Best Programmable Calculator – 2020 Buyer’s Guide and Reviews
Programmable calculators allow you to write and store programs in the calculator.
These programs make certain tedious algebraic calculations automatic and straightforward.
They allow you to automate difficult problems by elaborating procedures.
The programming capability is mostly seen in graphing calculators though there are many programmable scientific calculators. If you are a technical or engineering student, you’ll greatly benefit from a programmable calculator.
An excellent programmable calculator will manipulate and store graphic functions input in a symbolic form.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the top performing programmable calculators that you’ll get to use in class and your exams. As the market floods with such calculators, it can be a frustrating process figuring out which calculator is up to the task.
That’s why it’s important that you know what to expect in the best programmable calculator 2020.
Programmable Calculators Comparison Chart
188KB RAM and 2.7 MB flash memory
7 variable memories
9 independent memories and 4 programmable keys
Direct Algebraic Logic (DAL)
Reverse Polish Notation (RPN)
Reverse Polish Notation (RPN)
100 x 160-pixel display
Lit screen-natural textbook
Dot-matrix, 2-line display
Dot-matrix LCD textbook display
4 AAA batteries
1 AAA battery
Solar cell and
1 Non-standard battery included
2 CR-2032 Lithium cells
Li-ion rechargeable battery
6 Best Programmable Calculators (as of May, 2020):
The Texas Instruments TI-89 is perhaps the most popular in the Texas Instruments line. It comes in an attractive titanium color that fits perfectly in whichever setting you use it.
With a 100 x 160 pixel display, this calculator is the ideal graphing model for college students. It is an electronically upgradable model that allows you to have updated functions and software functions.
Programming and Graphing Function
With 2.7MB flash memory and 188KB RAM, this calculator has a more substantial memory than most programmable calculators. You can store several programs using the helpful memory management function. It allows you to create folders which you can assign to specific applications and subjects.
Although this is an advanced graphing calculator, it is quite a fascinating model to use. It comes with advanced statistics functions like multiple regression, intervals, and tests.
It has 16 more pre-programmed software applications to facilitate math from mid-school to college. It is a calculator built to withstand shocks from falls.
This calculator comes with a USB cable to connect to computers and other calculators. It opens up possibilities for transferring and sharing programs. Better still, it is allowed in most examinations from AP to SATs, etc.
The device is battery-powered using 4 AAA batteries included in the package. It also comes with a resource and manual CD, a brochure with the list of available accessories and one memory stack.
The extensive functionality of this calculator makes it a favorite model among high school students taking math classes and engineering students.
- Calculator provides advanced graphing for calculus, AP courses and university studies
- Graphs functions, parametric and polar equations, recursively-defined sequences, three-dimensional surfaces, and differential equations
- Includes EE*Pro App for electrical engineering. Icon desktop allows easier access to Apps and editors
- Offers 188K bytes of user-available RAM, 2.7MB of user-available Flash ROM for data archive and Apps, 100 x 160 pixel display, internal clock with date and time display, 99 graphing equations, 20 stored constants with symbolic units for scientific calculations, and 100 symbolic units in 28 categories for use in equations, computations, and unit conversions
- Includes USB unit-to-unit link cable and TI Connectivity Cable
- Powered by four AAA batteries with a Silver Oxide battery backup to protect RAM memory during main battery change
- Permitted for use on many state and standardized tests
- Includes official AP calculus review questions on the enclosed product CD
How write your first program on the Texas Instruments TI89 calculator see video:
Casio makes some of the best calculators on the market. From the look of the Japanese Program Function Calculator, we can tell it is built for complex math solving.
This model has a lightweight design meaning it won’t feel like extra gear when your backpack is full. You can easily slip it in your pocket. This unit also follows an ergonomic design since it fits nicely in most people’s hands.
This calculator comes with 128 stored formulas. From these formulas, you can define your formulas for easy retrieving in exams and everyday calculations.
The calculator is capable of handling differential and quadratic calculations, matrices, fractions, Base n calculations, etc. It is a gadget that will come in handy during your first year of college, through to your last.
This calculator boasts a natural textbook display. You’ll be able to view numbers, symbols, formulas, and fractions just as they appear in your textbook. This makes it easy to interpret the input and the reason behind the answer.
You can now understand math better by being able to visualize the similar formulas both on the board and from your calculator. You’ll also like that it has a DOT matrix display so you won’t have to struggle when reading results. Not to mention, the screen is always lit for use in low-light environments.
The calculator is handy even without additional applications. It has 40 physical constants, 24 parentheses levels, calculations using irrational values, and the CALC function.
This calculator operates using one AAA battery. You can take it in exam rooms since it will not require connecting to a wall outlet. But it can connect to other calculators using a 3-pin cable. This way, you can share functions and programs thus extending the value of this calculator.
The Casio FX-5800P-N is a breeze to use. It uses the Casio BASIC language. You’ll not need weeks to learn the different functions. With the List based STAT-editor, you can edit and view input data in list format. The editor allows showing data groups, and surrounding data.
Overall, we find the Casio FX-5800P-N is very functional for college students. It has simple methods of solving complicated problems. You’ll find it effortless to use, and you can install programs. Whether you want to get better math grades or it’s a requirement for your curriculum you’ll find this calculator very practical.
- Natural textbook display, 10-digit mantissa + 2-digit exponential display
- Number of Functions: 664
- 26 memories, calculates complex numbers, trigonometric functions
- 40 physical constants, 128 stored formulae, repetition function, back-up function (flash memory)
- Communicates via a 3-pin cable (calculator to calculator)
- Algebraic entry logic, calculates with fractions, function calculations, calculations using irrational values
- CALC Function, solves equations, resistance calculations, error correction function, multi-statement
- STAT-data editor -- Viewing and editing of input data in list format, showing data groups (x-data, y-data, frequency) and surrounding data
Unboxing Casio fx-5800p look at the video:
The Casio Super FX-3650p brings great value in a programmable calculator. It has a 2-line display in natural textbook with multi-replay function.
For those on a budget, this is one of the affordable and functional programmable calculators. Casio ensures that you get all the features that are useful without digging dip in your pocket.
This calculator comes with user-oriented hardware and software design. It is easy to program using Casio’s BASIC programming language. You won’t have to learn an overly complex programming language just for a calculator.
It works great for engineering students thanks to the combination permutation and program functions. With the seven variable memories, you can quickly write programs and refer to them in complex math-solving.
The Casio Super FX-3650p follows the 10-digit mantissa and 2-digit exponential display. It features a well-lit LCD that uses dot-technology. The symbols are enlarged, and you can see the problem and the answer on one screen.
You’ll not be scrolling to the next page when trying to understand a complicated equation. It gives an intuitive interface which fits the classroom setting.
This calculator is powered by both a G13 (LR44) battery and a solar cell. The battery gives you up to 9000 hours of life when the calculator is in continuous display of a flashing cursor.
The solar cell is a handy feature because it will allow you to use the calculator when the battery dies. This calculator can be left with the power turned off for three years.
Although you won’t be graphing functions, this calculator proves reliability in lots of situations. From being able to customize formulas to a high-resolution LCD, we believe you’ll be happy with this buy.
- 10 + 2 digits -- 10-digit mantissa + 2-digit exponential display
- Dot matrix display -- High-resolution screen provides beautiful looking graphs every time
- Program function, multi-replay function, fraction calculations
- Combination and permutation, differential and integration
- Statistics (STAT-data editor, Standard deviation, Regression analysis)
- Base-n calculations/conversions, logical operations, complex number calculations
- 7 variables
- Plastic keys -- Designed and engineered for easy operation
- Comes with snap-on hard case
Ideal for students in high school and college, the Sharp EL-5160J-X is suitable for running complex calculations.
It brings some innovative features including a natural textbook display, unit conversion, 473 individual functions, and a one-touch button for converting from degrees to decimals.
An attraction for most calculators is the ability to give answers not just in decimals but also the way they are displayed in your textbook. Again, you get to read and understand results much faster. It gives you simplified answers in form of fractions, exponents, radicals and a combination of the three.
This calculator has up to nine independent variables where you can store values for recalling later. It also has four programmable keys to help personalize your formulas. It can solve fractions, two variable statistic functions, and up to three simultaneous equations.
You’ll like that it is permitted for use on many standardized tests like AP and SAT.
Sharp has created this calculator to go beyond the functions of the basic scientific calculator. It has applications that you may not even find in a graphing calculator. It even includes a one-year warranty.
- Number of Digits: 10 digits
- Number of Functions: 473
- Pythagoras function
- Supports “equation input display”
- It can calculate with the formula displayed
- Power Supply: Solar + Built-In Battery
If you are up for atraditional look in a programmable calculator, you have it in the HP 35s. It has the look and feel of a serious machine.
This is another non-graphing programmable calculator. It was launched to celebrate 35 years of the revolutionary HP 35.
If you are familiar with HP, you can tell this is not your typical student calculator as it is designed for advanced learning like medicine and engineering.
In times where computers are fast replacing calculators, the HP 35s is an invaluable tool both in class and in business.
The primary advantage of this calculator is that you’ll be able to pre-program functions to facilitate everyday calculations. It is a Reverse Polish Notation Calculator that does not require the use of brackets when you want to define priorities for operator evaluation.
With this calculator, you can store a few programs as the calculator limits the variables and labels to 26.
This calculator has a fraction button. It allows you to input the fraction in algebraic or RPN mode. You can view and perform regular and mixed fractions with no fuss. The two input modes give the same answer only that it will be in a different format according to the mode you choose.
This calculator performs advanced functions just as we indicated. It will be great for tackling engineering and medical exams and also excellent in handling basic math problems.
It has most basic functions like trigonometry and hyperbolic, common and natural logarithms, arbitrary powers, and roots, squaring and square roots, and conversion of degrees and radians. It also performs inverses on logarithms.
However, the calculator does not have conversions between rectangular and polar coordinates. It has functions for solving statistics as well as working with complex numbers.
This calculator seems to balance a classic and modern look. It has an LCD which gives solutions in two lines.
Two CR-2032 Lithium Coin Cells power this calculator. You may find yourself replacing these batteries frequently since it does not have a solar power choice. Fortunately, the cells are wired in such a way that you can replace them one by one. This way, you won’t risk losing your programs and stored formulas.
From a company that invented the scientific calculator, HP 35s lives up to our expectations. It can solve most problems that do not need a programming function making it suitable for everyday use. And when it’s time to handle complicated math, this calculator gives you the programmable capability.
- RPN or algebraic entry-system logic, keystroke programming, HP Solve and 100 built-in functions
- Large 2-line display with adjustable contrast
- Single and two-variable statistics, linear regression and more
- 30 KB of memory plus 800+ independent storage registers
- Fraction mode plus fraction-to-decimal conversion
- 42 built-in physical constants, plus a complete library of unit conversions
- Inverse functions, cube root, logarithms, exponents, factorials and more
- SAT Reasoning Test; SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics Level 1 and Level 2; ACT; PSAT/NMSQT; AP Chemistry/Physics; PLAN; EXPLORE
Review HP 35s look at the video:
Solving Systems of Linear or Simultaneous Equations with HP 35s look at the video:
This calculator took much time to become a real machine that would really help people with their not only match tasks. Flat design and brushed metal make this calculator special! Now it is even smaller that can only improve its performing!
You will enjoy working with a 3.5-inch color LCD screen with a familiar HP keypad for a fulfilling calculating experience.
You can move graphs by sliding your finger which saves you from the tedious process of navigating through keys to achieve a precise overlay.
You can quickly switch from graphical, symbolic, and numeric table views by navigating on the keys. It provides both the textbook input mode and HP Typical RPN input mode on the Home screen. This means you can round off numbers, probability matrices, and gain access to complex numbers, trigonometric functions, and hyperbolic functions.
The CAS mode allows symbolic input of all arithmetic operations. The CAS menu has sections for algebra, analysis, number theory, polynomials, graphing, solving, and converting.
IB and College Board Approved
This is a time-saving calculator that is acceptable by many test organizations like; PSAT/NMSQT, SAT subject tests in mathematics exams, SAT, and select AP exams. It is also acceptable for use on IB Diploma programmable exams.
Creates an Exciting Learning Process
The Casio HP Prime allows visualizing of experiments since you can stream data live using the HP Streamstart 410. It is a companion device which you can bring along to capture sound, motion, light, temperature, etc.
This makes your calculator especially useful in pre-calculus, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, earth science, and many others.
This product helps students to explore math concepts with CAS, Dynamic Geometry, Spreadsheet, and Advanced Graphing Applications. It has compatible devices and apps like the HP Prime Mobile App 2 which together offer a wholesome learning experience.
- A feature-rich calculating experience with familiar HP keypad and a large 3.5-inch diagonal, multi-touch display
- Select AP® ExamsExplore math concepts with Dynamic Geometry, CAS, Advanced Graphing, and spreadsheet applications
- Easily switch between symbolic, graphical, and numerical table views with dedicated buttons
- Add an image as a background and sketch and manipulate a function with your finger to create a blended learning environment
- Support blended learning and 1:1 device environments with the optional HP Prime Mobile App2, which has all the same features as the calculator so students can easily switch between the calculator and the Windows®-, iOS-, and Android®-compatible app
- Create a STEM ecosystem with the HP Prime Graphing Calculator, HP Prime Wireless Kit, and HP Connectivity Kit
- Connect to calculators to poll students, send data, and project screens
The Best Programmable Calculator – Buyer’s Guide
Programmable calculators are a trademark among math and science students. Instead of having to input formulas each time you are calculating a problem. The calculator allows you to store a complicated formula in the form of a program. Before investing in a programmable calculator, here are a few notes to remember.
Advantages of a Programmable Calculator
Portable. These calculators are much easier to carry than a laptop. They offer nearly the same functions as you can find in a computer program with the advantage that you can take the calculator to an exam room. Most of them are lightweight and bear a slim design where they can easily slide in your pocket.
Offer automated functions. The most important feature of a programmable calculator is the ability to repeat a step without inputting the whole formula. It comes in handy when you want to input a complex command over and over again by just pressing the ENTER key.
Allows students to handle complex problems. Programmable calculators will help you skip the memorization and constant drilling required of math students. Instead, you’ll be able to handle math and science at a much higher level.
Disadvantages of Programmable Calculators
Even with the help you get from a programmable calculator, there’s still the issue over-reliance by students.
How to Use a Programmable Calculator
High-level math is simpler when handled with a programmable calculator. Operating this kind of calculator can be daunting at first, but it is straightforward once you familiarize yourself with the different functions.
Let’s look at how to enter a program with into the TI-89:
- To enter a new program, just go to the home screen and hit APPS
- On the menu, open the PROGRAM Editor, go to NEW and Hit ENTER
- On the VARIABLE Box, type a name for the program up to seven letters and HIT ENTER Twice
- Now you can type in each line of the new program
Basic Programming with HP 35s look at the video:
Programmable Calculator vs. Personal Computer
A programmable calculator and personal computer use basic computation techniques. Programmable calculators can store series of formulas and instructions, but that is as far as you can get with this type of calculator. However, a personal computer can interact with the user, run programs, and take user input.
Programmable Calculator vs. Scientific Calculator
Some scientific calculators are programmable while others are not programmable. For a scientific calculator to be programmable, it has to run on a Computer Algebra system (CAS). This system helps to make algebraic functions automatic.
Programmable Calculator vs. Graphing Calculator
A graphing calculator is simply a scientific calculator with a graphing function. These calculators tend to be programmable. They can store, manipulate, and graph functions entered in symbolic form.
They are also capable of solving differentiation problems, algebraic expressions, symbolic differentiation, binomial expansion, definite integration, and solve a system of equations.
Non-programmable calculators do not come with a function button.
Commonly Asked Question: Why was a programmable calculator a valuable item in 1976?
Back in 1976, computers were not for everyone. They used to service a lot of people in a building hence it was time-consuming when waiting your turn to use one. Manufacturers had already figured out the need for efficiency thus the need to build a calculator that could store programs just like a computer.
Computers were slow since they ran on multiple programs to execute commands. But a programmable calculator had tiny bits of memory and a processor which could implement a few instructions per second. This made them more attractive to the busy accountant or scientist who needed to store repetitive calculations for later use.
Handheld programmable calculators have been around for a while now. They allow students and teachers alike to access several stored programs.
We’ve discussed some of the highly sought programmable calculators. They are either scientific or graphing models aimed at fulfilling different purposes. They allow you to solve complex equations much faster and easier.
With our selected models, we hope you can choose one that meets your specific needs the best.