CALCULATOR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STCC STUDENTS
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DISCLAIMER: The information on this web site, and especially the suggestions on calculators, reflect the writer's subjective opinion and observations. The prices and opinions should be considered only as another source of information. The writer is not endorsing any particular brand or model of the calculators mentioned or any particular store or shop. The writer does not warrant the accuracy of any of this information. Any calculator mentioned may not be a representative sample of what is on the market, and the manufacturers may change their products or specifications without my knowing about it. Prices may change every week.
NOTICE: I have been told that the math department is migrating to the TI-84 Plus/TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, so students should ask their teacher if that calculator will be required in a particular course before buying another type.
General: All students should, of course, ask their classroom teacher if she/he has a recommended calculator. If the teacher has no recommendation; then consider using the following as guidelines. The final decision is up to the student. The prices on this sheet are applicable in the Memphis, Tennessee area.
Basic Math or Elementary Algebra:
A scientific calculator should be satisfactory in most of these classes. They are cheap enough that those who need to save money now can buy one without a significant investment and perhaps buy a graphing calculator later if it's needed. A scientific calculator that is entirely satisfactory can be bought for $9.97 at places like Wal-Mart and Office Depot. Some of them may also be available at Best Buys, Target, Office Max, and Circuit City.
Things to Look For: First of all, don't buy one of those six- or eight-function calculators that are little more than adding machines. Definitely do buy one with a two-line display, and I like very much algebraic entry. (That's called V-S.P.A. M for the Casio and EOS for the TIs.) The two-line displays keep both your entry and your answer on the screen at the same time. Make sure it has "Replay" or some such provision for moving the cursor so that you can make corrections. You'll also need an INS, insert, for entering things you may have left out in your entry. Make sure it has a fraction function. That looks like this: ab/c. It should have provisions for entering powers of 10. That would be something like EE or EXP. It should also have these: log, ex , ln, nPr, nCr, and x2, square root, and provisions for taking roots and powers other than two (either xy or ^.). Some students may want complex number capability.
What is Available:
Here are some calculators that meet the above requirements:
|Calculator Model||Manufacturer||Price||Where Available|
|cfx-300ms||Casio||Slightly under $10||Office Depot, Office Depot, Best Buys, Office Max, Circuit City, perhaps others.|
|cfx-115ns||Casio||Slightly under $15||Same as above|
|TI -||TI||About $10||Same as above|
|TI-30XIIs||TI||Slightly under $15||Same as above.|
Calculators that either don't meet the above requirements or are too
|Calculator Model||Manufacturer||Major Disadvantage|
|fx- 260||Casio||one-line display|
|TI-30Xa||TI||One-line display, entry method|
|TI - 34 II||TI||Too expensive|
|TI-36X and 36x Plus||TI||one line display|
Unless your teacher specifically recommends a graphing calculator, one of the scientific calculators listed above would be satisfactory. But a graphing calculator would be of some help in visualizing graphs and checking solutions. This is, of course, provided that the student is willing to learn to use a graphing calculator. Some teachers may require graphing calculators. If you have decided to buy a graphing calculator, you may want to read the following section. The Durabrand, listed at the end of this document, might be a possibility, as a compromise between a strictly scientific calculator and a full scale graphing calculator. But without actually having used it, I am not going to make any suggestion on it..
Pre-Calculus, Elementary Calculus, Finite Math, Foundations, and
In almost all of these classes you should have a graphing calculator. There may be some statistics teachers who use the scientific calculators. Be sure to check with your classroom teacher.
Unless you're some kind of calculator guru, don't buy one of the heavy hitters like a TI-89 or a TI-86 unless you have money to burn. Chances are you'll never learn how to use most its power. Instead, buy a TI-83 Plus TI-84 Plus (or SE), or a Casio FX-9750G Plus or aCasio CFX-9850GB Plus if they're still around. (Be sure to ask your classroom teacher if he/she includes the Casio in instructions before buying one, and then, only if you already own one. There are things such as Tables that you may find annoying about this calculator.) If you're one of those people who does programming, be aware that some of the Casios have limited programming capability. You can get by with a TI-82 if you'll enter my program for doing rref and ref on augmented matrices and, for finite math, the program for doing the simplex method. Otherwise you're going to be left out when you get to augmented matrices or simplex. Frankly, unless you already have a TI-82, I'd be very reluctant to buy one. The Casio has a program that you'll need to activate for doing rref, or you could use my program for rrefref for the Casio. That'll give you both ref and rref. If your teacher is one of those who gives you a lot of augmented matrix work to do by hand, you might find my matrix row operations program helpful for both the TI and the Casio.
Should I buy a TI-83 Plus Silver Edition, a TI-84 Plus or a
TI-84 Plus Silver Edition?
If a few words, you won't need one of these calculators for any of the courses mentioned above unless the classroom teacher specifically requires it. The major difference between these calculators and the TI-83 Plus is that the newer versions are faster and have more memory. Frankly, you'll hardly notice the speed in doing the work required in these courses. They also have more applications loaded, but you can download some of these free. There are also a couple of new statistics functions is the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition. These are as follows: Manual Fit under the STAT>Calc menu; X2 GOF-Test (X 2 means Chi-squared; GOF means goodness of fit); and InvT under DISTR. InvT is related to the t-distribution in the same way that invNorm is related to the normal distribution. There are also several new APPS that many or may not be useful to the STCC user. If you're into games or you plan to use your calculator for many years, and if you're not on a tight budget, you might want to consider one of these calculators. Finally, the TI-83 Plus will probably soon go out of production is it hasn't already. So, you might want to take that into consideration as well.
What is Available and at What Cost:
I remind students that used calculators are sometimes available from pawn shops for considerably reduced prices. Recently, for some reason, the prices at pawn shops have take a big jump. The TI-83 Plus should be available for no more than $35. If the shop owner wants to charge you more, remind him/her that there are three newer versions of that calculator. I am not endorsing pawn shop operating methods; I'm merely reporting what their prices might be. Whether or not you want to patronize them is, of course, entirely up to you. For students at the Gill Campus, I'll upgrade your TI-83 Plus operating system if it's older than 1.15. Also, you probably won't get an instruction book from a pawn shop, but anyone can print my "Brief User's Guide" from this Website for free.
See the chart on the HOTSTUFF page.
Casio FX-9750G Plus: (Cost as of 9/1/06, about $50.) This calculator has a 128 x 64 pixel screen. (For comparison the TI-83 Plus has 94 x 62.). This calculator has inequality shading, histograms, scatter plots, box & whisker, 36 lists, one- and two-variable statistics, sample z and t tests, chi-squared, ANOVA, F tests, z and t interval, and other statistics capabilities. It also has about all of the financial capabilities that you'll need for the any of the courses mentioned above. This calculator IS NOT electronically upgradeable. As for programmability, this calculator has "Interactive Equation Solver." Remember, that you are likely to find teachers here who are not familiar with how to use this calculator.
Casio FX-9860G Plus: (Cost as of 9/1/06, about $80.) This calculator also has a 128 x 64 pixel screen. (For comparison the TI-83 Plus has 94 x 62.). This calculator has all of the features of the FX-9750 Plus mentioned above and it IS electronically upgradeable. It also has some added features such as spreadsheet capability. As for programmability, this calculator has "Interactive Equation Solver." You might want to make sure that your teacher is able and willing to help you with a Casio before you buy one.
Calculators (I believe this is a Wal-Mart Brand):
I recently saw a Durabrand at Wal-Mart for $19.95? Here's what little preliminary information I have on it. (Please read the DISCLAIMER at the start of these FAQs).
* Has a 50-key keyboard that appears to be fairly well arranged except, possibly for the SHIFT key.
* Has fraction and Ans keys.
* Has sufficient memories for most any purpose - 26.
* Has about any of the standard algebraic and trig functions that you would want - including one- and two-variable
* Algebraic entry of formulas.
* Easily obtained battery - CR2032. This is the same as the battery used for the memory in some other calculators.
* Has some limited programming ability.
* The display for the graph is very small, 35 x 23 pixels. The full-screen display on the TI-83 Plus is 62 x 94 and the split-
screen G-T display is 50 x 46.
* As far as I can see, there is no key that is the equivalent of the ENTRY function on the TI-83 Plus. This is very useful when you need to use
a long expression and only edit a number or maybe two.
* Programming is limited to 400 steps divided among ten pre-designated programs. Gamers, forget about it.
SUMMARY OF DURABRAND CALC:
Don't let the small number of cons lead you to believe this is equivalent to the TI-83 Plus or the Casio CFX-9860 series or even the CFX-9750 Plus. This is more on the order of the old Casio 7000G Graphic calculator. This is merely my opinion, but if you want a sophisticated graphing calculator, I'd try to come up with 15 to 20 dollars more money and look hard for a used TI-83 Plus or equivalent. Some of you who are only going to take Elementary and Intermediate Algebra might want to try this out as a sort of super scientific calculator with the added ability to do some limited graphing. I want to re-emphasize that I HAVE NOT had my hands on one of these calculators.