Musings and comments about our common interest
Today I opened the box of the 30b and had my first stint with it. I will do a formal review in some time from now, but cannot avoid making some comments on the fly.
To give a reference, I think that the best financial calculator is the HP17bII - from the viewpoint of having all of them. I think also that the latest HP17bII+ is the best of all, followed by the first HP 17bII.
I have been surprised by the 30b. It has an amazing number of functions, including hyperbolics and inverse trigonometrics. SIN, COS and TAN are not even hidden in menus. It has menus for a number of items that we had to program in the past. The menus, although not as efficient as the screen keys of the HP17bII, are surprisingly logic. It took me all of 2 minutes -without looking at the manuals- to figure out how they work. (I have the break even formula programmed in a way or another in all of the calcs I have - now I have a specific menu for it). Date menus are very intuitive and contain DATE+ and DDAYS within the same menu (just like the calendar functions of the 17bII) Overflow is at E499, instead of E99. Factorial is applicable to real numbers (really a gamma function then). I see 12 significant digits. A curious feature is that you can edit the number in the screen anytime - even when it is a result!
I see it as a very all-weather, all-terrain calculator: so far I have not seen anythin I do on a daily basis that I cannot with the HP 30b.
Keys are clearly better than the competition, but still not at the same level of 12c or 17bII. Still, a very clear feedback and had no missed or duplicated keystrokes. Screen is well protected by the bevel at the border, and it has a good contrast. A small criticism: the black shiny back keeps all the fingerprints until cleaned. It is a very light machine as well, not as classy as the 12c or the 17bII but much better than the 20b.
There are many areas that I have not explored yet - like programming, decimal logs, Black and Scholes, etc.
Stay tuned for the full review!
This last Saturday my 7 year old asked me about the green suitcase in the mountains cabin. "What's this, Dad?
"A portable computer, Guillermo"
"That big? Can I see it?"
"Yes you can"
"What can you do with it? Can we see YouTube with it?" (sometime ago he asked me "when you were a child, did you like to use Google?" How to explain that there was no Youtube, no Google, no www, and in my case, no network even around 1981 )
"No, you can't"
"what can you do with it, then?"
"You can make programs. You instruct the computer to do what you want"
"you are joking, aren't you? Does it work?"
"Yes it does. See?"
"What's that thing on the right?"
"A tape drive. It is like a USB memory - just slower and with less memory. You can write your programs in it, and you can retrieve other programs other people have written. Do you want to tell something to do to the computer? Let me help you."
"OK. Let's have it print 'IRONMAN' on the printer.
10 PRINT "IRONMAN"
"OK. How can it print it many, many times?"
10 PRINT "IRONMAN";
20 GOTO 10
"Isn't GOTO misspelled?"
"No. It is a program keyword. It is not English. It is a computer language, similar to English. It is used to give instructions to the computer. Let's try something else. Now you are learning how to multiply. Let's have the computer print the multiplication tables, OK?"
10 REM GUILLERMO'S MULTIPLICATION TABLES (some explanations on what is a comment)
20 DISP "WHAT MULTIPLICATION TABLE TO DISPLAY";
30 INPUT T ("T is the name of a box where we put the number we want to print the table for. It is called "a variable"")
40 FOR I=1 TO
50 PRINT I;" X ";T;" = ";I*T
50 NEXT I
"Dad, can we tell the computer to play a game?"
"Yes, we can, but that'll take longer. Besides, you need now to do your homework. Next week end, OK?"
It had been a wonderful afternoon. He was hooked. Next week we will try to do some drawings.
Let's start a short project.
As engineer, I tend naturally to scientific calculators, but in the daily life we need to get into business more often than not.
You need to discuss the profitability of investments, their net present value, and several value of time issues. That is, IRR, NPV, TVM. While it would be good to have flows as long as you need, in my company all projects are calculated over 10 years - except acquisitions, and these are not discussed over a calculator.
You need to plan projects, and need to calculate how many days are left from now to then - that is, DATE+ and DDATE calculations.
Regarding %'s, the HP15c comes with % and increment%, but it misses the %T. It will be good to have a weighted average as well.
Depreciation is always linear - I do not need to make a program to calculate that. Bonds I will not use.
Black and Scholes would be nice to have - to show off. We do not use it in our industry. Instead it would be good to have optimal stock ordering.
I have not used it yet, but I see some linear programming coming - so I would rather keep at least room to solve a 3 equation linear system: 9 + 3 = 12 registers free for matrixes. As I said, let's use 1 register for initial investment, 10 registers for flows and 1 more for management (in addition of I as counter). This adds up to 24 registers, leaving 65-24 = 41 registers for programming. This equals to 287 steps. Let's see what we can do.
This is a project that will take some spare time. It is far from the complexity of the HP30b or HP12c+ repurposing projects being carried by some people. Nevertheless, it will be important if (when?) an HP15c+ hits the market.
Our contacts in HP have informed us about several new products in the pipeline. There are ultra-new things and some less new (to say the least) in the works. Estimated time of arrival on European shelves is July - maybe announcement will come sooner.
One of the calculator projects will likely sell in the millions (not hundreds of thousands - millions!) but the other will be a limited run of 10000 units - and that's all.
HP revamped their calculator strategy several years ago and allocated resources and clever thinking (not that there wasn't before, but there were fewer persons on it). After a number of years wandering around the world (even ACO: Australian Calculator Operation, of all places), there was a move back to the US, first to San Diego and now to Fort Collins. After several years fearing HP would leave the calculator business completely, I now look forward to a list of new products and exciting projects.
It has been easy to critizice HP for failing to live up to its heritage, but no more. Just wait some months and you'll see.
UPDATE: just look at this:http://www.techpoweredmath.com/hp-12c-special-edition-hp-15c-re-release/
Well, this is the first entry in the blog. I will try to give you as much information as I receive from (or I am allowed by) Hewlett Packard. I know for a fact that some interesting projects will appear in the months to come - including a reissue of a famous calculator. Guess which one? hint: is one of the two most preferred by HP calc lovers. It will be an "anniversary-type" product, limited to 10.000 units, so you'd better grab it as soon as you see it. First production samples are scheduled on May, and you will see it first here... The second project will be something much bigger. It will not only be "from" China, but "for" China. I will keep you posted as well as soon as I know it.