Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Favorite Solar Calculators of all time

In no particular order...

Texas Instruments TI-25X Solar - mid to late 1990s

This small calculator packs a lot of punch. 8 digit that converts to 5 digit with 2 digit exponent any time the number exceed eight digits. Features include reciprocal, polar/rectangular conversion, one variable statistics, and decimal-DMS conversion. When I had the TI-25X the first time, back in the late 90s, it was my go-to calculator for quick calculations. I just bought another one from Amazon a week ago.

The calculator is truly solar, that is no batteries are used in any operation, which is rare in solar scientific calculators. (The battery, I think, aids long-term memory storage).

The trouble with the 25X was protecting it. It now lives in a small camera case with bubble wrap around it when not in use. I wish Texas Instruments was still manufacturing the 25X.

Casio FX-115ES Series - 2004-present

This is my favorite calculator Casio has produced. Not only the calculator operates on solar power, but it also was the first (I believe) calculator to have calculus functions: integral, derivative, and sum of a function. Matrices and vectors are also featured. The calculator can solve equations in one variable. Entry of mathematical expressions is straight forward. You can set the calculator to textbook entry mode or linear (classic) mode. I prefer the latter (the less pairs of parentheses I have to track the better).

The 2012 revision, fx-115ES PLUS (pictured), adds, among other things, integer factoring, verification tests, and product of a function.

Outside the United States, this calculator is named the fx-991DE/ES (PLUS).

Texas Instruments BA 35 Solar - early 1990s
(not pictured :( - I don't have it anymore)

Anyone who can operate a BA 35 or a BA II Plus should feel comfortable with the BA 35 Solar. The BA 35 Solar has the following:

* Time Value of Money, using periodic interest rate.
* Cost Sell Margin/Markup calculations
* Interest Conversion
* Amortization
* One variable statistics.

I gave my BA 35 Solar to my dad and he loved using it. Unfortunately, the display went nuts and it had to be retired.

Texas Instruments TI-36X Series (TI-36 Solar: 1986-early 1990s, TI-36X Solar: 1993-present, TI-36X Pro: 2011-present)

If you wanted the most advanced non-graphing calculator, you pretty much went for the TI-36X series. The original TI-36 Solar was powerful non-programmable calculator which had base conversions, hyperbolic functions, normal distribution calculations, and complex numbers (limited to arithmetic). When Texas Instruments upgraded the 36 to the 36X, the normal distribution calculations and complex numbers were dropped, but eight scientific constants, eight metric-English conversions, and linear regression were added.

This calculator received a lot of use during my days of middle and high school. I owned the original 1993 design and it went with me everywhere I went. The solar panel was punctured by a pencil and it died. Eventually, I got the 1996 design (pictured) and is my favorite design of the TI-36X Solar. Texas Instruments redesigned the calculator in 2004, giving it a gray faceplate and white keys, which I also have.

In 2011, Texas Instruments released the TI-36X Pro (named TI-30X Pro in Europe), which a serious upgrade of the 36X series. New features include derivatives, integrals, tables, equation solver, and entry in textbook format. For me, I had to get used to the keyboard because a lot of the keys cycled through functions. An example: the sine key (sin, sin^-1, sinh, sinh^-1), math constants ( π , e, the complex number i ), and the key that annoys me the most, the variable key (x, y, z, t, a, b, c, d).

If you waited to 2012 to consider getting a TI-36X Pro, you did a good thing in waiting. The early versions were buggy and were erroneous in calculations involving π and fractions. Thankfully, TI fixed the bugs and now I can confidently use the TI-36X Pro.

Casio fx-3650P: 2002 - present?

Casio, I think, is the only manufacturer of calculators left that produces programming calculators that also operate on solar power (with battery). I purchased this calculator on eBay (unfortunately it is not sold in stores in the United States, it should be IMHO).

The calculator has 360 program steps on which 4 programs can be stored. The programming language is a simplified set of the programming commands found on the Casio fx-5800p and its graphing calculators. Commands include LABEL, GOTO, basic testing, input prompt, and output.

Other features include complex number arithmetic, base conversions, and Numeric integrals.

Victor V34 - 2000s

Take a good loom at this calculator. If this calculator reminds you of the super popular Texas Instruments TI-30X IIs, it is because the keyboard design is similar.

While the TI-30X IIs sold in many colors for the 2009, 2010, 2011, and (I'm expecting) 2012 back to school seasons, the Victor V34 offers a feature that the TI-30X IIs doesn't: base conversions and logic operations. I purchased this hard to find calculator in a local stationery store in Glendora, CA.

Sharp EL-W516 Series - 2000s - Present

There are two functions two versions. The original had a gray faceplate. Sometime in 2011(?), Sharp made a design change and made the entire plate black. The model is now the EL-W516X with black keys, white, green, and gold lettering. In the United States, the Sharp calculators can be found at Target stores.

Like the Casio fx-115 ES, the Sharp EL-W516 series offers entering calculations in textbook format. Unlike the fx-115ES where you can get exact or approximate answers when demanded, the EL-W516 forces you to cycle through the format of the answers (exact/mixed fraction, improper fraction, decimal approximation) with the press of the CHANGE key (this applies to Normal mode).

The Sharp EL-W516 series offers unique functions:
* Drill feature - a quiz of arithmetic problems
* Functions with lists
* 4 definable function keys
* 4 definable formulas (I love this feature)
* Pental Numbers (Base 5)

That is a list of my favorite solar calculators. Eddie

This blog is property of Edward Shore. © 2012

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