DATAMATH  CALCULATOR  MUSEUM

TI-30XS MultiView Roadtest

Casio introduced with the fx-115ES already in 2005 an advanced scientific calculator with a 2-line Natural Textbook Display showing formulas and results exactly as they appear in the textbook. Texas Instruments followed mid-2007 with the TI-30XS MultiView and Sharp joined the group with its EL-W531 series introduced late-2007.

Comparing calculators seems to be pretty easy but aside from technical features there are a lot of subjective aspects like ergonomics or font of the display. For this overview we acquired in February 2008 three popular scientific calculators:

TI-30XS MultiView

$16.79 @ Staples

Sharp EL-W535

$15.95 @ Circuit City

Casio fx-300ES

$18.99 @ Staples

Package

All three calculators arrived in the typical blister package and included a sliding or snap-on cover and a manual.

Manual

The TI-30XS MultiView gave the best impression with its easy readable, bound manual instead of the common small-printed and folded manuals of the competitors.

Design

Both the fx-300ES and the EL-W535 sport a similar, nice designed housing. They fit easily into the palm, feel comfortable light and have a very good plastics surface finish. The TI-30XS MultiView is significant larger and heavier but sits better on the table.

Both the fx-300ES and the EL-W535 continue the traditional Casio and Sharp design line and look rather old-fashioned compared with the radical design of the Texas Instruments TI-30XS MultiView.

Keyboard

Despite the fact that all three calculators were manufactured in China, there are huge differences between the individual keyboards. While the keys of the fx-300ES and TI-30XS MultiView are firm and responsive with a convenient travel are we disappointed by the Sharp EL-W535 keyboard. The keys lack any resistance and due to the short stroke they miss any tactile feedback.

Lettering

The chromatics of the EL-W535 is rather flashy but we like the strong orange on the black background with the large font. Next comes the fx-300ES with less contrast for the 2nd and 3rd functions and a smaller font. The lettering of the TI-30XS MultiView is borderline because of the weak contrast between the green 2nd functions and the blue background. Nevertheless are the keys best arranged and miss any 3rd functions. 

Display

fx-300ES_Disp2.jpg (66594 Byte)All three displays sports almost identical size and resolution but both the EL-W535 and TI-30XS MultiView display 4-lines while the fx-300ES displays just 3-lines on it. As a matter of fact are the characters noticeable larger on the fx-300ES and we like the 9*5 pixel font instead of the usual 7*5 pixel design. The contrast and reading angles of the three displays are almost identical, but the glossy display bezel of the EL-W535 is a real show stopper.

Power Supply

The three selected calculators are available with batteries only or additional solar cells. Both the fx-300ES and EL-W535 make use of a small, easy accessible LR44 alkali battery, while the TI-30XS MultiView makes use of a large CR-2032 lithium coin cell which is difficult to replace.

Quality

Disassembly of all three calculators is very easy. The back is held on with 6 or 7 screws and could be lifted out easily. The internal construction is fairly similar and state of the art with a single-chip calculator circuit attached directly to the printed circuit board (PCB) and protected with a small blob of black epoxy. The display is connected to the PCB with a heat seal conductor. The TI-30XS MultiView purchased for this road test was manufactured by Kinpo using a second, low-tech PCB for the keyboard.  The PCBs of the different calculators are hold in place by either screws or fastened by heatstakes.

Overall the TI-30XS MultiView demonstrates tank built quality while the two competitors are rather average engineered.

Functions

Please refer to table below.

Precision

The embedded algorithm of the calculators and the internal representation of the numbers specify the precision of the calculations. The three competitors use for the internal calculations 13 digits (TI-30XS MultiView), 14 digits (EL-W535), or even 15 digits (fx-300ES).

The famous "Calculator Forensics" algorithm developed by Mike Sebastian evaluates on the three calculators for the arcsin(arccos(arctan(tan(cos(sin(9)))))) problem the following results:

TI-30XS MultiView

9.000001077372

Sharp EL-W531

9.000000098906

Casio fx-300ES 

9.00000000733338

The algorithm of the Casio fx-300ES are superior while the TI-30XS MultiView is rather disappointing.

Speed

Both the Sharp EL-W535 and TI-30XS MultiView outperform the Casio fx-300ES easily.

Result

3) Sharp EL-W535   Sharp entered the market of scientific calculators with graphical displays late but offers most bang for the buck. If you dont need the N-base capabilities or the nice Math drill feature you should avoid the EL-W535 because of an awful keyboard and the glossy display bezel.

2) Casio fx-300ES    Casio introduced the Textbook Display and achieves indeed the best looking screen but the overall impression of the calculator is just average. If you used Casio calculators before, stay in the line.

1) Texas Instruments TI-30XS MultiView  No doubts - it is about quality not quantity. The competitors offer seven regression models, allow Base-5 calculations or have higher calculation precision, but the TI-30XS MultiView will survive the typical school days. The (x,y) table and List editor are very supporting to explore daily math. If you need more, go for the TI-84 Plus!

+++ UPDATE  - March 7, 2011 +++
Four news players joined between 2008 and 2010 the battlegrounds:
Ativa AT-30X, Canon F-718SG, Citizen SR-270X, and Hewlett Packard SmartCalc 300S. ***


Table:

 

TI-30XS MultiView

Casio fx-300ES

Sharp EL-W535

Power

Solar cells +  
CR-2032

Solar cells +
LR44 (0.2 mW)

LR 44
(0.11 mW)

Display

4-line * 16
31 * 96 dots

3-line * 15
31 * 96 dots

4-line * 16
32 * 96 dots

Display contrast

[2nd] [+], [-]

[SETUP] [5] [+], [-]

[SETUP] [3] [+], [-]

Edit & review

80 characters

99 characters

340 characters

Display mode

MATHPRINT
CLASSIC

MATH FORMAT
LINEAR FORMAT

WRITEVIEW
LINE

Internal calculations

13 digits

15 digits

14 digits

Scientific notation

Yes

Yes

Yes

Engineers mode

Yes

Yes

Yes

Stacked fractions

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fraction/decimal conversions

Yes

Yes

Yes

Simplification of fractions

Yes

Yes

Yes

Random numbers

Real (0-1)
Integer (A-B)

Real (0.000-0.999)

Real (0-1)
Integer (0,1) (1-6) (0-99)

Combinations & Permutations

nPr, nCr, !

nPr, nCr, !

nPr, nCr, !

Symbolic notation of pi

Yes

Yes

Yes

Trigonometry & Hyperbolics

Yes

Yes

Yes

Deg / Rad / Grad

Yes

Yes

Yes

DMS calculations

Yes

Yes

Yes

Coordinate conversions

R <-> P

R <-> P

R <-> P

Logarithm & Exponential functions

Yes

Yes

Yes

(x,y) Table

Yes

 

Yes

List editor

3 lists
(42 items, each)

 

 

Function table

Yes
Tbd x-values

Yes
30 x-values

 

Stat editor

42-/42-lines 1-var
42-/42-lines 2-var

80-/40-lines 1-var
40-/26-lines 2-var

100-/50-lines 1-var
50-/33-lines 2-var

One-variable Statistics

Yes

Yes

Yes

Two-variable Statistics

Yes

Yes

Yes

Regression

Linear

Linear, Quadratic, Euler Exp, Log, Power, Inverse, General Exp

Linear, Quadratic, Euler Exp, Log, Power, Inverse, General Exp

Operating system

EOS

S-VPAM

Advanced D.A.L.

Parentheses

23 levels
8 pending

24 levels
10 pending

64 levels
10 pending

Memories

7

7

9

Constant operators

1
(44 characters)

 

4

Conversions and constants

 

 

 

N-base numbers

10

10

2,5,8,10,16

Bool'ean algebra

 

 

Yes

Math Drill

 

 

25, 500, 100 questions

Multiplication Table

 

 

1..12 questions

Exam reset

2 keys

 

RESET switch

 

horizontal rule

If you have additions to the above article please email: joerg@datamath.org.

Joerg Woerner, March 4, 2008. No reprints without written permission.