128K+1MB expansion, MetaKernal/Java+Erable+Alg48 is the best for calculations involving symbolics. However, I recently bought a HP-49G+ (mainly to run HrastProgrammer's HP-42X on) and my overall impression is that the HP-49G+ is in no way a bad calculator.

*If* you can stand average keyboard quality instead of highest quality, and a tiny ENTER key in the lower right corner instead of large ENTER key above '7 8 9' then the HP-49G+ actually has a very good price/performance ratio.
The LCD looks good, and the CPU is fast. The efforts to port the GNU C-compiler to it is promising (if you're into C-programming). You don't have to install a lot of software to configure it (i.e. MetaKernal/Java+Erable+Alg48) but have a quite powerful configuration right out of the box.

I am however, not very fond of the menu system on the HP-49 and the way things have moved around from the HP-48. I quite often hit ENTER instead of '+', '+' instead of '-' and so on because these keys have been pushed upwards one row by the new position of the ENTER key. But I suppose these things are mainly due to the fact that I have used the HP-48 quite a lot more than the HP-49.

Best regards,
Erik Ehrling (Sweden)

Edited: 3 Oct 2004, 5:26 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


I totally agree with Erik's statement.

The 49G is not bad at all. It's fast, complete, open, powerful. I simply hate its rubber keyboard. The worst thing HP has done was to suppress the "clicky" touches.


I appreciate the responses. The problem that I am running into is that I have no access to the HP49G+ to make a comparison to the 48. For some reason, the brilliant marketing department at HP have not made the 49G+ widely available in the U.S. stores (ie. Wal-Mart, Staples, Office Depot, etc.). They are listed on the Wal-Mart and Staples websites. They are not physically in the stores. I know TI has seemed to corner the market in the U.S. but I would have expected HP to make a better effort to sell in the stores. Since I have no access to a display model, I have rely on those who know. Again, thanks for the responses.


I imagine a lot of it has to do perhaps more with the stores than HP.

Do you have any idea how tough it is to get stores to physically carry products these days?



You might try some of the emulators available at
http://www.hpcalc.org/ to get an idea of what's changed from
the 48 series to the 49 series, although trying an emulator isn't
the same as trying an actual calculator.

I don't think that a 49g+ emulator is publicly available, but, at
least as far as UserRPL goes, it's very similar to the 49G. Some
differences are the LCD dimensions, the keyboard layout, external
I/O, the SD card, and the memory available in the various ports. A
few differences show up in SysRPL, and of course accessing the
underlying ARM processor is being investigated.



You can still find HP calculators in major retail stores, but only the financial models (particularly the 12C). The average retailer does not want to stock the 49G+, because it is a high-cost, low-volume item. The fact is that there is relatively little demand for expensive graphing calculators except among high school students, and they want TIs, which are the standard in the US education market.

In California, the best places to find a 49G+ in stock would be (1) a Fry’s Electronics store, or (2) a university bookstore. But even then there is no assurance that there will be a display model; they might all be in blister packs.



I don't know if it is likely, but perhaps one of the on-line sources (hpcalc.org, samsoncables.com, others) would agree to sell you a 49G+ and take it back if you were not satisfied. Another alternative would be Wal-Mart. They carry the 49G+ for on-line ordering only here. When I bought my 33S from them, they included a return form which would have allowed me to return it for any reason. I don't remember if it was postage paid.


Take a look here


Yes, that is very competitive pricing. Two 48GX memory cards (a 128K card for Slot 1 and a big 2MB card for Slot 2), including shipping, for 90 euros, or about $112. If you need memory cards for a 48GX, you should probably take advantage of this deal.

Unfortunately, the 48GX itself is not included, and it will probably run another $250 or so. Add another $20 for a PC cable. Total cost is still around $400.

I like my upgraded 48GX (128K and 512K cards, Java, Erable, Alg48), but a HP49G+ for $125 seems like the better buy today.

For $300, you could get BOTH a 49G+ (for symbolic math) AND a 48G+ (for general calculating). A 48G+, including manual, is only $175 at hpcalcman.com. So the 48G+ and 49G+ together would be only about $300 -- still less than one fully equipped 48GX.


If you didn't have cards, I would suggest you consider the Hp48G+ for the money. You would get a better screen (any G series screen is better than any S series, and even more so if you get the newer black screen which is highly likely with the G+ model).

Or just buy the 49G+. It isn't bad and if you are not using it as a no look key entry system, will work well ie, check your numbers every so often. Keyboard feel is compariable to the 48 series and it is much faster. Would I take it to an accounting class? NO! I don't trust the keyboard that well, but I use mine and almost never miss keystrokes, but every once in a while and I feel it is a software issue at this time (and technique, full heavy keyboarding works over light touch feel the click only). The new keyboard is designed to give you the keyclick feeling but the keyclick doesn't neccissarly mean a contact has been made.

That said, again, the 49G+ is a good deal at less than 1/2 the price of what a 48GX sold for when it was first released. And it is cheap to maintain. But if you need a perfect, non worry keyboard, I suggest you acquire a 48G series calculator.

You might consider a 49G+ and a $50 48G. The G series had the Eq lib built in vs having to buy a Card for the SX. That is a nice freebee of the G series. And the G series is faster (only about a 50% improvement) over the S series and as stated earlier a better LCD. A low end 48G will have the blue LCD, but even it is a step up from the S series LCD.

Just some comments.

PS, I use a 48G at my work, I could use anything, but use it because it has a great keyboard, lots of features (mainly the units conversions), AND IS cheap to replace. No other scientific RPN calculator (aside from the newest Hp33s) can make that claim.


HP48 SX/GX is a collector's item, as well as a celebrated calculator from HP, with its 10+ years of development. HP 48G Series demands more money, because the G (G+ and GX) series has more memory than the 48S series.

HP 49G+ (I wouldn't consider the 49G nor 48GII unless you having a collection) offers the following advantages over the 48GX:

* The 49G+ can store programs on SD Cards (security digital-I think that is the name of these things). SD Cards are $30 compared to hundreds for RAM cards, and have megabites of memory.
* The 49G+ expands off the 48GX's basic commnand set and adds algebriac commands. You'll have to load in the equation library yourself though. I miss the DEG/RAD toggle button also.
* The 49G+ is very fast on most calcuations. But be aware on infinite sums.
* The batch that is out in stores now have better keyboards. When they first came out, the keyboards had questionable quality.

I will say that the colors of the 48SX are cooler than the 49G+. My favorite color is blue.

My $2 (hey prices have one up!)


I think it's about time for me to get the 49G+ and may be a 48GII. I don't like them as much as the 48SX and GX but then I have both a 48SX and a 48GX. I can buy the two new calculators now with warranty and not costing me an arm and a leg and they sure gives me hours of excitement exploring them.
Years from now hmm.. may be they became as valuable as the 48's?? Not too long ago used 48SX and GX are a dime a dozen.


They are blast to work with. Of the HPs, I have 17BII+s (minus the Let and Get), 33S (but I'm a RPL person), 48G, 49G+, and 39G.

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