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Good Choice For Engineering Major 11/06/2013
This review is from: Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator
As an electrical engineering student, I needed an advanced calculator to handle the large matrices, linear equation solving, symbolic equation manipulation, 3D graphing and ect. This calculator fulfills all of these requirements and more besides. The screen is bigger than the standard ti-84 and even the more expensive ti-89. Although the ti-89 is regarded as one of the defacto engineering calculator, I feel that the Nspire can do about as much as the 89 (and perhaps even more). The usb rechargeable battery is a big plus, and the charge so far has lasted about 2-3 weeks of moderate to heavy use (although this time will probably decrease slightly as the battery ages). I also greatly appreciate the computer inspired drop down menu system of the calculator's functions. Functions are given full names (no more bewildering calculator code names), and the most commonly used ones frequently have a mini program that walks you through the function setup. The graphical arrangement of many functions like integrals and matrices make them look exactly like they do when you write them out. This greatly improves my understanding of how to use the function without having to refer to a manual for syntax. I literally learned more about how to use this calculator in a week than I did with my previous Ti-92 in a year.
Due to the more intuitive menue system utilized by the Ti-Nspire, it probably takes slightly longer to enter and use functions than on a standard calculator like the 89. However, I would gladly trade a slight loss in speed for improved usability and therefore reduction in error. Also, it takes more keystrokes to enter certain common functions (most notably the trig functions which have their own menu key). Nevertheless, the time difference is not intolerable. The keyboard is also not qwerty, but I believe this is a necessity for the calculator's acceptance on certain tests.
This calculator is certainly more expensive than the 84 (although surprisingly, cheaper than the mostly un-updated 89), so if you do not intend to do complex systems of equations or large matrices, I would suggest buying a cheaper model. It is possible to use an 84 (and many people do) for most upper level classes (statics, circuit analysis, ect) but if an occupation requiring such advanced classes is your intended or current field, I would recommend buying such an advanced calculator as it can greatly improve your problem solving ability. For example, I don't think (but don't quote me on this) that the 84 has the ability to solve a system of multiple equations for multiple unknowns (very useful in certain statics and circuit analysis problems).
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