So you're back in school. Suddenly you're stuck at a desk for eight hours a day, five days a week, and life looks bleak. Luckily for you, you have your trusty TI or Casio graphing calculator by your side, perhaps a TI-83+ or a TI-84+ Silver Edition, a Casio Prizm, or (heaven forbid) a TI-Nspire. Now you want some math programs and some games for your calculator to keep yourself educated and entertained. You've come to the right place! Or perhaps you are looking to buy a graphing calculator for yourself, or for your son or daughter for school. You, too, are in the right place at the right time. Without further ado, please enjoy Cemetech's brief guide to getting started with your new or love-worn graphing calculator!

Buying a Calculator
If you already have a calculator, then you don't need to read this section, unless you're interested in expanding your collection or are doubting your choice. If you happen to have a recommendation or requirement from a teacher or professor, that narrows things down significantly. Our personal recommendations:

High school students (and below): Your best choice is a TI-84+ Silver Edition graphing calculator. It's powerful, has tens of thousands of math programs and games available, lasts for months on a set of batteries, and is attractive to boot. Even better, you can put Doors CS on it (more on that later). If you're the sort that cares, the TI-84+SE is accepted on standardized tests like the ACT and the SAT. Your second-best choice is only second-best because your average teacher is likely to be less familiar with it: the Casio Prizm. For the same price (or cheaper!) than a TI-84+SE, you can have a huge, bright, full-color LCD, an extremely fast processor, ten times the memory, and for you programmers, easy coding in BASIC and C. Like the TI-84+/SE, it can do algebra, simple numeric calculus, graphing, statistics, and is accepted on standardized tests.

College students: Are you doing engineering? If so, a TI-89 might be appropriate, as it has much more powerful symbolic features than the TI-83+/84+ series of calculators, extensive calculus capabilities, built-in 3D graphing, and much more. In addition, if you enjoy programming, you can write C programs for the TI-89. However, if you're not doing engineering or math, and you're not an experienced, hardcore programmer, then you're probably better off with a TI-84+ Silver Edition or a Casio Prizm (see above).

Programmers: Do you love hacking together a nifty C program or trying to reverse-engineer the assembly instruction set for your smart toaster's proprietary CPU? If so, you're best off with a TI-84+SE or a Casio Prizm. The TI-84+SE is a less powerful calculator, but programming it in BASIC or z80 assembly is widely documented, and here at Cemetech (and elsewhere) you can find dozens of friendly, knowledgeable, experienced coders to help you surpass hurdles in the learning process. The Prizm development community here at Cemetech is smaller, and documentation is less mature, but the device has a huge amount of power waiting to be unlocked, and with the Prizm SDK based on gcc, C programs are easy and fun to write.

Loading Up Your Calculator
Now that you have a shiny new (or old) device, you need to put some cool stuff on it.

Casio Prizm: We'll get the shorter list out of the way first. If you have a Casio Prizm, you thus far have a relatively small set of resources to work with. The device can run most Casio FX-9860g BASIC programs, as well as Prizm-specific C/ASM and TI-BASIC programs:
:: FX-9860g BASIC programs
:: Casio Prizm tools and games

TI-83+/84 Series: Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of programs for these calculators are available online. The first program you should get should be Doors CS 7.1.1 (or DCS 7.2 Beta 2, if you prefer cutting-edge releases). Doors CS is a shell and GUI for the calculators, and without it, many assembly programs and games will not run. If you've heard of MirageOS, get Doors CS instead: it's faster, much more stable, can understand and execute many more types of files, has a more graphical and simpler interface, and much more. Of course, I'm its author, so I'm somewhat biased, but the thirty-eight thousand people who have downloaded it largely agree from the feedback I've received over its decade of development. Next, you'll need programs and games from the file archives of ticalc.org and Cemetech. Be sure to spend time browsing and exploring; you can find almost everything at one of the two sites. If you can't find something, post a post or a thread, and we can help you look. If it actually doesn't exist, you should write it! More on that below.
:: Doors CS 7
:: General ticalc.org TI-83+/84+ archives
:: General Cemetech TI-83+/84+ archives

TI-89: Unfortunately, Cemetech has few TI-89 programmers, and over the years, the 68k community (those who program for the TI-89, TI-92, and Voyage 200 calculators) has declined faster than the z80 (TI-83, TI-83+/SE, TI-84+SE) community. Nevertheless, there is a huge body of extremely high-quality programs still available in the ticalc.org archives, and the occasional new release does indeed still filter through.
:: General ticalc.org TI-89 archives

Going Further: Writing Cool Programs
We at Cemetech encourage you to not just use your calculator, but to explore it and exploit it to do as much neat stuff as possible. Most of us got started on what have turned into or are turning into success engineering or computer science careers by messing with our calculators until we figured out how to program the devices. We think you would have fun doing the same, and you need very few resources to get started:

TI-83+/84 Series: Here's what you need:
:: TIFreakware's top-notch collection of TI-BASIC tutorials
:: SourceCoder 2.5, an online TI-BASIC IDE
:: Tokens IDE, an offline TI-BASIC IDE
:: z80 ASM in 28 Days, the top z80 ASM tutorial
:: The Doors CS SDK

TI-89 For 68k TI-BASIC, the consensus appears to be that the bundled manual provides a more than sufficient guide. For 68k C programming:
:: The GCC4TI documentation for 68k C
:: Technoplaza, a TI-68k tutorial resource

Casio Prizm While the documentation is lagging behind the development tools, both are progressing nicely.
:: Cemetech Casio Prizm SDK v0.2
:: Prizm support and development subforum
:: Prizm wiki

What's Next?
Presumably, you now have a calculator, some great programs, and some curiosity about writing your own programs. What if you have questions? What if you want to explore further, consider some hardware mods, or ask some questions we didn't answer? How about transferring programs, or picking a good Algebra suite for your calculator? The best Doom or Zelda clone out there? Where's the [OFF] button? Feel free to post in response to this topic, or start your own topic! And if you're new to Cemetech, be sure to Introduce Yourself.
KermMartian wrote:
ask some questions we didn't answer?
KermMartian wrote:
Where's the [OFF] button? Feel free to post in response to this topic, or start your own topic!

Shock
Attention whore.
Just press [2nd] and then the [ON] button, DJ_O! But in all seriousness, I've heard that question before. Smile
Very well documented here. I propose you make this into a web page of Cemetech and keyword the living HTML out of it for SEO purposes. With a link to this topic, of course.

(Small win for three posts in three seconds)
Nooo!!!! SEO whores are my least favorite webmasters. Google will pick it up, trust me.
Comic: It's not a bad idea; a Help section of some kind, perhaps to replace the somewhat defunct Links section, would be a good idea, I think. I don't want to do something SEOish that Google might interpret as abuse, though. Smile

allynfolksjr wrote:
Attention whore.
What, you don't like my blue eyes and doofy hair staring at you at the top of the Cemetech homepage? Very Happy
SirCmpwn wrote:
Nooo!!!! SEO whores are my least favorite webmasters. Google will pick it up, trust me.

Yah, and look who suggested it. No surprise there.
The Nspire is the best for students IMO. For gaming and programming, the 83 and 84 series are better. But for school, *nothing* beats the Nspire (with OS 2 or 3).

What's great about the Nspire is the catalog with hundreds of included maths functions, the document system which allows one to save lots of information (together with big memory) for stuff like Physics and Maths tests.

And it's also very fast to draw graphs. While on tests, we need to draw quadratic and cubic functions, several functions. On the 84+ series this takes a long time to draw. On the Nspire it's almost instantaneous.

And if you want games, on OS 2 there's always Ndless, which allows you to have a Game Boy emulator to play hundreds of games. On OS 3 there are many fun Lua games too.

Oh and if you ever need the 84+, there's a 84+ Keypad to emulate it, and it's great.

For programming it's also good, because we can program in several languages:
- Z80 Assembly for the 84+
- Axe for the 84+
- TI-Basic for the 84+
- Lua for Nspire OS 3
- C for Nspire OS 2
- ARM ASM for Nspire OS 2
- Ti-Basic for Nspire OS 2 and 3

And the Nspire (where I live) costs 139 and the 84+SE costs 179. The regular 84+ costs 119.

I will never regret my choice of getting a Nspire with Touchpad (which also included a 84+ Keypad).
I completely agree with ephan, the Nspire is quite good too. I'm still sad that you hate it that much, Kerm.
I disagree, as the nSpire isn't really THAT great, sure it may have some more math features and all (most of which, I think the TI-89 has..), but when it comes down to it the TI-84+ is much better, in regards to ease of use, controls (no pressing 4 letters for each number), and writing some simple math programs so you don't have to do thing, like brute force, by hand


in all, I would have to agree with what Kerm said. the TI-84+ is the best for high school student, and the gamer/programmer. The bonus to people getting the TI-84+ is that the more who get it, the more are likely to be captivated by its programming capabilities (or just gaming..) >Very Happy

plus, we all know how TI likes to give us OSs for the nspire that causes crashes and all Razz
qazz42 wrote:
I disagree, as the nSpire isn't really THAT great, sure it may have some more math features and all (most of which, I think the TI-89 has..), but when it comes down to it the TI-84+ is much better, in regards to ease of use, controls (no pressing 4 letters for each number), and writing some simple math programs so you don't have to do thing, like brute force, by hand


Like I said, you can also have a 84+ inside the Nspire, so it's like having 2 calculators. And I have been using a Nspire (both OS 2 and 3) for a year now and it NEVER crashed on me. I use it every day for school-related stuff and even gaming/programming.

And you can also write small maths programs on the Nspire (Basic). If math is what you want, it works just fine.

Kerm doesn't like the Nspire I think, but it's undoubtedly the best calculator for school.

Oh, and CAS!
I'd rather say: In the short term, nothing beats the TI-68k series.
(this will probably become wrong by next year's beginning of school year, because more and more people are forced to use the Nspire anyway, so they have to cope with its limitations and help other do so as well)

The 84+ emulator built in older Nspire model is slow and inaccurate.

The Nspire's CAS does not provide highly significant functionality improvements over the TI-68k series' CAS, i.e. a 10+-year-old CAS... but it cannot be programmed in C/ASM, unlike the CAS of the TI-68k series.

Due to all those unnecessary layers of compression and encryption, the Nspire's document system is slow.

The TI-Z80 & TI-68k keyboards are much better for typing mixed letters and numbers than both models of Nspire keyboards.

Four years and a half after the introduction of the series, the Nspire's programmability remains poor. The recent addition of Lua has narrowed the gap somewhat, but nothing beats native code in terms of performance and expressiveness.
Oh and speaking of Nspire advantages, the fact that I never had a RAM Clear. Ever. Never. Ever. Unlike on the 84+ series where it happens every now and then.

We're talking about schools here:

1. Students don't like RAM Clears
2. Students like easy ways of sending files over calculators, (go Nspire!, another way the 84+ fails)
3. Students like to have the cool Document system with many tabs with text DEFAULT. You can't even save text on a 84+ by default. Some calculators include Notefolio, but most students don't know how to install programs and where to get them online

I could get on a imensely long argument with you guys, but we are all programmers. The different between me and you, is that I can think like I student who needs to save all the stuff for Physics and have good calculator on Maths.

For students in school, the Nspire is undoubtedly much, but just so much better than the 84+ SE. I mean, it's not even comparable, and I have tried both extensively.

All my friends regret getting the same calculator as the teacher (84+).
You're comparing the 84+ and the Nspire, and stating that "the Nspire is so much better", while I'm comparing the TI-68k series and the Nspire, and stating that the Nspire is not that much better.
ephan wrote:
The Nspire is the best for students IMO. For gaming and programming, the 83 and 84 series are better. But for school, *nothing* beats the Nspire (with OS 2 or 3).

What's great about the Nspire is the catalog with hundreds of included maths functions, the document system which allows one to save lots of information (together with big memory) for stuff like Physics and Maths tests.

And it's also very fast to draw graphs. While on tests, we need to draw quadratic and cubic functions, several functions. On the 84+ series this takes a long time to draw. On the Nspire it's almost instantaneous.

And if you want games, on OS 2 there's always Ndless, which allows you to have a Game Boy emulator to play hundreds of games. On OS 3 there are many fun Lua games too.

Oh and if you ever need the 84+, there's a 84+ Keypad to emulate it, and it's great.

For programming it's also good, because we can program in several languages:
- Z80 Assembly for the 84+
- Axe for the 84+
- TI-Basic for the 84+
- Lua for Nspire OS 3
- C for Nspire OS 2
- ARM ASM for Nspire OS 2
- Ti-Basic for Nspire OS 2 and 3

And the Nspire (where I live) costs 139 and the 84+SE costs 179. The regular 84+ costs 119.

I will never regret my choice of getting a Nspire with Touchpad (which also included a 84+ Keypad).


1) we are completely at TI's mercy with this model, whereas with the Prizm we can always add new features for Math/Science ourself (perhaps you can do that with Lua, but good luck making it fast...)

2) no use for all that memory, it's there just for a shock effect mostly

3) *very* expensive

4) not worth getting over the Prizm, 84+SE or 89t if all you're getting it for is things like 3D graphing (already on 84+ and 89t) or a color screen/ useless memory, even if your teacher yells at you for not getting it.


My stance is with Kerm, I don't like the CX. It's really too expensive and the development for it is still quite limited. Plus, in the short term there will be more games for the CX, but the omnimaga Prizm contest has already hyped many to consider buying a prizm so they can get playing and get coding right away. That and Obliter8 1.0, which I played for an hour last night and can only say Cool
Quote:
1) we are completely at TI's mercy with this model, whereas with the Prizm we can always add new features for Math/Science ourself (perhaps you can do that with Lua, but good luck making it fast...)

2) no use for all that memory, it's there just for a shock effect mostly

3) *very* expensive

4) not worth getting over the Prizm, 84+SE or 89t if all you're getting it for is things like 3D graphing (already on 84+ and 89t) or a color screen/ useless memory, even if your teacher yells at you for not getting it.


1. Students don't need new Maths software, most stuff is included unlike what happens with the PRIZM and the 84+
2. "Too much memory" is not a problem here, it's good if you want to have GB Emulator ROM's
3. Cheaper than the 89 and the 84+ SE in Portugal
4. The CX features 3D Graphing, but I don't recommend the CX, only the Nspire. On the Nspire you can also have 3D Graphing, but it's not default.

You're not thinking like Highschool students...

Nspire > 89 > 84 series

I never tried a 89 though, but I'm basing my opinion on it by what debrouxl said.
Quote:
1) we are completely at TI's mercy with this model,

Indeed, the latest Nspire OS upgrade crippled the implementation of Lua further, by removing a useful (and used) function...

I'm baffled at how expensive the TI-68k series is in Portugal. The resellers are a bunch of crooks, seriously.
Also, note that I'm not recommending the CX, but the Nspire Touchpad with the 84+ Keypad included Wink
Sure Wink
But TI is making everything they can to replace this model.
  
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