The 6 Best Programmable Calculator [2020 Edition]
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Programmable calculators still appeal to the high school and college students as well as engineers due to their specialized functionalities. These calculators don’t disappoint a student or professionals when it comes to SAT prep or other professional-grade exams. Instead of buying a bland calculator with average functions/features, people should opt for advanced calculators offering superior programming functionality. These calculators meet the extensive programming demands yet adhere to the standard exam compliance.
The programmable calculator market is dominated by three brands, namely Texas Instruments, HP and Casio. All of their models offer a range of graphing functions and programmable features that cover most applications. It is recommended that students analyze their standardized test requirements such as SAT, ACT or PSAT before buying any model. Also, take some guidance from senior students or your teacher to select the right model as per your needs.
Explore our 6 best programmable calculators and decide for yourself.
The TI-84 Plus CE Programmable Calculator grabs top spot in almost every calculator review. That’s because it leads the pack with advanced functionality, robust design and regular upgrades. Whether it is inequality graphing program, data collection or correct math notation, it delivers unmatched performance.
The lightweight design features sturdy buttons with a full tactile feel. There’s a full-colour high-resolution backlit LCD upfront for crisp graphs that are colour-coded to represent different objects, plots and equations. The rechargeable battery makes sure you don’t run out of juice during an exam. Thus, there’s no need to stock batteries in your bag all the time. It adheres to standardised test regulations including SAT, PSAT, ACT and AP tests. Read more user reviews on Amazon.
- Sturdy design built using robust materials. Good grip and tactile buttons.
- Gridline functionality with colour-coded charts
- Multi-language interface with vertical/horizontal screen split feature
- Full-colour LCD – view 10 digits with 2-digit exponent
- 10 graphing functions including phase plots, series plot, cobweb plot and more.
- Storage for 999 elements and 14 interactive zoom features
- Analysis of integrals, roots, derivatives, function values and more.
- Variance analysis, hypothesis testing function, interval functions and recursive sequences.
- Statistical analysis including median, exponential, polynomials, logarithmic, sinusoidal etc.
- Rechargeable battery easily lasts more than 10 days.
- Normal probability plots, scatter plots, histograms, whisker plots and XY-line plots.
- Relatively expensive
- Deep functions in the menu have to be memorized
Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS is a premium device that’s lightweight, thin, and feels expensive. It is built to last and feels robust in hand. The keyboard is designed for extensive notation. A 3.2-inch full-colour backlit display helps in multiple visual representations simultaneously.
Large datasets and complex matrices can be processed easily with its powerful processor. The in-built innovative technologies support teaching strategies that are percolated into the students as well. Complex mathematics and scientific concepts can be solved easily. Visual problem-solving in geometric, graphical, algebraic and numeric forms helps during the test. Users can import digital images, graphs, photos and even equations for testing in physical world situations. It supports .jpg, .bmp and .png formats.
In-built templates ensure that stacked fractions, math symbols, and formulas are processed perfectly. Chemical formulas can be processed using the innovative ‘Chem Box’ feature. Dropdown menus are super easy to access and facilitate storage, editing and file processing. It is approved for standardized tests such as the ACT, PSAT, SAT, AP and IB exams. Many state exams also allow the Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS graphing calculator. Read more user reviews on Amazon.
- Ultra-fast computations with formulas, equations, chemical formulas, and math notations.
- Extensive lists and spreadsheets functionality with superior visualization features.
- Plot functions, equations and inequalities using graphs and spreadsheets.
- Explore graph behaviors in real-world using animated points.
- Record notes with the computer-like format including steps and instructions.
- Experience detailed data analysis with graphical methods, bar charts, pie charts, histograms.
- ‘Vernier DataQuest Application’ processes, stores and replays your data collection.
- Sturdy design with tactile feel buttons ensures long life.
- A rechargeable battery means you can go for days without any worries.
- Relatively expensive when compared to other programmable calculators
- Features can seem too complex for many students
The Casio FX-9860GII is all about style and performance. The big, high-resolution display surrounds a robust metal encasing signifying its long-lasting durability. Viewing graphs, formulas, and matrices on an oversized display deliver an amazing visual experience. Visibility is further accentuated with the backlit display. The FX-9860GII is perfect for statistics, chemical functions, graphing, Pre-Algebra, extensive charting and much more.
The famed built-in spreadsheet program is a gift to the physics and chemistry students. Pre-programmed calculus applications are handled like a pro. Then, there’s the amazing 1500 KB Flash ROM. It impresses with many functions like built-in spreadsheets, an interactive menu and computational performance. High schoolers love the icon-based menu options. Students can easily transfer their calculation or graphing data to other units or even a computer. Interestingly, students can also connect it directly to a Casio projector. The device includes REF and RREF program with nine probability functions.
Charting features include pie charts, bar graphs, unit conversion, random integers, and GOF function. In addition to this, you can also find several types of regression functions here. Students can use this standard calculator for various purposes like biology, chemistry, business & finance, trigonometry, geometry, statistics, and algebra. Casio FX 9860GII programmable calculator’s textbook-like templates ensure students grasp the concept easily. This is a very lightweight device featuring a high-speed CPU. Read more user reviews on Amazon.
- 9 new probability functions.
- Pie charts & bar graphs, graph X=f(Y).
- 1500 KB Flash ROM.
- REF/RREF function, random integers, unit conversion
- New types of regressions, chi-squared GOF function.
- Built-in eActivity and spreadsheet applications.
- The icon-based menu adds to overall intuitive usability.
- Direct connection to Casio projectors.
- Data transfer from unit-to-unit and unit-to-computer.
- New LCD backlight for superior visibility.
- New manager software is available.
- Relatively average build quality compared to the competitors
- No rechargeable battery support
HP G8X92AA LA Prime V2 Programmable Calculator brings touch screen experience to the calculator realm. The entire HP Prime range offers an unmatched, futuristic, touch-screen, app-based interface and a tactile keyboard all packed in a well-built metal enclosure.
Pinch-to-zoom interface combined with advance gesture-based controls makes it a generation ahead of the competitors. Wireless connectivity, graphing features, statistical prowess, extensive sketch functions, charting with background images and a rechargeable battery all are wrapped together in an awesome package. Brushed metal design along with slide-on protective cover ensures comprehensive protection.
This graphic calculator offers advance has features of parametric and polar plotting. Its main math programs are bar plotting, histogram plotting, scatter plotting, calculating differential equations, calculating unit conversions and more. Experience solving dynamic geometry, advance equations, spreadsheets, advance graphing and CAS functions with ease. All these help calculate slope, area, extremum and intersect, decimal to hrs/min/sec conversions, and polar to rectangular conversions.
Dedicated buttons and large menu options make sure that the students can switch from numerical to graphing screens easily. Its memory is 32 MB, and flash memory is 256 MB. HP Prime Mobile App allows seamless calculator-desktop connectivity. The device is PSAT/NMSAT, IB, and AP exams approved. Even though HP G8X92AA LA Prime V2 Graphing Calculator is a little overpriced, it can deliver advance performance even in demanding situations. Read more user reviews on Amazon.
- Solve differential equations, bar plot, histograms and scatter plot
- Advance 3.5-inch large multi-touch display
- Superior ‘Graphing App’ handles inequalities, conic sections, and polynomials
- Calculate chemical functions, area, slope, intersect, and extremum
- Pinch-to-zoom, shade, trace, and coordinates functions
- Decimal hrs/hrs-min-sec conversions and Polar/rectangular conversions
- Angle conversions, base conversions, and RPN enabled keystrokes
- CAS Integrated spreadsheets with programmable functions
- Dedicated exam mode with test-mode configuration
- 32 MB mDDR and 256 MB Flash memory
- The device is relatively overpriced.
- Older models have reported battery issues.
Casio fx-9750GII Graphic Calculator is one of the best products at the entry-level segment. It is good at basic functionality as well as in math coursework such as Pre-Algebra to AP Calculus. Also, statistics can be performed well with this calculator besides courses like geometry and trigonometry.
Students find this calculator easy to use as it features an icon-based menu system. The common tasks are accessed easily as it has a soft menu to operate its functions. The lines, curves and arcs are very sharp and visible because this calculator has an LCD display which gives high resolution due to the presence of bigger dot area technology.
The faster processing speed of the CPU solves complex graphs and calculations in lesser time and accurately. This is helpful in testing times where every second count. The students appearing for the test exams also find this calculator very helpful as it is approved for PSAT, AP test, SAT exam and college entrance exams. It also includes features such as USB functionality and built-in AAA batteries.
The cost of the programmable calculators is quite high. Even low-cost calculators are also available in the market. For the budget people, FX-9750GII calculator can be bought for $50 or even less. It is rated to serve the general needs of most math students at entry-level, even though it is not a full-featured graphing calculator per se. Read more user reviews on Amazon.
- Good quality built with an ergonomic design suited for pocket transport
- Two hundred plus hours of battery life
- Solve complex graphing X- equations
- Extensive graphing program with conic graphing
- Interactive equation solver
- Calculate dependent/independent values easily
- Seamless solutions for intercepts, intersections and more.
- Connect directly with Casio projectors for presentations.
- Advance statistical functions with financial analysis.
- Store, transfer and record data with a data logger connection mode.
- Menu fonts are too small for repetitive use.
- An average screen in this category.
The colour graphing calculator The Casio FX-CG50 PRIZM has over 65,000 colours with LCD of high resolution making it the detailed screen graphing calculator. It is most helpful in college math and high school level students. To understand the complex graphs, it uses the inbuilt feature of 3D graphic design. Calculator functions are easier to use because of the easy to operate menu-driven interface.
Casio’s FX-CG50 PRIZM calculator has a 3.7 inch display screen with all the core and basic features. It demonstrates the concepts with pictures and performs intricate calculations rapidly. Casio’s FX-CG50 PRIZM calculator benefits well-known recognition in testing situations. It can be used in main entrance exams and tests. Read more user reviews on Amazon.
- Solve differential equations, bar plots, histograms and scatter plots
- Calculate area, slope, intersect, and extremum.
- Features zoom, trace, coordinates, and shade.
- Decimal hrs/hrs min sec conversions.
- Polar/rectangular conversions.
- Angle and base conversion features.
- Extensive unit conversions
- Memory: 32 MB mDDR with a Flash memory of 256 MB.
- No rechargeable batteries – only AAA battery support
- Average build quality when compared to peers
Programmable calculators aren’t easy to choose. Engineering students are going to use them for years to come. So, it is vital that you invest in a good programmable calculator that will last throughout your academic program.
All these calculators deliver not only academic performance but also highly helpful in research and development efforts. Besides SAT or ACT exam, these calculators can be used in a variety of professional and academic environments. So, PhD students, too, can look forward to buying one of these. We recommend that you choose according to your budget and requirements.