TI Nspire CX II vs TI-Nspire CX II CAS vs Ti 84 Plus CE Review

TI Nspire CX II vs TI-Nspire CX II CAS vs Ti 84 Plus CE Review

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The Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II handles much more like a small computer than graphing calculators of the past. With a gorgeous, full-color backlit display, an incredible array of features and capabilities, this graphing calculator is state of the art.

One of the strongest features of this calculator is the powerful software that goes along with it as well as the ability to program the calculator with python. While this calculator is great for any math or science student in high school or college, where this calculator really shines is when it comes to the needs of a student involved in a variety of STEM activities. From robotics to science sensors from geometry to differential equations – this calculator is a workhorse.

This review looks at all the pros and cons of the Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II as well as how it compares to its closest competitors – the Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II CAS and the ever-popular TI-84 Plus CE.

Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX II Review

TI Nspire CX II Hardware

Pros

  • The TI-Nspire CX II packs a lot of storage! With over 90MB of storage memory, this calculator is more like a computer. Students can store various workspaces with multiple types of problems and can pull up saved problems like documents on the TI-Nspire CX II’s file storage system.
  • The screen is a vibrant, full-color backlit display with a generous size of 320 x 240 pixels (3.2” diagonal) and a screen resolution of 125 DPI with 16-bit color.
  • Like other TI calculators it has an onboard TI Rechargeable Battery that can be charged with a standard USB cable. The same cable can also be used for computer connectivity.
  • Some users really like the look of the bright white keys, and the addition of alpha keys helps when typing notes, using complex equations with variables, and other features described further in this review.
  • The onboard trackpad allows users to use a mouse cursor to select and draw items on the screen.
  • In addition to having the ability to connect to a computer, the TI-Nspire CX II is compatible with TI-Nspire™ Lab Cradle, Vernier EasyLink® USB Sensor, and Vernier EasyTemp® USB temperature sensor systems to allow collection and analysis of real-world data in science classes.

Cons

  • While this might be a pro for some users, if you are not expecting it, be aware that the hardware and subsequently built-in functionality make this calculator more a small, handheld computer than a calculator.
  • Because of its premium features and high-end processor, you will be paying more for this calculator than other calculators on the market.
  • The thin, sleek design is attractive to look at, but some users report that it does not stand up to dropping and abuse as much as its predecessors. It is highly recommended that you get a separate case or screen protector if you plan on traveling back and forth to school every day with this calculator.

TI Nspire CX II Software

Pros

  • The TI-Nspire CX II includes a wide array of software including Teacher Software that allows teachers to demonstrate concepts, facilitate discussions, and project key-by-key operations in the same format as class calculators.
  • All calculators come with a trial of the TI-Nspire CX II Student Software. The software provides graphing, geometry, data collection, statistics, and coding capabilities that are identical to those built into the calculators.
  • Finally, The TI-Nspire CX II has TI-Nspire Connect which is a web-based app that connects your TI-Nspire CX II graphing calculator to your computer, enabling you to take screen captures, transfer files and update the operating system in one place.

Cons

  • Not all classrooms will employ the use of a full set of these calculators, making the teacher software useless unless all students have access.
  • While the student version of the software is incredibly useful and powerful, it does require a monthly subscription fee that many students might not want to pay after spending so much already on the calculator itself.
  • The TI-Nspire Connect Software is a great free platform, but not all students may find that useful either.

TI Nspire CX II Built-in Functionality

Pros

  • The TI-Nspire CX II can do all of the basic graphing functions you’d expect out of a graphing calculator including function, parametric, polar, sequence, with the addition of 3D graphing. More than one of these functions can be run at the same time, allowing simultaneous analysis.
  • The calculator has the option of six different graph styles and 15 colors to select from for differentiating the look of each graph drawn.
  • When working with Matrix operations you can transpose and augment matrices; use elementary row operations; find inverse, determinant, and reduced row echelon forms; convert matrices to lists and vice versa; calculate eigenvalues and eigenvectors.
  • The TI-Nspire CX II features powerful statistical analysis options including List-based one- and two-variable statistical analysis, including logistic, sinusoidal, median-median, linear, logarithmic, exponential, power, quadratic polynomial, cubic polynomial, and quartic polynomial regression models. Three statistical plot definitions for scatter plots, XY-line plots, histograms, regular and modified box-and-whisker plots, and normal probability plots are also available. Finally, the calculator has advanced statistical analysis, including 10 hypothesis testing functions, seven confidence interval functions, and a one-way analysis of variance.
  • Eighteen probability distributions functions, including the cumulative distribution function (CDF), probability density function (PDF), and inverse probability distribution function for normal, chi-squared, t-, and F- distributions; and the CDF and PDF for binomial, geometric, and Poisson distributions.
  • These aren’t even all the features listed! In addition, there are various apps for geometry and chemistry, and there’s a whole area where scientific devices can be used with the calculator to run experiments.
  • In addition to all the included features, you can program the calculator to be even more powerful. Programming can be done in Python or TI-Basic. The TI-Nspire CX II Connect software has a dedicated programming environment as well as programming libraries for global access to user-defined functions and programs.

Cons

  • With so many features, it’s easy to get lost in the TI-Nspire CX II’s complex file storage and menu systems.
  • You will need to take time to learn the features of the calculator before using it in a classroom setting, as even students familiar with graphing calculators might get lost in the TI-Nspire CX II screens, as there really is a lot of features to work through.
  • Many students won’t need all these features. It is important to consider this when purchasing this calculator – there is such a thing as having too powerful a calculator. Students run the risk of not being able to keep up with the content in class if they are not able to use their calculator efficiently.

TI-Nspire CX II vs TI-Nspire CX II CAS

It is a little challenging to compare the TI-Nspire CX II with its closest neighbor, the TI-Nspire CX II CA as they are nearly identical in almost every way. The exceptions, which we will focus on here, are centered around two smaller differences and one slightly bigger difference. The first difference is in comparing their appearance, the second is their price, and the third (and major) difference is the inclusion of the Computer Algebra System or CAS in the model called TI-Nspire CX II CAS.

We’ll start by explaining what exactly the CAS is. In a nutshell, a CAS enables calculators to solve algebraic equations but also perform algebraic operations. This means that TI Nspire CX II CAS can expand, factor, and simplify complex algebraic expressions. It can also solve for particular variables. Another thing that’s highly convenient is that you can input fractions as fractions, and you will get answers in fractions as well.

In comparison, the TI-Nspire CX II does not have the CAS feature and so does not handle algebraic equations in the same way. Likewise, when using the TI-Nspire CX II to simplify fractions (or radicals) your answer is presented as a decimal, not a fraction.

With this information, you might wonder why anyone would choose a calculator without CAS. The answer is simple – some standardized tests do not accept the use of calculators with CAS for use on tests. While this feature can be disabled for tests, the ACT and IB Diploma Programme tests at the writing of this review do not accept the use of calculators with CAS.

The other two differences between the TI-Nspire CX II and the TI-Nspire CX II CAS are less significant. First, they have a slightly different color scheme. The TI-Nspire CX II favors a lighter palette with mostly white keys, a while front, a dark back, and a light blue case. The TI-Nspire CX II CAS has black keys, a black front, a blue back, and a black case.

The final difference is that the TI-Nspire CX II CAS is slightly higher in price than the TI-Nspire CX II. When deciding to buy a calculator in this price range however, this price difference is overall pretty negligible.

TI-Nspire CX II vs TI-84 Plus CE

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator

At first glance, the TI-Nspire CX II and the TI-84 Plus CE seem like very different calculators. From the button layout to the size, it feels like we’re dealing with two very different models. But the truth is, these two models share a lot more in common than you might think.

The first area they have in common is surrounding hardware. They both have the same backlit, full-color screen of 320 x 240 pixels. They both have onboard rechargeable batteries and can be programmed via USB. In terms of features, they share most of the same apps and can do almost all of the same graphing functions. In many cases, it’s a little easier to do the math on the TI-84 Plus CE because it doesn’t have the same file storage system the Nspire series does.

The biggest drawback when comparing these two calculators is that there is a huge learning curve with the Nspire calculators. As mentioned earlier in the review, the Nspire calculators have a large amount of memory (100MB compared to 3MB) because in many ways it’s supposed to be used as a small computer. The file system where you create individual math documents to work problems on rather than just solving problems takes a bit of getting used to and uses more space on the calculator itself.

The TI-84 Plus CE in this regard feels more like you can jump right in without having to set anything up because it does not use the same file system.

Coupled with a large number of extra features that most students would not need, the Nspire sometimes seems unnecessarily complicated for the average student, whereas the TI-84 Plus CE feels a lot more user-friendly and perfect for the high school classroom.

Final Verdict on the TI Nspire CX II

The TI-Nspire CX II has a lot to offer. From a sleek, modern design to a vast array of features, this calculator is state of the art in every way. However, sometimes you just need a tool that does the basics and this calculator is anything but basic. While the features are exciting and show the huge potential technology has to enrich the classroom, there’s also something to be said about walking before learning to run. This is an excellent tool for students who are willing to put the time and effort into learning how to use it – but for students who maybe just need a calculator for Algebra 1, it might be better to investigate a different model of calculator such as the TI-84 series.

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