Graphing calculator form factor opinions


I'm rather satisfied with how the landscape and portrait form factors are developing. The graphing calculator is a bit more of a challenge since I'm not entirely certain of what this community really wants out of one. I'll post a few of my remarks and would then greatly appreciate a thorough discussion (not that anyone around here would have an opinion ;-)

First, I think the 48g reached the maximum acceptable number of keys.

I suspect screen resolution and color v. black and white will be the biggest debate. Would a larger screen be worth losing a row or two of keys?

The big question these days seems to be managing the balance between a PDA and a calculator. What we know of Qonos is a great example of the search for this balance between the qualities of each device. Do people here want an improved 49g with excellent keys, high quality of build and extra speed? Or do you want a PDA interface with a lower number of keys?

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I'm looking forward to watching this thread.

Best Regards,


Speed is important to me, as is programming. I do not use graphing calculators for graphing much. I'd say speed, programmability, and a decent keyboard is what I'm looking for. Screen size does not matter too much to me - I find 131x64 to be fine -- of course, bigger is better, but not at the expense of rows of keys. I like the 48's layout, though the 49 fit an extra row... maybe a combination thereof would be good (with a sickening amount of keys available -- 54 total (eep)).

Color is irrelevant to me. This is mainly because I see the HP graphing calculators' primary function as that of a portable interactive Forth interface. Therefore, I list characteristics by this order of importance:

Forth or RPL-like language/interface
Keyboard quality/layout
Screen resolution
Color (totally unimportant).


HI, Hugh;

I think this thread is a valid search for opinions; thank you! It's a good idea.

I think that without knowing what users want, it is hard to meet their needs. Nowadays, knowing what people want is somehow hard as well, because what you need today may not be in your list tomorrow. And I guess calculators resources are somehow like this.

That's the main reason I'd firstly search for a calculator with an upgradable O.S., like the HP49 'series' (of two, so far). My first option for a graphic calculator would be the one with an upgradable O.S. After that, I'd search for as much documentation as possible about the calc so I'd be able to access its inner resources. A NOMAS-based (NO MAnufacturer Support) open hardware (extended information, like the HP71) would be nice as well.

If applicable, I'd trade colors for 'easy' gray scale and higher resolution. I saw the images taken from the Xpander hi-res LCD and I found them a lot better. What I think is that graphics with low resolution may not be as practical today as they were in the end of the 80's, when the HP28C was introduced. I believe that calculators should have advantages against computers (or related resources) so they'd not be a weak concurrent. Anyway, if color AND hi-res display is possible, even better.

Along with the upgradable O.S., programming would be availble at the user needs. Why not adding small, instead powerfull compilers as the user needs them? The key would be a basic O.S. able to run all compiled applications and the user having the choice to develop them in his prefered language, amongst the ones avalilable. Not necessary to say that duplex I/O capability is mandatory.

About keyboard and number of keys: for me, whatever allows easy, reliable access to all resources (at least the most important ones) would be acceptable.


Luiz (Brazil)


Keys: A huge number of keys is not needed unless it's made for touch-typing. If users will be typing that much on it, maybe it should be able to be interfaced to a PC keyboard.

Color: Color virtually _requires_ backlighting, right? That would cut battery life way down. Either way, it needs to be sunlight-readable. Color seems to be mostly a gee-whiz factor to attract non-professional consumers and has very little practical use among the people who would probably be buying this unit (assuming the gaming audience is _not_ targeted!)

And please, no touchscreen!


Number of Keys: the number of keys on the 49 and 48 are acceptable. Functions that should never be shifted: SIN, COS, TAN, LN, Y^X, the var X, +/-, SYMB, MATHS, VAR

The screen on the 48 and 49 are good. As long as the screen can display crisp graphics and be read in adequate light, I'm happy with its size. Enlarging the screen maybe be good for losing one row of keys, but not two. Color on the screen is good only if we have control of what colors show up on the screen.

For the keypad, I like contrast. Black base, light blues, greens, yellows seem to work best. But whatever is functional.


And, what about a TFT grayscale screen ? I think it would be the best screen possible for such a device. Otherwise, I like the classic Enter key (41/42/48/28...). A larger screen isn't necessary but a better résolution would be great. I think a VGA screen would be enough combined with a very powerful RPN calculator.

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