Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Math Education Handhelds Upgrades Hardware Science

Full Review of the Color TI-84 Plus 233 233

KermMartian writes "The TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition isn't the first color-screen graphing calculator, or even TI's first color calculator, but it's a refresh of a 17-year-old line that many have mocked as antiquated and overpriced. From an advanced review model, the math features look familiar, solid, and augmented with some new goodies, while programming looks about on par with its siblings. The requisite teardown uncovers the new battery, Flash, ASIC/CPU, and LCD used in the device. Although there are some qualms about its speed and very gentle hardware upgrades beyond the screen, it looks to be an indication that TI will continue this inveterate line for years to come." Lots of screenshots and pictures of the innards too.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Full Review of the Color TI-84 Plus

Comments Filter:
  • The real question... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @12:43PM (#42956319)

    Does it have RPN?

  • by thoper (838719) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @12:50PM (#42956383)

    "Power: Rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, ~5-10 hours of use
    Battery Life: Officially 5 days of classroom use or 2 weeks of homework use

    That's really, REALLY crappy! for a 15Mhz, 1287k ram device! i would have espected at least ten times that!

    • by Aaden42 (198257) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @01:07PM (#42956565) Homepage

      Given that my TI-85 used to run an entire school year on maybe 2-3 sets of four AAA batteries, having to charge the thing weekly (and realistically probably more like every couple of days with any real use) is insane. I'd have nightmares about the thing dying in the middle of a test!

    • by rcamera (517595) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @01:45PM (#42956939) Homepage
      i wonder how much of that battery usage is going into refreshing the lcd screen? seems like this would be a perfect application for color e-ink displays.
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @02:15PM (#42957129)

      "That's really, REALLY crappy! for a 15Mhz, 1287k ram device! i would have espected at least ten times that!"

      I've noticed a LOT of gear lately using rechargeables where replaceable batteries would have made a lot more sense.

      Take outdoor equipment for example. I've seen a lot of otherwise high-end flashlights and headlamps that use rechargeables... and I won't even look at them twice. If I'm out in the wilderness for 5 days, a regargeable is almost completely useless to me. Same with "lantern" - style devices, and just about anything else that can be battery powered, like cameras.

      I mean, seriously. For some of this equipment, rechargeable batteries make no sense at all. Yet they want to sell it for $150 or whatever. I just laugh.

  • by fliptout (9217) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @12:55PM (#42956437) Homepage

    The target market for this calculator is high school.. How many slashdotters are in high school?

  • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @12:57PM (#42956457)

    Why would anyone need color on a calculator? It just drains battery life! I'd rather like to see standard batteries with long life, a small form factor, tons of easy to use functions including CAS, good keys, and an outstanding printed manual. Apart from the form factor various older HP and TI calculators fit this description, but I'd love to see something like the Casio Slim but with CAS and RPN. ;-)

    • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @01:43PM (#42956913)

      The only thing I can think of, is if you're doing something with color / heat maps.

      I've seen some stuff like that. But then again not for anything I needed to do, even in college.

      Though breaking it down to a high school level, perhaps as an alternative way to depict 2D in a broad way. X, Y, and color-map to visually approximate the Z value for something really complex.

      • Obvious answer: because games are better in color. Corollary fact: if you're fiddling about with a gameboy in a high school lecture, you'll get in trouble. If you're fiddling about with a TI in a high school lecture, you probably won't unless the teacher sees what you're doing (ever notice just how many variations on the "hide what you're doing screen" program have been written for TIs?)

        Color makes sense. ;)

        Yes, I fully admit, I played the *crap* out of Tetris in calc in high school.

        • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @03:02PM (#42957635)

          Well that's the obvious "demand" answer... kids want to be able to play cooler games. And of course TI realizes this.

          But I'm sure there is a more practical reason... like an actual use / need for color other than a nicer UI and games. Something math / science related that would affect a High School or College student.

          Though college students would probably want to use either a more advanced TI calc that's easier to program... or just use their Smart Phones / Tablets.

  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @01:02PM (#42956513)

    Pity the article was too darn lazy to summarize the tech specs:

    CPU: custom z80 @ 6 / 15 MHz
    LCD: 320x240, 16-bit
    RAM: 128K of internal RAM, 21K user-accessible
    ROM: 4MB Flash ROM chip, 3.5MB user-accessible.
    IO: serial port, miniUSB jack
    Keys: 50 dedicated keys
    Programming languages: TI BASIC, z80 Assembly

    Pity people couldn't provide benchmarks of couple common integrals across the HP48GX, HP49, HP50, TI-82, TI-84, so we can see how fast it is.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @01:05PM (#42956547)

    Is it $10 or less yet?

    A state needs to contract out the creation of calculators to some firm and just get them for $10 a pop. There is no reason TI should be getting $100 for them.

  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @01:25PM (#42956755)
    A full CAS, the Ti-84 was a good calculator, I loved mine and it worked great. However it fell short for me because it lacked a good CAS, hence why I bought a Ti-89 Titanium. I know a lot of people, engineers included wonder why anyone would bother getting a calculator with a CAS built in, it's simple, why do algebra by hand and risk making a mistake when your calculator can do it MUCH faster, more accurate and in most cases with a better final answer.
  • by jopet (538074) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @01:33PM (#42956827) Journal

    that I cannot, for example, do with Maxima and octave on my Nexus 7, much more quickly and without that feeling of being trapped in the distant past?

  • by mulhollandj (807571) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @01:34PM (#42956839)
    Is that how long it has been since I was in high school?
  • by Cyko_01 (1092499) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @02:13PM (#42957109) Homepage
    Does it run blockdude?
  • by Vrtigo1 (1303147) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @03:01PM (#42957633)
    As the article indicated, we've had the TI-82/83/84 for the better part of two decades. Educational institutions and teachers know how to make it work for what they want it to do in a classroom. I personally don't know anyone that's purchased a graphing calculator for something other than a math class, so I have to assume education is a very large segment of the graphing calculator market share. Personally, I don't see anyone being exceptionally compelled to change their curriculum away from the TI-8X, and since many courses require that you have a TI calculator, the review is probably moot for a percentage of the market numbering in the high nineties.
  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @03:45PM (#42958099)
    For this price you can get a 7" Android tablet and buy a graphing calculator program for $5 or so. Hell, Wolfram Alpha will even show you calculus solutions step by step. TI really does not deserve to be in business at this point.
  • by Dwedit (232252) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @05:03PM (#42958855) Homepage

    15MHz Z80, and a 320x240 16-bit screen. Drawing to that screen has got to be slow.
    Copying bytes from memory to an IO port is 24 cycles per byte on the usual code (ld a,(hl) \ out (n),a \ inc hl)
    The screen itself is 153,600 bytes large.
    So it takes more than 3,686,400 clocks to output an entire screen image, most likely a lot more time. This suggests the entire screen can be updated 4 times per second with unrolled code, and that's not counting the code needed to set up and get ready to output data to the screen, or generate said data. More realistically, the screen could be updated updated 3 times per second.
    For things like solid color fills, probably much faster, possibly as high as 8FPS.

    • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday February 20, 2013 @08:06PM (#42960835) Journal

      Their Z80 implementation may not necessarily use the "classic Z80" timings. Indeed, Zilog's own current Z80 based microcontroller offerings are pipelined, and will get a throughput of up to 1 instruction per CPU cycle. The basic Verilog TV80 implementation of the Z80 also executes instructions in fewer clock cycles than the classic Z80 timings. I'd be surprised if the TI implementation has the same timings as the classic Z80.

      There's also various screen memory layouts that reduce the amount of work the CPU has to do, such as monochrome bit map with colour attribute overlay (so for drawing a graph, typically you're dealing only with 1 bit per pixel) and some of the graphics operations are likely not done by the CPU. You can also have memory mapped displays and avoid I/O instructions altogether (except for switching in and out different bits of the frame buffer). I don't have a TI calculator so I don't know what scheme it uses for writing to the display but I'd not be surprised if it has something analagous to a GPU to put stuff on the screen, and if it doesn't, then I wouldn't be surprised if the screen is memory mapped. I'd also be very surprised if their CPU uses classic Z80 timings.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.