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Trying to decide between HP 50g and prime

  1. Aug 24, 2015 #1
    Hello all I have done a lot of searching for what I want in a calculator and have narrowed it down to two choices.
    HP prime
    HP 50g

    All my life I have used ti calculators but really want to use rpn so I am really left with only one manufacture choice. That being said my correct calculators are.

    Ti 84silver color
    I love this calculator. The color screen seemed gimmickie but honestly I really enjoy it as well it is really handy for rallying where I often do hours of math in a dark car with nothing but a little head lamp. The problem is that there is no cas and no rpn

    Ti nspire cas non color
    I hate this calculator. Do pull it out on occasion when I need cas but overall I have been very disappointed with the purchase some years ago. It takes way to long to boot and above that I can not stand the user interface or keypad.

    As for my schooling. I have completed all of my math classes and have nothing left except all of the core classes (electrical engineering). To the best of my knowledge both of my suggested models should suit me just fine.

    My concerns are mostly with the prime. As I have read that the rpn mode is a bit iffy and the software has a lot more bugs. But beyond that I feel like I may hate the user interface in the same way that I hate the interface on the nspire. Can anyone comment on this specific issue?

    If you were to buy one of these two which would you get and why? Let's leave cost out of the discussion because although it is important I think we can all weigh cost for ourselves.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2015 #2

    DEvens

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Aug 24, 2015 #3
    I have been out of school for awhile, but are tablets allowed in class/testing?
     
  5. Aug 24, 2015 #4

    DEvens

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    I've been out for a while also. I suppose tablet WiFi ability could be used to communicate with confederates. Or just read Wiki pages during the test. But if I was banning tablets, I would ban programmable calculators as well.

    When I started in the industry <mumble> years ago, the largest hard drive available was 1GB. And you needed a special interface to get that to work. Now we have hand-held tablets with touch screens and people look down their noses because it only has 1GB of RAM.
     
  6. Aug 24, 2015 #5

    SteamKing

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    Outfits like ETS (SAT tests and GRE) and NCEES (professional engineers) have policies in place which specify which devices are allowed in the testing room.

    IIRC, no device (like a table, phone, etc.) which can hook up to the web is allowed, and only certain plain-old calculators are acceptable. If, for whatever reason, you turn up at a testing site and the proctor rules your device unacceptable, it can't go into the test with you, or if it does, you don't get your test scored.

    Here is the official dope:

    http://ncees.org/exams/calculator-policy/

    https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/quantitative_reasoning/calculator
    The GRE provides test takers with a simple calculator for the test.

    SAT test policy on calculators:
    https://sat.collegeboard.org/register/calculator-policy

    These policies may change or be modified from time to time, so always check your device against the latest version of the policy.
     
  7. Aug 25, 2015 #6

    CalcNerd

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    I hesitated to reply so that you could get a few extra opinions. SteamKing makes a valid point for many people considering the purchase of a high end super deluxe calculator. However, you have stated a desire for one or the other and both are less than the Ti-84C you purchased earlier.
    .
    I recommend you buy the Hp Prime due to your affection for the Ti-84C (color). It has a great keyboard, color touchscreen (illuminated ie backlit) and a fairly straightforward user interface similar to a Casio graphic. It has three entry modes, Algebraic, Textbook and RPN. Most users probably use textbook, but that is just my hunch. Hp is still working on it and polishing up some of its still rough edges. The keyboard is optimized for RPN, but the calculator has an Algebraic design base and is much less buggy in Algebraic or Textbook mode (these bugs are CAS related when using RPN).
    .
    The Hp 50G does have some good points, but probably the lack of an illuminated color screen would make you disappointed with using it. It is a very mature product as it evolved from the HP 28/48 line over 25 years ago. Many of its warts were introduced when an algebraic mode was grafted onto its OS about 15 years ago. It still has some issues with some functions in algebraic mode. The Hp 50G is going to lose out to the Hp Prime in future support and availability ie it will probably be discontinued in a year or two. That means you would be buying into a dead end technology.
    .
    Which calculator do I actually use? Well, I have an Hp 32sii on my desk at the moment, but I do prefer my Hp 50G over the Hp Prime for several reasons. But I do not have any underlying need for an illuminated color screen. You do. The Hp 50G currently has some better capability for high end number crunching and has long variable names, but it is frozen technology, it won't get better. The Hp Prime is being massaged and developed as it is the current Hp flagship that evolved from the Hp 38/39/40G line of calculators
    .
    On another note, many here would say to not bother with using a high end calculator for high end math and switch over to a PC at that point. Certainly a valid opinion, but either of these is under $100 (unless you buy at the college bookstore), are very portable and fairly easy to master. Both can help you crank out homework while at your desk or where every you choose to study without having to worry about a power source. The Hp 50G might last a semester with a new set of batteries, the Hp Prime uses a rechargeable that can be charged with any micro cell phone charger (it comes with one too), and will last for a week or two, even with heavy use, between charges.
     
  8. Aug 25, 2015 #7
    I appreciate all the replies and although I am really not looking to use a calculator on a tablet just because of personal preference as I just like having a dedicated true calculator it is still not a bad idea. I went ahead and downloaded the HP Prime emulator to my computer so at least I can test it out and see how I like it before I purchase it.

    Immediately I have found some things that I really like as well as some things that I don't like (Mostly stuff that I will get used to with use)

    CalcNerd,

    Thank you for the long and detailed response. You make some very good points and considering the the 50g is getting quite old I will probably opt for the Prime. But I will get an emulator of both and compare side by side to see if there is anything major I like from one over the other. Whatever I end up with I hope that it will be my last calculator for many years and as you said I do have a fairly strong desire for the color screen as I often use mine in a dark car. That fact alone has quite heavily weighted my decision toward the Prime however I just want to make absolutely sure I'm not missing some glaring issue before I pull the trigger.
     
  9. Aug 26, 2015 #8

    wle

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    If RPN is important to you then you'll probably get a more consistent experience with the 50G. This may or may not be important depending on how extensively you expect to use the calculator (e.g., if you're interested in possibly programming it), and you'll need to weigh this against the (much) more modern hardware you'll get if you get the Prime. I haven't used the Prime but, as far as I know, it's primarily an algebraic calculator meant for students that supports an option letting you do calculations in RPN mode. By contrast, RPN is fully integrated into the 50G's operating system at its core. One place this is very visible is that the 50G's main user programming language (RPL) is stack-based and is quite different from the BASIC/Pascal-like programming languages you'll find on most graphic calculators. (More specifically, RPL programs use the same RPN stack that the rest of the calculator uses, so if you write user programs that take inputs from and push outputs to the stack, you can run and use them in the same way as the calculator's built-in RPN operations.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
  10. Aug 27, 2015 #9
    Have there been any rumors of there being a successor to the 50g where the rpn is as you say fully integrated into the OS. Or in other words a calculator aimed at professionals rather than classrooms?
     
  11. Aug 27, 2015 #10

    CalcNerd

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    There are certainly rumors about the Hp 50g... of being an EOL (End of Life) product and canceled by end of year. The Hp Prime is Hp's replacement of their Hp 50G.
    .
    Actually the keyboard and hardware are 2x better than the Hp50G. The keyboard reminds me of an Hp 28s or Hp 41c in keyboard click, something lost for nearly twenty years.
    .
    Do I prefer the Hp Prime over an Hp 50G? No, of course not, but that is because I am accustomed to the Hp 48G and migrated to the Hp 50G and think in that mode. And the Hp 50G does lots of things better. But the Hp Prime does many things better than the Hp 50G too. Has a simpler user interface and you can navigate the application screens very easily, it is just like a Casio in its menu layout. It has an RPN interface stuck on for RPN user's like myself, who are becoming a miniscule segment of Hp's customer base. I suspect Hp simply put the RPN in the machine so that people like me would buy versus hunting for a used Hp 48/50G when my original unit fails.
    .
    While you will hear many RPN users rant and rave about how great RPN is, don't buy into the hype to much. Yes, it is better, but not significantly better except for that rare equation or two (multiple resisters in parallel is an excellent, but uncommon example ie an EE would use this and in an RPN calc can save nearly 50% of the keystrokes). However, most of the time, you will only save a keystroke or two... big deal.
    .
    My suggestion for you still stands, buy the Hp Prime. If you use the Hp Prime in RPN mode and discover (become a member of the cult) how great it is, then buy the Hp 50G at that time. However, I suspect you will be happy with the Hp Prime regardless, vs buying an Hp 50G and finding out you don't like RPN, switching it into algebraic mode and kicking yourself on how much better the Ti-89 is compared to your HP 50G (the Hp 50G is only a good algebraic calculator, not great). As an EE you will find some issues with the Hp 50G's higher end functions in algebraic mode (remember, the algebraic is grafted onto a mature RPL OS, to grab sales from the Ti lines).
    .
    If you weren't in love with a color back lit screen, and I knew that you would adopt RPN without any issues, I would steer you towards the Hp 50G. However, because you are an EE, if you did NOT use RPN you WILL discover lots of ugly warts in algebraic mode. These problems won't arise if you stay with the Hp Prime.
     
  12. Aug 27, 2015 #11

    wle

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    I haven't heard of any, though honestly I don't really follow this sort of thing very closely. I wouldn't bet on it though. HP seems to have developed a new operating system for the HP Prime's hardware; I don't know if they'd be willing to develop a new "professional" operating system for a calculator using similar hardware (at least, not without good evidence that it would generate sales; the general impression seems to be that the classroom is where the market is nowadays).

    From what I know, I also don't think they could simply port/extend the 50G's operating system for the new hardware. My reason for thinking this is that the 50G's operating system is already an evolution of an operating system (called "Meta Kernel") developed for the HP 48's older Saturn hardware. When the HP 49G+ (and later HP 50G) were developed, the Saturn architecture was dismissed as obsolete and the newer calculators were switched to running on the much more modern ARM architecture. Rather than rewrite the OS directly for the ARM, HP decided to simply run it on an emulation of the Saturn architecture which itself runs on the ARM. I've heard that limitations of what the emulated Saturn architecture can support is already the reason HP didn't include a higher resolution screen on the 49G+ and 50G. (I'm going to guess it's also why the 50G only displays monochrome graphics even though the physical display supports greyscale.) Given this, it doesn't seem likely that we'll see HP adapting the existing OS to make use of a high-resolution colour touchscreen.

    As far as deciding between the 50G and Prime is concerned, I personally wouldn't be too concerned about support from HP. The most important support for the 50G is probably third-party anyway. Just try out the emulators for both and consider how important the Prime's hardware and colour touchscreen are to you personally.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015
  13. Aug 27, 2015 #12

    wle

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    As an aside/elaboration: as far as I know, the way the 50G handles algebraic expressions is fairly unique. It supports algebraic expression "objects", so you can put e.g. '4*(3+5)' (in single quotes) on the stack and then manipulate it in various ways (e.g. edit or EVAL it), and the calculator CAS and "exact" mode work directly with them (e.g. input 22 [ENTER] 7 / in exact mode, and you'll end up with the algebraic expression '22/7' on the stack as the result, representing the exact rational 22/7). The 50G's "algebraic entry" mode just looks like it's a thin interface on top of this, expecting and evaluating algebraic expressions that are already supported by the calculator and letting you type them in without having to explicitly quote them.
     
  14. Oct 15, 2015 #13

    CalcNerd

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    Thought I would clear up the misconception of algebraic entry on the Hp 50G. It has an algebraic mode that completely converts the calculator into an Hp 39/40G type interface. The method above described by "wle" is valid for the RPN mode ie you use these instructions for an Hp 48G (no algebraic mode at all) or on the Hp 50G when you are in RPN mode and do not want to switch modes, but use algebraic features while remaining in RPN.

    That said, Algebraic was pasted on to help market the Hp 49/50G series to high school and first time or upgrading graphing calculator users to lure them away from the high end Ti-89/Ti-92/V-200. The Ti-Nspire came later. And the Hp 50G works as well as a Ti-83/84 in algebraic mode, but falls short of proper implementation of its high end math functions to properly compare to a Ti-89 ie the Ti-89 is superior to an Hp 50G when used in algebraic mode. If you are in a high level physics class, learning how to use the Hp 50G in RPN mode is certainly worth your time, as you are using a crippled calculator otherwise.
     
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