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Suggestions for new built-in hardware - Printable Version

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Suggestions for new built-in hardware - Frozen North - 03-30-2014 09:13 PM

Suggestions for new built-in hardware

1. A headphone jack

So that audible alerts do not annoy the person next to you.

2. One or more microphones

The main idea is to provide for voice memos to be used as part of program documentation. A secondary purpose is for entering programs where a user can speak names of variables, programs, and results. A programmer can say the name "final velocity" and the calculator can both spell the term and also use repeats of that speech to reference an object. Why more than one microphone? For noise cancellation.

3. A high resolution camera

Say that you're at work and in front of you in a technical manual is a long, complex formula. Do you really want to type that formula into your calculator? No, you want to take a picture of it and have the calculator perform some optical glyph recognition and type it in for you. The same can be done for tabular data, printed or from your computer screen. And it's not to much of a stretch to copy graphical data in much the same manner.

4. An extra SDXC card slot with a pre-loaded 256 GB card

The idea here is to store the entire Wikipedia (updated periodically, automatically) along with a copy of every engineering, business, and scientific text which can be legally obtained for cheap and would be of use in calculations. Formulas inside the texts would be appropriately translated and indexed prior to use. The camera can be used to load additional texts and can also be used to help locate the most relevant text based on an image.

5. Key legend projection

An idea which has already been seen with very high end keyboard, key legend projection is done by having each key formed by movable, clear top and a fixed, OLED display base. The image on the OLED display gives the current function associated with a key press and is under control of the calculator. Each key could have a separate display, or multiple keys could share a single, larger display.

RE: Suggestions for new built-in hardware - Steve Simpkin - 03-30-2014 11:26 PM

Those hardware features sound more like they belong on a smartphone, tablet or touch screen media player than a calculator. Each has its place.

As much as I hate to say it, handheld calculators serve a niche which is decreasing over time. In the not-so-distant future, there will probably not be a place for a handheld device that is "only" used for calculations. This will probably not be "my" personal future but I suspect it will be for the vast majority of people. Even I find myself using my iPhone as my HP calculator, my camera, my video recorder or my eBook reader. Of course I have devices that are better at all of these tasks than my iPhone but they are not always with me and it always is.

Meanwhile I will still go out of my way for an excuse to "use" one of my HP calculators. For work, for home or just for fun, HP calculators have worked their way into my DNA.

RE: Suggestions for new built-in hardware - r. pienne - 03-30-2014 11:34 PM

You're a bit early, Frozen North! It's not the first of April yet.


RE: Suggestions for new built-in hardware - Frozen North - 03-31-2014 05:39 AM

Why should a calculator have some features currently reserved for smart phones or tablets? Well, why use a calculator instead of a smart phone or tablet?

1. The calculator is usually less expensive than a smart phone or tablet, perhaps by a large margin. So the calculator is cheaper to buy and cheaper to replace. A lower price makes it easier to buy a spare or two (home, work, auto) and easier to trade up to a better model.

2. The calculator has a keypad. This makes it far, far more easier to use than an unyielding, touch screen interface. If this weren't true, then most personal computers would use a touch screen instead of a keyboard. But no one who does a lot of typing or data entry uses a touch screen interface. On my iPad and my iPod Touch, I have many different calculator emulations (mostly HP and nearly all with RPN). I have tried all of these emulations from the HP-25C to the HP41-CX, and they all come in at second place to a calculator, even a calculator with cheap mushy keys.

3. A calculator rarely needs updating, so it doesn't need the infrastructure required for updating. The subtle corollary here is that the calculator developers know they may have just one chance to get it right; tablet developers might think they can always fix bugs with an upgrade. Come this summer, I'll have been programming for forty-five years and many times I've heard the adage "There's never time to do it right, but there's always time to do it over".

RE: Suggestions for new built-in hardware - Ailurus - 03-31-2014 07:48 AM

It's true that a calculator costs less than a smartphone, but most people have already invested into a smartphone and a calculator with the features you've listed would be really expensive. A pre-loaded 256 GB card, really? It's true that dedicated hardware with real buttons is a joy to use, but the problems you've listed are solved by the smartphone. The cost of not having hardware keys is less than the cost of what that device would cost and how bloated it would be.

Regarding headphones:
HP should make audible notifications turned off by default, it was the first thing I had to learn on my 50g and I have to go through it again whenever I clear my memory.