Despite the obvious fact that if you are using a calculator to arrive at an accurate answer they should all deliver the same result provided you have presented the mathematical question in the right way, there are clear differences in usability and functionality between different models.
What this resource aims to do is provide you with clear guidance on the scientific and graphing calculators available and what specific features each one offers.
There are a number of different questions that you need to ask before finally deciding which make and model of calculator is best suited to your needs. For example, if you are planning on using your calculator in a testing environment you will want to know that the one you have chosen is permitted on tests and can perform the functions you are looking for.
If you are wanting to buy a suitable graphing calculator it might be important to you that it can perform differential equations or linear algebra. Is a color display a key feature or do you need a specific level of available memory?
Will a budget calculator prove to be a false economy or will you end up paying over the odds for a high-end scientific calculator that offers more features than you actually need?
Finding the answers to these and many other relevant questions will help you to narrow down your choices so that you pick the best calculator for your specific needs.
Top 5 Scientific Calculators
There is no question that when you set out to choose the right scientific calculator for your needs you could soon find yourself unable to find the answer quickly because of the dazzling array of options available.
There are five main scientific calculator manufacturers to choose from and they all bring something to the table in terms of ease of use, durability, plus built-in functions and features. As you would expect, technical specifications will vary according to the manufacturer, but there will be a core range of functions that will be replicated across the various models.
What your calculator should do
It is worth taking a moment to work out how you will be using the device and what you need it to do for you. A scientific calculator Should have the capability to perform advanced functions in calculus as well as trigonometric, logarithmic, and exponential functions. You will also want it to competently perform binary, hexadecimal, and octal calculations. Plus some and features that includes built-in access to mathematical constants such as pi and e.
If you are going to be using your scientific calculator for business purposes, look for a Financial calculator, which is a hybrid version of a scientific calculator and should offer access to keys that perform financial functions more appropriate for your needs.
BESTSELLER: Texas T1-30X 11S
This model is aimed at helping students explore math and science concepts and another feature worth mentioning is the fact that the calculator shows entries on the top line with results on the bottom line.
The T1-30X 11S is an ideal economy choice for general math, trigonometry, algebra 1 and 2, science and statistics.
This is Texas Instrument’s latest offering and it is billed as its most advanced scientific calculator offering a high-quality MultiView™ display and MathPrint™ capability.
Notable features that make this calculator a popular choice include a toggle key that allows you to quickly view fractions, decimals and terms such as Pi, in alternate forms as you explore more advanced topics.
The mode menu is also a positive point as it is structured for straightforward and intuitive access to commands.
This model offers basic scientific, trigonometric and hyperbolic functions. There are a host of other features including equation recall, data editor, and the option to apply a function to a list of values.
Across the Texas range, the TI-36X Pro offers good value for money as it provides a wide range of features despite being priced in the economy range, and it is most suited to students. The 36X Pro offers the most versatility if you are looking for a host of useful features to explore.
Casio FX-300MS Plus
Casio aims its calculators at the economy end of the market and that means that some models are lacking in certain features. The FX-300ES Plus doesn’t offer metric conversions, complex numbers, or calculus functions and the next one up is the FX-115ES Plus which does at least give you calculus and statistics functions.
The FX-115MS Plus has no less than 279 functions and also offers access to Boolean logic operations, but if you want their best calculator it is probably going to be the FX-300MS Plus.
You get all the features you would expect delivered on a large two-line display screen, plus additional enhancements such as 18 level of parentheses.
HP offer you a choice of three scientific calculators and they are very similar in both design and operation.
The HP-10S gives you a 2-line display, 240 functions, and 9 variable memories. This solar-powered calculator is aimed at students and school children up to the middle level.
HP Smartcalc 300S
This calculator should prove up to the task of giving you what when it comes to general math, algebra, trigonometry, biology, chemistry and earth sciences.
The Textbook Format display allows you to see your expressions in just the same way they would appear on paper. You also get advanced math functions including log to any base, probability and statistics functions, plus polar-rectangular conversions.
The 35S is aimed at professional users with features that will satisfy engineers, surveyors and medical practitioners and scientists.
Some of the notable features include RPN or algebraic entry-system logic, 42 built-in physical constraints, a library of unit conversions, single and two-variable statistics.
There are currently nine scientific calculators being offered by Sharp and most of them are not that different with similar features across the various models.
The one that stands out from the crowd is the EL-W516B and offers a comprehensive list of 556 functions, so this calculator covers most math disciplines. You get an extra large 4-line, 12-digit LCD display screen, WriteView technology which displays formulas in the same way as they appear in textbooks.
Another notable feature is the ability to solve three simultaneous equations plus the calculator comes with four programmable keys for quick access to your chosen functions.
You will find a lot of functions and features are replicated across the different makes and models available, so you will need to decide which ones are particularly important to you.
It often comes down to the layout and ease of use, display options and appearance, although budget is relevant to. Whether you are a student or a professionally qualified user, your scientific and graphing calculator will be a useful tool to have in your hand, so take your time working out which make and model works best for you.
Top 5 Graphing Calculators
There are a number of key points and issues that are definitely worth addressing when you are searching for a suitable graphing calculator.
One of the best tips to consider is a try before you buy approach of that is at all possible.
Compatibility is one good reason why it helps to get your hands on a make and model that you are considering. Computer to calculator compatibility is a relevant issue to check, as you might need to upgrade or change your browser for some graphic calculators to work with your existing setup, or install a .NET framework.
Check where handy commands that you are going to be using regularly are situated on the unit. You will soon get fed up with a calculator that doesn’t offer you quick and easy commands that you will be using regularly.
The convert to fraction is a useful command to have convenient access to so check how accessible it is and aim to give your shortlisted choice of calculator a “test drive” if you can, as the layout varies between different manufacturers and you might find that you love the look and feel of the HP graphing calculator, for instance, but don’t like the Texas Instruments equivalent, or vice versa.
Ask your friends or colleagues which graphing calculator they are using and see if you can have a go to see whether you feel comfortable with the layout and design as well as the command features.
Here is a look at some of the main graphing calculators available and a list of their key features.
BESTSELLER: Texas Instruments TI 84 Plus Ce
One of the noticeable key features for this latest generation of TI-84 models is that it is billed as being 30% lighter than its predecessors.
It offers enhanced screen readability as a result of its high-resolution backlit display and this makes it easier to distinguish between multiple graphs and plots using color-coded equations, objects and plots.
There is also the option to make graphs easier to read by adding grid lines.
Texas offers built-in MathPrint™ functionality which allows you to view and input math symbols, formulas and stacked fractions in exactly the same way they appear in textbooks.
The TI-84 Plus CE is approved for use on the following exams:
PSAT*, SAT*, and ACT® college entrance exams
AP* Exams that allow or require a graphing calculator
Approved for use on the IB exam
There are various levels of the TI-84 up to the Plus C Silver Graphing model with full-color backlit display.
The TI-84 is compatible with the following applications :
Cabri™ Jr, CellSheet™, Conics, Inequality Graphing, Language Localizers, Periodic Table, Polynomial Root Finder/Simultaneous Equation Solver, Probability Simulation, Science Tools, TI TestGuard™, Transformation Graphing, Vernier EasyData®.
This graphing calculator claims to match the technology that you get with the Texas TI-83 and TI-84 Plus models too, which is worth taking notice of as the price tag for the Casio FX-9750G11 is likely to be lower.
You certainly get AP Statistic Features, Pie Charts a Bar Graphs, although a good reason for the disparity in price is the lack of a color display option.
There are plenty of features to compensate for that, including an Interactive Equation Solver, Inferential Statistics & Probability Distributions, plus trigonometry options that include Hyperbolic Functions.
Texas TI-Nspire CX
The Nspire range offers four different models, the TI-Nspire™ CX, plus the CX CAS, and the TI-Nspire™ with touchpad and also the TI-Nspire™ CAS with touchpad.
This range is the latest offering from Texas instruments and offers advanced graphing functionality to give you a deeper understanding of abstract concepts in both math and science subjects.
Some of the stand-out features for this range include the chance to create a hypothesis graphically and then have the option to replay data collection experiments within the one single application.
There are also some useful data and statistic features, allowing you the chance to analyze and summarize data using a variety of graphical methods, including box plots, histograms, bar and pie charts, plus other options too.
The concept behind the TI-Nspire™ range is to accelerate your understanding of complex mathematical and scientific concepts.
Standardized testing organizations have approved the TI-Nspire™ CX handheld for SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, ACT, AP and IB high-stakes exams. It also is approved for some state exams.
The TI-Nspire™range features a rechargeable battery which reduces the risk of your unit powering down, as it will charge using a USB cable as well as its own docking station.
Casio and Texas Instruments are the dominant forces when it comes to graphing calculators, especially when you take into account the features and functionality of the various models. However, Hewlett Packard do also offer a couple of versions worth considering.
The latest version of this graphing calculator offers a multi-touch display and the ability to switch easily between graphical, symbolic, and numerical table views using dedicated buttons.
It offers advanced graphing and spreadsheet applications, plus the ability to save keystrokes and time with RPN and programmable functions, viewing intermediate results while you continue to work.
You can even turn the calculator into a testing tool using the test-mode configuration to make only pre-approved functions available.
The HP Prime compares well to the TI-84 in terms of features, but the Prime hasn’t completely convinced customers with regard to its user-friendliness or battery life.
SainSmart MetaPhix M2
SainSmart have managed to come up with graphing calculator that is aimed to please students, teachers and even professional engineers in equal measure.
The price of the SainSmart MetaPhix M2 is very competitive compared to its big name counterparts but what you get with this calculator is a unit that is big on features that emulate the Casio FX but not surprisingly when you consider the money involved, it doesn’t really deliver in terms of ease of use, build quality and other issues that will probably leave you underwhelmed despite the low purchase price.