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VINE VOICEon 29 May 2012
* Introduction

The `Texas Instruments' brand within calculators is as - a - whole well regarded, with some models even specified by Universities for their degree - level courses. They are also, on the whole, and in my humble opinion, very well engineered to last. To bolster my claim, i have a TI-85 graphic that i purchased in 1991 in the new year sales and its still working! The TI N-spire graphic calculator is made in a few versions for different areas and student courses; one is the CX, the other with CX and CAS together. The first is for A-level type studies, and the next has 'Computer Algebraic Software' for higher-level courses using its symbolic calculations.

This particular `TI-N spire' graphic calculator is an overall improvement to the graphic made class because it addresses the failings of others such as 'TI-89 Titanium'. (With which i used for several years and grew to love). Briefly, it has a much better screen, much longer battery life, less requirements to remember keystrokes by using templates. And greater application of `pretty print' abilities. This is a wider ability to use Greek lettering within calculations that is EXACTLY the same as in text books.

I would also advise and recommend downloading the FREE help files in PDF format from the Texas Instruments website that explain how to use and apply this devices capabilities. But I recommend you use a device to read them, and not print them out, as its around 100 pages long.

* Physical

The device is thinner but longer than a large bar of chocolate. This device is divided into three general areas; Navigation zone, Math and Numerical zone, and the Alpha Keys Zone. All of the keys are resistant to your fingers and clicks when a successful key - stroke is made. You will find that the keyboard is alphabetically organised, and not 'Qwerty'. This gets around the blocking by exam boards on computing devices equipped with qwerty keyboards.

The screen is high quality, large, color screen that is better visualized as the back screen of a decent digital camera. The calculator is supplied with two cables, and PC software. One of the two USB cables supplied simultaneously allows the exchange of data and charges the battery within the graphic calculator. You will find that the indicator of how charged the batteries have become, is only indicated by quarters, that is 25%, 50%, 75% and with 100%, meaning fully charged. If you do let too much time pass, the battery may drain to 0%. Just connect the device via its cable to a handy usb port and it can recover! The device is also equipped with over 110 Meg of ram. The calculator has a touch - pad that can take a bit to recognize that a finger is using it. But when it works its adequate for the job.

* Using the device for the first time

You are requested to charge up the device before using it. Please connect the supplied USB cable to the calculator and to your computers spare USB 2.0 port. I recommend treating this battery as if it is a new mobile. This means at least 4 hours or better over night. Also if your not using it for a while, i would recommend that you charge it up once a month or around this time to keep the device operational.

A rewarding thing is you can use the calculator as it is, by small operations on a screen, or to choose to apply the full arsenal of graphical experimentation. The former you can access its mathematical resources is you can choose to use mathematical operations from within menus, or by accessing the long alphabetically sorted listings of commands. The latter is immediately rewarding as you can see the syntax for each operation and how to apply it. You can swap from that latter to the former. You have the choice which is great fun!

* Basic symbolic handling

If you have not before operated a symbolic engine in a computing device, then a simple example may give you an brief idea of what the 'TI - N-spire' capable of doing for you. If you differentiated 'sin(x)', you would obtain 'cos(x)' as a answer as it would be written on a page with 'pretty printing'. Also if you differentiate or integrate involved trigonometric functions, it will show equivalent's, that are often shown in the most compact form. This can be extended with limits, handling more than 'x' as independent variables, so helps with the Calculus issues, and finding solutions to equations , and applying mutually exchangeable algebraic equivalents, maximum and minimum and many other types of algebraic manipulations. Also you can generate Taylor series too. And amazingly, it can handle Logistical equation calculation's of the form x(n+1):=x(n)+ 3, such as recursively working out the population of the world in several years time. It can handle many series calculation types and in pretty print too. And allowing you to graph the results from Cartesian, polar, 3-d and z domains and others. Just think of the fun you could have multiplying larger matrices! If your up to complex analysis, this is the first rate way of usefully handing these operations. Programming the device has several well-designed ways to compose capable code.

This can be used to graph even 3-D stunning full color screen, color coordinated and have an ability to see them rotated and examinable zooming in and out.

* What is available?

The device is very structured to guide the user to follow the features. The start up screen is a mix of black with bright icons to show area for Calculator, Graphing, Geometry, Spreadsheets, Statistics, Notes, Data logging. This can hold up to four and embed these into a single document stored within the calculator.

* Free Software

** Older computing pc

This minor part with this free TI Nspire graphic software was undertaken with an installation of the PC software on a Windows XP, Pentium 4, 2.26Ghz, 1 Gig ram and 64 Meg Graphical Accelerator Card in 2012. To install this, it needs an 'administrative' level account of XP SP3 and above. The whole CAS in both the graphic and pc software is very well engineered and it looks similar to `MathCAD 2001i' software. The great thing about this PC software is that it operates with the similar keystrokes as the calculator AND standard key strokes that we use with a PC. So the learning curve between the two is linked and of less steep. Such as `ctrl C', `ctrl V' for copy and paste, and 'ctrl X' for cut. And the killer idea - for me anyway- is you are then able to print the graph you've been working on.

** More up to date pc

I have attempted today (20 Oct, 2013) to install the PC version of the TI-Nspire software on my Windows 8.1 pc. It needed to use troubleshooting tools in Windows 8.1 make it install. It installed compatible with Windows 7 environment settings. However, the code to activate its license is not recognized, anyway in my case. So the software dispersed on CD is not usable unfortunately. As an afterthought, I would try its installation with troubleshooting tools in a Windows XP environment mode. You never know, it may work?

* A way to play this application software?

If your up for a method, you could download a virtual machine to synthesise XP and make it run within it? This is used in a business environment when say a special app is a necessity requirement but the hardware requirement to run XP is considered obsolete or a liability in terms of security. One i have seen used is Oracle VM Virtualbox. The nice thing its free to download and apply. If you are interested, you can enter a well - known video sharing site and search with 'Oracle VM Virtualbox' in the box. Its interesting that it does work with other apps, if your blessed with reasonable specified computer.

* Upgrading its Operating System

There are opportunities on the TI website to update this N spire CAS CX graphics operating system. This can be justified as bugs are discovered over time and repaired or new useful features can be released to keep users happy. But PLEASE take care of how its done. Follow the information given EXACTLY. Print it out and double, triple check its every step. When I owned a previous TI graphic - TI89 Titanium - I managed to update my TI89 Titanium once when I followed the instructions exactly. The second time and I thought it easy and tried to do it from memory, but the TI89 Titanium device was permanently damaged. And i mean electrically dead! Yes I know it is a stupid mistake on my part, but both you and I pay a lot for these technological devices' and its a lot of money to waste due to being blasé about things!


It has a great screen, greater battery life, superb CAS, and is a wonderful device to explore and learn mathematical concepts. Tip, have a look on the web for instruction on how to use this device. Another tip is to buy the 'TI-Nspire For Dummies For Dummies Computers 2nd edition', ISBN-10: 1118004663 ISBN-13: 978-1118004661 as its a great resource to learn the many skills this device can create. This book has a place in learning these new skills as you can read it where ever you are and not need a device to read the TI pdf upon. (Again) If your in the market for help files, you may consider downloading free help files from the TI website. Finally, take GREAT care if and when you want to update its graphics operating system.
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VINE VOICEon 23 July 2011
Texas instruments have dominated the high-end calculator market in recents times. Their functionality is unrivalled. However compared to other modern handheld technology their greyscale displays and reliance on replacement batteries have meant they looked like they were stuck in the stone age. All this has changed with the introduction of the CX series. I bought a CAS version direct from Oxford Educational Supplies and it has immediately made my other Texas Nspire calculator redundant. Now I can see all my work displayed clearly - no more squinting. OK the display is not as good as an iphone, but compared to what I owned before, it's a quantum leap. The calculator isn't that bulky either and the battery life is excellent. Texas have also improved the keypad so each key depresses with a solid click. The touchpad technology also works well. As for the software - it is comprehensive and you can obtain regular updates online. Texas documentation has been a bit ropey in the past but the downloadable pdfs are very good. The only potential drawback is the price. After all you can buy a basic Casio for under a tenner. And if you want to do power calculations then you are going to use a computer based mathematical software package. So this raises the question do we still need stand-alone calculators? Texas develop their calculators for the US educational market. I need mine for my Maths degree. If you are doing A-levels and need a graphics calculator then buy the non-CAS CX version. But if you have no examination restrictions and are intending to spend more than £80 on a graphics calculator then (currently) this is the one to have.
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on 30 May 2014
I am very pleased with the quality and the functionality of this calculator. I find the rechargeable Li ion battery and the standard usb connector is a big positive. A big negative is however, that when you register on the Texas Instruments homepage for the software it turns out that they store your password in clear text and they even email you as cleat txt, so don't expect any security measures there and don't put your most valuable password in to the wild. When I wrote them about this the messaging didn't work on the website...
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on 11 April 2013
Superb graphic calculator in a completely different guise from any other manufacturers'. Genuinely think this is the future of graphic calculators as it is well integrated to computing with software facilities for teacher pupil interaction and there are also accessories for data gathering. Texas also provide a lot of support on their website.
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on 19 November 2015
Very nice, but please be sure that you actually NEED something like this. I'm an engineering student and I found that it sits in the draw a lot. Bit of a luxury toy that i forgot about quickly rather than a need.

Cons: Price. Keybord layout has you stretching, illogical layout for some frequently used buttons.
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on 11 April 2014
Brought this for my Son as he is currently studying Futher Maths and had been pressured into buying it by his lecturers.

He seems happy with it, does as it says on the tin and ideal for those studying Maths at A or Further Maths A Level and higher.
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on 17 July 2014
This calculator is great as an example you can take pictures and transfer it via PC USB link and analyse various aspects of the picture eg the hyperbola of an archway. When working on a problem it starts its life as a document you then can add functions, graphs, datasets etc to the document. The 100MB of memory is shared with the OS thus filling the library with how-to's etc will and does slow it down big time so once you learn how to then get rid of so not to fill up with crap and the calculator performs great. Real sensors can be connected and read by the Vernier Dataquest (tm) app. Great tool for all budding Engineers
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on 1 March 2014
Sometimes it surprises me by its cleverness; sometimes I am frustrated by its dumbness. Good but could be better is my overall view: it's not as good for example as the free mathematical tools available on the internet at Wolfram Alpha.
However - it is a calculator and does have the advantage of quick access and portability, so on the whole I'm glad I bought it.

A point I discovered later - it's integration routines are not completely reliable. One specific straightforward example (easy to describe in text format) is :-
Definite Integral of sin(x) / (a - sin(x)) between -pi and pi.
The answer on the calculator is -2pi which is obviously wrong as the result has to depend on a

Texas have admitted the problem (a year ago) but so far not resolved it.
Wolfram Alpha gives the correct answer by the way.
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on 3 February 2014
I have been buying programming and graphic calculators for years (the first one was Sharp PC-1246). This one is the best so far. There are two negatives of this calculator: battery life (few days top) and boot time (cca 1 min.).
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on 3 February 2015
If you think you could benefit from this calculator, you're thinking too hard. Extremely capable and powerful, does everything I could need it to do and more. Looking forward to using this through university!
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