Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Sharp EL-738F Financial Calculator

Sharp EL-738F Financial Calculator Review

Price:  I paid $39.99 plus tax (Fry’s Electronics). 

Note:  This is an update of the EL-738C model, I am not sure if the EL-738C has the exact same set of functions of the newer, black keyboard EL-738F model, but looking at the EL-738C’s Amazon page, it appears that the EL-738F is a looks update. 

Sharp EL-738F

What’s In the Package:  calculator and a good size, detailed manual.  And it is refreshing to see the manual as a complete book, and not a fold-out sheet. 

Number of Variables:  Besides the financial variables, the EL-738F has ten independent memories, A through H, M, X, Y, and Z.   The memory M has the memory arithmetic M+ and M-.

Power:  1 CR2032 battery. 

Protection:  Plum colored hard case 

Does the EL-738F have scientific functions?  Yes!  And kind of unusual for financial calculators, the common logarithm and its inverse (log and 10^, respectively) are present, random numbers (including dice, coins, random integers between 0 and 99), and π are present on the keyboard.   The only other financial calculator that has π on the keyboard is the HP 10bII+.   Furthermore, there is no inverse key for the trigonometric functions, hence arcsine, arccosine, and arctangent can be acessed directly from the keyboard.

Two Line Display:  The EL-738F has a two line displays like most non-graphing scientific calculators.    This is nice because you can see the expression on the top line and the result on the bottom line.  The top line will also display the appropriate financial variable (i.e. PMT, M-D-Y 1=[*day of the week*], COUPON(PMT), etc.) which is really helpful and impressive.

Financial Calculations Available:

*  Time Value of Money: Compound Interest. 
*  Amortization
*  Cash Flows:  IRR and NPV only
*  Bonds:  Calculates Yield or Price of a Bond. 
*  Depreciation:  Straight Line, Sum of the Year’s Digits, Declining Balance. 
*  APR/EFF Conversion Functions
*  Days between Dates (four digit years) – one of my favorite functions
*  Percent Change
*  Profit Worksheet (Cost/Sell/Margin and Markup) – accessed by the [COST] key
*  Breakeven Worskheet
To exit a worksheet, press the [ON/C] key.  You’ll be pressing this key a lot.  The calculator is in a worksheet if there is a message ending with an equals key on the top line.

Keyboard:  The keys are plastic, so don’t expect a small “pop” or “click” for feedback, but the keys are responsive. 

Statistics Regressions Available:  Linear, Quadratic, Exponential, Logarithmic, Power, and Inverse. 

Time Value of Money:   Clear the variables by pressing [2ndF] [MODE] (CA).  This will not affect your alpha variables (A-H,M,X,Y,Z).   Enter the amounts for the variables and press the appropriate key.  To calculate, press [COMP] first before the variable to solve for.

For each calculation, I suggest setting the payments per year (P/Y) (and maybe the compounding interest periods per year, C/Y) first, by pressing [2ndF], [I/Y] (P/Y).  Enter the payments per year and press [ENT].  When the variables are cleared, P/Y and C/Y are automatically set to 1.     If you use the xP/Y function, make sure to press the [ N ] key twice to make sure the value is stored in N.

And the interest variable (I/Y), the interest rate is annual. 

Also, cash flow convention applies:  negative values for outflows, positive values for inflows.

The [(x,y)] and [ENT] (DATA) Keys

Depending on which mode the EL-738F is in, data will be stored as either a cash flow or a statistical point.

Normal Mode (0):

[ENT] (DATA) (outside a financial worksheet):  enters a cash flow
Cash flows with frequency:   cash flow [(x,y)] frequence [DATA]

Statistics Mode (1):

[DATA] enters the data point.
SD Mode (1-Variable):  [(x,y)] separates the data point and its frequency
Regressions: [(x,y)] separates the x and y point.  You can add frequency by adding a third number, hence:  x point, y point, frequency

The EL-738F has a total of 100 registers that are shared between cash flows and statistical data points.  Without frequencies, up to 50 statistical pairs can be entered.

Connection between the TMV Variables and the Worksheets:

The worksheets often assign its variables to the TVM variables.  For example:

Cash Flow Calculations ([2ndF] [CFi] (CASH)):
RATE corresponds with I/Y

Bond Calculations ( [BOND] ):
Coupon works with PMT
Redemption Value is stored in FV
CPN/Y is stored in N
Yield is stored in I/Y
Price is stored in PV

Depreciation ([BRKV]): 
Type is set through the [SET UP] key, press 2 for DEPR submenu.
Life in stored in N
Cost is stored in PV
Salvage is stored in FV

This means we can store values in the TVM variables, press the worksheet, and have them automatically recalled.  The flip side is that using the worksheet will affect the TVM variables.  Hence, it is good practice to clear the TVM variables via [2ndF] [MODE] (CA) for each new problem.  This is an extra step the user has to get used to.

Bottom Line:  If you want an alternative to HP or TI, or you like Sharp and need a financial calculator, the EL-738F is one to check out.  The keyboard is good, and the amount of functions are towards the mid-range financial calculators. 


This blog is property of Edward Shore.  2015


  1. Brand new to the world of finance and financial calculators. The Instruction Manual is intimidating for those who have no experience with a financial calculator.

    The instructions for just setting the date and time on the Sharp EL-F738F may as well been written in Martian. Can you give me a step by step in english for a layman.

    Ken Alejandro

  2. While i'm not so new to the industry, i'm used to doing all math by hand and was hoping you could help me with a simple issue that i'm having.

    After entering values for a simple question such as the following N: 3 I: 8.5 PV: -5000 and PMT: 0

    For whatever reason, my calculator fails to produce a FV value? am I entering the data wrong or is the a specific key that needs to be struck to complete the equation?

    I look forward to your reply. or feel free to email me at

  3. NEVERMIND! hit COMP before the value you wish to solve for. Thanks!

  4. I also bought this calculator, but I do not know how to use it can someone please do the video of how it works

    1. Not sure about videos, but thank you for the suggestion, it may become a future blog post.


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