I've recently been thinking of buying a new calculator.
But first, the Genesis of calculators in my world:
1. In the beginning, there were low-end TIs, and they were good. (From the Apocrypha: In the beginning, there also were Koss TD-20s, and they were awesome. (Translator's aside: Tangent isn't much of a prophet, apparently.))
2. And it came to pass that at school, Tangent did receive a high-end (at the time) Casio as a prize. Yea, and it had parentheses and backspace, and it was very good.
3. Now at this time in the land where Tangent ruled, RPN was shunned, and graphing calculators were seen as children's playthings, suited only for cheating on trig tests.
4. In the years that followed, more Casios were tried. But Casio had fallen from grace, for at this time in the land of Casio, textbook entry was seen as a good thing.
5. And Tangent cried out, saying "Buggrit, textbook entry is fine for Mathematica, where you have a keyboard and mouse, but it sucketh greatly on a handheld calculator!"
6. And so Tangent came to try the HP 20S, and he was much pleased and purchased two more in the fullness of time.
7. All was well in the land of Tangent until one day when the original Casio cried out, "Lo, I am stricken! Behold the dimming of mine display."
8. And it was determined that the batteries were low. But like unto a horse put out to pasture, this once fine machine was esteemed no longer. It spoke in a strange dialect, and had begun to rot, and smell.
9. And so it was decided that the Casio should be chucked into yon trash can.
1. Now in the years since Tangent did purchase his last 20S, it came to pass that the high priests of HP held a council. And they did say among themselves, "Let us discontinue the 20S, for who in their right mind pays for quality these days?"
2. And upon hearing this news, the eBayers were much gladdened, for 20Ses now commanded higher prices than when they were new.
3. But there was sadness in the house of Tangent, for he did shun cheap calculators. And so he did decree that a survey party go out to seek a machine like unto the great 20S.
4. And when the party did report its findings, Tangent sayeth disgustedly, "The 33S seemeth to me as like unto a teenager's cell phone, and the 30S hath much infirmity compared to a 20S."
5. And he did curse Queen Fiorina, the erstwhile leader of the Packardites, saying, "Why couldn't you have given the calculator division to Agilent, where they know how to make scientific instruments?" And he was sore teed off.
6. It came to pass that Tangent began to learn the mathematics of electronics. And in time he began to tire of incantations such as " [*] [rshift] [pi] [*] R [*] C [1/x]" and "[*]  [.]    [lshift] [E]   [+/-] [*]    [*] R [*]      [sqrt]". Yea, the 20S began to quake under the strain of this mad button-pressing.
7. And as a furtherance of this effort, Tangent began to learn the calculus, and found the 20S completely lacking. Yea verily, it could not differentiate, nor graph, nor integrate.
8. And so the confluence of these events caused Tangent to wonder if he wasn't looking in the wrong direction entirely.
9. In his left hand, Tangent took up his Palm PDA and sayeth, "Can not this singular artifact be turned into a fine calculating machine?"
10. And in his right hand, he took up his mouse and surfèd to the land of Bezos, whereupon he did find the mighty HP 49g+. And it did accept algebraic entry, and it costeth far less than did its predecessor the 48GX.
11. And so, Tangent began evaluating the $60 powerOne Graph against the Power48 emulator running a 49g ROM as a cheap way to test drive a 49g+.
That's the story as it stands today.
So far, I do prefer the native Palm-based calculator to an emulated 49G, but a lot of that has to be because shrinking a 49g down to Palm screen size isn't quite a fair comparison.
But on the other hand, I wonder if spending $130 or so on a 49G+ is a good idea. The PDA is always with me, and while I do prefer hard buttons to tapping a screen when given a choice, the PDA has a much better screen and the buttons on the 49G+ are supposed to be a weak point anyway. If the physical instantiation of a good idea is weak, the good idea isn't worth much, is it?
The availability of HP48 series programs isn't a deciding factor either way. If it comes down to it, I can buy powerOne Graph and keep using the HP emulator. powerOne is lightly programmable as it is, and if it comes down to it, I've been known to write a Palm program now and then.
So the questions I pose to anyone who has bothered to read through this saga are these: Does anyone have any opinion on these two products, particularly with regard to their use for electronics? Are there other things I should be looking at as well? I have about 25 days left on the powerOne demo, so...
Edited by tangent - 4/3/14 at 10:36pm