Why a good calculator nowadays?
We acknowledge that Excel is better than a calculator for most things (though not all), but there are many occasions where you cannot have Excel, or it takes a long time to start up (computer included), or it is overkill. In examinations, in business meetings, during a presentation, the only available solution is a calculator. And then, you'd better have a powerful, reliable, quality calculator.
What are the key features for a calculator?
Financial, Scientific or Graphical?
As an engineer with 20 years’ experience, I have never used complex numbers or hyperbolic functions in my job. I have used trigonometric, logarithmic and exponential functions quite often, and –maybe surprisingly- I have used quite often the Time Value of Money equations, as well as Net Present Value and IRR formulae. Please do the same reflection for yourself. Picture the things you do most often in Excel. List them down and compare performances. We have tried as well to see the calc most suited to you according to your personal situation in the enclosed file.
As a general guide, the graphical calculators are the most complete – and you can program them in the areas not covered. In many cases, you can download programs other people have written, and transfer them to the calculator through COM or USB ports, or even SD cards. This implies, of course, that you are able to program, or expert in transferring information from a computing device to another (this may be the case if you are a science student or engineer). For high school or college, this is the calculator to have.
However, these calculators are big and complex. The programming paradigm (RPL) is elegant, but it is yet another programming language you need to master. And you need to find where the function you need is. On the other hand, this is not the calculator you want to take in your jacket with you. You need to know as well that there are emulators that run in Windows (you can find some in our software area – a good way to try before buying)
Up to now, the best calculator produced by HP was the HP50g. Programmable in HP's trademark RPL, with good readability graphical screen, extremely fast, robust and with an enormous library of programs that can be downloaded fo free in hpcalc.org.
Recently, HP has issued 2 calculators, based on a different programming paradigm.
The first is the HP 39gII. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the original HP39gs model. It is extremely fast, and programmable in a kid of Basic, proprietary to HP, and quite flexible. It has a much better screen with higher resulution and 16 shades of grey.
This September, HP has just introduced the HP Prime. It is aimed to the educational market. The array of features included make it ideal for the classroom, and even more for the whole classroom. it has an exam mode, whereby the teacher can deactivate from his desk, via checkboxes in his computer, specific features in the whole classroom calculators, so that they can perform the test unassisted. The teacher can upload exercices and lessons to the students' calculators, so that they can work at their own rythm.
In most cases, you will be better off with either a scientific calculator (and here my choice is the HP-35 as current calculator, or a 42s or 15c (please see the Classic Calculator area on our website)), or with a financial calculator.
(A comment here: for many people, the best scientific calculators ever were the HP-15c and the HP 42s. So much so that you can find them in Ebay for over 250 € for well maintained units. Both fit in your jacket inner pocket, both are keystroke programmable, and you can port the financial features through available programs to both. I do not think you will ever see the HP 42s back in production – but stay tuned here regarding the HP 15c !!)
I am sure there will be numerous apps that can be aimed for professional use. In fact, the machine comes with a powerful financial solver, as well as general solvers for multiple applications.
Financial calculators are sometimes derided by technical or non-financial people, but I have found in my professional life that you can do most of your current tasks with one of them.
If you look for portability, then the HP12c and HP12c platinum are the ones you need. They have been around since 1981 for the plain 12c, and since 2001 for the Platinum. They have the basic functions for a financial calculator, in a very cleverly laid out keyboard, and this is all you need to challenge anyone making a presentation in a boardroom. Both have IRR, NPV, Time value of Money, and basic date and statistical functions. In the back of the calculator you have a simple guide that is enough for most tasks.
The basic difference between both are:
The new 20b and 30b are based as well on ARN processors. The 30b is programmable and has a much better key feel than the 20b. The look is classier as well. Both of them are customizable into the wp34s, and we can do it for you.
When it comes to the 10bII - there are two models you can find:
The Calculator as a Gift
HP is different from other calculator makers in that some HP calcs do really look classy and professional. Take the HP 17bII with its silver livery – or the 12c or 12c Platinum. It is the ideal gift for the graduating professional, or for the typical 10- or 25-years anniversary in the company. It is a good year-end business gift as well, for appreciated business relations. We can provide as well nice gift packaging - please contact us for details for wither one-off or series gifts.
Later in 2011, HP issued the HP12c Anniversary Edition, in a beautiful box - ideal for a gift to any financial person. It only comes in English
And starting 2012 (in Europe), HP issued the much awaited reedition of the HP15c scientific calculator, one of the peaks of the long HP calculator history. This calculator comes in a very nice box, as opposed to the usual blisters, and comes with a full facsimile of the original manuals (probably the best ever made by HP or any other maker for that matter). It only comes in English as well. Based on the ARM platform, it is 100 times faster than the original. For me, the ultimate gift for any engineer that does not have a 48-famiy calculator.
 The HP 50g can be programmed in several languages – C being the most desirable for its customers. Check the HPGCC initiative.