HP Handheld SIG News | April, 2000

HP Pre-announces Two Mid-Level Machines

On Friday, March 24th, Jean-Yves Avenard of Hewlett-Packard's ACO group announced that HP would be releasing two new intermediate-level graphing calculators this Summer. Dubbed the HP39G and HP40G, these twins are based on the HP38G user interface and contain features of the HP49G as well. Both have 256K of RAM (but no flash like the 49), 131-by-64 LCD, ten-pin serial port and cases identical in size to the HP49. The 39 also has two-way infrared comms. The 40 has no IR but includes the latest version of the CAS (Computer Algebra System) from the HP49's ROM. The announced plan is to have the HP39G only be available outside Europe and the HP40G be available only inside Europe. Due to educational paranoia about IR in Europe, it is understandable why the 39 should not be sold there; however why this unit does not contain the CAS of the 40 is still a puzzle. It looks like there will have to be some trading between the various user groups around the world. No prices were announced with the remainder of the materials.

Along with the announcement, Jean-Yves put up a web site containing (1) the ROM code of the 39/40 for use in the 49; (2) emulator code for experimentation on the PC; (3) an early copy of the user's guide and (4) color images of the two units. These units are to be first shown at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) to be held April 12-15 in Chicago. First, it was thought that these two units would be those revealed in the NCTM "sneak-preview" meeting which was advertised recently in the HPc educational calculating magazine. When asked this question by the Chicago CHIP group's Ron Johnson, Charles Lim of HP's ACO responded that something else was to be shown in the closed-door affair. So, I suppose there are still more tricks up HP's sleeve. Check out the information at http://www.epita.fr/~avenar_j/hp/39.html on the web.

ACO's Reaction to Jim Lawson's Closure Message Predictable

With Jim Lawson's Handi-Calc farewell message acting as the "shot heard 'round the world", many old-timers in the HP calculator user community rallied to communicate with HP. The basic battle cry has been to get HP to market its product in a fair and sensible manner and to not hurt the dealers which it had cultivated up until the present. Richard Nelson even has gone as far as to collect a handful of comments along with his own carefully crafted marketing plan for HP and sent it on to those in charge in the Australian Calculator Operation. HP's first response was predictably low-key, with their listing all the things they are doing to enhance their position in the marketplace. Unfortunately they haven't really addressed the problems of their hurting the dealers by competing directly with them through the "HP Shopping Village" website where goods are sold at heavily- discounted prices. I suggested a face-to-face meeting between the manufacturer and the former dealers to find out what went wrong, but HP wouldn't bite. Perhaps after the NCTM meeting this month, there will be more opportunities to communicate directly with the people in charge. If we have a user's conference this year, this will be a prominent topic.

Latest HP49G Beta O.S. Version and Documentation Available

The latest beta version of the HP49 operating system is now version 1.17-B with a handful bug fixes. Check this out at HP's web site at http://www.hp.com/calculators/graphing/rom/index.html. (We have been hearing that version 1.19 will actually contain some significant computer-algebra-system improvements, but there is no word on how soon it will be released.) In addition, the latest HP49 documentation, consisting of the Users Guide and Advanced Users Guide may be downloaded at http://www.hp.com/calculators/techsupport/graphing/49g_useguide/ on the web. Some of these files have been updated in the past few months.