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Calculator blog

Musings and comments about our common interest


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HP SmartCalc 300s review


Although I have it in my product portfolio, I have never used the HP 300s SmartCalc. So, when my son asked one for himself, based on the bright blue colour and the screen with fractions (he's 8 years old and he's working with that at the moment), I could not deny it to him. At the price of 14 € each, this is not something that I fear to give him at his age. I will give him a 50g and a 15c in due time, but probably is a little bit too early for that...

The first thing that my esteemed readers need to know is that it does not have RPN. Some of you will stop reading here. The others may continue.



It has the same case format as the 30b and 20b - it shows that it has been produced by the same company in China (and the serial number starts by 4CY, like them). It has as well a cover - helpful if you are a student and it goes into your backpack, together with hard tools, etc. The cover is traslucent and does not rattle. It has a solar cell on the top. 

The keys are similar to the ones in the HP20b. The keys look as rotate-and-click but are not. They are made in hard plastic, and have a nice feedback, but miles behind that of HP calculators of yore, and even so compared with Kimpo models like the 17bII+, 35s and the 12c anniversary or 15c Limited Edition.

The screen has a blue dot-matrix display, with better display contrast than that of the 48 family (except perhaps the few black models) The cursor keys are fully functional. There are 31x96 pixels on the screen and 14 LCD indicators



Yes, I had the same question that some of you are having now: can it be repurposed? does it have the connectors on the back for reprogramming? The answer is no, and the proof is in the enclosed picture. A pity, since it has a fantastic dot matrix screen that would allow to do wonderful things...


There are three basic calculation modes: COMP for general calculations, STAT for statistical and regression calculations, and TABLE for generation of number tables based on an expression. Previously I had seen this last option just in HP graphical calculators.

There is as well a key for calculator setup. There is a choice of input/output format: Math or Linear. Math will give fractions and irrational numbers written as you would do in a notebook; linear is writing it in a line. This is akin to the equation writer on the HP50g (MATH), and the plain text equations (LINEAR) The latter is much more compact in terms of memory used (which will be relevant later)

Fractions can be expressed in Mixed (a b/c) or improper (d/c) forms. 

You can enter the calculations like you would on a pad, and then press equal. You can omit the multiplication sign in front of parenthesis. The system adds the missing parenthesis at the end of the formula. These can be up to 99 bytes long - hence the importance of the input format used.

Writting formulas is quite comfortable - the habits gained with the Equation Writer apply in many cases. 

The results in MATH mode are as well using fractions, square roots, and Pi - unless you use shift =, in which case you get a decimal result. This method is better than the one used in HP top graphical calculators. 

An interesting feature is the S-D transformation. It changes the value between the Decimal and Standard form (with fractions, Pi and other irrational)

The manual (called user's guide) is extremely small. I have tried to fit it between the calculator and the cover but I could not.

There is a calculation history that can be explored with the cursor keys. This story is cleaned when the calculator is switched off, or when MODe is changed. This does not seem to be a good idea! You can edit the expresions used to modify whatever you need.

Memories:  there is an independent memory (M) and variables (A, B, C, D, X, Y). The memories can be used in expresions and will use their current value.

The function set is quite complete: Hyperbolics, Logs in any base, permutations and combinations, polar/rectangular conversions, centesimal/sexagesimal conversions, factorial...

It has a random number generator, that gives a 3 digit pseudo-random number between 0 and 1

The statistics mode has 8 different types of regression - much more usefu than the typical 4 (while you could always use variable transformations, but this required some math creativity). You can enter 80 values at most, half of that if 2-variables

Did not have the time to perform some calculator forensics - a little bit late already...


During all the review I had the strange feeling of using a very nice calculator...from another brand. Being used to HP for my whole life, with some stints in pocket Casio computers, I grew accustomed to a certain way of operating. While this calculator is very interesting in itself, it does not have the HP logic - not only for the lack of RPN but in a more general way.

for the admission price (14 €), it is a serious scientific calculator that can be given to your son for school - unless you want to spoil him with the joys of RPN!

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More news on the HP15c...

The HP15c is still going strong but until further notice, there are only 105 units left. Basically 90% of the turnover of the last month belongs to this calculator model. 


In the past, there were huge libraries of programs for the HP41c, but very limited for the HP15c. I encourage you to send us files and we will re-create such library in our website


There are some new developments in the emulator area - in particular related to the HP15c. As we're testing beta versions, we will not show them yet; but here's an screenshot. It will allow to import programs written in text, so that will be the way of storing them in our database.


As a Mac user, I was disappointed that HP did not provide a copy of it in the HP15c package. I have it installed on my Parallel's Windows emulation, but I wanted to have it native as well.




There is still some work to be done on the appearance side - while so far I was not able to detect any bug (Not that I have been testing thoroughly)

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HP15c finally arrived to our warehouse

Dear customers,

The HP15c arrived to the warehouse last week and this Monday the first units were shipped to our customers. Please allow some days for the units to arrive to your homes!

I have received feedback from some Spanish and German customers that have already received their units. All of them (for the sake of clarity) have the same firmware as the previous "American" batch: 2011-4-15.




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First appearance on print of TheCalculatorStore

I received some days ago a mail from Japan, asking me if I intended to sell there, and making strange references to a T3 ad. I have never made any ad anywhere, except from google ads; so it was strange to me. 

Some time later I flew to Lisbon, and got a complimentary copy of the latest issue of T3, in Portuguese. Here is what I found, and imagine my surprise. I guess that the HP15c LE will be of higher interest for these folks!


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RPN calculator for Macs

It may be old story for many of you, but it still news for me. 


I have just made the move to Apple computers. I used apple for a brief stint in 1986 during university, then another one for a couple of years in 1995 (when my company's policies were not so much enforced, and I was able to get them to let me use a Mac), and then a number of years in the shadows until I decided that this company deserved a good dedicated machine.


It seems to me that Apple is this century's equivalent to what HP was in the eighties. The best available quality, people behind it willing to walk the extra mile to get the product right, fantastic design, etc. I find it surprising that there are so many of us (and by us I mean the people around the HP museum and HP calculators at large) deride Apple ethos and their products. Yes, it is true that Apple products are more design-oriented that HP's ever were; but there is the same attention to user friendliness, to have a seamless user experience, to get a "round" product; save for the time difference, the HP15c would have been an excellent Apple product.


Why this rant now?


As soon as I got my hands on the mac, I started to try to load calculator emulator software for HP machines, but I found that some of them were buggy (x41c for Mac, alpha version), some other were just for PowerPC processor machines, and I ended up using free42 for the time being.


I want to find a version of HP41 that works on my Lion OS machine, and an HP15c version as well (I need to install some of the usual suspects - I just dod not have the time yet)


But for the sake of exploring the machine, I opened the enclosed "calculator" application. When looking through the menus, I found that it had a programmer version, a scientific one, and an RPN mode for all of them! It even has an option for speech: you can set it to tell you the result, or any button you press. It is a well thought out utility - worthy of the HP ethos.



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At long, long last...The HP15c Limited Edition Arrives !!

We have been informed that finally the HP15c will be arriving to Europe on the 2nd half of January 2012. Shipment to final customers on week 4 2012.

The sales price has been set at 109,99 €.  You can find it here:

HP 15c Limited Edition

The buyer will receive a substantial box, ideal for a gift to an engineer friend (my best engineer friend is myself, by the way), or as an exhibition box in your collection. Here you see it as you will receive it, with the plastic cover:


And here without it:


Once opened, this is what you see:


And here you have the calculator, together with an original unit:


The pouch is substantially better than the one in the 12c. I prefer it to the original as well - YMMV

There is a difference with the back: is black lettering on silver metal finish. It seems to have a vernis on top - after 3 months using it, it has not lost any part of the labeling.


It can be "repurposed", as any new 12c can. Please see the connector between the 2 batteries.

Please see here a close look:


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PPC ROM Module

I have just received a copy of the PPC ROM and Manual for the HP 41c/cv/cx

While all ROMs enhance the function set of the HP41c series, there are several outstanding. So far, my preferred by far was the advantage PAC. It moved the HP41c to HP15c territory - but not quite. 


The PPC ROM is an unassuming piece of hardware - identical to any other ROM. However, your opinion changes when you see the manual accompanying it. It has close to 500 pages (492 in my edition), and it is packed with all kind of functions. I have yet to go through it, but it looks as an early example of collaborative development -the sort that is giving us the likes of the wp34s and other open source software - but 30 years ago!

I am so excited with what I see that I would jump to conclusions too quickly. I have to go though the introduction pages (where I see names that appear very often in the HP museum forum) and get submerged in this great work.

As I am now travelling I can only read it - but this week end I will play with the hp41c, the ROM and the manual.


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Más sobre: HP 41c, HP41c, ROM, ppc
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HP15c clone coming back - but now with a competitive advantage!

If you remember, some time ago we reviewed a project for a clone HP15c calculator made in Switzerland. While the project was extremely interesting, it had the worst possible timing: it coincided with the reissue of the HP15c by Hewlett Packard. With good sense, the creators backed off and re-thought the project, in order to give the user something more than the original did.

I am carrying the HP15c Limited Edition every day with me, and while its size is smaller than most calculators, it is a tight fit in my shirt's pocket, and it fits well in my jacket's; but sometimes I would like it to be smaller.

Enter the HP15cc:

First a pre-production sample



Then a more developed sample:



I look forward to get one. and you?

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Court success HP15c

Today I was to participate as witness on a court case, regarding a termination of an individual from his job. The court case had high uncertainties for both parts, company and worker, so there was a strong interest in settling the issue.

The main discussion point was how to calculate the indemnity according to the Spanish method. Basically, you agree to an indemnity based on a number of days for seniority year or part thereof; topped by a number of salary months. The typical negotiation would be, "we offer you 30 days' salary for each seniority year, with a maximum of 16 months' salary", or "I want 45 days' salary for each seniority year, topped at 42 month's salary" (the legal limit when it is an unfair dismissal).

The problem was to discuss these items at the door of the court without a computer in sight. The fact that calculations should be done by lawyers did not help, either. 

Please salute the HP15c Limited Edition.


Due to my job, and in these sad days of restructuring, I had the program in LBL 3. Calculating his seniority by entering the initial and termination dates on two registers, and using the other variables at play, we were able to check at least 20 different options, with the judge waiting for us to agree, until we found one that left both parties "less unsatisfied". They finally agreed. 

It was clear for everyone there that it would have not been the case if there was no way to check the hypothesis on the fly, standing, at the court door.

Programmable calculators, 1 - computers 0.

There is room for calcs - sometimes.

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Finally got a HP27s!

I finally bought from Jurgen Keller an HP27s.


Probably one of the best calculators ever made, second only to the HP42s and the HP15c when it comes to feature set and usability (should I say "third" instead?). It is a pity that it is not RPN. The menus are logically laid out, and it sports options like TVM that make it an excellent all-rounder. As well, it beats the HP42s in the time menu (I wonder why the 42s did not have 1. a better solver like this or the 17bII's and 2. A time menu. I remember 20 years ago, during my MBA, using it as a wake up call  - there were no mobile telephones at that time (or the ones there were not really portable))


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Más sobre: hp27s
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