Pros: Inexpensive, solar power
Cons: Shiny glare display, feels cheap
This calculator annoys me in several ways although it does have a few redeeming qualities that probably makes it worthwhile for high school math.
It's not clear to me why TI decided this calculator needed a slid on hard cover. I find this annoying for a machine this size and would prefer a slip cover instead. For expensive graphing calculators, the hard cover makes sense, but for a device under $10 or $15 dollars it just isn't worth the hassle. Going without the cover doesn?t work well because without it, the calculator seems unlevel on my desk...like a table with one leg too short. This brings me to the next point.
The TI slides around very easily on smooth surfaces. This is possibly the most aggravating thing about it. I wish they would have installed some rubber pads on the back to keep it in place. It was probably part of the marketing strategy to keep the cost down. It's ashamed people shop on the basis of price only. I would be glad to pay more for niceties like rubber feet.
The calculator feels cheap--as though it would shatter in a million pieces if dropped. It is very lightweight, and this could be a good thing if you have to carry it around in a pack all the time, but this also makes it unsteady while using it. A little heft can actually be a benefit.
The display is shiny and has a lot of glare. I find it difficult to read in many situations. When I look directly at it, the digits are easy to read. It has an interesting combination of dot matrix digits on the upper row and segmented digits on the bottom row. There is plenty of room on the display for little indicators like angle mode, fix, etc. A little arrow in the upper left corner indicates if previous entries have been made. You can use the up arrow key to bring those entries into view.
The keypad labels have good contrast against the black calculator case and are easy to read. It's amazing how little thought some models on the market give to this. The translucent cases may look trendy, but when it's time to get work done, the trade-off becomes obvious.
Overall, it has a complete set of features for a basic scientific calculator. I like the fact that it has five memory areas for storing intermediate calculations.
I do not like the fact that I must use the [2nd] button to perform square roots. I do square roots a LOT more than I use pi. It would be nice if they would make pi a shifted key choice and make square root a top-level button. Oh well.
While on the topic of square roots, I should point out that the algebraic system does not always work as intuitively as some simpler calculators you might be used to. For example, if you enter 2.3 x 4.5 and press enter, the answer appears as 10.35. But then if you want to take the square root of this answer, you cannot just press [2nd] then square root because that will just cause the calculator to wait for you to enter a number. Of course, ideally, you would select the square root function first then do the product, but I do not always plan out my calculations like that.
One reviewer mentioned that the calculator is not precise. The example was that if you type .02 x .03, the answer is 0. This will happen if the number of display digits has been set to a specific number. To see all of the digits in the answer, press [2nd] [fix] and choose F. I think this may be a common source of confusion with this and many other calculators. It's not really a flaw.
I wish this calculator used a comma separator for the calculation results. It can be really hard to tell the difference between 100000.00 and 10000.00, but with a comma, 100,000.00 and 10,000.00 are so much clearer. That is one reason I tend to prefer HP calculators in general despite their higher price.