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There isn't a lot on this site about the Numworks calculator, and I thought with the recent new hardware revision, it would be a good idea to write a post about it here on Cemetech for those who don't frequent TI-Planet.

So what is Numworks?

Simply put, Numworks is a graphing calculator with many features, such as the Python programming language built in, a very modern design and user experience, and the open source operating system Epsilon.

The new edition of the Numworks (N0110) brings many improvements to the system, including a sturdier protective case, 8MB of Flash memory instead of 1MB, and a much faster processor (with a clock speed of 216 MHz, an upgrade of over 100% from 100MHz on the older model).

TI-Planet admin critor tested several different calculators with a visual speed comparison, the results of which you can see in this video:



As you can see, the Numworks N0110 beats both the TI- Nspire CX II CAS as well as the HP Prime G2 (which was previously the fastest calculator on the market, and was only released about a year ago).

The Numworks N0110 is an important development in the world of graphing calculators, both with its great hardware and performance as well as its price- the Numworks calculator is staying at the price of $99.99, which is quite low compared to the TI-84 Plus CE, TI-Nspire CX II (CAS) and the HP Prime, which all cost more than $110.00, even with deals to cut the price. If you want to read a more in-depth article about the new Numworks, check out critor's article over at TI-Planet (if you can read French or use Google translate).

A little competition between companies is always good for the consumer, and hopefully TI, HP, and maybe even Casio will start releasing better and/or less expensive calculators in the future.

So, what do you guys think about the Numworks? Are you going to consider buying one (even if you don't, you can still try it out on the online simulator)? Any other opinions on the expanding graphing calculator market?

Quote:
As you can see, the Numworks N0110 beats both the TI- Nspire CX II CAS as well as the HP Prime G2 (which was previously the fastest calculator on the market, and was only released about a year ago).
In the Prime's defense, that was only one test and the Prime doesn't even officially support Python. Although the Numworks performance is impressive nevertheless, I think the 528mhz CPU in the Prime will give it an advantage in other tests. Who knows though, hopefully there's more benchmarks released soon! I have no excuse for the Prime losing to that amazing Price to Performance ratio though. Razz
I gotta go notify the HP people about this!
I recently bought Numworks, mostly because of the publicity itís been recently getting. I have mixed feeling about this calculator.
In comparison to TI84+CE, from the userís standpoint (*not* from the standpoint of a programmer who would like to mess with Epsilon):
1. Itís a lot faster. (Duh...)
2. It lacks a lot of functionality that TI84+CE provides (including types of graphs).
3. Graphing screen is far better organized and flexible than in TI84_CE.
4. Itís more wasteful when it comes to using display space. (The lines could be closer to each other allowing fo displaying more info.)
5. The display is of worse quality than TI84+CE. I donít know whether itís a display itself, the fonts, or the acrylic in front of it, but the digits look fuzzy.
6. Python... letí not fool ourselves: itís a subset of MicroPython 1.4.9. That said, it works, and programming in it is easier than in TI-BASIC.
7. THE DEAL BREAKER (for me, at least): the calculator does not allow for making a local backup, or, for that matter, local loading Python scripts (in order to do the latter you have to go through Numworks web site). I inquired at Numworks about possible ways of doing it, but they did not respond (at least not yet...)
Downloading new firmware clears the calculator. Thus, if I do it, I am going to lose all data. Python scripts theoretically can be retrieved, but the rest is gone. And since Numworks f/w updates are relatively frequent... the conclusion is obvious.
TI84+CE allows for saving every module and every variable on your local computer. A few times it saved my butt when I managed to bring it to a violent crash. (You can do it, especially if you mess with C Smile ). It also allows for writing programs on your computer and downloading them to the calculator.
8. Numworks documentation is rudimentary, and It can be seen that it was translated from French.

I decided to keep Numworks, since it is superior to TI84+CE in some aspects, and it may occasionally become useful. That said, if I knew of all its shortcomings beforehand, I would most likely not buy it. At least not until it matures.

Sorry for a rant.
6. FWIW, NumWorks' implementation of a Python subset is among the best you can find on any calculator-class platform on the market at the time of this writing, especially if you make a one-liner change to increase the size of the Python heap.

7. For transferring Python scripts, the NumWorks calculator uses a standard USB protocol, namely Device Firmware Upgrade. It is technically possible to use another means to access the calculator's data, though I'm not sure anyone outside of NumWorks has reimplemented it. Despite developing for the NumWorks calculator, I don't own one.

Although it's not for everyone, mainly due to silly exam testing regulations, let's add a
9. the second hardware revision mentioned in this topic (N0110) contains quite a bit more than enough Flash memory to store the code of a high-featured version of the high-end giac CAS (the one behind the Prime's CAS, and KhiCAS ports on other higher-end models). In fact, giac was ported to the N0110, though it suffers from the low heap size left by Epsilon' usage of the RAM.
The older N0100 is explicitly designed to be modded to solder a 8 MB (~1 USD) or 16 MB (~2 USD) QSPI NOR Flash chip, in which case it was shown to be able to run giac.
Good luck equipping a TI-eZ80 calculator with a comparable CAS Wink
Only KhiCAS on the Nspire CX and of course the Prime series' built-in giac in can beat the third-party port of giac on the NumWorks in terms of feature range. On the Graph 90+E (French model) / fx-CG50, due to a code size limitation of 2 MB for add-ins, the functionality of KhiCAS is crippled...
Thank you for your interesting take. I'd like to add some things: details about the Numworks and what kept me from buying it.

It's faster for a few reasons:
- That ARM CPU is clocked higher
- The CPU is features single-precision floating point (CE math is all in software FP)
- The interpretation of expressions is far faster. The original Equation Operating System, from the first TI-80 was designed to fit in a small space, not just in terms of program size, but also in terms of RAM usage. This effectively means that the system parses your expression every time you come across it from the raw text form you input. This is fine for single expressions on the calculation screen, but is absolutely horrible for graphing, where that expression has to be reevaluated more than a hundred times. It does also effect the speed of BASIC processing. Numworks does away with that. The OS is cleanly written using open source tools such as lex/yacc and only has to parse once. It does this parsing, simplifies the expression where it can, and only then does it actually start graphing it. This is what lets Numworks graphing be so much faster (similar techniques apply for other modern calculators such as TI-Nspire)

One feature that makes the Numworks quite a bit more valuable, at least compared to the American variants of TI's calculators, is the exact math engine (Present on Nspire CX II(-T) CAS, Nspire CX CAS, Nspire CX II-T, and 83 Premium CE). An exact math engine can deal in some basic units, rather than just pure numbers. This means that irrational numbers like π (pi), √2, and 1/3 can be represented in those forms until the user explicitly asks for an approximation (any finite-precision representation of an irrational/repeating is an approximation). This makes it much easier to do math with radians, thirds, and trigonometry(sin 45į = √(3)/2 and such).

MicroPython, even if just a subset, is still quite nice and is much faster. My biggest gripe with it is the lack of any solid API for IO needed for games and even normal applications.

I believe the documentation is hand translated from French but is missing some parts.

All that said, my biggest gripe with the Numworks is Epsilon's rigidity. The system uses an app metaphor, every different category of operation is a different app. The problem is that these are not apps, just screens. As such, there is no way to just load in another app. To do anything, you have to modify and then recompile Epsilon. This would be at least a bit OK if there was any standard documentation or interface but, as Epsilon is developed as one monolithic system, things change constantly in all parts. This is another problem. TI-OS and Nspire OS are also monolithic but there are ways they get around that (Apps/Native Programs/Lua integration). The reason TI-OS and Nspire OS are less criticizable, besides just app support, in this regard is that they actually take advantage of this integrated design. You can mix lists/matricies/variables/expressions between not just screens (stats/graphing/calculation) but also full apps (i.e. CelSheet). Nspire documents are woven together with functions, variables, and list all being accessible from different pages. With NumWorks Epsilon, there simply is no integration. Take the most integrated thing students tend to do in higher school with their 83/84s: statistical regression. They fill in the list editor, sometimes they do computations on these lists from the calculation menu, and then they may plot the regression on the graph. This is an example of all these "apps" working together. With Numworks, this does not happen. You can't share data from one app to another. Python can't manipulate variables or perform expressions with math engine the way one can from TI-BASIC (80/Nspire) or Nspire Lua (or even native TI 80 programs). This, in my opinion, is the massive flaw with Epsilon. I don't believe it's unfixable, but it could be way, way better. Along with limited programability, as good as Python is, it cripples the calculator in many use cases, especially those in higher math. I'm not saying Epsilon is bad, it's actually pretty great. The interface is clean and very intuitive and the exact math and quick graphing make it absolutely amazing but it doesn't have the shear power of a TI-84+ CE or similar calculators. As a still-new startup, I think Numworks has great potential to compete and that potential can only be realized with great software (hardware doesn't come cheap) so it's not surprising they upgraded the flash size.
The SPFP support in the CPU isn't very useful, given that the CPU does only support a handful of SPFP instructions, and anyway, for reasonable computations, everyone will want to use DPFP. Also, the float / double code duplication takes its sweet toll on the firmware size in Flash memory... in fact, I don't understand why they made it.

In the 9.2.0 firmware release, NumWorks added some sharing of functions across applications, as described by critor at https://ti-pla.net/t22196 , but sharing data between applications is indeed not at the same level of usability and power as on other models, AFAIK...
  
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