Two weeks ago, Cemetech interviewed the Education Solutions Architect at HP, GT Springer, to pick his brain about HP's new Prime graphing calculator. Due in stores this fall, the HP Prime represents a significant refocusing of HP's efforts towards the educational market, especially high school and college students. At the same time, the Prime represents a modernization of HP's calculator hardware, matching the Casio fx-CP400 with a (multi-)touch screen, and the TI-Nspire and TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition with a 320x240 color LCD. Among the most common questions from Cemetechians are what hardware the HP Prime will sport under the hood, and what graphs from HP's supposedly powerful new graphing utility look like. We're happy to be able to provide new information on both.

The specs we learned are probably not in as much technical depth as you all might want, but they do confirm much of what we suspected already and provide a few additional details. If you want to peruse them yourself, we have the full datasheet available. It confirms that the HP Prime will have a 400MHz ARM of unknown provenance, a 3.5" multitouch 320x240-pixel 16-bit color LCD, and an alphanumeric keyboard. The calculator's body will be 7.1 inches tall and 3.4 inches wide, with a TI-Nspire-esque 0.6-inch thickness. It will weigh in at 228 grams, or almost exactly half a pound. It will use a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that charges via the microUSB communication port; no information is available on how many hours of usage that battery will give you. One additional interesting tidbit from the datasheet is that the calculator will come with both the connectivity kit and an emulator right out of the box, a notable departure from TI's official emulators, which we believe are generally priced around the cost of the hardware handheld. Casio seems to take a middle ground, offering a 3-month free trial period of its emulators.

Our appreciation goes to HP for sharing this new information with us. We hope it gets you thinking about the state of the art in the still rapidly-expanding set of available graphing calculators. We have yet to get our hands on the fx-CP400 and the rumored (possibly touchscreen) TI-Nspire CX Premium calculator for comparison, but from what we know, I for one am looking forward to giving the Prime a try. Check out the screenshots HP provided from the Advanced Graphing App below, along with associated equations where available.

Graph 1: Equation unknown
Graph 2: SIN(v(X^2+Y^2)-5)=SIN(8*ATAN(Y/X)) [changing the sign "fills in" sections]
Graph 3: (SIN((p/LN(2))*LN(2*v(X^2+Y^2)*(6*COS(ATAN((MIN(ABS(X),ABS(Y))/MAX(ABS(X),ABS(Y)))))+v(36*COS(ATAN((MIN(ABS(X),ABS(Y))/MAX(ABS(X),ABS(Y)))))^2-27))))*SIN((p/LN(2))*LN(2*v(X^2+Y^2)*(6*COS(ATAN((MIN(ABS(X),ABS(Y))/MAX(ABS(X),ABS(Y)))))-v(36*COS(ATAN((MIN(ABS(X),ABS(Y))/MAX(ABS(X),ABS(Y)))))^2-27)))))=0
Graph 4: (SIN((p/LN(2))*LN(v(X^2+Y^2)*(3*COS(((ATAN(X/Y)+(p/12))MOD(p/4))-(p/Cool)+v(9*COS(((ATAN(X/Y)+(p/12))MOD(p/4))-(p/Cool)^2-Cool)))*SIN((p/LN(2))*LN(v(X^2+Y^2)*(3*COS(((ATAN(X/Y)+(p/12))MOD(p/4))-(p/Cool)-v(9*COS(((ATAN(X/Y)+(p/12))MOD(p/4))-(p/Cool)^2-Cool))))<0
I can totally see myself buying this when it's available to do so Smile

Maybe Underwood will get some a little early, as they did with the CSE, and we can get more information a bit more quickly Smile
32 MiB RAM, 256 MiB flash? Losing the SD slot isn't so bad, with that.

(And, with that much RAM and flash, I'm thinking they're either supporting HUGE data sets, or there'll be more ways to program it maybe?)
With that amount of RAM, it should be able to emulate/run DOS, Macintosh, and Linux, I would think. I heard a rumour that a 300 mhz 64 mb ram PDA could emulate Windows 98 SE; this seems pretty close.
The question is, how fast, and what distros?

32 MiB system RAM, so you could probably get 24 MiB of emulated RAM. DOS would be easy, Windows 98 is doable (at 486ish speeds), Linux you're looking at old or EXTREMELY stripped down (no GUI) distros, Mac OS you're looking at System 7 (7.5/7.6 might run OK, but you may need to go back to 7.1).
Well, I wasn't really suggesting Win98, as I said it used the 64 mb of ram. Maybe 95, but in any case, Dos is very useful. As to Mac, yes, I was thinking of System 7, and Linux I would agree; I was looking at no GUI.
Also, I wonder if a TI-84+SE emulator could be made? That would actually be very useful both to HP, and TI calc users - and be epic.
That, you could most likely do fairly easily on the 50g (or, if asm is doable, on the 39gII) today. And, there, it'd work better due to the button layout being mechanically nearly identical to the TI-Z80 family (with one extra button, that you could use for emulator control).

And, 98 doesn't need 64 MiB RAM - Microsoft quotes 98's system requirements as a 486DX 66 MHz (but the speed is not actually important, just the capabilities, and any 486DX has them) with 16 MiB required, 24 MiB recommended. The bigger problem is disk space, which the Prime is running short on, although 98lite could help to strip 98 down.
I understand extra ram is required for emulating an x86 cpu on an ARM, however. In any case, the specs cannot translate directly - otherwise, I'd already be using Win98 on my PDA, which has 300 mhz ARM and 32 mb of RAM. But it doesn't run on it.
Right, I was allowing ~6 MiB for the calculator's OS and the emulation code.

Might be a bit tight, but...
I'm also very excited about this calculator. Can't wait to see it in stores Smile
We have certainly come a long way. NASA put a man on the moon (and got them back) with a fraction of the processing power in this device.
Regarding the above examples: how can anyone cope with all those parenthesis ... I thought the HP Prime was going to be an RPN machine??? One could easily spend all day trying to match their parenthesis ... it's crazy.

What exactly will I be able to do with RPN on this thing?

I hate to say this, but if some student wants to become a mathematician, and sees all the parenthesis, he or she may abandon ship for something less mind boggling ... Something less scary!

And on that one example, the one with all the closed parenthesis at the end, followed by an equal sign ... they aren't needed at all since an equal sign closes all pending operations.
It's going to be a multi-mode machine, although given the educational market focus, I'm guessing that just like the 49G, 49g+, 48gII, and 50g, it'll ship in algebraic.

And, people cope with all the parens because they're used to it on other calcs.

IIRC, you have to give algebraic expressions for graphing even on the 50g, though - the 41C series was probably the last to be able to graph a RPN command sequence (using PRPLOT or NEWPLOT).
Does anyone have an update about the HP Prime Calculator
I'm unsure if critor had mentionned the release here, but a few weeks ago, a copy of the emulator was leaked then an update that is official came out. The calc itself is supposed to come out in September or so.

Emulator link: (note that the speed of the emu is innacurate, as it runs much faster than the calc)

There is also one game out already (by me), which is actually a port of my HP 39gII Tunnel:

Videos of the calc in action:

The first video is the Tunnel game and the second one shows a randomized 19x15 tilemap made of 16x16 sprites being drawn 5 times per second. Both games are written in BASIC.

Your comment, "September or so," sounds a bit ominous. If it were to appear tomorrow, I would be happy, but to wait until sometime after September certainly screws up the school year for many that would love to have it for classroom use.

FWIW: It is a pain to look for HP Prime Calculator on Amazon because "prime" is a key word on there Sad

However, thanks for the info update.

P.s. I would be thrilled to see a PDF of the instruction manual. HP should consider that ... it would not lose sales, rather it would generate lots and lots of interest, especially if the calculator arrives later than September.
Everyone getting excited about the Prime?
Probably not as many people as we, and HP, could have hoped... I think that it's partly due to the release of the Prime on the marketplace being quite late for the current school season, which makes people less likely to buy one in the very short term, despite its obvious hardware and software capabilities.
Next school season, the Prime (and the crappy fx-CP400) could have to face the Nspire CX Premium that came up to light as a side effect of an unrelated TI webinar....

Don't take me wrong, like many calculator enthusiats, I'd like the Prime to be a hit in the marketplace; not so much for the lackluster fx-CP400. However, for the number of countries where TI is pervasive in the education chain - especially the USA - it's unlikely that anything else, even good products, will manage to make a large dent into TI's market share. That's not a good thing for users and programmers...
DavidEngle wrote:
Everyone getting excited about the Prime?
Word on the street is that the handhelds are finally arriving in the US. I hope that I'll be able to have you guys a hands-on review of some sort sooner rather than later. Smile
In my calculus class, I am using my HP-41, but everyone else seems to be using a variety of the TI84 or 89, including the professor who takes great pleasure on demonstrating his skills at plotting.

My question has always been, why not use a piece of paper to compute answers on and then plot them on graph paper??? The student then has a paper trail.

I like the HP-41 iPad app ... $7 for the app and $3 for the printer module. After printing, you can "tear off" the paper and email it.

Anyway, I will order the Prime when it becomes available ... hopefully no later than mid October.
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