For a third consecutive year, Cemetech is here to help you figure out what you need to know to be prepared for Back to School with a new graphing calculator. In 2012, we presented three separate articles: Part 1: which calculator to buy, Part 2: how to get games and programs on your calculator, and Part 3: learning to program your graphing calculator. This year, we are starting out with a guide to selecting from the baffling array of graphing calculators now available to high school and college students. What calculator should you get, and what accessories will you need to help you get the most from your purchase? Don't worry, as Cemetech has you covered. I'll help you pick the best calculator for yourself, your child, or your students.
As you may know, Texas Instruments currently holds the lion's share of the United States graphing calculator market, and has the most widely-recognized lines of graphing calculators. Casio fills in as the second-place contender, with HP weighing in in third place. I'll take you through five majority categories of calculators that you might be interested in getting: the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, the TI-89, the Casio Prizm, and the TI-Nspire CX. All five of these calculators are accepted on standardized tests like the SAT and the ACT (with one exception). All five are powerful, (relatively) modern graphing calculators, and with a few small caveats, all would be appropriate for the average student. However, even among these top contenders, the playing field is hardly level.
:: The erstwhile TI-84 Plus Silver Edition. The quintessential calculator for high school math and science, still applicable in many college courses. If you have a few dollars to spare, go for the color-screen version (below). Continue reading>>
:: The brand-new TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition. The quintessential calculator for high school (and some college) math and science, now updated with a high-resolution color screen and a rechargeable battery. Continue reading>>
:: For more advanced math, the TI-89 Titanium. Perfect for higher-level college math, science, and engineering courses. Continue reading>>
:: The first semi-modern, color screen graphing calculator was the Casio Prizm, now about two and a half years old. A simple, modern color-screen graphing calculator for high school students and programmers. Continue reading>>
:: The TI-Nspire CX and TI-Nspire CX CAS are the latest in TI's Nspire product line; if you have an iPad, there's also the TI-Nspire Apps for iPad. A late entry to the graphing calculator race, a color screen calculator centered around the idea of "Documents". Good for some high school students. Continue reading>>
The Final Verdict: With more graphing calculator choices appearing and more options available to consumers, a better but more confusing selection now confronts students, parents, and even teachers. Continue on to the full article to read in-depth reviews of each of these five models, plus a recap simplifying which calculator you should get.