Top critical review
This isn't exactly the replacement for the HP 50G I was looking for
Reviewed in the United States on April 18, 2015
My review will be contextual to being a HP 50G user. The views will reflect my opinions and do not constitute absolute objectivity. The HP Prime is impressive from a hardware and packaging perspective. It has alot going for it like speed, a touch screen interface, and good industrial design. What it doesn't have is built in 3D graphing or a decent units handling capability. Sure, it has units but its clumsy working with non-standard compound units such as J/s in RPN. Entering the 1/s is a pain where as on the HP 50G its simple. Its ok in textbook mode. Also the two environments (CAS and Home) in the Prime seem like an afterthought or compromise.
After owning it for a week, I'm not sure it will replace the 50G on my desk. I use the 50G frequently for unit calculations as inputs for FEA runs. The Prime requires extra manipulation to invert units and compound the units. Also, I perform a wide range of general calculations that I prefer to do by calculator instead of a computer. The 50G just seems to work better for me (Full RPN). Granted, I have more experience with the 50G so it may just be a experience thing. That is why I will update this review as time goes by to reflect additional exposure to the Prime.
1) Speed - This thing is fast to plot functions!
2) Back lit color screen - Not a 'must have' but it does aid in viewing the screen over a grayscale display.
3) Pinch to zoom touch screen. You get used to this since smartphones have set the paradigm.
4) I like the hard sliding cover.
5) Powerful programming language. It's not RPL but its good in its own right.
6) Good industrial design.
1) Having separate CAS and Home environments. You don't need it with the TI calculators and you didn't need it with prior HP calculators so why do we have it now.
2) Unit management and conversion is clumsy particularly in RPN.
3) 3D graphing - sure you can add a program to cover this but who releases a high end CAS calculator in 2013 without this functionality. I rarely would need this but it crazy that HP omitted this feature since it should be easy for them to do. If the Prime is a replacement for the 50G, it should have the features the 50G has and not less.
4) The learning curve should be less considering this is targeted for the educational market. I have a TI-89 Titanium and anyone could just pick it up and make use of it without a manual. The Prime doesn't give the user that kind of experience. Nor is it familiar like the 28S, 48SX, 48GX, or 50G. It's like the worst of both worlds. I know the previous HP calculator architecture was stretched to its limit but the new one doesn't seem optimized for either TI or HP users. It's new and doesn't offer a clear user interface advantage over any of the units that preceeded it besides speed.
5) The variable management is a huge let down. If you want to use variable names in the built in equation solvers that aren't A-Z, they must exist in advance of running the solvers. The 50G and TI-89 can create the variables on the fly. Who in the world at HP thought this was a good idea? Seems dumb to me. Another silly decision was having lower case variables in the CAS environment and upper case variables in the Home environment. In other calculators, such as the 50G or TI-89 a variable is a variable; upper and lower case. It just seems rather arbitrary.
6) The orange over gray printing is hard to see under certain lightly. Someone should study human factors at HP and try again.
7) Glossy screen picks up glares and finger prints easily.
8) The equation solver app is limited to ten equations.
9) HP equation library is not available for the Prime.
Yes, the Prime is a beast as far as computational power but it just seems like it's being held down by less than insightful thinking in software design. It needs some improvement.
I will update this review as I become more familiar with the Prime.
----- Update 04/24/15 ----
No change in star rating because the fundamental issues are the same but I'm getting used to the Prime. I made a commitment to trying it out as my work calculator. Had to take the 50G home to resist the urge to use it instead. Still not in love with it.