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Portables HP Hardware

New High-End HP Calculator? 345

mschaef writes "There's a pretty convincing looking story over on describing a new high-end HP calculator. The bottom line: 75MHz ARM9, USB Port, IrDA compatibility, 128x80 display, and a slot for SD cards. It also looks like the same basic software is running, either ported or via emulation of the venerable Saturn (HP-propriatary) CPU. The full story is over at It's good to see HP back in the game (hopefully) like this."
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New High-End HP Calculator?

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  • by khaine ( 260889 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @07:58AM (#6604682)
    Cue the linux port project ;-)
    • If it accepts rpn input, I can live without linux (on a calculator).
    • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @10:02AM (#6605436)
      I got rid of my HP48G+ two years ago mainly for the reason that it was just too damn slow. I loved the RPN-by-default entry, though, and I seriously loved the clackety keys and the big fat ENTER button on the middle-left-hand side of the keyboard. It was really the lack of the latter that led me to buy my Texas Instruments TI-89 instead of the HP49, since the TI can be made to accept RPN.

      If only HP had kept the HP48 keyboard layout on the HP49 I wouldn't have deserted. Seems the new model seems to be following the same pattern.

  • Reliability? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dave_f1m ( 602921 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @07:58AM (#6604683)
    Great, but can I treat it like a hammer, and still have it work? You know, grab it, punch out a few calculations, and toss it aside without much care where it lands.
    • by TheMidget ( 512188 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:24AM (#6604767)
      Great, but can I treat it like a hammer, and still have it work? You know, grab it, punch out a few calculations, and toss it aside without much care where it lands.

      Can you treat a hammer like a hammer, and still have everything work? You know, grab it, drive in a couple of nails, and toss it aside without much care where it lands...

      ... smack on your brand new HP 49G+

    • Re:Reliability? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MyRuger ( 443241 )
      The HP48 is one of the most reliable calculators ever made. I have literally seen one run over by a truck and still work.

      Then HP made the 49, which I quickly tossed aside without a care where it landed, because I knew I would never use it again.

      Hopefully this new 49 is as cool and durable as the 48 was.
      • Re:Reliability? (Score:2, Informative)

        by fitten ( 521191 )
        Yup. My HP48SX still works great and I use it frequently. I got it within a month of its being for sale in our student union (upgraded from a 28S) and think it's quite possibly the best calculator ever made. I can't tell you how many times it's been dropped from desks and has only lost a vertical row of pixels (the 4th from the left). Definitely one of the best, if not *the* best, that HP ever made, IMO.
    • Re:Reliability? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:19AM (#6605053)
      I've had my 48GX for almost 10 years. It has fallen off desks and out of trees,
      been crushed at the bottom of a backpack countless times as the backpack was
      tossed into a corner (pretty close to your hammer behavior), been rained on, and
      still shows no sign of wear except for the rubber feet which are somewhat worn
      from use on concrete.

      The 48GX meets my needs and until it stops working, I'm not going to replace
      it with anything. However, if this new calculator is built with the same solid
      construction and has the same wonderful user experience, then I would have no
      any problem recommending it to people.
  • Cheating in Exams? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by captainclever ( 568610 ) <> on Monday August 04, 2003 @07:58AM (#6604685) Homepage
    Hmm... I doubt it'll be allowed in exams or tests if it's got infra-red capabilities.

    People might find it all to easy to chat and exchange answers on the sly if their calculators can communicate silently.
    • by dbowden ( 249149 )
      I don't know. I never had trouble getting my HP28s []into exams.

      Of course, it's IR port was output only, and strictly for printing.

      • by gnalle ( 125916 )
        You needed a hp48 to be able to cheat. There were mods around which enabled them to communicate over a distance of 13 meters. In the danish technical they used to have a special box in which you could put your hp48 calculator. This box would effectively prevent IR communication.
    • by vsync64 ( 155958 ) <> on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:07AM (#6604713) Homepage
      When I took one of those annoying required pre-standardized test things in high school, the teacher in charge was reading off the rules. "If your calculator has wireless communication capabilities they must be blocked for the duration of the test... Ha ha. Does anyone here have anything like that?"

      I raised my hand. "Um, me."

      So she had to go inspect the electrical tape I had placed over my HP48's infrared port. Not that it would have done much good if I was the only one in the room with that calculator...

      • I guess I could have tried cheating in my early exams with my old HP48G+, though only one fellow-student at that level had one; most had TIs or Casios. But the machines are so slow (though I love them still) that it would only have slowed me down.

        Sometimes there's no substitute for talent, or at least hard work. I got a pretty good grade anyway. For "real" maths, calculators are superfluous in any case.

        • As a mathematician, "real" math most certainly requires a fantastic calculator. For some examples:

          1) Numerical Analysis
          2) Differential Equations
          3) Linear Algebra Systems
          4) Discrete Mathematical Systems
          5) Finite Analysis
          6) Probability
          7) Statistics

          And a hundred more "real" mathematical systems which require a calculator. If you refer to "real" math as symbolic only, which is my passion in life, then no, you don't use a normal calculator. But, the use of a symbolically solving calculator can prove
    • by mirko ( 198274 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:07AM (#6604715) Journal
      While I was a teacher, I also happened to guard exams.
      I can assure you that I met very few people (nobody would not be a big lie) who'd recognize a communicant calculator.
      Also, in France, calculators are allowed only if their sizes are within allowed specifications so, you can happily go there with such a (geeky) "toy"...

      BTW, when I was a student, I once met a guard who'd consider my Casio FX4000P as the data storage (550 signs, enough for most formulae in sms-style) it was.
      He took it with a pen and pushed the data-reset button, on its back.
      What he didn't know is that I actually disconnected it before, so we both had a reason to be satisfied, this day ;)
      • by f13nd ( 555737 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:40AM (#6604823) Homepage
        i did something similar on my AP exams with my 48G+
        i had all my files and whatnot stored as libraries, and anyone with an HP calc knows that the libs don't clear when you pass the reset button over to the exam guard
      • by noah_fense ( 593142 ) <noahtheman&gmail,com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:14AM (#6605018)

        A good friend of mine used his Palm to take the SAT IIs a few years ago. The test proctor didn't check ANYONE's calculator, let alone his Palm.

        not like you really need a calculator on the SAT IIs.

        In college, math courses allow you to use your calculator, but put integrals on the test that will choke up your TI-89 like nobody's business. Same thing in diff eq.

        • by mhayenga ( 684912 )
          Not at my college... At UT (The University of Texas at Austin), I haven't had a single math test I *was* allowed to use a calculator on. EE and physics courses are different, but in math, it seems to be a major wrong here.
          • by HardCase ( 14757 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:55PM (#6609471)
            At Boise State University, there were no algebraic calculators allowed in most Calc and DiffEQ classes. They were allowed in engineering classes, however. The assumption was that, post Calculus, we were learning about engineering, not math. The problems were not designed to trip us up on the math, but, rather, on the engineering!

            That being said, I have to say that I think that my 48GX is one of the best calculators ever made in terms of speed, size and ease of use. However, indefinite integrals are the devil on it! A TI92 makes them a piece of cake. Tests involving fields just couldn't be done with the 48GX because there wasn't enough time. I was lucky enough to be able to afford both the HP and the TI, so I could use whichever tool worked best.

            As a practicing engineer, though, I only use the 48GX. I think I've used the TI92 to balance my checkbook when the HP was at work, but that's about it...and I only really do arithmetic on the HP anyway...computerized field solvers do all of the differential equations for me. Welcome to the real world!


    • by Paddyish ( 612430 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:34AM (#6604800)
      That's likely a non-issue. The HP 48 series had IR capability, but the receiver's effective range was about 4 inches when taking signals from another HP 48. Definately not easy to cheat with.

      I'm betting this new calc has a similar design.

    • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:37AM (#6604809)
      HP calculators have had infrared beaming for at least twelve years; my 48SX was top-of-the-line when I was a sophomore in high school, and supported the beaming of programs, equations (I guess, we never used it that way) and other goodies. Like the Palm handhelds, though, the range is too limited to be used for cheating. You have to have both units a few inches away from each other, too far unless you're communicating with someone on the same table as you--in which case you're better off just writing it down on paper.

      I miss my HP, I really do. RPN took some getting used to, but I put that thing through its paces for almost four years--trigonometry, calculus and pre-calc, four years of Math Team (don't laugh, it's no geekier than Slashdot) and an AP exam. Once I got to college, though, the math classes got more proof-oriented and less numbers-oriented. If I'd been an engineering student, I'm sure it would have been invaluable, but as a mathematics major it got relegated further and further back in my desk drawer. Nowadays I can't even remember how to use most of the power functions, let alone graph a polar parametric equation or plot a vector field.

      To be fair, TI calculators can do almost everything those HPs could, and for a lower price. If HP can still make a top-of-the-line today, though, I say more power to them.
    • by plaa ( 29967 )
      Hmm... I doubt it'll be allowed in exams or tests if it's got infra-red capabilities.

      AFAIK, the port has been deliberately rendered useless for long-distance communication. The calculator has a reasonably powerful transmitter, so it can be used as a remote control, but the receiver is so weak that the two calculators have to be almost touching each other for transmission. Still you don't have to carry any cords around for data transmission or a quick game.

      Of course, the calculators probably will still
    • The way this was handled back in my day (twenty years ago ... my ghod) was to allow only calculators of particular models into the exam in the first place. Scientific calculators only, nothing programmable.
    • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @10:54AM (#6605908) Homepage Journal
      Hmm... I doubt it'll be allowed in exams or tests if it's got infra-red capabilities.

      People might find it all to easy to chat and exchange answers on the sly if their calculators can communicate silently.

      While proctoring a physics exam, we used an IR camera to actually watch two guys cheating real-time with their HP48's. This was back in 1990 and the course directors were not pleased as they had no idea this was possible at that time.

    • Hmm... I doubt it'll be allowed in exams or tests if it's got infra-red capabilities.

      Perhaps teachers should simply increase the amount of ambient infra red noise in their classrooms.
  • by SecMF ( 256749 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @07:59AM (#6604686)
    With PDAs becoming faster and more capable, is there still a market for plane calculators? Palm (and others) must have tons of (free) software to do the same with your PDA.
    • by forsetti ( 158019 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:03AM (#6604700)
      Of course there is a market for plane calculators -- anything that can perform math on planes is pretty slick!
      Of course, plain calculators may die off.....
    • by Prince_Ali ( 614163 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:03AM (#6604701) Journal
      Yes, well you may like to use a PDA as a calculator, but most people would want more than 6 buttons to work with. A number pad would be nice for a calculator... and buttons for add, subtract... and another 30 or so for different functions. I don't think a stylus would be the best calculator interface.
      • i dunno, i use an HP 48GX [] on my Clie and and the only problem i have with it is that it has to load every time i start it. - 20-40 sections are wasted every time!

        now if only i could beam the software from my physical HP 48GX.... :\
    • I'm sure some people still prefer to work with real, physical buttons rather than a touch screen. Also, you can get more detail on buttons when you don't have to rely on a 320x480 (or smaller) screen.

      If you're using a calculator enough, it will be better to have one of these rather than a PDA masquerading as a calculator. Also, if all you need is a calculator, you might as well get one of these which will probably end up cheaper than a PDA.

      • I think that by changing your idea of the interface a PDA can become a very useful calculator. Handwriting recognition is very good these days. Imagine writing:

        S cos(4x+3) dx

        insead of typing
        4 x * 3 + cos 0 3 x int

        Actually when you write it out in postfix, it looks really cool. Screw the handwriting :)
    • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:10AM (#6604724)
      lack of numberic keypad makes it WAY too slow for real heavy duty use, add in the fact that there is no symbolic logic package for a PDA that I am aware of and you can't compete with calculators like this. (btw the Ti-89 is basically Maple in firmware, Ti hired the guys behind Maple to write all the software for it). IF there were a symbolic logic app for Palm or another PDA then it might compete, but you would still have to deal with the slow input, and I can guarentee the app would not be free.
    • With PDAs becoming faster and more capable, is there still a market for plane calculators? Palm (and others) must have tons of (free) software to do the same with your PDA.

      With mobile phones becoming more capable and subnotebooks becoming lighter and smaller, is there still a market for PDA's?
    • There sure is (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      I have a Palm that can do HP48 emulation (to some degree). It also has its own custom RPN calculator.

      Can't touch my HP48GX - You can emulate buttons in software all you want, it will never compare to the nice buttons of the 48.
    • This has been said here on /. before...

      Nothing beats a good HP calculator. PDA's are for management weenies. Purposely designed calc's are for engineers.
    • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:11AM (#6604998) Homepage
      It's really a matter of perspective.

      We have PDA:s that can also make cellular phone calls. We have phones that can double up as PDA:s. They seem to aim for exactly the same market, but, of course, they don't, since they're best features are aimed at different uses.

      Same thing with calculators. I'd love to have a HP calculator that will also function reasonably as a PDA. I'm a lot less interested in a PDA that can also do some calculator functions.

      It's all about where the focus is. Take the keyboard as an example: a dinky on-screen keyboard, or aphanumeric keyboard just isn't nearly as functional and convenient as a 'real' calculator keyboard a'la my deeply missed HP15, where all the functionality is right there, at your fingertips. Likewise, a phonepad isn't really that good for PDA functionality, and a touch screen isn't really that good for a phone.

      Also, the software for PDA:s are of varying, and unknown, quality. One thing that really made the HP line of calculators stand out was their attention to various corner cases. When you got a result, you knew that was the correct one, to the practical limit of the hardware and encoding used. The Palm calculators I've tried have inevitably had various bugs and have missed special cases that made you get the wrong result from time to time - they would not handle over/underflow correctly in all cases, or use algorithms that would not give the stated precision over all of it's range, and so on.

      My dream would be a new HP calculator with the format and design of the HP15c, but modernized (faster CPU with more memory; pisel screen, rather than segment, and so on). That one was a nearly perfect unit for me. After fifteen years, I had unfortunately dropped it, spilled coffee and soda in it, buried it under piles of books, stuffed it in dirty, dusty bags and submerged it too many times and it gave up :(

    • If there was a calculator program that was as easy to use
      and had as good an interface as my HP48GX, I would probably
      still favor the calculator since the physical buttons are
      easier to use than the stylus.

      But that's just me.

      If I didn't already have the calculator, I might not pay $100+
      just to get physical buttons, but who knows? There are other
      advantages of dedicated devices.
  • but (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SUPAMODEL ( 601827 )
    ...but can you run linux on it?
    Seriously tho, that's a serious piece of hardware.
    Every geek should have one.
    I had to use a TI-83 as part of my schooling, and the fun we used to have with that - playing networked 2-player frogger games and shit via link cables we spanned across desks so you couldn't see.
    It was pretty good for learning maths stuff, too. We had to go thru all the finding stuff out thru calculus methods etc before plotting them up on the machine, but it was good to show comparisons of famil
  • Time to upgrade? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dbowden ( 249149 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:00AM (#6604690)
    When I was younger, the rule I followed was to always upgrade to the next generation of calculator after I'd understood all of the functions of the previous one.

    Is it time to go to this one yet?

    No... I'm still doing fine with my old 28S []

    • Yep, any calculator that can do symbolic inegration is good enough for me, if I really need more speed then it's time to break out the laptop and Maple/Mathcad/Mathimatica =) I'm partial to the Ti-89 but that's because I started with a Ti-80 and progressed up with their line, to a 82, then to the much nicer 85, and finally to the 89 when I hit calc.
      • Re:Time to upgrade? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by espo812 ( 261758 )

        then to the much nicer 85, and finally to the 89 when I hit calc.

        I got an 85 in middle school and I hated it. This might be because I didn't take the time to learn it very well, and none of the teachers/students had one. But it was just much different from the other TI-8x models. Maybe it was just me. Anyway my 89 I do love very much (and read the whole manual for, and the teacher supported). Unfortunately, I've had two classes now where the teacher said you could "cheat" with an 89, so they wern't allowe

    • Ah, how I loved my HP-28S. Unfortunately the cover to the battery compartment gave out (seems like a weak point in the design; I'd imagine others have had the problem).

      I never liked the later HP calculators as well because they didn't have the separate alphabetic keyboard, which I found a real convenience.
      • Mine died the same way unfortunately. After a few calls to HP I eventually got a hold of an engineer who sent me a couple of battery cover doors (they still use the same ones on one of their business calculators, or did at the time) unfortunately by that time the case had become damaged by my jury rigging of the door to allow me to still use it.

        I have a 48GX now, and while i still like it better than any of the other calcs out there (the buttons on it are so much better than anything else out there I don'
      • Yep, my cover broke too. There's still enough intact that it stays on. Great calculator. I don't know what I'll do when/if it ever becomes unusable.
    • When I was younger, the rule I followed was to always upgrade to the next generation of calculator after I'd understood all of the functions of the previous one.

      I'm still trying to understand all the functions of my calculator [].

      I guess mama wasn't lying when she said I took the short bus to school.
  • by groove10 ( 266295 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:02AM (#6604696) Homepage
    That is still the ultimate "nerd" calculator. Came in a zipper pouch, had a slot for expansion cards, and like all decent calculators worth their circuits, used Reverse Polish Notation.

    I remember many an hour wasted in class playing Columns or Arkanoid or Crazy Cars.

    Before there was Palm Pilot for looking like you were doing work, there was the HP48GX!
    • I work at an engineering firm. (They build transmitters for cell towers)

      The only calculators I've ever seen in use here are 48Gs and 48GXes. It's either that or Matlab on a lab PC, not many other options for serious engineers. No one has a TI or Casio here - those are calculators for middle school students.

      I'm worried that this new 49GX will not be as sturdy as the old 48GX, given HP's recent build quality track record (Seems like all the people who gave a damn about quality went over to Agilent, who s
    • That is still the ultimate "nerd" calculator.
      Maybe for you youngins, but for my generation the ultimate nerd calculator is the HP-28S [].

      And yes, if a calculator doesn't have RPN and a stack, I just don't like using it. :P

  • Why not use a PDA? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:04AM (#6604705)
    I wonder why not use a PDA with better screen and resolution, faster processor (300Mhz, or more), more applications. The remaining factor is that is there a graphics calculator application that is as powerful as an HP cal (or more powerful).

    The price, well, I think you can get a $200 PDA that is more powerful than 75Mhz.

    After all, the HP cal may have the processor optimized for heavy engineering task (and other heavy math task). Also, it has buttons just for calculator. So this may be the deciding factor.

    What do you think?

  • Why SD??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Compact Dick ( 518888 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:05AM (#6604708) Homepage
    I hate Secure Digital for two reasons:
    1. More expensive than Compact Flash.
    2. DRM features, which means lesser available memory.
    3. Too tiny for comfort - yes, there is such a thing.

    I'll be much happier when they add a CF slot [even better if it replaces the SD slot.]
    • Re:Why SD??? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Richardsonke1 ( 612224 ) * on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:20AM (#6604755)
      Maybe it's because CF is 10 times as big as SD and they need to save space? That's my guess. They don't really care how much you will have to pay for the cards, that's your deal. If you want extra storage space, you'll buy a card.
    • Don't forget that there are a plethora of non-storage devices available for CF, including Wired and Wireless network cards.
      • The real issue is that SD seems to be the favoured choice of memory storage/extension in new hardware, despite higher costs to both producers and end users.

        Consider that the CF spec is an open one and involves paying no encryption license fees to an organisation like SDMI: it makes me wonder whether the execs are casually treated by SDMI reps to lavish holidays at exotic destinations in exchange for securing the slot for SD.
  • I may be missing something.

    Where do I plug my mouse?

  • by xaoslaad ( 590527 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:18AM (#6604743)
    ...only builds better idiots. I almost fell out of my chair three weeks ago when my professor said we are not allowed to use calculators in his Calculus II class.

    And while I would not exactly say I am doing good in his class at this point, I am learning and just plain realizing things that I should have learned eons ago. The problem was that it was always more convenient to mash the keys on a calculator than to just think.

    • 5 years of calculus; no calculator. There's nothing to caluclate in calculus!

      That said, I hope they didn't cheap out on the keyboard, it looks like those crappy rubber non-tactile buttons in that picture, and the keys on my hp48 are why I still have one.
    • And while I would not exactly say I am doing good in his class at this point, I am learning and just plain realizing things that I should have learned eons ago. The problem was that it was always more convenient to mash the keys on a calculator than to just think.

      I couldn't agree more. Calculators are great, but we need to start using them after we've mastered the old-fashioned way rather than instead of mastering the old-fashioned way.

      A few years ago, I studied for and took the MCAT (the test require

    • by TrekkieGod ( 627867 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @10:21AM (#6605589) Homepage Journal
      Building a better calculator only builds better idiots.

      That statement is so single-minded, it's almost like something I would say...except I'm single-minded in the other direction this time around, so I have plenty of stuff to argue.

      Ever think about all the people not in school? How efficient is it for an engineer to whip out pen, paper, and an sliderule?

      What about calculus? No calculators in classes like that piss me off. Don't get me wrong, I'm for a calculus class that only allows a scientific calculator, so you can't use your TI-89 to whip out complicated anti-derivatives for you, but requiring you to spend more time working on arithmatic using scratch paper than the calculus in your exam is ridiculous.

      Building a better calculator helps those that have already learned their stuff. It doesn't mean that you should always use the best calculator in a learning environment, but there's nothing wrong with their existence.

    • Well, you should know how to do basic Calculus before resorting to a calculator.

      I know how to do derivatives, integrals...etc...but the human mind is far from perfect, and always makes mistakes. I use my TI on problems that make no sense doing out by hand. A triple integral? Why bother if you know the basics - you are just doing redundant math and wasting your time.

      If you know how to use a hand powered drill, why would you choose that over an electric?
  • by dillkvast ( 657246 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:22AM (#6604763)
    ... at least until some vendor provides mathematical sofware for the PDA.

    The software in todays calculators are capable of pretty advanced mathematical opererations, including advanced calculus, matix operations, statisics and complex math. Until sombody creates an equally good mathematics software suit for PDA's these things will still be around.

    Another thing is QA. How are we to be sure that some program we downloaded to our PDA does the calculations correctly. When you buy an advanced calculator you can be pretty confident that the different mathematical functions has been thoroughly tested. Since the key sellingpoint of a calculator is the ability to, well, calculate, the vendor has probably gone to some effort to ensure that it is infact capable of doing that correctly.
    • Until sombody creates an equally good mathematics software suit for PDA's these things will still be around.
      Another thing is QA. How are we to be sure that some program we downloaded to our PDA does the calculations correctly.

      A few years ago HP started developing a WinCE-based calculator called Xpander []. The project was cancelled but if you have a PocketPC you can download the onboard software []. I don't have one, so I can't comment on how good it is.
    • Try EasyCalc [] . . . open source too!
    • BUTTONS!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @10:05AM (#6605460) Homepage Journal
      The number one reason that a PDA won't replace a calculator is that a touchscreen is a piss-poor substitute for real buttons with travel and tactile feedback ("click", but that doesn't sound as high-tech). I have a Handspring Visor and have downloaded and used multiple calculator apps on it. Some of them are damned good, but I always turn to my trusty HP 32SII for anything more than a handful of calculations.
  • by Kid Brother of St. A ( 662151 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:28AM (#6604783)
    The calculator looks nice, but I think HP may have a hard time finding a market for it. In fact I wonder if any effective market niche still exists for non-Texas Instruments high-end calculators. The education market -- high school and college math/science students -- is pretty well ruled by TI and has been for years since TI came out with the TI-92. Nearly all of the calculator-oriented curricula out there is designed specifically for TI calculators. And part of this is HP's fault -- when the TI-92 came out, a colleague of mine was at a math teachers' conference and asked HP if they had anything coming out that could compare with it, and their answer was a resigned "Nope". And for years, the textbooks and lab supplements went specifically toward TI machines because nobody else bothered to keep up with them. Although this machine does compete with TI's, it seems, I think there is just too much brand loyalty and curricular momentum in the education market towards TI for HP to make a dent.

    The only thing that's successfully competed with TI calculators has been computer algebra systems (you can get a good, cheap CAS program like Derive -- another TI product, by the way -- for $99 for the student version and $199 for the professional version) and PDA scientific calculator programs. Existing hardware and software is more flexible and less expensive than this new HP. So if this isn't intended for the student market, I wonder who it is intended for, and if it'll actually sell once it's out.

    • TI and schools. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:19AM (#6605051) Homepage
      TI calculators are dominant in schools.

      And that's all they're good for. They are piddly toys for students.

      The HP 48GX, despite being far older and slower than the TI-92, is dominant in engineering. At my company, there are two types of calculators people use: HP 48s and PCs running Matlab. I have NEVER seen an engineer here using a TI.

      Even in my high school, almost everyone who was planning on going into engineering disciplines bought an HP48. As to your comment, "And part of this is HP's fault -- when the TI-92 came out, a colleague of mine was at a math teachers' conference and asked HP if they had anything coming out that could compare with it, and their answer was a resigned "Nope"."

      Then why did at least two people I know in high school buy TI-92s, only to replace them one year later with the *significantly older* HP-48? The TI-92 sucked. It was a monstrosity that was DOA in the education market because it had a QWERTY keyboard and hence was not legal on any standardized tests. The HP48 was legal on most tests if you blocked its IR port, and most proctors didn't even bother checking that. (It was widely known that the 48's IR receiver was very weak and only good for calc-to-calc communications of 6" or so. There's an ongoing debate as to whether this was done for power savings or to keep the calc test legal.)
      • Granted, the 48-series are dominant in engineering. But why whould engineers replace the 48G with one of these 49s? The 48G does the job, and for heavy work, as you correctly point out, you use a computer anyway. So the speed of the calc is not that relevant. And the battery life on the 48 is absurd (measured in years, in some cases).

        The picture of the prototype appears to have rubber spongy buttons from some of the lower-end Casio and TI calcs. Serious users will demand the Indestructobutton from pr

    • HP is for engineers. 'Real' engineers look down on people that use TI's. It's silly, but that's what it is.

      In education, TI rules. People can't stand HP calculators. But it's kind of nice to have one while in school, that way no one wants to borrow your calculator. Or if someone does ask to borrow it, and doesn't know how to use it, it's always a good laugh trying to explain how post-fix (or reverse polish, if you prefer) notation works...

      "so wait, the plus sign comes AFTER?!?! WTF?!?!"
  • Semi process? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TonyJohn ( 69266 )
    The story lists the processor as:
    Processor: ARM9, 75 MHz (32 bits, probably 0.13 or 0.18 micron process, est. 20-70 mW)
    0.13 sounds like overkill for an ARM9 at 75MHz - given that they can do over 200MHz in that kind of a process. I expect the manufacturer would have used a larger, cheaper process like 0.35 or 0.25.
  • by phoxix ( 161744 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:30AM (#6604787)
    I'm not an HP graphic calculator person ... but looking at my TI-89, some of the fuction buttons look rather similar

    F1 = Y=
    F2 = Window
    F3 = Graph
    F4 = TblSet
    F5 = Table

    HP 49G+
    F1 = Y=
    F2 = Win
    F3 = Graph
    F4 = 2D/3D
    F5 = TblSet
    F6 = Table

    That is 4 out of 5 function keys!

    Sunny Dubey

  • Sheesh, would it kill people to put a nice high-res color display on these things? A powerfull calculator with a high-res display would kick ass, and not just for gaming, it would be great for development too.

    I have to say though, if it uses the old HP style syntax it's going to suck. TI calcs are a lot more intuitive.
  • I am ELATED!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alchemist68 ( 550641 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:40AM (#6604821)
    Gosh, THIS is good news. I was absolutely DEVASTATED when HP stopped making (the HP48) calculators. I've never owned an HP49, but heard they were close to the HP48. Wow, this is exciting, of course, only a geek/nerd would be. I can't wait to get my hands on one. USB, cool, it should work with Mac OS X. I just hope it runs all my old code. And I thought I was doomed to using Texas Instruments calculators for the rest of my life or persuing eBay for HP leftovers. Anyone not in the know must know that HP made THE BEST calculators EVER for reliability, functionality, ACCURACY, and features. These things were designed to last a lifetime of a professional.

    For those interested in running an HP48 on their Macintosh (Mac OS X and 9), here's a good HP48 emulator: /x48.html

  • A good scientific calc replacement for the Zaurus is Qplot []. Also available there is the list of changes you need to make to get it to run on Open Zaurus.

    It doesn't do everything yet, but it is OSS so that you can add your own functionality. If that's still not enough for you, there is a build of Octave for the Zaurus so you can load Matlab toolboxes.
  • HP 49 series fixed? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Paddyish ( 612430 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:47AM (#6604856)
    I've used an HP 49G ever since it came out. It's impressive in it's strengths, and nearly as impressive in it's weaknesses.

    I have found in several situations that the CAS, while a bit slower, can come up with a correct answer to a complicated transform that causes a TI89 to barf and quit. It can effectively calculate factorials up to about 250!, which I think is very neat (if not all that useful). The equation writer is incredible - it's like entering equations in Mathcad, easy to see what they ~really~ look like, and quick too. Clock, calendar and on-board help menus are very useful as well. RPN always adds mucho score points. Too bad it defaults to algebraic out of the box...

    My biggest complaint is in the ROM - only the latest (non-HP approved) ROM revision fixes the more serious bugs, like random garbage collection delays, in the calc's OS. There's also the standard complaint about the sucky rubber keys, and the annoying screen design & resolution. Speed isn't too bad - the general code is optimised well (much of it was taken from the 48 series).

    This new addition appears to fix all, or nearly all of the mistakes that were made with the 49G. I look forward to reading reviews of use.

    Maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit, but it looks as though I may add a new RPN machine to my collection soon.

    • I owned a 48GX, but sold it and upgraded to the 49G when it came out. I still regret it.

      The 49G had some great features (equation writer, CAS, as you mentioned), but the thing didn't compare to the 48GX in feel. To this day I still mis-punch a key or double-punch one. The keypad is nowhere near as good as the 48GX. The screen on the 49G scratches easily, and the slip-over hard case sucks compared to the nice zippered pouch of the 48 series.

      And while the 49G managed to get me an A in Calculus I, I stil
  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:51AM (#6604880)
    I could care less about almost all of the speces except one: does it use Reverse Polish Notation ? I couldn't find the answer in the article. There's a reason that the HP12C is still one of the - if not THE - dominant calculator in the world of finance (indeed, AIMR requires CFA candidates to use it or a single type of TI calculator on their exams), and that reason is RPN. (I know it's not because of speed because it is up to 10 times slower than the TI calculator which costs a fraction of an HP 12C).
  • They even seem to have said that new high-end calculators are coming out on HP's site []. I'm curious where the development effort for this is coming from. I don't think the calculator folks from Australia or France survived the great Carly purge.

  • Huh, I thought IrDA was dying...? Bluetooth is supposed to take over for short-range wirelss communications, isn't it? There's an IrDA port on my cell-phone, but when I figured I'd want to connect to my computer, I got a cable instead of an IrDA dongle, though the dongle was actually cheaper.
  • Cool as this is, though, I really have no use for it. Heck, I don't even know how to use all the features of my TI-81, much less my TI-83. Actually, I never knew that HP made calculators, but judging by several posts above, they must have been pretty good. I'll have to see if I can find a used one somewhere.
  • Add on keyboard (Score:3, Interesting)

    by panurge ( 573432 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @09:19AM (#6605052)
    Why not sell the software and an add on keyboard for PDAs? I agree the stylus makes them less than ideal calculators, but wouldn't a decent HP style add on keyboard with adequate size keys not only make a nicer calculator, but also add better numeric input to PDAs? Then you would have a calculator with decent display, lots of memory, usually Bluetooth (export graphs into Word and Excel?)

    In fact, why not go the whole hog and have a data acquisition module as well? A pocket datalogger that collected the data, modelled the function, did the statistics, and output the data into a report on a PC. Leverage almost all of HPs technologies into a well integrated product.

  • I covetted my 48G in high school. The ability to store data, make simple programs, RPN, and the equation/constant library were powerful tools. Everybody else used TIs. In college, I convinced a EE buddy to buy a HP48, and he was much happier with this choice.

    They announced the 49G when I was in m last year of college. I was excited. The 48G with a CAS! Instead, what a disappointment! Stiff keys, constant need to upgrade the software to fix bugs (through a cable I had to jury rig from an old serial

  • I am a total dork (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ralphus ( 577885 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @10:31AM (#6605650)
    I am having fond memories of my 48sx & gx from almost 12 years ago. Oh look, there it is right on the shelf next to me still in perfect condition w/ the extended manuals, cables etc.

    Did anyone else wait eagerly for the new EduCalc catalog? Did anyone else actuall use the included metal plate that came with the GX and get it engraved and put on the back of the calculator? Was anyone else as absolutely dorky as me and name your HP48 and have that name engraved on the Calc?

    This thing was loads of fun, it made calculus 10x more fun than it already was, it was the first thing I started hacking on, and I'm a bit sad that I don't have a job today that requires me to use the HP anymore.

    yup, I'm a total dork. I just thought I'd share.

  • by mr.henry ( 618818 ) * on Monday August 04, 2003 @11:23AM (#6606222) Journal
    I'm surprised no one has brought up the fact that Carly Fiorina, HP CEO and stupid bitch, is the reason HP's current calculator lineup is so pathetic.

    The vintage, pre-Carly HP calculators currently fetch $$$ on eBay. The few new ones, such as the 49G and this 'high-end' one, look like crappy TI knockoffs.

  • 75MHz (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pagercam2 ( 533686 ) on Monday August 04, 2003 @03:00PM (#6608349)
    Everyone seems to be commenting on how relaible old HP calcs were. The real story is that a calcuclator even a graphing one requires a 32bit 75MHz processor. This blows my mind why does a calculator need a 75MHz processor. ARM9 is way overkill they should have, assuming that they really wanted to use an ARM stick with the ARM7 which is fine for basic computation it just misses the support for caches and longer pipelines. The ARM7 is smaller (smaller die lower cost), and lower power (longer battery life). Hardware design seems to be more about bragging rights that producing a good product. The SW guys all want to use C++ so they don't have to understand the processor, C++ is ussually 20-30% slower than C and 100-400% slower than assembly and assembly is what a calculator's code should be written in.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer