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Camacha

Choosing a graphing calculator

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Since I have started playing Kerbal Space program, I have started doing something I have been wanting to do for a long time, which is brushing up my mathematics. In high school I had some excellent teachers, but at that age I was more interested in things outside school. I had a great time and have very little regrets, except that I wish I put a little more effort into these exact sciences. It is no use dwelling on the past, so with the help of Khan Academy I decided to rectify this.

Until now, I have made do with a Casio fx-82ES PLUS, which is a cheap but capable calculator. However, there are limits to what it can do. Websites on the internet provide some great free graphing capabilities, but those are usually of a more limited nature and I much prefer physical buttons. I actually own an old Texas Instruments Ti-82, but that is buried in a box somewhere and it would take a considerable effort to try and find it. I think it is a bit outdated anyway. Therefore I have decided to look for a new graphing calculator.

Here's the catch: I am unsure what to get. I am actually unsure what to look for. Most advices seem to be based on what functions you are not allowed to use (school) or the specific line of work you want to use it for (financial, construction et cetera). The problem is I am in none of those positions. Also, since I still working on expanding my knowledge, I am unsure where I will end up and what I will need.

I am looking for a calculator that has the least amount of (artificial) restrictions, with a broad range of applications and capabilities. Some preliminary research indicates that something like a Ti-Nspire CX CAS could be what I am looking for, but it is unclear whether that would be my best option. Since these things are not cheap, I would like some input from people that have more experience with these things. Do you have any tips and suggestions?

Edited by Camacha
Corrected Ti type.

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HP15C all the way. Of course it cannot draw graphs. But there's computers for that.

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HP15C all the way. Of course it cannot draw graphs.

I am not sure a non-graphing calculator is a good option for a graphing calculator :wink: Unless you can provide some proper reasoning that would be a good option, of course.

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Find that Ti-83. It's a good machine. A bit over-priced if you buy it new, but in terms of capabilities, nothing outdated about it. You can flash it with fresh firmware if needed.

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I personally loved the TI-89 because it can do calculus for you. The ti-84 is good for school and those are the only ones I have used.

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Find that Ti-83. It's a good machine. A bit over-priced if you buy it new, but in terms of capabilities, nothing outdated about it. You can flash it with fresh firmware if needed.

Do you not think there are better options in terms of speed and capabilities? The capability of doing things like calculus sounds interesting. I feel I should be able to do it by hand, but as with other tasks, sometimes it is just a little more convenient to punch in the numbers.

Whatever the choice, I would probably buy second hand (if I buy at all), as there are a lot of barely used calculators out there that could use a good home. That also narrows the price range quite a bit.

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Correction: I believe the buried-in-boxes-calculator might very well be a Ti-82, not a Ti-83.

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loved my Ti-81 when I still used a graphing calculator. The newer models appear more capable, never tried them.

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The capability of doing things like calculus sounds interesting.

The only calculators I know to do symbolic math are the Ti-89 and Ti-92. They are pretty much the same, but Ti-92 has a full qwerty keyboard and a larger screen. It's also larger and heavier overall. Ti-89 has the same body as the rest of the 8x series, so it's a bit more convenient on the go. The software on the two is pretty much the same.

These will, indeed, do symbolic calculus, including doing things like taking indefinite integrals. They are also pretty good at factoring, solving systems of equations, and so on. Nowhere near as advanced as PC software, like, say, Mathematica, but it's handy. So if this is what you are looking for, you probably won't be disappointed. I've used both, and liked everything but the price. they are pretty expensive.

The other 8x models only do some numerical calculus. They can do things like area under a curve, find local minima/maxima, and do tangent lines. In other words, they can handle calculus problems numerically, but not analytically. So if your interest is purely in solving numerical problems, you'll probably be able to learn to do everything even with a Ti-82.

Edit: There is one more cool option for portable computing. If you have an android phone or tablet, you can get Octave on it. I don't know if there is a port for iOS devices as well, but there might be. Octave basically runs engine equivalent to Matlab and can handle pretty much all the same things. In terms of getting the most computational power on the go, this is miles ahead of any graphing calculator. Unfortunately, Octave doesn't do symbolic math. It's a purely numerical tool.

This might also be your cheapest option even if you have to buy an Android device for it. Texas Instruments calculators are ridiculously expensive.

Edited by K^2

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I don't see a need for graphic calculators anymore. Smartphones, tablets, they can all run applications capable of doing complex stuff in an elegant and user friendly way.

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TI-84 Plus Silver Edition.

She's easy to program and compatible with the most applications.

I program games using the Axe assembler on her. She's the successor to the TI-83 /TI-83+/TI-83+SE, one of the most popular lines of all time. But under no circumstances get the TI-84 C Silver Edition, which has a color screen, because supposedly it's horribly slow. Most math students use the TI-83+ as it is.

I personally have a TI-83+, TI-84+SE, and TI-Nspire CX CAS, the CX CAS being the most advanced calculator on the market, being so advanced it is banned on the ACT. It can even have Wifi through an addon module.

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I second the App suggestion. The trustworthy Ti-83 is hugely overpriced. It's good for what it is, but I think the price has been constant for at least 10 years with no real changes.

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