Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting
Wednesday, December 13, 1995 - Drexel University
TI92 is Here
The TI92 began shipping very late in November and has probably made it into the hands of all the "early adopters" by now. My first impressions of it are generally favorable, considering the market for which the unit is intended. The case indeed is large (disqualifying it as a "handheld"), but its display is also large and can show approximately twelve lines of text or nice sized graphic plots. The keyboard layout is logical and the placement of extra copies of the shift and ENTER keys is a plus. (I still question the position of the function keys to the side of the display when their labels are shown at the top of the screen, however.) The pull-down menus are manageable, with their shortcut key sequences prominently listed along side of the function list. There is a "history" stack much like the HP38G, which can be used to retrieve and edit old commands or results for later use. The height of the stack is adjustable by the user, up to 99 lines (if I remember correctly). There are lots of math functions in the machine, many of which are available through the MATH menu. A catalog function is present so any command may be found more quickly.
There is a wealth of symbolic algebra and calculus functionality; certainly more than on the HP48 series including factoring, limits and arc length functions. Plotting is fairly straightforward and the screen may be split into halves (in either direction) in order to view a plot on one side and an expression on the other or two different plots if desired. An area where this machine seems to really excel is in interactive geometry. Various shapes may be automatically drawn and objects manipulated in many ways. Lengths, areas, intersections, midpoints, bisections of angles and much more are possible. These operations may even be collected up into macros and run automatically. An animation feature is also available in order to observe motion of objects in two dimensions along specific paths.
Many list, matrix and statistical data functions are available for the manipulation of list-based information, including 2D and 3D plotting, 1 and 2-variable statistics and more. The programming language of the TI92 is similar to that on the other TI-8X machines; being BASIC-like with labels and goto's, but also with structures like if/then/else, while/endwhile and for/endfor. There are local as well as global variables (up to 8 characters in length) and subroutines as well as functions may be defined and used inside other programs.
There's much more inside the TI-92, and the 518-page manual does it justice. Memory available to the user is around 70K bytes and is not expandable. Machine-to-machine transfers are accomplished via a supplied cable and an optional package for uploads and downloads with a computer is available. Several things are missing which indeed reside in the HP48, but for teaching math to students, the TI-92 looks like a winner. Now, if they can get those students to spend the two hundred bucks.....
HP Omnigo 100 Resumes Shipping
Right on the heels of the TI-92, the first batches of "revised" HP Omnigo organizers arrived at Educalc. (The original ones had a problem in that they could lose RAM contents when the main batteries were being changed.) At first glance, this unit looks like a stripped down HP200LX, but with Geoworks and touch-sensitive 240-by-240 LCD, it goes much farther in user-ease. Built-in applications include appointments, phone directory, notetaker, database, jotter (utilizing Grifitti handwriting recognition), finance (which includes nine sub-applications such as time-value-of-money, cash flows, HP solver, several conversions and an HP12C emulator), spreadsheet, "simple" calculator and help files. There are also setup, world time and stopwatch screens among others. RAM memory available is around 350K to the user, with half a meg reserved for what HP calls "immediate" memory. A single PC Card slot allows SRAM cards to be inserted to increase memory by up to 4 megs. There is no infrared I/O on this machine, which is strange, since all the HP48 and previous palmtop models included it. Perhaps this, as well as having a square (rather than rectangular, full top-case-sized) screen was a mechanism for cutting cost. For $349., this unit competes well with Sharp's OZ9500/9600 series Wizard organizers which cost at least $100-200 more. The latest EduCalc Catalog (#70, released last week) features the Omnigo on the cover.
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