TI-30XS Multiview Calculator

Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 10:32 AM | Filed under , , ,

I was at Walgreens yesterday, looking for a new portable FM radio. Instead, I bought a calculator.

The TI-30XS Multiview Calculator, normally about $22, was on sale at $15, and it looked cool, so I got it. It has a neat feature called MathPrint mode, where it displays mathematical expressions in a more natural way (like how you write math on paper) rather than relying on a bunch of parentheses and junk.

On the left above, you can see a particularly complicated and useless expression as it would have to be typed on the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition. It has a lot of parentheses, and it's kinda hard to see what's going on. On the right is how the expression looks on the TI-30XS Multiview Calculator, with the MathPrint mode on. It's obviously a lot easier to see what's going on. (MathPrint can be turned off so that expressions can be typed in the classic mode.)

The TI-30XS also automatically simplifies fractions and roots. The first picture in this post has two examples of it doing this. On a different calculator, the answers would instead be displayed as decimals. There's a button you can simply press on the TI-30XS to convert these fractions or roots to decimals and vice-versa. It seems to be called the answer toggle button, and the button looks like this ◄ ►. There are two ways to input division: as a stacked fraction, or simply using the ÷ sign. The stacked fraction will try to give another fraction as an answer; the ÷ sign will yield a decimal answer.


You can see in the picture above that the calculator is also pretty smart with trigonometry. The TI-30X IIS on the left above calculated the sine of π as an ugly decimal. The TI-30XS is smarter than that, though. It displays the answer in exact terms using a fraction and a root, as it should. By pressing the answer toggle button, this can quickly be converted to a decimal, too.

So the TI-30XS seems to be able to do everything the TI-30X IIS can do, but there are still a few gripes I have with it. The answer toggle button is right above Enter (=), which is where plus usually is on TI calculators—the +, -, ×, and ÷ buttons are all moved one button up on the calculator, which takes a little getting used to. I keep pressing the answer toggle button when I mean to press plus.

Another issue is that there doesn't seem to be a way to wrap fractions or roots around expressions you have typed already. For a simple example, say you've typed 4, but then you realize you need to take the square root of 4. On the TI-30X IIS or the TI-84, you could move the cursor back in front of the 4 and insert a square root symbol. If you try to do that on the TI-30XS, though, it'll put a square root radical to the left of the 4, but there'll be a blank inside the radical, waiting for you to type in a number to go under it. The 4 will be to the right of the root, implying multiplication. I suppose you could work around this by raising 4 to the 1/2 power, but that seems imperfect.

Overall, it's a snazzy little calculator with a bunch more features I didn't even mention. The colors are bold and modern looking, but one of my friends said it looks like a child's toy. It's pretty thin (even more so without the cover slide case) and fits comfortably in the hands, and the buttons repsond well. (I think the TI-30X IIS is a bit too narrow to hold comfortably, and if you try to press a button before releasing the previous button, it'll ignore the second button press.) I would recommend to anyone looking for a cool calculator.


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