BY THE GRAPH 35+ EII (SEE PHOTO) FROM AMAZON.FR INSTEAD!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 2, 2019
Casio have launched the fx9860GIII, here in the UK, costing roughly £89. It's identical to the Graph 35+EII Python, selling in France through Amazon.fr, at roughly £68 including delivery.
Casio France have launched the Graph 35+ EII Python, which sells for only £63, including delivery, from Amazon. fr. It's vastly superior even to the fx9860GII, with a natural display as standard, twice the internal memory and synchs with a PC directly without the need for FA124 software. It's also programmable in both Python and BASIC, and comes complete with both leads - usually costing £20 extra. YET AGAIN, THE UK CONSUMER IS CONNED!
Class-leading operating system - the best! So easy to use that it makes a manual almost redundant for the majority of users, with a maths or IT background. In this respect, definitely the best.
Excellent graphical plot features. Roots, intersection points between curves,maxima, minima, gradients and areas under a curve can be found in seconds, without any difficulty.
Excellent range of built-in features, especially for statistics. The 'Solve-N' feature is worthy of note. It allows you to solve swiftly, many types of equation, as presented, without having to simplify them first - brilliant for trig equations.
It is sturdy, aesthetically pleasing, has a decent size key pad and a nice, high contrast screen (far better than some of the Texas calculators). It takes AAA batteries, which last a long time.
The calculator is universally adopted by A-Level students in this country and all UK exam boards allow its use at this level.
The operating system can easily be upgraded to the FX9860GII, which then gives you a 'natural' display, vectors and allows you to add extra software apps such as: geometry, physium, probsim and cas. In standard form, it can’t take additional apps.
Programming is a doddle; very similar to BASIC and the full range of commands are available that you'd expect, together with just about every text character and mathematical symbol you could want. In effect, you can write your own software to cover anything (within reason!) not built in to the standard operating system. Truly awesome potential!
You can transfer programmes (and apps when uprated) to and from a Windows' computer, via USB lead and FA124 device management software. This software is available free-of-charge from Casio and works on a 'drag and drop' principle (calculator left side, computer storage area, right side). A nice feature is that if you drag an app or programme outside the box area to 'Desktop', then it turns into a file ready to be emailed. In this way, you can share programmes and apps anywhere around the world! The storage area for all your programmes and add-on apps, is contained in a yellow folder marked CASIO, under 'Documents'. Mail that to someone and everything you've got, they've got! It contains two files: one with all your apps saved, the other with all your programmes. The two together don't usually amount to more than 5MB - fine for e-mailing! When they set up FA124 on their machine, for the first time, all they need do is to swap their newly created CASIO folder, for yours.
You only have 64k ram, which in the present day context is ridiculously low. This will severely limit the number of add-on apps you can have.
The fact that in standard form, there's no 'natural' display, is ridiculous, considering the type of person its aimed at.
A word of warning to anyone enticed by the low price of the FX7400GII model. In a word, don't! It has no advanced statistical functions, unlike the FX9750GII; no USB port and doesn't even feature a matrix mode (something which many, far cheaper, non-graphical calculators have these days)! With only 20k ram (hang on a minute is it 2016 or 1976?!) and 2mb of rom, upgrading the o.s. to FX9860GII is not possible but in any case, the upgrading software (Fx Remote) does not support it in this way! A very mediocre calculator, outdated right from the start!
I've given it 5 out of 5 because this really is a fabulous calculator when uprated, but I do think it's time Casio gave users what they want, i.e. a 'natural' display, so that they don't need to do this. The calculator was launched in 2009, so they've certainly had long enough! That said, with this model, you're buying into a system, which allows you to customise it considerably and have much fun in doing so, but really, a score of 4.5 out of 5 (i.e. 9 out of 10) would be fairer! Another point is that because of its easy of use, in every respect (be it programming, graph-plotting or statistical functions) and its tremendous capabilities; it has the potential to inspire the minds of young people, who may then develop a liking for maths and that has to be a good thing! Note that Casio UK do not endorse upgrading the o.s. of the FX9750GII to the FX9860GII.
There seems to be a lot of scaremongering over upgrading the operating system, by those who either lack the ability to follow written instructions, or the confidence to carry them out! I am not from an IT background but have had no difficulty uprating nine of these, without any problems.
First you need to install FA124, device management software, which can be downloaded from the Casio website. Then, you need FxRemote software, which is readily available on-line, free-of-charge and often comes supplied with three o.s. flash-files.
If you google Fx Remote Casio FX9750GII, you'll find a site where it can be downloaded. Please be aware that at present, you won't get the latest FX9860GII o.s. image files supplied. To get later versions, you’ll need to visit a tiplanet.org where images of the version 2.04, 2.05, 2.08 and 2.09 o.s., may be downloaded and used in FxRemote. Be careful to refer to the table which tells you which to use (you need ones for the FX9860GII, not FX9860GIIS ). Note that later o.s. versions, such as 2.04, offer the addition of vectors to the matrix mode. This addition gives: unit vectors, dot product, cross product and angle between vectors. Note, this site also has FxRemote, FA124 and a host of other items for FX9860 users, such as: CAS software, games and specialist programs. Strangely enough though, it didn't have Symbolix, last time I looked! There is also now a special back-up version of Fx-Remote, for those wishing to save their original o.s. present (in reality, a waste of time!).This new software is well worth having because there are other uses for it!!
Please pay attention to the version number (visible in top left-hand corner) on the Fx Remote you've downloaded. The best version to use is 184.108.40.206/6 ( also identifiable by a small box, headed 'Cable', with 3pin and USB inside). Version 220.127.116.11, doesn't have this option. Both will work, but only version 18.104.22.168/6 can prevent a disaster. If you look at two of the last photos, you'll see fatal error messages warning you that you're attempting to use the wrong o.s. image type, for the calculator subtype, i.e an o.s. for an older model on a newer newer one or vice-versa. The red cross means it won't allow you to proceed, thus saving the life of your calculator. VERSION 22.214.171.124 OF FX REMOTE DOESN'T DO THIS AND WILL LET YOU GO AHEAD AND 'BRICK' IT!
Below are instructions for updating but please be aware that:
1) YOUR CASIO THREE-YEAR WARRANTY WILL BECOME INVALID.
2) USE THE WRONG O.S. ROM IMAGE FOR THE CALCULATOR SUB-TYPE AND THE CIRCUIT BOARD IS FINISHED (OLD ON NEW) OR LIKELY TO BE FINISHED (NEW ON OLD).
Most of the photographs here, show 'natural' displays, not possible on a standard, unmodifed calculator. The paired photos show 'before' (left) and 'after' (right) for indentical tasks. Also included are photographs of tasks not possible on an unmodified calculator, e.g. CAS used to find the full derivative of a function. These apps can be very useful and some of the facilities they offer work extremely well. For example, CAS is smart enough to allow nested use of the differentiation command, thereby giving you the second derivative with minimal effort. It also expand brackets but unlike the Algebra app, doesn't recognise complex numbers in this situation. Though far from perfect, Algebra copes with many indefinite integrals, soluble 'by parts', of the type often encountered at a-level. It also features a mode dedicated to complex numbers, which could prove highly useful to college students on a variety of courses. I've also included screen shots of some of the Fx Remote warning messages, which are referred to later on. Note that there is a problem with uploaded photos appearing in Amazon reviews, so some of them may not be present!
Before attempting to upgrade your calculator, go to the main menu and select System, then press F4 (Version). The screen should read something like: Version OS: 02.00.0700, 02.01.0700, 02.02.0701 or 02.04.0701, if it hasn't been upgraded.
OS Version 02.02.0701 and 02.04.0701
Proceed as Follows:
1. With FA124 installed on your p.c., run FxRemote software, then connect your calculator via USB connection and when the screen on your calculator prompts you, select F1 (Transmit). Calculator should then show Receiving ....
2. On your FxRemote software screen, select back-up flash. With o.s : 02.02.0701, your operating system should then be saved. With 02.04.0701, however, you need the new, special, OS - 04, back-up version of fx-remote specifically designed for this purpose. Unlike 02.02.0701, however, you need to get the BIOS screen (OS ERROR please update OS) on your calculator, first.
3. Disconnect the USB lead to your computer; go to your calculator and press the following combination of keys, all at the same time:
F2, 4, AC/ON and the reset button (on the back) using a pencil or screwdriver. The screen will go blank. Now, after waiting about 10 seconds, very quickly transfer your fingers to the buttons marked 9 and X (the multiplication sign) and press each in turn sequentially, You may need to let go of the reset button, a second before starting this sequence. While you’re pressing 9 then X; 9 then X, taking about a second (no quicker) to go from one to the other (don't hesitate) you should notice the screen going dark very quickly. Finally it will go almost black (see picture) and just visible will be the message ‘OS ERROR please update OS’. Only when you get this message can you proceed to the next stage. Note, this stage can be very tricky. It really is an acquired skill and some calculators are worse than others, especially the new ones! Also, I'd personally recommend doing this with the lead still in the calculator but disconnected from the computer, rather than the other way round.
4. Reconnect your USB lead, then go to your FxRemote software and select Recover Flash.This should open a dialog box giving you the option to select a back-up flash file.Select 2_02_0201_sh4 , do NOT select any of the other files. If you've downloaded v. 2.04, o.s. files, from tiplanet refer to the table they supply and make sure you only use the one designated FX9860GII.sh4, o.s. At present, the is labelled 3083patched. Use the one marked sh3 instead and your circuit board is finished! The latest o.s. version, 2.09, is now available, also v. 2.05. These include a includes a battery level indicator and ECON3 over ECON2 and Exam Mode. For A-Level, 2.05 is the best one to go for at present; for the IB, 2.05 is not suitable, you should use 2.09. On tiplanet, 2.05 is currently labelled: g95_g75_fx9860giish4_02.05.0000... The best way to get it is to put 2.05 in the search box under 'download' and then click on Graph 75/95 O.S. 2.05 option, to initiate the download.
Note that versions above 2.04 are intended for exam compliant calculators, used in France for the IB. The Exam Mode locks out features not allowed in the exam, but this mode isn't a requirement for GCE exams in this country and is therefore be of little practical use to most users. To actuate it, you need to press cos, 7 and A/C buttons, with calculator switched off, followed by F1.
In Exam Mode, with versions: 2.05, 2.08 and 2.09, you're locked out of all add-on apps, program, spreadsheet and e-ACT modes, for a period of 12 hours after the calculator is switched off, unless deactivated by another calculator, or computer, thus making it virtually impossible to cheat.
Here in the U.K., there appears to be a tacit acceptance of cheating in maths exams, by some schools! Symbolix (a brilliant CAS package for cheating in H.T. GCSE Maths or AS-Level Maths, C2-module) has been out since 2008, so many teachers must be aware of its misuse! I suspect all some of them care about is school league tables and 'getting them through'! Another feature lending itself to exam cheats is e-ACT. This comes as standard with the FX9860GII o.s. and lets you store text documents with mathematical formulae. You could store key facts relating to an exam and just recall them, when needed, at the touch of a button. In fact free software is available to enable you to convert plain text documents (with extension .txt) and transfer them to the calculator, via a Windows' computer. I think it really is time we adopted the French approach and made it a level playing field for all! We shouldn't condone flagrant dishonesty of this type, if grades in our exams are to be worth anything!
After v. 2.05, came v. 2.08, which removed vectors entirely and then (the latest so far) v. 2.09 which reinstated vectors but prevented their use in Exam Mode. Version 2.05, doesn't have this restriction and works very well; so this is the one A-Level students should go for.
5. The new operating system will load onto your calculator but first you'll get a warning message telling you that all data will be deleted; continue? Ja, Nein. Make sure you select Ja. You may also get another message such as ‘The calculator type and the image type do not coincide. Do you want to proceed anyhow?' (see photo). As before, ignore it and select ok.When the new o.s. finally loads (blue horizontal bars show progress) your calculator may display a message along the lines that by selecting menu, main memory data will be deleted. Ignore the warning, press the Menu button and you will sometimes see a horizontal bar increasing. This indicates that your o.s. is being updated. When this has finished, your calculator is almost ready for use. After you’ve verified this, by viewing the main menu display screen of your calculator, press the reset button so that it reboots. This final stage is very important. If you wish to add apps such as Algebra, CAS, Physium, Geometry and Probsim; these may be obtained from the site in French (note: the FX9860G is equivalent to a 'Graph 75') and transferred to the calculator via FA124. It is a good idea to optimise the memory, when you've installed them. Note that the file extension for these apps should be .g1 or .g1a (not .g3). Sometimes when you install them, you'll notice that they appear in the memory but not in the main menu and can not be selected. In my experience, this usually means that what you downloaded is corrupt in some way. If you download it again, you should be more successful ( I certainly have been)!
Note: If the lead is dislodged (e.g. your pet dog or cat jumps up and pulls it out!) before the new o.s. has finished loading, don't worry, all is not lost. Leave the calculator as it, displaying 'OS ERROR .....' Just press the reset buttons; close down Fx Remote; then reopen it, reconnect the calculator and start the process again by runing 'Recover Flash'.
OS Version 02.00.0700
This versions is far easier to update because stage 3 is not needed. The software package automatically gets the calculator into ‘OS ERROR please update OS’ mode, so stage 3 is not required. At stage 4, however, you need to select the 2_01_0200_sh3 flash file, NOT any of the others! DO NOT USE THE FILE MARKED SLIM if you do, your display will be upside down!
If you're using v. 2.04 o.s. files, downloaded from the French site, refer to the table supplied and only use the one designated FX9860GII-sh3. At present, this is labelled 3073patched. Use the one designated sh4 instead and your circuit board will probably be finished! If you decide to add the apps previously mentioned and Symbolix, you will have to optimise the memory of your calculator, after adding the first five apps before attempting to add the last one. Optimisation is carried out by selecting Memory from main menu and then choosing the relevant option.
Unlike 02.00.0700, you will need to get the BIOS screen manually, through the key sequence, but you can only use the same files for upgrading as with 02.00.0700, because it has the older processor (referred to elsewhere, as sh3).
NEVER USE A FILE FOR THE OLDER VERSION OF FX9750GII (EG. MARKED SH3.FLS) ON A CALCULATOR OF THE LATER VERSION (KNOWN AS AN FX9750GII- POWER GRAPHICS-2) AND VICE-VERSA AS THEY ARE NOT COMPATIBLE. FAILURE TO OBEY THIS RESTRICTION AND YOUR CIRCUIT BOARD IS FINISHED!! BE VERY CAREFUL WITH VERSION 126.96.36.199 OF FX REMOTE - IT DOESN'T PREVENT YOU FROM DOING THIS - MUCH BETTER TO USE VERSION 188.8.131.52 INSTEAD!!
Note also that what you'll end up with is a very basic FX9860GII, without any add-on apps such as: Algebra, CAS, Geometry, Physium and Probsim. If you want to install these, you'll either have to use your FA124, Casio device management software, in order to get them onto your calculator from your computer or, if you know someone who owns an FX9860GII with add-on, software apps, copy them directly, calculator to calculator, by using the special, 3-pin, jack lead, marketed by Casio (SB62 ).
Always be mindful over what you're doing. The ROM contains the instructions for your hardware device to work. These are factory installed and not usually designed to be tampered with. What you're doing is rewriting them. If they don't make sense, then the microchip can't do its job and the device is dead! With your FX9750GII, the P104 rom-chip is highly inaccessible, so if it fails you need a new circuit-board! Expect Casio to charge you between £30-£40 for a replacement! You may well find it cheaper to buy a secondhand FX9750GII, in poor cosmetic condition and transfer the circuit board, as an alternative.
Let me close mentioning two things: Firstly, if you've purchased an FX9750GII that's already been upgraded to an FX9860GII o.s., but not a recent version and wish to upgrade to a later version (2.04 and above) that has vectors, then the procedure is exactly the same. The last two digits of the o.s. version installed, tell you if you've got an older FX9750GII or one of the more recent models, sometimes referred to as a 'Power Graphic-2'.
If the number ends in 00, its an older one, if ends in 01, its a later model. As stated previously, the best o.s. to install on earlier models, is 2.04 (you currently need the image labelled 3073patched, if you're using the site in French) or version 2.05 if you've got a later (Power Graphic-2) model. It is, however, good practice to remove all apps, programmes etc, (i.e. to clear all memories) before carrying out the upgrading. These can be transfer to p.c. via FA124 if you wish to reinstall later.
Secondly, there is now a special version of fx-remote designed to back-up o.s. 02.04. To get this tool, just put fxBackup into the searchbox of the same website you downloaded the ROM files from (clue: planet).
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