HP 35s virtual calculator
I must confess that the announcement of software to let engineers (or anyone else) put a calculator emulator on their computer left me somewhat baffled. It seems to me that the whole purpose of the hand calculator is to have a convenient, portable unit to take into the field or in those everyday situations where a computer is unnecessary. When at the office, the superior computational firepower of the computer renders the calculator superfluous. One of my engineer friends was also baffled when I mentioned this new product.
That said, the HP folks replied to my inquiry by stating that
1. The software is marketed as a compliment to the existing hardware.
2. Some users want the additional assurance that their answers will be ‘exact correlations’ to those of their trusted calculators that are used on certification tests.
OK, I have to admit that I have always admired the design of the 35s and loved the tactile feel of the keys. I used to borrow one from my scientist and engineer colleagues when I didn’t have my trusty HP 48G with me (which I still use). On top of that, I’ve now become so enamored with having the software version conveniently located on my computer’s quick launch button, I use it rather than reaching for the calculator when in the office!
The 35s software emulation is an exact replica of the actual calculator, with the same algorithms, calculation sequences, and layout as the hardware. As the buttons seem much more intuitive and familiar in their positions than the Microsoft calculator that comes with the PC, I found the click speed and, thus, efficiency a bit better. Chalk it up to user familiarity.
As with the original, algebraic as well as the standard reverse Polish algorithms are available through a simple mode key toggle. All of the original functions (including the 100+ built-in functions) and programs are here, so scientists and engineers will find everything to be quite familiar.
The HP Website for the actual calculator is not nearly as complete as what I am used to seeing for scientific software. However, Table 1 presents a portion of the spec sheet listing the features most pertinent to the software emulation.
Although this brief review covers the 35s scientific calculator only, software also is available for the HP12c and 12c Platinum business calculators, useful to the scientist/engineer/manager, and the HP 20b and 15C models. I feel constrained to mention that, in addition to the PC version, for those heretics who are into it, this software also is available for the iPhone and iPod touch at the iTunes App Store.
For pricing and availability, go to www.hp.com/buy/calculators. The software is easily downloaded from the Web site with a supplied purchase code.
John Wass is a statistician based in Chicago, IL. He may be reached at editor@ScientificComputing.com.
Table 1: Selected Features
• Large 2-line display with adjustable contrast
• Edit, undo, delete capability
• Complete library of built-in functions
• 42 built-in physical constants
• An array of programmable scientific functions
• Strong statistics functions for single and two-variable statistics, linear regression
• Base-n functions for binary, octal, decimal and hexadecimal number calculation and conversion
• Performs operations on complex numbers, calculates logarithms, exponentials, inverse functions
• Powerful fraction mode, plus fraction-to-decimal conversion