Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

MS Student Calculator

  1. Aug 12, 2009 #1

    Little off topic i guess, but i am in need of a new calculator to match the level i am studying at.

    Soon to be 3rd year mech eng student.

    I have been looking at graphical calculators and the likes.

    Seems to be

    - TI
    - Casio
    - HP
    - Sharp

    and they offer several models and i am going in circles and thought maybe, just maybe some one can shed some light on one that may suite me.

    My needs(ish)

    - Clone of MS Student Calculator in a real hardware calculator would be good

    - Possible finance and business

    - Used for engineering and math calculations at degree level

    - less that $200

    I cant find any in shops by me, so cant get a sales person to sell me...

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 12, 2009 #2
    Re: Calculators

    I find that a simple scientific pocket calculator, the Casio fx-260 solar, to be more than adequate. They usually sell for $10 to $15 in the U.S. I had a graphical calculator once, but I find the Casio, a true pocket-size calculator with scientific functions, including inverse hyperbolid trig, exponentials, x^n, Log and Ln, etc., more meets my needs.
    I also have scientific programming language software on my computer to do the tough stuff.
  4. Aug 12, 2009 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Re: Calculators

    The normal sequence is:

    Buy a $10 scientific calculator from Walmart that does everything you will ever need.
    If you don't work in a lab/office where people will borrow it, buy a slightly nicer cheap HP because the keys will still work well after 20years of use.

    Then go and buy a $200 HP50 or Ti89 after much anguish and web searching about the difference in the number of 1000s of lines of program or the speed of some component. Once you have chosen which side of the fence you are - vigorously defend the holy church of HP/Ti against the infidels who bought a Ti/HP.

    Never actually use the programming or graphing features because it's too complicated. Instead use Excel, Matlab, Python etc on the computer which is probably nearer to hand than the calculator that is buried somewhere under the paperwork.
  5. Aug 13, 2009 #4
    Re: Calculators

    You forgot the part where you spend hours writing amusing words into memory because you found the alpha key and the corresponding buttons that are letters. No more are you constrained to just '71077345' or '55378008'!

    But seriously - when will you use it? For your studies, are you allowed to take a graphical calculator into an exam? My MEng course wouldn't allow it, we had standard Casio FX calculators. You were expected to be able to draw your own graphs if necessary, compute your own determinants and inverses etc. And anything you can do on a graphical calculator can be performed more quickly and with more flexibility on your desktop etc.

    I realise that this isn't an answer to your question, but like the others I've never seen the need to own anything more than a simple scientific calc.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
  6. Aug 13, 2009 #5
    Re: Calculators


    I have the TI voyage 200. This is around 200 dollars. First of all I am suprised that nothing better has come up in a while but that has probably something to do with restrictions in the classroom. Most of the basic functions are the same as the TI89. A couple of nice things to consider.

    Nice big screen so you have several answers available to you (very handy)
    a "solve" function allows you to solve implicit functions (saves me about 10 minutes per test)
    Also some linear algebra functions and matrix operations, complex numbers. symbolic integration, differentations, symbolic differential equations (2nd order ordinary).

    Another handy feature is units so you can actually assign units to each value and you will get a answer accordingly (both english and metric).

    Last but not least. It is very easy to assign a function: Somefunction => f(x1, x2, x3, etc). This way you can repeat the same calculation just with the click of a button (again saved me allot of time during tests)

    I agree that graphing and programming are hardly ever used.
  7. Aug 13, 2009 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Calculators

    Just buy a cheap £5 scientific calculator. If you can do trig and logs on it, you'll be fine.
  8. Aug 15, 2009 #7
    Re: Calculators

    Thanks for all the info.

    I went for the FX-991, it was reduced to a couple of pound more than the fx-85 which i have used for years, so i know how to use it as its pretty simple.

    Looking at some TI calcs for use in class room, 84 and 89 but not really sure as i can use Microsoft Math Calc or one of the many packages such as Mathmatica, mathcad or maple that i have on my desktop.

    Its pretty lazy, but the only thing i really wanted a more advanced calculator for was to do calculus and re-arrange formula just for speed in the classroom setting.

    Any idea on what calc does that?

    I am not allowed graphic calcs for exams, but would seem half the class take them in, so i have either read the allowed calc functions list wrong or the exam people dont care or dont realise.

  9. Mar 14, 2011 #8
    Re: Calculators

    I have a TI-89 that I've been using since my senior year of high school to the present (I'm almost done with my sophomore year of college) and I still learn new things about it all the time. Even after you discover most of the integrated features of this calculator, you can download more programs and applications for it from the internet! It never ceases to amaze me.
    When at home, I often use this in conjunction with a computer program known as Maple (I have version 14). Both offer vast amounts of computations.
  10. Mar 16, 2011 #9
    Re: Calculators

    As a 2nd year ME student, I haven't found much need for my TI-89 Titanium. Most exams I've taken do not require numerical computations, just moving the variables around to get 'this' in terms of 'that.'

    I wish instead of paying $150 for the TI89, I would have just payed $10 for my Casio.
  11. Mar 16, 2011 #10
    Re: Calculators

    Congratulations. I now never leave home without my $10 Casio Fx-260 scientific pocket calculator. In the 1950's, I used to carry a log-log duplex decitrig slide rule. The Casio is much better.

    Bob S
  12. Mar 16, 2011 #11
    Re: Calculators

    I have always used a Texas Instruments 30XIIS and I have made it through school just fine. I always finish the tests before the guys with the giant graphing calculators.

    Something else to think about, when you take the FE exam you can't use anything higher than a TI-30 or something close to that. Probably better to learn how to do the stuff on a simpler calculator.
  13. Mar 17, 2011 #12
    Re: Calculators

    I always regretted not buying a TI-89.

    When I went to thermo tutorials the guy who led them would put programs on everyones calculators that would solve problems that were almost guaranteed to show up on the test. It would literally ask what information you were given and spit out step by step what to fill in.

    I managed to get by with only having a TI-86 (which was required in 11th grade for me anyways) for my whole undergrad career.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook