HP 35s Scientific Calculator

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Engineering, Surveying, Science, Medicine, Display type: LCD

Top Positive Review

The caveat is that I am not steeped in the HP calculator tradition and only used their RPN calculators sparingly. Others — particularly scientists and engineers — may have legitimate complaints about this unit.

Upon retirement as a software developer, I am able to indulge in my amateur radio hobby more and, perforce, need a decent scientific calculator. This unit seemed to be a good choice and, as I progress, RPN seems like one of those “I could have had a V-8” phenomena. I am sorry I did not do this earlier. That said, methinks many doth protest too much and need to get a life. If one is disappointed because it’s not an HP-41, then one should explore eBay and pick from the many older units that abound — for three or more times the HP 35s (approx.) $55 MSRP.

The calculator is solidly built and has a nice tactile response and is loaded with features. It sits nicely on the desk and the display is at the proper reading angle. It has solid rubber feet which stop it from sliding all over the surface. Thus far — with an intense learning curve for me to overcome — I have not noticed key bounce or missed keystrokes. But if people say they have experienced that, I will be alert for same. But, all in all, it is a nice instrument.

Of course, there are downsides.

(1) One cannot upload or clone programs from other sources; I presume this is to allow these to be used in various engineering exams, etc. But programming can be done manually and there is a decent section in the user’s guide on that. Interestingly, HP 35s calculators that have been pre-programmed can be had on Amazon and eBay for something on the order of $225. It tickles the imagination just how they got these programmed unless, of course, they employed a phalanx of engineering students to laboriously hand enter the formulas.

(2) The different bases (binary, octal, decimal, hexadecimal) are somewhat cumbersome to use. But — and I do not wish to be glib here — I did not buy the calculator for that reason. The internet abounds with FREE Windows and MAC and Android scientific calculators that handle number bases in a more logical fashion. Reviewers have pointed out how other keystroke sequences are cumbersome but being a scientific and mathematical ignoramus, I have not noticed anything yet.

(3) The user’s manual is on an accompanying CD. For a short time, HP shipped the unit with a printed paperback NOT the nifty, handsome, spiral-bound manuals they used to produce. But, several years ago, they went all Greenpeace/tree-hugger on us and dumped it to CD. DESPITE WHAT THE MANUAL SAYS, HP DOES NOT HAVE A PRINTED VERSION ON REQUEST FROM CUSTOMER SUPPORT. Also note that there are multiple language versions of the manual thereon the CD. To this point, I have several calculators who sent along those little paperbacks that I found inconvenient to make notes in or otherwise paw through. Also, the have gotten lost..uh..somewhere in a move over the past 25 years or so. Since I am in a catching-up learning curve, I am printing mine chapter by chapter and working through each chapter as I go. (By the way, I recommend you print it two-up as it is 380 pages long.

(4) While this is not a downside, a lot of folks have gone off on the “new” case that ships with the HP 35s now. It is a departure from the original zipper case that harkens back to the older HP models. I find the newer slip case to be sturdy and durable and works just fine and NOT to be a reason to avoid purchasing a 35s. In fact, it is more convenient to stow and remove the unit from this than the earlier version. However, the older case did allow for storage of notes and other items in addition to protecting the calculator. It is easy to see why surveyors or others in the field would favor that.

Will get back later with any other regrets as conditions warrant.

Top Critical Review

I have now been forced to buy 3 of these things (HP35s). It is hard to find RPN HP calculators any more for any reasonable price, so this is why I continue to buy it. But I am getting tired of the product quality. The first one died after 2 years and 1 month (one month past the HP warranty). Pressing the keys just resulted in garbage on the screen, Replacing the batteries (themselves a high cost) and going through troubleshooting did nothing to fix it. Bought it again after this, and the package arrived broken or cut open and some of the keys did not function at all. Returned this one within 30 days (prompt refund, without questions) and bought yet another. If this one dies an early death, I will be done with this HP model and maybe HP altogether. I have used HP RPN calculators since the first ones over 45 years ago. The early ones lasted forever, and the new ones barely function; in addition, they key layout is much more awkward and cumbersome.

UPDATE: I got my new 35s today. Took it out of the container (this time it was not busted open). Put in the new batteries. And lo-and-behold. Nothing. NONE OF THE KEYS work at all. This thing is the biggest piece of trash I have ever seen. Amazon – you say this is your “preferred choice”?? What is this rubbish? How can it be that I get three of these in a row, each one worse than the last? Either HP has gone completely downhill or Amazon is allowing its vendors to sell pirated calclulators. I’ll return this AGAIN. I am really sick and tired of driving to the post office to return garbage being sent to me.

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