Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 27, 2015, TI Education will be officially launching the TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator, a sleek, modern twist on the well-known TI-84 Plus family. Inside and out, this calculator is designed to build on the success of the color-screen TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition calculator, retaining the higher-resolution color screen while making the calculator sleeker, thinner, lighter, faster, and more power-efficient. We had the pleasure of speaking one day in advance of the official launch to the President of TI Education, Peter Balyta, who discussed the features and goals of this new device with us. This "latest edition of our most popular graphing calculator" is, in short, "really, really cool", and incorporates a host of suggestions from students, teachers, and even the wider hobbyist community.
One of the primary goals of this new calculator is to retain the pedagogical successes and well-known interface and features of the existing TI-84 Plus family of graphing calculators while incorporating improvements meant to make the calculator better for students. Physically, it is 30% thinner and 30% lighter than the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition; Dr. Balyta discussed how this will make it easier for students to bring their calculators to class, to exams, and for those so inclined, on buses or breaks for those who want to work on homework or explore programming. To make the calculator more fun and more individualized, it will be available in seven colors; although TI Education hasn't published official names for the colors yet, the TI-84 Plus CE will come in red, pink, blue, plum, navy, silver, and black.
The internals of the TI-84 Plus CE have also been improved from the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition. First, it has 6x more user-accessible RAM, which will make it possible to store bigger matrices, more lists, and longer TI-BASIC programs in RAM. Although Dr. Balyta could not specifically comment on the processor model and speed in the new calculator (our previous information about the French TI-83 Premium CE indicates that it contains an ez80 with an unknown clock speed), he did say that side-by-side with a TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, the new TI-84 Plus CE will show a nice improvement in speed. We also believe that the calculator will contain the same roomy 3.5MB of user Flash memory as the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, making plenty of space for Apps and activities. Dr. Balyta particularly stressed the longer battery life of the TI-84 Plus CE. Realistically, students aren't always great about managing battery life, so with typical use, students can use the TI-84 Plus CE for up to a full month on one charge; battery life is no longer measured in hours or days. Based on comments from teachers and students about coming back from summer vacation or long breaks and finding their calculators' batteries dead, the TI-84 Plus CE also introduces a new deep sleep that will save the battery over months of non-use.
Pedagogically, the calculator keeps the familiar interface of the TI-84 Plus family. It has the same functionality as the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, and will come with the same preloaded Apps, such as EasyData, PolySmlt, CellSheet, Cabri Jr., and more. As always, TI has made sure that while the calculator can be used easily at home, in class, and on exams, it also is accepted on all the same standardized tests as the other TI-84 Plus family calculators, like the SAT, ACT, IB, and AP. Although with my journalist hat there's not much TI and I can say about upcoming activities and content for the calculator, you can rest assured that the company has an aggressive plan for helping students and teachers with STEM instruction via the new technology.
In terms of programming, the succinct summary is that almost all TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition TI-BASIC programs will work on this device as-is, and almost all assembly programs and Apps will require modification. TI recommends that programmers verify that their programs still work on the new device, of course. We plan to quickly upgrade Doors CSE for the new calculator as soon as we have enough information to do so, as well as provide a one-stop location for TI-BASIC and assembly programmers looking for information, tools, and resources.
Finally, the new TI-84 Plus CE brings mini-USB (only) connectivity; TI will soon be releasing more information about connectivity. We're disappointed that the CALCnet networking library, the ArTICL Arduino-calculator communication library, the Norland Research robot, and other I/O port hardware and software potentially won't work with the TI-84 Plus CE, but we're waiting for more information before getting our hopes completely dashed. There's a new TI-Connect CE specifically for the TI-84 Plus family of calculators that will provide the ability to manage multiple calculators, organize screenshots, edit TI-BASIC programs (!), and more.
As you can tell, we're very excited about the new TI-84 Plus CE, and will bring you a hands-on review as soon as possible. In addition, we expect to see a lot more about the calculator at T^3 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas this March. Do you have any questions about the new calculator? If so, please ask in the attached topic and I'll do my best to answer. We must heartily thank Peter Balyta and Ellen Goldberg for taking the time to speak to us today about the TI-84 Plus CE and for giving us a one-day head-start on the official announcement. Later tonight, TI will be releasing an official video (the one briefly visible in our TI-France's TI-83 Premium CE Hints at TI-84 Plus CE Features article) that we will append to this news.