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Education Math Programming Technology

Casio Unveils New Color Screen Graphing Calculator 313

An anonymous reader writes "As reported by hobbyist calculator programmers, Casio has recently unveiled new graphing calculator models, the Casio fx-CG10/20 series, less than a year after Texas Instruments released the TI-Nspire Touchpad. The calculators features a 65536 colors screen (16-bit) with a resolution of 384x216 pixels, 16 MB of Flash memory (10 available for the user) and 140 hours of battery life. The calculators will retail starting at $129.99. Although Casio's new calculator official page have limited information about the calculator programming capabilities and processor speed, could this eventually mark the end of TI's reign in North American schools?"
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Casio Unveils New Color Screen Graphing Calculator

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  • by NYMeatball ( 1635689 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:06PM (#33886892)

    I'm not trying to be overly critical - maybe a tad skeptical.

    This is definitely *cool*. What's the point in this, though? I'm a programmer/developer, but I've never been a hardcore "programmer" or user of calculators. As long as I can do some basic graphing and standard 4-function stuff, most calculators make me super happy.

    The first immediate con I can see of this is...usability. If I'm colourblind - I'm not going to be very thrilled about this.

    The first immediate pro I can see of this me out here.

    Sure, this is cool, but why do I want to pay $130 for a color model when I can get a standard monochrome one for $50ish?

  • DRM? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <> on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:06PM (#33886910) Homepage
    So how much DRM and anti-modification features did they manage to pack into this device for $129.99?
  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:07PM (#33886914)

    They've made a killing over the last 12 years selling hardware that is essentially minor improvements to their existing calculators. The differences between my TI-89 and the current TI-89s are minor, even with 12 years between them. Combine that with how TI-centric some math textbooks tend to be, and they've got the market locked down pretty tight.

    Although, having colors would make it easier to differentiate plots when doing several at one time.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:19PM (#33887094) Homepage Journal

    What I don't get is why someone would spend $150 on a calculator when you could get a netbook with a gig of RAM and 180 gigs of drive space with a dual core processor for the price of two of them. Kubuntu comes with a scientific calculator, and it's a free OS you can replace Windows with or install dual-boot.

    I just don't know why anyone would buy a calculator, period.

  • by Deag ( 250823 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:22PM (#33887156)

    Can we just get a car analogy option for moderating?

  • by rcuhljr ( 1132713 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:23PM (#33887172)
    Uh as someone who went through a hardcore engineering program, no. RPN was common for awhile because at some point in the dark ages of personal computing the amount of ram/rom that would be needed for a machine to convert infix to postfix was actually a sizable amount. The only arguable superiority of RPN is not needing parenthesis for order of operations, however since every child is raised from kindergarten on infix it's hardly an advantage. This isn't dumbing down of society anymore then making compilers instead of writing raw machine code by hand is dumbing down programming. There's no benefit to doing unnecessary work as an engineer just to make life easier on a computer.
  • by space_jake ( 687452 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:29PM (#33887260)
    While an app for a modern handheld device sounds like a great idea, it'll never fly because these have to be used during standardized testing. Text your friend (or an online service) for the solution.
  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:31PM (#33887272) Journal
    Those of us fortunate to own one (as opposed to merely borrowing one from the school) often go our first introduction to programming through the TIs. I personally started a collection of digital art on mine which I then used a cable to offload to PC, where it wasn't as impressive, but that foreshadowed how I would spend the next few years in calc labs - making cool 3D objects instead of doing my homework. No, students don't *need* anything this fancy. But if it encourages kids to start coding on their own, what's the harm?
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:31PM (#33887278) Journal
    The fact that graphing calculators of quite modest specs and build still cost so much is a gooey blob of saliva in the face of idealist theories of competition.

    However, the fact that graphing calculators are still of quite modest specs isn't.

    The market for calculators is, basically, tests. They might also be used for homework and the occasional foray into programming; but they are basically purchased for tests. In a testing environment, wifi and 16GB of internal storage are not, shall we say, of much use in maintaining a fair testing environment.

    Even if you make the "If the test is good, flashcards won't help you, and neither will notes stored on a calculator/iPod/whatever" argument(which is arguably a lot truer at higher levels), that still doesn't address the issue of network connected devices.

    Imagine the following: iPod touch/iPhone with camera, internet connection, some sort of web conferencing software. Pay 29.95 at the paypal portal and, for the duration of the test if you get stuck on a problem, take a picture of it, and a suitably educated person in India solves it and sends back an image of the solution. Win/win(sort of). The cheater can get past even "mere facts won't save you" questions, and someone in a lower cost of living country makes comparatively good money solving easy problems in their area of expertise. The test, of course, becomes useless.

    Intentionally limited devices for pedagogical purposes are eminently sensible. It's just that it should be pretty simple to stamp out a TI-83(or 89, the hardware doesn't exactly differ wildly) for absolute peanuts, not $100 a pop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:35PM (#33887344)

    No... RPN has more advantages than you claim, and people who have become adept at it (not just learned it as a token thing, but really learned to think in that way) almost never want to go back.

    (1) You can see intermediate results of your calculations as you go along.

    (2) Fewer keystrokes are needed to perform computations, so there are fewer opportunities for mistakes.

    (3) For highly proficient users, RPN allows for faster use of the calculator because of not having to enter and track lots of parens.

    It's a similar situation to texting on a cell phone vs touch typing. If you are used to texting and never learned to touch type, you won't truly realize how much of a superior input system touch typing is.

    But more and more our world is moving away from things that require any degree of learned skill, in favor of no or low-skill methods which yield inferior results.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:40PM (#33887408) Homepage Journal
    I have an Algebra book but it irritates me because it's centered on the use of a graphing calculator. It teaches Algebra... but it IMMEDIATELY begins a discussion of graphic calculators, and not as an add-on device. I'm going to write an arithmetic book that teaches the use of a Soroban; but this will be teaching math, and then it will step out to "so here's how to do addition on a Japanese Abacus... and here's how it relates to pen-and-paper columnar addition... and think about this, it makes it simple in your head." I don't want to teach people that math == device; math is a method, device is a tool.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RocketRabbit ( 830691 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:43PM (#33887442)

    "They don't allow laptops into most exam rooms."

    This is the problem. An artificial market for underpowered devices has been created, and is supported both by the standard math curricula (TI teams up with publishers to encourage states to purchase books that require a TI calc) and the standardized test manufacturers, while they do not "require" a brand name calculator, do indeed require that children cripple themselves and spend another $150 on a hunk of plastic that has not changed in years.

    Kids should be able to use a Nintendo DS with a graphing calc cartridge, they should be able to use an iPod Touch, they should be able to use their little netbooks and so forth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @04:51PM (#33887514)

    Caculators are not vehicles. They don't have standarized controls for doing things. I know it's a caculator, but some of the more advance ones have obscure ways to get to their features. I understand this is not something that *should* distract from these more advanced calculators, but most kids get a two minute tutorial on using them. Everytime we've had different calculators in the classrom, we wasted ten minutes fiddling to get them working(works only in the smaller classrooms - under 30 people). It would be insane to stop an entire 50 minute class period every time a new feature was used on the calculators. We do stop to learn it, but it usually takes about two minutes of classroom time.

    I'm in college and I'd guess that about 95% of the people with better than TI-83 calculators bought them as a quick grab. They saw the caculator had more features and the money was burning in their pocket. They don't invest in the calculator outside of the class time unless it's downloading games or putting in trig. formulas so they can cheat.

    Depending on the test, administrators care a lot about which calculators are used. The more advanced ones can do anything you've run in to in calculus and linear algebra with a few presses. They don't want kids learning the single button solvers because they don't teach the student what is being done.

    Do caculators really matter? Only for that time you're in highschool and college. After college, everyone uses Matlab and excel to do their work. Stranglehold, yes. But it's not anywhere as horrible as you make it out to be.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gazoogleheimer ( 1466831 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:20PM (#33887852) Homepage
    Underpowered also means runs on a quartet of AAA's for months...
  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:28PM (#33887926)
    Kids should be able to use the internet, their neighbors, laptops, cell phones, Wikipedia, etc. to solve problems. The memorization part will come later. In the real world, no one sits down to their job and has to have all these dates memorized.

    Its really a waste of time to have kids memorize useless information. Education should be teaching kids skills primarily, then having kids take classes which interest them and relate to their chosen career field and have them take those classes.

    Lets face it, its nice to know when the reign of King George III started, but unless that is your field of expertise, you should simply know the skills needed to Google the question.

    Our education system was made for a world without a huge search-able database of data. To look up even a basic fact would take a few minutes, not just a few seconds.
  • by harrkev ( 623093 ) <[gro.ylimafnoslerrah] [ta] [dsmfk]> on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:42PM (#33888098) Homepage

    You are right about anecdotes. However, in the absence of real data, anecdotes are all we have.

    Let me put it this way: the people who bash RPN are mostly people who have not really used it. If a person actually takes the time to learn RPN and become proficient with it, they never seem to want to go back. I would LOVE to hear from somebody who is good at RPN, but still prefers algebraic entry.

    Yes, in some cases, it might be easier to just enter the equation as it is listed. With the HP 48 G series (the latest that I have used), you CAN enter equations that way if you want to.

    Generally, I can bang out an equation on RPN much faster than I can using a standard algebraic calculator. Also, hitting "enter" to duplicate an entry on the stack only takes one keystroke, where storing a number to a named memory location typically takes at least three key presses. And, you never have to bother to hit a parenthesis key. Yes, your own brain has to do a little more work, but some of us enjoy that.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:48PM (#33888144) Homepage Journal

    Because infix reads as humans think.

    No, it doesn't.

    Take this example:
    (5 + 3) * (3 + 2)

    When we think and calculate it in our head, we take 5 and 3, add them to get 8. Then we take 3 and 2, add them, and get 5. Finally, we multiply 8 by 5 to get 40.
    And guess what? That's exactly how RPN does it. Including giving you the intermediate results of 8 and 5.

    Infix means you can't do the multiplication because you don't know what to multiply with at that point.
    (If trying to force the multiplication earlier by expanding, you get "5 + 3 = 8, 8 * 3 = 24, 8 * 2 = 16, add 24 and 16 to get 40", but that still requires doing a calculation on the right hand side of the operation before jumping back to it.)

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:54PM (#33888222)

    I do think that education could use refocusing now that we live in a world where you cell phone instantly provides you with any answer you want, but throwing out -all- memorization would be overdoing it. You need a framework of knowledge before you start googling specific answers, and I think we benefit as a society when we have some common sense of history, science, literature, etc. I think many of us here can probably agree that if more Americans knew how often and how badly theocracies have failed, how bloody the crusades were, and how pointlessly violent religion and politics mixed in Europe, that our country might be better off today, and we'd have fewer people calling for mixing politics and religion.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @06:14PM (#33888424)
    Make a game out of it and they'll clamor to learn all about it.

    I learned 10x more from Civilization (and the research I did on my own making historically accurate start maps) than I learned from all of the history classes I took K-college. Probably logged more hours on it too.
  • by harrkev ( 623093 ) <[gro.ylimafnoslerrah] [ta] [dsmfk]> on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @06:17PM (#33888448) Homepage

    In any case, truly good technologies don't require much time to learn.

    A lot of people who love editing with VI would disagree with you. Yes, it is a lot more trouble to learn this than to just use Notepad, but those who have learned it love it and would never go back.

    Also, by your definition, the automatic transmission should easily beat a stick-shift. Guess what race cars use?

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @06:39PM (#33888600) Homepage Journal

    I think we benefit as a society when we have some common sense of history

    Then why don't U.S. schools teach the history of neighboring countries? A Michigan resident is more likely to learn about Texas than Ontario, even though Ontario is much closer.


    Who decides what literature gets onto the required reading list? For example, a lot of people appear to consider The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald to be overrated, yet it gets on the required reading list and not Gadsby: Champion of Youth by Ernest Vincent Wright. Six tragedies by William Shakespeare get on, along with none of his comedies and none of his contemporaries' plays.

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MadKeithV ( 102058 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:30AM (#33891122)

    How often is it that you don't use an electronic device for YEARS(!!!!!) but suddenly care about it being immediately available?

    Ironically, for calculators, every single time I use one.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.