That Fail Calc.

That other day, Kiam and I drove over to the city Post Office to col­lect a much-awaited pack­age arriv­ing half-a-globe away from Canada. We were led by Post Office staff through a maze of mail sort­ing sta­tions, piles of parcels and what­not. At the cus­toms inspec­tion, Kiam pryed open our pack­age, reveal­ing three used TI-84 graph­i­cal calculators.

One of which, is mine:

Intro­duc­ing, the TI-84 series of graph­i­cal cal­cu­la­tors — the world’s most overrated.

It’s fat, ugly, slow, ancient, and expensive.

You see, we were told to get our­selves a graph­i­cal cal­cu­la­tor since the day we stepped into Swin­burne. But get­ting one could set us back about 600 bucks. And so we per­se­vered through­out two semes­ters of Math in Foun­da­tion using our faith­ful Casio fx-570MS from the days of SPM.

Every­time we’d find a way to solve dif­fer­ent Math prob­lems using the fx-570 (when it is thought that only the TI’s can solve them), we’d pride our­selves at how we man­age to save 600 bucks — yet again and again. I must say I’ve dis­cov­ered a lot about the abil­i­ties of the fx-570 more than I’ve ever knew in Form 5. Like I never knew it does matrices!

Of course, we all know it draws boo­bies rather well:


Unfor­tu­nately, even the faith­ful fx-570 couldn’t hold up any­more in degree-level Math.

We had to get a cal­cu­la­tor that draws what the fx-570 couldn’t draw, other than boo­bies — graphs.

Thanks to Kiam, we man­aged to get used TI-84 Sil­ver Edi­tions for merely 450 bucks each rather than its orig­i­nal sub-RM700 price. And so we reluc­tantly joined the rest of the class tap­ping away on the TI-84.

There’s a rea­son why I never really liked the idea of get­ting a graph­i­cal cal­cu­la­tor such as the TI-83/84 series — the price just doesn’t jus­tify what we’re pay­ing for.

Other than its out­ra­geous pric­ing, the TI-83/84 series cal­cu­la­tors are down right dinosaurs in today’s age. They’re absolutely bulky and infe­rior to the say, iPhone — the real gad­get of today’s age.

Get what I mean? It’s so huge it feels awk­ward to hold it with a sin­gle palm.

I need not remind you of what the iPhone is capa­ble of, albeit being at a (much) smaller size. It’s a cell phone, mp3 player, inter­net browser, cam­era, video player, touch-screened, and another 1001 fea­tures with its sup­port for Apps — includ­ing, yes, graphing.

Heck, imag­ine graph­ing apps on the iPhone!

And the TI-83/84? It’s..a.. cal­cu­la­tor, and a uh, *fum­bles through the TI-84 guide­book*.. one that draws graphs. =\

Heck, it doesn’t even draw graphs well. Thanks to its 15Mhz proces­sor (psst, the one in the iPhone runs at 620Mhz), it draws graphs a painstak­ing pixel-by-pixel!

In all it’s fat glory.

I haven’t even gone into com­par­ing the tech­ni­cal specs of the two gad­gets which would leave you won­der­ing just what the engi­neers over at Texas Instru­ments are doing.

Okay I’m aware of the huge price dif­fer­ence between the two (~RM700 for a TI-84 Sil­ver vs. ~RM2500 for the iPhone 3G). I’m aware that it’s cruel to pitch the 2004 TI-84 against the 2007-released iPhone. I’m aware that few gad­gets out there do if ever, come close to rival­ing the iPhone in its features-to-size ratio.

I just wanted to point out that the TI-83/84 series cal­cu­la­tors could either be slim­mer given the lim­ited func­tions it per­forms. Or, it could have more fea­tures given it’s humongousity.

Oh well, I guess that’s enough bashing.

If there’s one thing I like about the TI-84, it’ll be this:

Woots! Block Dude rocks! =D

by shenghan in Rants, School on 25th September, 2008 at 12pm, Thursday, September 25th, 2008 12:29 pm GMT +8


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  1. A bet­ter way of draw­ing boobs would be to use pi in-between the dots.

    As in (.?.)

    Okay, now I bet­ter stop before you fig­ure I’m a calc per­vert or some­thing ;P

  2. Destiny said

    It looks like a pretty cool graphic cal­cu­la­tor… speak­ing of which… now that I saw your cal­cu­la­tor, I think I need to go and pick one up… *sigh* the joys of re-taking Math 30 pure… now I need to find myself a cal­cu­la­tor again…

  3. ember said

    @Eli James, Oh yeah! We cer­tainly fig­ured that out right after the ini­tial boob craze. =D The one I showed is the basic form in all its glory.

    @Destiny, you mean you wanna pick up an iPhone. =P

    The TI-84 is def­i­nitely not a cool cal­cu­la­tor, don’t waste your money on it!

    Oh, and you *don’t* wanna take Math again. =P

  4. Rachelle said

    Hey I have that same exact same chunk of over­rated cal­cu­la­tor! Heh. But I think you paid wayyy too much for yours eh. I got mine brand new for 110 USD (I was already curs­ing under my breath at the check­out cashier –__-lll)

  5. Saad said

    hay, if i’m not mis­taken swin­burne lets you borrow(rent) the Ti-84 cal­cu­la­tor on semes­ter basis. Not sure abt the cost though.

  6. KiAm said

    homg u nearly scared me… (the title)… i thought the cal­cu­la­tor died on u already… o_o;

    Rachelle: the rea­son it’s rather expen­sive is because of the ship­ping charges… we opted for express mail because exams are com­ing up and we needed them badly ;)

  7. ember said

    @Rachelle, Whaaa? For a brand new one? Spank­ing new ones sell like >600 bucks (about 140USD) here! And that’s not even the Sil­ver Edition. =(

    @Saad, I read about it once on Black­Board! Guess I missed it. =

    @Kiam, Well what if it died? You gonna com­pen­sate me with your Stu­dio 17? XD

    Well Rachelle’s TI is a new one.. plus ship­ping charges like we did, it could only be around RM400 at most after conversion. =

  8. cdason said

    Ouch!! Hefty spend­ing. Thank God my course didn’t need me to buy such a cal­cu­la­tor. RMM600 is more worth spend­ing on a new mobile 3G phone.

  9. Rachelle said

    Where did you guys buy ze calc from?
    I would def­i­nitely try look­ing at what has to offer next time, they usu­ally have pretty awe­some deals! (fyi, the Ama­zo­ni­ans aren’t pay­ing me to write this com­ment. no wor­ries. xD]

  10. ember said

    @cdason, Exactly! And to think we have to spend 600 bucks for some­thing three times the size of any 3G phone but with a gazil­lion times less the fea­tures. Pffft. =(

    @Rachelle, Kiam up there ordered a batch of used ones from a lec­turer in Canada. And no, we didn’t get it from Ama­zon. (Even if they did pay you to adver­tise on my blog) XD

  11. Josh said

    Yeah, graph­ing cal­cu­la­tors are ridicu­lously priced, con­sid­er­ing you can get Pow­er­Graph for free on the iPhone. It does every­thing a typ­i­cal TI graph­ing cal­cu­la­tor does.

  12. Luminoth said

    But doesnt the texas instru­ment do for­mu­las, graphs, sta­tis­tics and stuff like that. Not to men­tion exten­sive pro­gram­ming as well.

    But rm600 is a hell of a price to pay. When I was in col­lege 6 years ago, I used a ti-83 which costs rm375 brand new.

  13. ember said

    @Josh, I know! Imag­ine how pretty those graphs would look like on the iPhone.

    @Luminoth, Yeah it does. I didn’t men­tion those func­tions (other than graph­ing) because those are expected of a sci­en­tific cal­cu­la­tor, to say the least. Sim­ple sci­en­tific calcs like the fx-570 would do the trick. It’s just that the TI’s pro­lly takes it a step fur­ther with bet­ter graph­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion, etc.

    It does pro­gram­ming. But not so sure on the exten­sive part.

    Wow. RM375 for a brand new TI-83? And you’re sure its not a second-hand one? That price cer­tainly sounds like what you can get for a used TI-83 in my campus. =(

  14. Luminoth said

    Ya, it was RM375 brand new. Every­one had to get one. It came in this hard plas­tic pack­ag­ing. After I used it for one year, it sat in my room from then onwards.

  15. KiAm said

    nawww… no more funny ideas abt my stu­dio… XD

  16. ember said

    @Luminoth, Yes the new ones come in hard plas­tic pack­ag­ing! Damn, that’s cheap! =)

    @Kiam, I haven’t come up with half of the ideas I have with your stu­dio yet! =P

  17. Serene said

    Ti-83 is an older ver­sion than Ti-83+ o.. ^^” Yup, RM350 for a used Ti-83+ in cam­pus o.O Rent­ing cost RM500 from the uni for 1 sem, after return will get bek RM450, but tats spe­cially for Busi­ness stu­dents I think haha.. I think some com­pa­nies engi­neer are using Ti-84+ too.. OMG! Boo­bies! swt..

  18. ember said

    Ah, that explains the cheaper price, Serene! And no won­der my lec­turer didn’t men­tion any­thing about TI rent­ing from the campus. =\

    And don’t tell me you never drew those on your fx-570 dur­ing high school. =P

  19. Danny said

    I am amazed to read such illog­i­cal and base­less com­par­i­son of gad­gets. RM2500 iPhone and TI-84Plus. The next we would here com­par­ing Kan­cil with the 5 Series of either Mer­cedes or BMW or even Rolls Royce or the Chilli Padi type of food served with that of Hilton etc.

    If you can spend RM2500 for an iPhone, or RM1300 for the Sony Eric­s­son or Nokia, can’t you spare a thought for the invest­ment for your pro­fes­sional career that will be part and par­cel of your rest of your life (which would be the next 40 years if your are unlucky to die at 60 and if you are lucky to stay pro­fes­sional that is).

    Shame on you in try­ing to save your­self the RM150 in buy­ing the 2nd hand unit; when you go and shout your­self and your friends at expan­sive restaurants!

    Per­haps you are born with a sil­ver spoon in your mouth, that’s why you can afford iPhone. What car are you dri­ving or you are dri­ven to the door of your Swin­burne class?

    Per­haps you should con­sider switch­ing your course to one which does not require graph­ing cal­cu­la­tor. But which course would there be these days which does not require one form of hi-tech gad­get or another?

    Count your bless­ing and count your­self lucky that you are intro­duced (and allow to use) the hi-tech tools to solve sim­u­lated engi­neer­ing prob­lems in your uni life. Try solv­ing 4×4 matri­ces or even 5×5 using your 570! Have you vis­ited

    Think thrice before you open your mouth; before you make com­ment and comparison!

    Count your­self lucky that you have a chance to study ter­tiary edu­ca­tion!!! Because I didn’t…

  20. Serene said

    I did my home­work on the TI cal­cu­la­tors coz needed to buy 2nd hand TI, as the cal­cu­la­tors rented by the uni fin­ished adi hehe.. Use for 1 sem oni.. ><
    lol I really din drew the boo­bies dur­ing high school using FX-570 before :P Maybe wasn’t notty enough haha..

    @Danny : Ouch.. so harsh o.. ^^” btw, not 150, but more than that adi ^^

  21. Danny said

    Peo­ple, who can afford iPhone, should not wind and wind and get petty with the RM200? A lot of free stuff there.

    Happy Study­ing.

  22. Johnny said

    Ya… buy with garan­tee, always best advice.… i bought my from Cr. Chai of Dia­mond Tech­nolo­gies, uni got his con­tact num­ber (uni said, he was Lec­turer with Swin­burne before he becomes Coun­cilor). Very nice per­son, come to uni to take order and cash and deliver to me (to uni also) when it arrives. got prob­lem… call him… he also go to pick up and fix and sent back. peace of mind, no sweat. ^.^ Those who buy 2nd hand… pray your unit ok…

  23. ember said

    @Danny. Wow I’ve been wait­ing for some­one to dis­agree with me.. until you showed up.

    But.. *sigh* your argu­ment is an utter disappointment.

    First things first, did you even fin­ish read­ing my post? I *explic­itly* claimed in a dis­claimer above that it was indeed unfair pitch­ing those two together, com­par­ing them head to head. I know the price dif­fer­ence between the two. I know the iPhone came out after the TI-84.

    What I really wanted to point out is that the engi­neers at Texas Instru­ments could’ve done a bet­ter job at improv­ing the TI-84’s feature-to-size ratio. As in, as I’ve stated above, the TI-84 could’ve been slim­mer given the lim­ited fea­tures it per­forms, or it could have more fea­tures given it’s sheer size. Sim­ple as that, no more, no less.

    Your anal­ogy of my com­par­i­son isn’t accu­rate either. Com­par­ing a Kan­cil and a BMW would be akin to com­par­ing an Aba­cus and a TI-84. In which the for­mer is cheap, bare­bones but the does the job, whereas the lat­ter is an over­priced option that also does the job, though with a myr­iad of fea­tures (when in direct comparison).

    If I were to come up with an anal­ogy of my com­par­i­son of the TI-84 vs the iPhone, i’d com­pare — wait for it — apples and oranges.

    Why are we draw­ing up analo­gies anyway.

    You’re com­par­ing a vehi­cle and another vehi­cle. I wasn’t com­par­ing a cal­cu­la­tor and another cal­cu­la­tor. The two gad­gets are really in they’re dif­fer­ent worlds. One’s a cal­cu­la­tor, the other’s a smartphone.

    It is the low feature-to-size ratio of the TI-84 that com­pelled me to pitch it against the obvi­ous king of the high­est feature-to-size ratio of gad­gets — the iPhone.

    One more rea­son I chose the iPhone — though it would make a weak point in argu­ment, but I’d just point it out any­way — is just for the fun of writ­ing the post. Would you rather read some­thing with the hip and cool iPhone in it or would you read an utterly bor­ing tech­ni­cal com­par­i­son between two graph­i­cal calculators?

    It gets even inter­est­ing going fur­ther through your com­ments. Where on Earth did you get the idea that I actu­ally own an iPhone?

    Sorry to dis­ap­point you, but I don’t own one. I’m sorry if that obvi­ously doc­tored image of the TI FAIL — iPhone WIN photo led you to believe otherwise.

    I couldn’t afford the iPhone and wouldn’t get one even if I could. Why else do you think I’d save the 150 bucks for a 2nd-hand TI-84? Heck, if I could afford an iPhone why would even lament about the TI-84 being so costly?

    So don’t go around accus­ing me of show­ing my ass in expen­sive restau­rants with my friends because I don’t. And that state­ment of me being born with a sil­ver spoon in my mouth is totally uncalled for.

    I’m not totally ungrate­ful to being required to get a TI-84. I’m aware of its wide­spread usage and adop­tion, its pos­si­bil­i­ties in the engineering/business world. And I know allright.

    I never said its use­less. I never doubt its potential.

    Per­haps you need to see my rea­son­ing from look­ing at the TI-84 from a geek’s point of view. The feature-to-size ratio it has, the rather out­dated and ancient tech­nol­ogy and com­po­nents that pow­ers it, etc. Then you’ll see how the TI-84 fails to be slim­mer or more feature-ful.

    I do not get mad with peo­ple who are appar­ently “half tin full make the most noise”. But I’m really, really good when it comes to spot­ting one.

    Oh, AND, its ‘whine’, not ‘wind’.

    Happy real­is­ing how non­sen­si­cal your com­ments are.

  24. ember said

    @Serene, Oh you inno­cent fun-deprived lit­tle thing! I don’t know any­one who hasn’t drawn boobs in their fx-570s before! =P

    Sorry to hear you didn’t get those rented TI calcs from cam­pus too. =(

    @Johnny, Yes we were informed of a Mr. Chai that sup­plies TI’s to Swin­burne. But get­ting them from him is like the most costly option. We opted for cheaper 2nd-hand units instead.

    Like you said, we won’t be eli­gi­ble for war­ranty if any­thing goes wrong. That is well, some­thing we won’t be hop­ing for down the road.

  25. KiAm said

    o_o « at those über loooong comments…

    (i just had to post some­thing here)

  26. aronil said

    dude i gotta show u the sil­li­est thing over for the cal­cu­later. maybe u’ve seen it.. it’s where the cal goes bonkers really bonkers haha. and with games stuffed inside your fail cal… no won­der got fail la :P

  27. ember said

    @Kiam, don’t even bother to read them. It’s a waste of anybody’s time. XD

    @aronil, LOL that sounds really bad! Where did you see that bonkered calc? Well yeah haha. I’m already find­ing myself tap­ping away on games on the TI-84 dur­ing my Math lec­tures. =P

  28. Hans L. said

    1. Draw (,)(,) on the fx-570ms.
    2. Imag­ine how that would look like in the real world.
    3. Get a brain haemorrhage.

  29. ember said

    I’m gonna refrain from doing just that. o_O

  30. someone said

    Well, I am a high school stu­dent, senior sci­ence III. Talk­ing about calculators.…..we are study­ing pure maths too and I am using Casio 570ES(around RM40+-), it has more func­tions com­pared to the 570MS, but the speed is%^&*.……I need 2 cal­cu­la­tors dur­ing exam.…
    As for graphs, we use com­puter software-Mathematica, and it is bril­liant (but you have to learn the com­mands first).…
    So far we still dont need a graph calc…but thanks for shar­ing, maybe i will need one in future.

  31. ember said

    Wow. 2 cal­cu­la­tors dur­ing exam? I think I’m gonna resort to just that too! Con­sid­er­ing there are some func­tions I can’t live with­out on the 570MS and haven’t yet found out how to per­form on the TI-84.

    I should really try out Mathematica!

  32. Patrick said

    Remem­bered the days in the uni which I was required to use a TI-83 as well. Well, I man­aged to find a AUD50 Ti-83 sec­ond hand from Ebay and I am sure there are loads more. I actu­ally have one as well which I want to get rid off. Haven’t been using it for ages and just sit­ting inside the box doing nothing.

    One won­der­ful thing that this Ti-83 can do is to store data as well. There is many won­ders it does in exams, but the mem­ory sure can load many things. Funny part is, there is a spe­cial ver­sion of the Ti –83 firmware which a cheat pro­gram can be installed. When the mem­ory is cleared, (as in exams) it can be recov­ered in just press­ing 2 but­tons! (I think i still got that pro­gram some­where).. Very very use­ful dur­ing exams.. that’s for real.. best per­sonal expe­ri­ence in uni life!

  33. ember said

    That’s really cheap! Even after con­ver­sion to local rates. Actu­ally that explains the use­ful­ness of that cal­cu­la­tor after we grad­u­ate doesn’t it? I’ve heard plenty of sto­ries where TI-83/84s go obso­lete after university.

    I’ve actu­ally tried upload­ing games and suc­cess­fully stored Super Mario and a sim­ple Minesweeper game onto my TI-84. =P But wow, that mem­ory cheat pro­gram is god­send! Finals are like two weeks away and I should really try that! XD

    Thanks for the tip!

  34. Cy said

    Eh — I know this is an old post, but I can’t resist com­ment­ing that I have the exact same cal­cu­la­tors as you! Both the graph­ing and the sci­en­tific. Or had, as it were, since I lost the TI-84 and had to have it replaced with an 83. Heh.

    • ember said

      Ouch. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Must be a pain to lose such an expen­sive cal­cu­la­tor such as the TI-84. =(

      Don’t worry about the delayed reply. Isn’t it irrel­e­vant as of yet, since I still use both cal­cu­la­tors and will still do at least for the next three years. You must be doing either engi­neer­ing or some­thing sim­i­lar to war­rant the use of a graph­i­cal calculator. =)

  35. I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?