Updated: November 2017
Graphing Calculator Reviews:We literally do 100's of reviews on products every year and it's rare to find an category that is dominated by 1 single company. When it comes to graphing calculators, Texas Instruments is the clear leader (by miles) over the next closest competitor which is HP (Hewlett Packard). The Ti graphing calculators secure 9 out of the top 10 sellers on Amazon.com and almost every website we went to that reviews or sells calculators lists the Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator as the one to buy. Unlike basic models, the high end graphing calculators are a necessity for high school and college aged kids if they are in any kind of advanced math or science class. You will also find students in computer science and engineering courses using the TI calculators since they are so efficient and easy to use. Sure there are other models and brands you could buy, but with such a huge market share going to Texas Instruments, you are better off sticking with the crowd on this or else you will be on your own to figure out how to run your Casio or HP model. We found homework sites loaded with "help" sections on how to program and use the TI calculators so the online support groups are a big plus if you own one.
What type of features should you be looking for in a graphing calculator? We have used several of the top rated models so we have a general understanding of what matters. We also used the Ti.com website as a great reference as well as Freemathhelp.com, Shopwiki, and About.com. Most likely a teacher will recommend a particular model they want the kids to buy. Classes like Geometry, Precalculus, Statistics, Physics, Pre-Algebra, Algrebra, Chemistry, and Algebra 2 are have aspects where a graphing calculator can come in handy. Many offer up to 600 functions and most have storage capabilities so you can quickly find vectors, 3d graphs, and you can even download applications from the Internet. The Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus is considered a great purchase for those involved with Calculus, Engineering, Trigonometry, and finance functions. Other teachers say the TI-84 is a solid calculator for geometry and algebra. For higher end functions related to statistics, calculus, and physics, many educators and college professors say the TI-89 is a good buy and worth the investment. The Texas Instruments TI-89 Titanium Graphing Calculator is found most often in AP Calculus courses and students say the added power and performance make it an obvious choice over the 83 and 84 models. The nice thing about the TI-89 is that you can use it in high school and college and it's ok to have it along as you take the SAT and other advanced placement exams. Some models aren't allowed when you take standardized tests or even the SAT - check with your teacher or the administrator of the test before it starts. The benefits of spending $100 are the amount of time you save when doing homework problems that require graphing of equations and other high end functions. Most student reviews we read online mention that without the graphing calculator they would have been lost and unable to keep with their course loads. Also, the vast majority of students say go with a TI simply because most other kids are using them as well so getting help on how to setup and program the calculator is easy. Expect to spend about $100 to $130 for a good, quality graphing calculator. You can browse the top selling graphing calculators here.