Have you ever found yourself on the wrong side of the law or at a loss, because you did some off-hand calculations?
Let’s face it; mathematic problems can be time-consuming and sometimes notoriously hard. These problems come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes from a tax or profit margin calculation, deciding on the amount of tip to give in a restaurant, balancing your checkbook or summing up a list of figures. For science, math, and engineering it’s even more complex. Luckily, with a calculator, everything becomes easier. Before we get further, let’s discuss the different types of calculators.
Scientific calculators -
Scientific calculators have more functionalities than the basic standard calculators. This type is made for students, teachers, and professionals pursuing mathematics, science, engineering, statistics, etc. While they can still be used where standard calculators are usable, they would be underutilized. Scientific calculators aren’t the same in functionalities, which makes them have different price tags. There are some that are made for beginners, others for professionals, while still others are tailored for specific groups.
Graphing calculators -
As the name suggests, graphing calculators are made for plotting graphs of different expressions and functions. They are made for students, teachers, and professionals whose works involves complex calculations. In the real sense, graphing calculators are specialized scientific calculators. These calculators are very powerful, and they’re also referred to as miniature computers, as they can perform up to 1000 functions.
Financial calculators -
For those who work in the financial sector and money markets, financial calculators are the best deal. They stand out for Time Value of Money calculations, or TVM for short, which is a rare feature on other calculators. They are the best in calculating investments, mortgages, leases, depreciation, options, and bonds.
Standard function calculators -
These are the most basic types of calculators. With just the basic functions like addition, multiplication, division, and percentage functions, these calculators are ideal for home, and small businesses use. Even this type, they’re not standardized; some are more complex than others.
Business Calculators -
These calculators are designed for business use. They are mostly larger, have bigger buttons, and larger displays. Apart from the basic functions, they have tax and sales margin functions. In this category, there are printing calculators, which are advanced desktop calculators. While we’ve only classified 4 different types, don’t be amazed when you find some models that fit in almost all of these categories and others that don’t fit into any!
Because of the different types, it’s advisable to pick a calculator carefully with your current and future needs in mind. When you get one, get a set of AA or AAA batteries
, and you’ll be good to go!
Let’s now see what you should consider when buying a calculator
The price of a calculator depends on the type of calculator and how advanced it is. If you are looking to buy a standard calculator that can perform just the basic functions, you can get one for as little as $5. These types of calculators are best for home and personal use.
For a scientific calculator, you can get a decent one for under $20. Since these are made for engineering/science students and professionals, they have different functionalities. There is the basic type which can just perform the basic scientific functions and advanced models for college and university students, which are also usable by professionals.
Moving onto financial and graphing calculators, they can go for anything between $20 and $200! While the price range for each type of calculator varies a lot, it’s easy to pick provided you are specific of what you’re looking for.
While in some cases the average priced calculators can match the performance of some of the high-end calculators, you can’t expect this with cheap calculators, and that’s why we didn’t feature them. For all calculators, the main price determinants are the functionalities and brand.
To get the best calculator, start by assessing your immediate and future needs. For example, if you are a student looking for a scientific calculator, choose a calculator that can advance with you. For a business calculator, it’s good to project the calculation needs that may emerge as your business grows. After identifying your immediate and future needs, use the features to pick one that matches them. But what features do you consider?
Here are the different features that you should consider when shopping for a calculator:
- Type: While type is not a feature, the best starting point is to identify the type of calculator. It can either be scientific, graphing, financial, basic, printing, or desktop. While all them share similar features in terms of size, battery, and colors, they all differ in what they can do.
- Functionalities: This is probably the most critical feature that you can’t afford to ignore. Functionalities help you identify what the calculator can do and what it can’t. In fact, it’s what makes calculators different. To get the best deal ensure the calculator can support your needs. It’s here where we said you should have in mind your future needs. .
- Printing feature: This is a rare feature that you only find in advanced business calculators. The best thing with this type is that they print what you type and are more advanced.
- Source of power: Most calculators have two or three powering modes. This is either be AC, DC or a small solar panel. The best thing with battery powered calculators is being travel-friendly.
- Size: Size is another great deal when it comes to calculators especially if it’s something you’ll be carrying with you. For business applications, the bigger the size, the better, since they have bigger buttons and screens.
- Display:Another feature to consider is the display. Whether it’s LCD or not, how many digits can be displayed and the positioning of the display.
- Ease of use: While many calculators have manuals you can follow to learn how to perform complex calculations. It’s wise to consider how easy it is to follow the manual and if it’s in-depth.
- Extra features:Finally, consider what gives the calculator an edge. For example, the most recent desktop model calculators have date and calendar features. Others have a very strong solar panel that it can work even with the weakest light in a room. These days brands are giving their models a competitive edge by introducing innovative features.
Having looked at what to consider when buying a calculator, let’s now get into construction and design of calculators and what you get in each feature.
Construction and Design
Construction and design of a calculator plays a great role in its durability. If you are a student starting school, a well-designed calculator should take you through school. For business calculators, a well-designed calculator should withstand daily and continuous use. For an everyday carry calculator, it should be small without compromising its functionalities. Here are some of the elements that you should consider in construction and design.
Display: Most calculators on the market today have LCD screens. The best thing with this is that you can view the screen from all angles. For the normal screens, your eyes must be perpendicularly above the screen. Apart from type, consider the size of the screen. In most cases the bigger the screen, the better since you can see clearly. But when you are looking for a model you can always carry in your bag or pocket, the smaller, the better.
Another display consideration is how many digits the screen can accommodate. This ranges between 8 and 12. Mostly, the bigger the screen, the higher the number of digits it can show. For advanced calculators they have 2 lines in display mode and most of the time they allow you to type numerical and signs just as they appear textbooks. Lastly, check the quality of display. You may have come across calculators that in default appear as if they are displaying a series of 88888 when the screen is clear or off. That’s a sign of low quality.
The last consideration in display is the positioning of the screen. To minimize eye straining some tablets have established different designs of positioning the monitor. This is either by tilting the upper part of the calculator or raising the display holder.
Size: Size is also a significant element when it comes to design. While bigger size is better for business and office applications, smaller size and lightweight calculators are the best for anyone looking for a portable calculator. Almost all scientific calculators are small in size. However, the small size, many functionalities, and buttons make them look crowded.
Buttons: The placement and size of buttons play a great role in accuracy and ease of inputting data. If you don’t intend to be carrying your calculator, go for a functional calculator with large buttons. Spacious buttons have also been seen to be the best for older people, people with poor eyesight, and those who may be having shaky hands.
Power: Don’t forget to check the powering options. The options here include AC, DC, and a solar panel. While most old models are battery powered, the newest models have rechargeable batteries. Others have introduced a strong solar panel for use during the day. While the panel doesn’t charge the battery, they increase its lifetime. We also came across solar panels that work well even in dimly lit areas. Finally, your calculator needs to look good. Choose a color that excites you.
Performance and Ease of Use
The performance of a calculator is generally based on accuracy, productivity, and performing complex calculations. Any calculator that will fall short of any of these is not worth purchasing. Still, models in each type differ, making them all different despite belonging to the same category. For example, you’ll find some models of printing calculators have paperless printing feature, and the display is tillable. For scientific and engineering calculators there are both complex and standard models made for different users.
One requirement that all calculators must meet is accuracy - there is no room for inaccuracy. This is a must either when doing simple calculations or complex engineering and science problems. That’s why popular and reputable brands are recommended. While it’s hard to assess the performance and accuracy of a calculator right away, you can check if it has warranty, so that in case of shortcomings you’ll get a replacement.
One great consideration in ease of use is the ability to make correction on an individual entry in cases where you make a mistake, instead of repeating the entire calculation. Performance is also enhanced by features such as memory, input and results simultaneous display, replay function, and how many functions the calculator offers that you need specifically.
Let’s now shift gears and meet our top pick for the best calculators on the market!
The best calculator depends on your specific needs and where you intend to use it. If you’re a student looking for a scientific calculator, your best option would be an engineering and science calculator that you can use throughout your entire course and probably when you start working. On the other hand, for personal use, a standard pocket-sized calculator that can handle the basic functionalities and a several other advanced operations likes percentage, currency conversion and tax calculations may be your best fit. With your needs in mind and full understanding of the different types of calculators let’s now reveal our picks for the best calculators on the market, with our top choice coming from Canon.
For the last six decades, we have known Casio as one of the largest watch brands globally. Apart from watches, the brand also designs and manufacturers a host of other commercial and consumer products. Its other product lines include clocks, electronic dictionaries, calculators, digital cameras, and label printers. For commercial applications, Casio has cash registers, office computers, data projectors, and page printers.
We decided to feature the Casio Scientific and Engineering Calculator since we were looking for a calculator that can meet the demands of engineering and scientific professionals, as well as students. This calculator is so advanced that you can type an expression exactly as it appears in a text book.
With over 280 functions you can tackle different calculations in Physics, Chemistry, Trigonometry, pre-calculus, statistics and algebra 1 & 2. Some of these advanced applications include finding polar-rectangular conversions, standard deviation, linear regression, base arithmetic, fractions, and statistics. Other functionalities include 40 metric conversions, table function, matrics, and vector calculations.
To enhance accuracy and convenience, there is a multi-replay function allowing you to backtrack what you have typed, check mistakes and, if any, edit the single entry and recalculate the answer again. For powering, you have the choice between batteries and solar. Its quality is solidified by the approval for use during NCEES exams, AP tests, ACT college, PSAT/NMSQT, ACT and SAT exams by students.
Now you’re well equipped with the knowledge of different types of calculators and the different features to consider when shopping, go ahead and pick one from our picks of the best calculators!