Fans of HP calculators are highly technical and knowledgeable consumers. Most of these users are financial types and engineers who have a strong understanding of mathematics.
Made by a mighty computer company, these devices are halfway between a calculator and a tablet. Certainly, their manufacturers know a thing or two about programming and hardware. Their latest release – the HP Prime calculator – is an outstanding device which has a number of unique features and significant upgrades. In this HP Prime review, WoWPencils is going to explore the main improvements and implementations of the HP Prime V1 and V2.
HP Prime V1 vs V2 – Main Features
The HP Prime appeals not only to its traditional audience of professionals but also to the education market.
This calculator is quite easy to learn for high school students, and it is also sophisticated enough for more advanced users beyond college. You will certainly love it whether you deal with quantum mechanics or linear algebra.
This device does a lot of things better than its direct competitors from Texas Instruments (TI) and Casio. It works as a regular graphing calculator, but it is packed with more capabilities and power.
The most amazing characteristic is that the HP Prime has the Computer Algebra system (CAS). It does complex math which includes not only functions and numbers but also symbols (for example, variables, definite and indefinite integrals, etc.). This calculator is able to solve algebraic equations and simplify expressions. It has a lot of math commands which cannot fit on the keyboard, but they are accessible through the menu.
The HP Prime has a high-res, multi-touch color display. The touch screen interface makes it easier to use. Its functions include graphing, lists, matrices, fraction templates, and many others. A lot of features are targeted at students and teachers, for example, numerous educational apps (trigonometric and quadratic equation solvers, dynamic geometry, a triangle solver, etc.).
Let’s highlight the main difference between the two versions of the HP Prime. Version A (V1, model NW280AA) was released in October 2013, while version C (V2, model G8X92AA) was released in May 2014.
For most purposes, their difference is not important. Both versions are almost the same, except the V2 has the following:
- an optional wireless system for distributing polls and quizzes, putting calculators into exam mode, and performing screen captures;
- DataStreamer app for data collection.
The V2 is a slight update of the first version and can hardly be called a different model, but this name has already stuck on the internet.
The HP Prime has the same weight and size as its predecessor (HP-50G), but it is thinner. A metal plate covers the bottom half of its front surface (function and operation keys, and numpad), and its top half (the screen) is black. The cover features four anti-slipping pads. The design is sleek and striking – every item looks ideal.
This version has a readable screen and better keys. The “Enter” key is very big and convenient. The buttons are very soft, and they are well-organized. The functions which are frequently used are available with a click of a button. The calculator has a backlit color LCD screen – numbers and equations are easy to read.
There are no duplicated key presses. Unfortunately, all the keys in this version are in different places compared with other HP calculators, so you need to hunt for the one that you need. The menu offers the entire Unicode character set, so you can use characters from Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages.
The HP Prime has a multifunctional full-on touch screen instead of a cursor, which does a better job. The screen is responsive and perfect for graphing.
A student can graph a line and then use his finger to pan around it. It looks similar when using Google Maps on a smartphone. The touch screen also lets you zoom in and out by pinching on the graph.
This calculator has two screens which can be accessed by pressing a certain button. The button on the left takes the user to the home screen, while the button to the right takes you to the CAS calculation interface.
The screen is designed for real-world use, and it doesn’t allow printing or converting the graphs to PDF or other programs.
The HP Prime features a rechargeable battery. This is a Li-ion battery which is inserted inside the calculator, and you will need to plug the device in to charge it. Its capacity is 1,500 mAh, and the voltage is 3.7V. A micro USB port which charges the battery is located at the top of the device.
As both HP versions have a backlit LCD screen, its battery life can be compared to that of a cell phone when it is in use. According to the developer, the calculator takes 4 hours to be fully charged and gives 20 hours of work at normal use. Most users say that one charge may last up to a month with moderate use. If you are afraid that your device might run out of charge during an exam, find a seat in the classroom next to an electrical outlet.
The battery goes flat after 3-4 months even if the device is off.
The pop-up and drop-down menu interfaces can be easily navigated with the help of the touch screen and keypad. This makes the navigating process very comfortable.
The calculator has a number of useful touch features. In the spreadsheet application, students can resize the width of a column by tapping the column border twice. It is also possible to change the color of the cells.
The HP Prime is good at handling matrices which are larger than 2×2. You can load a 2×2 matrix with blanks for each entry. There is a “minus” and “plus” entry at the end of each column and row. By pressing a corresponding sign (+ or -) in any entry, you can add an extra column or row.
These versions of the HP Prime have amazing zoom opportunities. Its zoom works intuitively like in a regular smartphone by using your thumb and finger to pinch in and out.
If you have problems, press the “Help” key in order to access the help system. The device will show you all the information in context, so that you don’t need to dig through the menu. You may also tap the “Tree” button and get access to all the help pages. They are organized into sections, so you can easily find what you need.
Accessible Applications and Functions
To access all the applications installed, press the “Apps” button. The HP Prime has many of apps which can be both useful for students in math classes and helpful in science or engineering. The calculator includes four apps for graphing, and the rest are for data collection and storage. The apps are easy to use.
This is a CAS calculator, but its operation system handles the CAS differently from other devices. When you press the “Home” button, the calculator shows you an interface with no CAS features. When you press the “CAS” button, it shows you a similar-looking interface which has all the CAS features. This screen works with radicals and fractions, while the home screen returns exact values for decimals. At any time, you can switch between these two screens.
In this device, fractions and exponents look like fractions and exponents. This helps students spend less time on learning how to use the HP Prime and focus more on learning math.
The triangular solver is one more convenient app commonly used by students. You can enter three characteristics of a triangular (except for three angle measures), and the HP Prime gives you the other side angles and lengths.
This calculator can perform a unique function which is impossible on other graphing calculators – graphing equations.
It is able to graph any equation type which is written in terms of “x” and “y.” No special templates are required.
This geometry app is a significant improvement, and the touch screen makes this task much easier.
It increases the ability to explore with geometry as we explore with doing constructions, shapes, and transformations (rotation, reflection, etc.).
Both models have more potential for programming than similar calculators from other brands. You can create very advanced programs on the HP Prime. Programming is possible only in the HP basic language. It is known for its extremely fast speed, and it is compatible with the HP-39GII.
Where It Can Be Used?
Cell phones and tablets offer many kinds of graphing applications, but there is one problem with them – they all connect to the internet. This is the reason why most teachers do not allow using them on tests, college finals, or entrance exams.
Graphing calculators are still relevant in science, math, business, and engineering courses. The HP Prime can be used on SAT, PSAT, Math AP exams, and IB (with test mode on).
Pros & Cons
The HP Prime is a unique device, but it does have some drawbacks. This list summarizes all its strong points and weak spots which need improvements. There are some features which users want to see in this calculator even after it has been greatly updated.
- Sleek design
- The fastest working speed
- Pinch to zoom the touch screen
- Ability to change the size of cells on spreadsheets
- Good CAS engine
- Replaceable battery
- Backlit color screen
- Separate “Home” and “CAS” interfaces
- Comfortable sliding cover
- More RAM (32MB instead of 32kB)
- Attractive price
- The touch screen may select the wrong item
- The reset button is impossible to press without a thin spin
- There is only one programming language
- No 3D graphing
- The glossy screen picks up fingerprints
Neither version of the HP Prime seems optimized for regular users. Newbies need a manual to make use of them. These calculators differ from their previous model which was adapted for students who are just learning operations and functions.
If you are looking for an entry-level graphing calculator with a nice color display, the three prominent brands (HP, Casio, and TI) can offer you amazing diversity. You are free to pick your desired functionality and features at a price which is appropriate for you. On the background of its similarly priced competitors, the HP Prime offers more opportunities at the same cost. Buying HP is a steal.
The HP Prime is the most impressive and revolutionary calculator ever made by HP. The company has created a great device, and none of its users will be disappointed. This is excellent hardware which breaks new ground and is a move away from traditional devices.
Try the HP Prime if you want to stray from the norm, and you will be rewarded with an outstanding calculator which will last for years to come.