There are at this moment three interesting calculator development areas for us, and some other minor interesting possibilities:
- The new calculators from HP. The work behind the development of the new family of HP calculators is enormous, and it implies a significant commitment from HP. The prospect of the HP Prime is magnificent. I look forward to use it to teach maths to my children. The HP39gII is already an excellent tool - if crippled by the lack of CAS (but this was a requirement of that particular market. Let’s not forget that China is the goal of that calculator, and that there are several big markets where it is not distributed), but the HP Prime is several levels higher. It covers the space between the textbook and wolfram; you need to spend significant money in iPad apps to get to that level. And, for a classroom, it has the advantage over the iPad that you CAN’t use it to browse the internet and otherwise distract your pupils. (In technobabble, “the killer feature is that it does not have a browser”)
- The HP41CL. For those of us that are well over 40, this calculator was a part of our lives. There were many things that we did with it, we can create simple programs to ease our common calculations with our eyes closed, and it has the best keyboard feel of them all (of all practical calculators - there is a lot of pleasure to be had with the HP67 and HP97 calculators, but the lack of permanent memory makes them a no-no for daily work). The HP41CL allows us to do everything we wanted to do and could not afford at that time. For the price of 4 modules in the auction sites, you can have them all; and you can flash more on top; and everything runs up to 50 times faster.
- Our community projects, of which the WP34s and the WP43s project are the best example. Everything I have seen from the WP43s project is impressive, and competitive with any offer in the market. I really think there is room for a proper RPN calculator that can be used without mastering a doctor’s degree in computing. The HP42s was the last of that era; and while the WP43s is fantastic for what it does and clearly superior many others, it lacks the easy of use and interface of the former. Of course, this is not the fault of the creators, due to the limits of the platform used (the HP30b), in particular its lack of on-screen function keys and the limited resolution (and ugliness) of its segment-based screen.
Summing it all, it is a fantastic time to be in this business. Let’s remember that it was close to dead several years ago…Now we only need someone to realize that there is a permanent space for the HP15c LE - taking into account that the development is all done and there are no more costs to bear (some bug fixing would be great but not really required!)