Updated: June 14, 2015

Calculators for School

Technology in the classroom has changed a lot since the days of the slide rule and paper and pencil calculations. Texas Instruments introduced early digital calculators in the 1970s. Early calculators were clunky, expensive, and limited in functionality. Jump ahead a few decades, and mini-calculators are given away as promotional items and prizes, costing less than $1 to produce and whipping out basic math calculations in the blink of an eye. Texas Instruments has always lead the way in scientific, business, and graphing calculators. Casio, Hewlett Packard, Canon, Sharp and others manufacture calculators as well, but TI continues to lead the way in innovation, features, and performance. Many schools specifically mandate Texas Instrument calculators for their students in elementary school, middle school, and high school. Below, we will check out some of the hottest TI calculators and see what features you should look for when buying a calculator for school or business.


Hewlett Packard Calculators - HP 12C

Hewlett Packard made a big name for itself in the financial calculator world with the HP 12C, several decades ago. This calculator continues to sell well even today (at about $80), though it is essentially unchanged. It uses reverse polish notation for entering calculations, but it is a whiz when it comes to calculating present and future values, loan payments, amortization schedules, and everything else a finance professional needs on the run. HP also makes the HP 17BII+ Financial Calculator ($89 at Amazon.com), described as: "Designed with real-estate, business, and finance professionals in mind, the HP 17bII+ financial calculator provides RPN or algebraic data-entry modes and over 250 easy-to-use functions. Its two-line, 22-character display is easy to read, offering convenient menus and prompts, plus clock and calendar." Outside of financial calculators, HP also makes some science and math graphing calculators, like the Hewlett Packard 49G+ Graphing Calculator ($139) and the HP 48GII Graphic Calculator ($99). "The 48gII comes with over 2,300 built-in functions, including vector operations, math functions, scientific functions, graphing functions, statistical functions, programming functions, 3D graphing, 2D and 3D plots, and much more." View all the HP calculators at good prices.


Texas Instrument Calculators - TI-83 and TI-84

What is the best TI calculator? Texas Instruments divides their calculators into several families. There are graphing calculators (the TI-83 Plus, TI-84 Plus, TI-84 Silver Edition, and TI-89 Platinum), scientific calculators, financial calculators, and basic and elementary calculators. The TI-83s and 84s come with built in pre-loaded apps for pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, geometry, precalculus, statistics, business and finance, biology, and physics. They vary mainly in their memory capabilities - the TI-83 has only 160K of ROM, 24K of RAM, the TI-84 has 480k/24k, the TI-84 Plus Silver has 1.5MB/24K, and the TI-89 has 2.7MB/188K. The TI-89 is designed more for high end applications including Calculus, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Physics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, differential equations, and linear algebra. The TI-73 Explorer is designed for grades 6-8, while the TI-83 Plus is meant for science and math graphing, with 7 different graphing styles and a $85 price tag: "The TI-83 Plus is an easy-to-use graphing calculator for math and science. Graph and compare functions, as well as data plotting and analysis. The TI-83 Plus is enhanced is programmable, upgradeable, and comes with FLASH ROM memory that allows you to store Calculator Software Applications." The TI-84 Plus Silver Edition has a built in USB port and they can be connected to TI presentation tools for class demonstrations - it has 9X the memory of the TI-83, comes with 30 pre-loaded apps and the periodic table, and advanced statistics functions (powered by 4AAA batteries). Price is $125. The TI-89 Titanium sells for just over $150, has a 100x160 pixel display, 2.7M of flash memory, and can easily calculate derivatives and integrals, limits, max./min., sequences, and series.

TI also makes financial caculators. Its best selling model is the BA II Plus Professional: "it features even more time-saving calculations to make short work of complex equations. It's ideal for finance, accounting, economics, investment, statistics, and other business classes, as well as on the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam." It also handles net future value, modified IRR, payback, and discount payback -- cost is $66. TI also makes calculators for kids. Their TI-15 Explorer is a colorful calculator with a good easy to read screen and big buttons, and is cheap at $14. With its 2 line display it can show stacked fractions and do fraction math. It comes with a small solar cell for power in areas with plenty of light, with an included lithium battery for power in low-lit areas. No matter what age child you have, TI makes an affordable calculator for their school needs. To find out more about TI calculators, visit their official website: http://education.ti.com