Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
Much improved graphic calculator
on 29 May 2012
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.
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.