- Back to School 2016: What Graphing Calculator Should I Buy?
- 26 Aug 2016 08:16:35 pm
- Last edited by KermMartian on 27 Aug 2016 11:56:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

For the sixth year in a row, Cemetech is excited to bring you a Back to School guide, helping you figure out the best graphing calculator to get for school and how to use it. In both 2011 and 2012, we published trios of guides, showing you which calculator to buy, how to get programs and games onto your calculator, and how to learn to program your calculator. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, we held your hand through Which Graphing Calculator Should I Buy?. This year, we once again present a guide to selecting from the baffling array of graphing calculators now available to high school and college students. We'll help you figure out which calculator is right for primary school, high school, or college students, whether for yourself, your child, or your students.

The landscape of available graphing calculators in 2016 is largely the same as in 2015, so we based our selections on the same democratic vote by Cemetech's we conducted last year. In that poll, we asked our members to vote on the best calculators in three categories: (1) High School Math and Science; (2) CAS (College); (3) Programming. As you'll see in the discussion below, the recent TI-84 Plus CE released last year and updated in gold and white this summer was a very popular contender. TI's TI-Nspire CX CAS and HP's HP Prime also earned high marks. All three of these calculators are accepted on standardized tests like the SAT, and of the three, only the TI-84 Plus CE is allowed on the ACT. Like last year, we're no longer recommending the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition and TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, both of which have been effectively banished to obsolescence. Although the TI-Nspire CX is a fairly popular high school math and science calculator, we feel that the TI-84 Plus CE is a better, easier-to-use choice, and the general student, teacher, and programmer consensus appears to agree.

Learn to use your TI-84 Plus CE with Using the TI-84 Plus, from math and graphing to statistics and programming. Learn to program your calculator with Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus. |

The HP Prime is also a very powerful CAS calculator, albeit with a few growing pains. It offers a multitouch screen, a very powerful arbitrary graphing features, and CAS features similar to those on the TI-Nspire CX CAS. When it was first released, the Prime's OS was buggy, but has been improved in the interim. Certain promised hardware and software has yet to appear in the three years since its release, but with a beautiful design, powerful hardware, and an extremely fast BASIC programming language, the HP Prime promises to continue to improve into a great tool for college students and professional engineers. A sleek, powerful, improving touch-screen calculator with a symbolic CAS for college students and professionals.

The Final Verdict:

Now that the three major graphing calculator companies all offer color-screen calculators, the quiet disappearance of the battery-conserving black-and-white graphing calculator seems inevitable to us here at Cemetech. We therefore are no longer recommending the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition and the TI-89 Titanium, as much as we respect those erstwhile models. Of course, if you already have a TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus (or Silver Edition) or a TI-89, you don't need to upgrade to a color calculator yet. If you need a new calculator, here's what you should consider:

- If you (or your child) are an primary or high school student, your teachers may recommend a TI-84 Plus CE or a TI-Nspire CX, in which case you should follow their advice. Remember, all models mentioned herein are accepted on the SAT, and most on the ACT, so none win or lose big on that count. For high school students getting a new calculator, the TI-84 Plus CE is our favorite choice.

- If you're looking to take college classes in higher math, science, or engineering, the TI-Nspire CX CAS or the HP Prime are the calculator for you.

- If you're a programmer, or you want to encourage your student to be a programmer, the TI-84 Plus CE is the best options. It allow BASIC, ez80 ASM, and C programming. The HP Prime also has a very fast BASIC language, and the Casio Prizm was the original C-programmable calculator.