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review of WP 34s
05-22-2018, 12:49 AM (This post was last modified: 05-22-2018 01:16 AM by gomefun2.)
Post: #1
review of WP 34s
DISCLAIMER: I AM NEW TO THIS CALCULATOR, I HAVE SLOWLY ENJOYED USING THIS CALCULATOR MORE OVER TIME, LIKELY MY OPINION WILL IMPROVE OVER TIME (though my opinion isn't that bad right now).

If you are interested in this calculator try the emulator to make your own opinion of it.

My previous HP calculator experiences are with the HP 35s, and a little bit with FREE42. I really like the HP 42s, it was a very nice calculator.

Brief review: The WP 34s has the steepest learning curve of any calculator I have ever used (by far). It almost feels like a calculator designed for calculator designers. It has an incredible number of things it can do but lacks a large memory to store several complicated programs (though I am sure most people will be happy with the amount of storage). This calculator isn't meant for easy equation solving (It is not pick up and play at all (except for basic RPN calculations)). It is meant (ONLY) for repetitive tasks that can be programmed and it is a standard RPN scientific calculator besides this.

Limitations: This calculator is limited because it does not have a symbolic MISO (Multiple Input Single Output) Solver. This is the feature I use scientific calculators for more than anything else. To program a basic symbolic MISO solver is quite an undertaking (whereas on the HP35s and the HP42s it is simply a matter of typing in an equation with the associated symbolic variables and constants). There is also a limitation when putting in long numbers into a program (if you wanted 3.1415 as a single line in the code this isn't possible, though it is possible to put the number in, it isn't as straightforward as other more recent HP calculators (and takes several lines of code)).

Advantages: While using this calculator I have learned a lot about efficient programming (due to being forced to try to save space). I have learned how to write much better code for the HP 35s because the WP 34s forced me to think in a way that I was too lazy to think before. The WP 34s is very fast at most things (I've tested, except for integrals, where it is about as fast as the 35s).

What do I plan to use this calculator for? This is a hobby machine, but it can be put to work for repetitive tasks. It is more involved to program the WP 34s than any other calculator I have used. Nothing is simple on this calculator, and everything takes time. That being said, once this calculator IS setup with equations and programs that the USER needs to use on a regular basis, this calculator is fast and reliable, and very accurate. So the best use of this calculator is to use it for stuff you regularly calculate on a regular basis. Almost any kind of calculation is possible and to a large degree of accuracy. You can program 4 physical face buttons to do anything, and so I plan to associate those 4 buttons with calculations I do on a daily basis. This calculator can be turned into a specialized tool for any engineering discipline and could be very useful.

Suggestions for future revisions: The calculator needs more storage. The calculator should have a built-in MISO solver (I really liked the HP42s MISO solver).

EDIT: by symbolic MISO I don't mean CAS, I mean a numerical solver with named variables.
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05-22-2018, 02:27 PM
Post: #2
RE: review of WP 34s
On the lack of memory front, you can store programs to flash and run them from there. The amount of space left depends on which version of the firmware is installed, but there is plenty.


Pauli
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05-22-2018, 08:29 PM
Post: #3
RE: review of WP 34s
(05-22-2018 12:49 AM)gomefun2 Wrote:  If you are interested in this calculator try the emulator to make your own opinion of it.

For the record: the keyboard mapping of the (classic) emulator is a big PITA, I think. Don't expect to press key "A" when you type "A" on your PC keyboard...#-)

The 31s does a much better job here. And maybe that's more of an everyday calculator, compared to the 34s. Actually my Windows "calculator" hotkey pops up the 31s emulator. ;-)

(05-22-2018 12:49 AM)gomefun2 Wrote:  Brief review: The WP 34s has the steepest learning curve of any calculator I have ever used (by far). It almost feels like a calculator designed for calculator designers.

In a way this really is true. ;-)

(05-22-2018 12:49 AM)gomefun2 Wrote:  It has an incredible number of things it can do but lacks a large memory to store several complicated programs (though I am sure most people will be happy with the amount of storage). This calculator isn't meant for easy equation solving (It is not pick up and play at all (except for basic RPN calculations)). It is meant (ONLY) for repetitive tasks that can be programmed and it is a standard RPN scientific calculator besides this.

Quoting John F. Kennedy: "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard". That's what the 34s is made for. It is a calculator that can do things no other calculator (I know of) will do out of the box. And not with this accuracy (up to 34 digits, even with exotic functions). Whenever I need a reference it's the 34s that I use. Another example: I have designed some rational approximations that approximate the Normal quantile function with 10+ digits. This means solving a linear equation system with 9 unknowns. Try it in Excel (which I normally use for such things): no way, the roundoff errors with 15-digit IEEE double precision make the obtained results unusable. Solve it on the 34s, and everything is fine.

(05-22-2018 12:49 AM)gomefun2 Wrote:  There is also a limitation when putting in long numbers into a program (if you wanted 3.1415 as a single line in the code this isn't possible, though it is possible to put the number in, it isn't as straightforward as other more recent HP calculators (and takes several lines of code)).

Yes, this is a limitation of the 34s programming model. But more important, even in normal calculations you cannot enter more than 12 digits ("Too Long Error").

Dieter
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05-23-2018, 12:43 AM
Post: #4
RE: review of WP 34s
Dieter,

You are being too generous. You helped design and implement the 34S statistical routines, no wonder they can serve as a reference for lower precision devices.....


Pauli
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05-23-2018, 12:45 AM
Post: #5
RE: review of WP 34s
The 34S isn't necessarily difficult to learn. The keyboard layout and function locations are quite logical once you get used to them. I would have to say it is one of the most logically arranged calculators ever -- that doesn't mean simple or trivial to learn.


Pauli
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