- User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:Easy to use, large enough screen
Cons:Doesn't calculate fractions
The Bottom Line: If you need a good mid-range graphing calculator, this is the one. If you need something to do your pre-algebra fractions, you might want to think again.
I have used no less than a dozen different scientific calculators over my years as a student and educator, and I finally decided to purchase one my Sophomore year at college for my chemistry class. I slected the TI-85 graphic calculator because we had to graph some things for chemistry, and it allowed me to write complex programs for calculus, as well. It wasn't until my 14-year old son in pre-algebra started complaining that I realized there was a fatal flaw!
The TI-85 does not have the capability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide fractions in fraction form! If you want to convert them to decimals, this is the thing to use, and if you want to graph a line, it will sure do that! But it does not computer fractions! Imagine my surprise.
This calculator is fairly large-not really a pocket model. It is about 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. It does have a plug-in at the bottom so you can download programs from other people or from the Texas Instruments website or other internet-based program sites. It has the 2nd key, which doubles up the number of programs accessible from a limited keyboard, as well as the alpha button, which allows you to use an alpha-numeric key stroke pattern as well. The screen is about 1.5 by 2, so you can get a pretty good sized graph if need be.
The TI-85 is programmable, so that is nice. The first day of chemistry we programmed all our calculators with the programs we'd be using, as well as took notes on formulas like co3 for Carbonate and such as that. That's where the alpha feature really comes in handy.
The calculator takes standard AA batteries, and will automatically shut itself off after a short time of unuse, so that really helps. In fac, during the 2 semesters I took my most challenging calculator-required classes, I never changed the batteries. Only now, 3 years later, is the screen going dim because of batteries getting low. Granted, it's been a glorified paperweight the last year or so, but still!
All in all, the calculator is really easy to use and understand. It comes with an instruction manual, so that simplifies matters. It also comes with a sliding case so the buttoms aren't always being pushed, which would result in frequently dead batteries.
I really like this calculator, and even though it doesn't do fractions, I think it is definitely worth the $30 I paid for it on ebay. The same calculator at Wal-Mart was $120!
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Purchase Price: 30