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Lecture Comments (3)

2 answers

Last reply by: Burhan Akram
Sun Jan 5, 2014 6:38 AM

Post by Burhan Akram on December 30, 2013

TI89 or TI Nspire or HP Prime are the bestestestes calculators you can buy if you are planning on going to Math/Sciences.....TI89 is more command line but TI Nspire or HP Prime are colored screen powerful machinesss......

Buying a Graphing Calculator

  • Buying a graphing calculator is useful, but not absolutely necessary. However, you should always get a graphing utility. There are lots of great, free graphing utilities out there! See below.
  • Recommended Graphing Utility-Web-Based: Desmos is an excellent online graphing calculator. It has a good interface, is very flexible, and makes beautiful graphs. Plus, it's free! Check it out here:
  • Recommended Graphing Utilities-Offline Programs: Sometimes you can't to be tied to the web or you want a graphing utility with more power. If so, check out some of these free programs:
    • GeoGebra: Really powerful with lots of abilities. A little bit of a learning curve, but great once you know it. Available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
    • Microsoft Mathematics: Good graphing calculator with lots of abilities. Available on Windows. [Best to find it by searching for "Microsoft Mathematics", but you can also try this link: Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 (published 2011)]
    • Grapher: If you have a Mac, you already have this installed. It comes automatically with a Macintosh computer and you can find it in the path: Applications/Utilities/Grapher.
  • Graphing Utilities-Tablet/Phone There are lots of graphing calculator apps out there for tablets and phones. Some of them are pretty good and they all cost, at most, a few dollars. (Some are even free!) There's too many different options to discuss them all here, but just search your device's application store for "graphing calculator". Look at the descriptions and reviews to find one that suits you best.
  • But should buy a graphing calculator? That depends. If both of the below are true:
    • You plan on continuing in math and/or science after the courses you are taking this year;
    • Money is not particularly tight for you;
    then you should almost certainly purchase a graphing calculator. The investment now will pay off later. If only one of the above is true, you might want to consider it, but you can do fine with one of the graphing utilities above.
  • There is no "best" graphing calculator. There are just too many factors: speed, flexibility, ease-of-use, power, teaching support, price, and more. In the end, no one calculator is best in all categories. If you're going to get a graphing calculator, do some research, talk to people, and figure out what might work for you.
  • While the above is true, if you really don't feel like doing any research and you just want to buy something and be done, get either a
    TI83 (Plus)       or       TI84 (Plus).
    They are easy to learn, capable of anything you'll need for a few years, and extremely common, so it's easy to find help with them. All that said, they're kind of over-priced. The price has stayed constant for more than a decade, even though newer, faster, more powerful graphing calculators have been released for less.
  • When buying a graphing calculator, it helps a lot to buy online. Check around and see where you can get the best price. Also consider buying used and/or asking people you know if they have one they aren't using anymore that you could borrow/buy/have.

Buying a Graphing Calculator

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Should You Buy? 0:06
    • Should I Get a Graphing Utility?
  • Free Graphing Utilities - Web Based 0:38
    • Personal Favorite: Desmos
  • Free Graphing Utilities - Offline Programs 1:18
    • GeoGebra
    • Microsoft Mathematics
    • Grapher
  • Other Graphing Utilities - Tablet/Phone 2:48
  • Should You Buy a Graphing Calculator? 3:22
    • The Only Real Downside
  • Deciding on Buying 4:20
    • If You Plan on Continuing in Math and/or Science
    • If Money is Not Particularly Tight for You
    • If You Don't Plan to Continue in Math and Science
    • If You Do Plan to Continue and Money Is Tight
  • Which to Buy 5:44
    • Which Graphing Calculator is Best?
    • Too Many Factors
    • Do Your Research
  • The Old Standby 7:10
    • TI-83 (Plus)
    • TI-84 (Plus)
  • Tips for Purchasing 9:17
    • Buy Online
    • Buy Used
    • Ask Around

Transcription: Buying a Graphing Calculator

Hi--welcome back to

Today we are going to talk about buying a graphing calculator.0002

It is the age-old question--should I buy a graphing calculator?0005

Probably, but maybe not: we will get into the exact details in a bit.0009

But there is actually a better, more important question to ask first: Should I get a graphing utility?0012

The answer to that is an unqualified yes; being able to graph easily is so useful for understanding, and it doesn't have to cost you a dime.0018

While graphing calculators can be pricey, and they require effort to go out and obtain them,0027

there are lots of free alternatives out there that you can go out and use right this second.0032

Let's look at those first: the first type are free graphing utilities that are on the Web.0036

There are lots of free, web-based graphing calculators out there.0042

All you have to do is visit the website, and you can use it instantly.0045

There is no download or setup required; you just use it right from the website.0047

To find one, just do an Internet search for something like "online graphing calculator" or something similar to that.0051

You will find a bunch of them immediately.0056

My personal favorite of the crop is called Desmos; you can find it at this website right here.0058

This graphing calculator at that site is really great; it has a good interface; it is very flexible; and it makes beautiful graphs.0064

I highly recommend; so check out this one first, and then if it is not to your taste, you can look around.0070

But I think you will be pretty happy using this one.0074

Online graphing calculators are great, but sometimes you want a little more power, or you don't want to be tied to the Web all the time.0077

You might not always have an Internet connection; if so, check out some of these free offline programs that you can use any time.0084

GeoGebra is our first one; it is a really powerful graphing calculator, and also has a bunch of other things that it can do.0091

It has lots of abilities; it has a little bit of a learning curve, but it is great once you know it.0097

It is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux; you can find it here, so it is nice.0101

It is truly cross-platform; you can use it on pretty much anything you are using as far as a computer.0105

Next, we have Microsoft Mathematics; it is a good graphing calculator with lots of abilities.0109

It is only available on Windows, though; but if you are on a Windows computer, it will do a really good job for what you are looking for.0114

You can find it by searching for Microsoft Mathematics on an Internet search.0120

There is a specific website that I could tell you, but there is a chance that it will end up changing in not-that-long from now.0124

And it is pretty easy to find, if you just do an Internet search for it.0129

You type Microsoft Mathematics into a search, and it is going to be pretty much the top hit; it will be a download link; so just do that.0131

And finally, a little program called Grapher: if you have a Mac, you already have this installed.0137

It comes automatically with any Macintosh computer, and you can find it in the path Applications/Utilities/Grapher.0143

So, if you look in your Applications folder, then inside of that is another folder called Utilities;0149

and then, inside of that is this application called Grapher.0154

And it is a pretty good graphing program, and it is already on any Macintosh computer.0156

So, you can just go into it and use it instantly.0160

I like it personally; that is a good one, if you already have a Mac.0162

All right, of course, you might not want to have to carry around a whole computer every time you want to use your graphing calculator.0165

In that case, do you have access to a tablet or a smartphone?0172

If so, there are a bunch of graphing calculator apps out there.0175

Some of them are pretty good, and they all cost at most a few dollars; some of them are even free.0178

There are too many different options to discuss them all here; but just search your device's application store for something like "graphing calculator."0183

Look at the descriptions and reviews, and figure out which one suits your needs.0191

Find one that you like and download it; it is only going to cost a couple of dollars at worst.0194

So, you can get a chance to see what it is like.0198

However, while all of the previously-mentioned graphing utilities are great, very few teachers will let you use any of those devices in class.0201

They are going to be wonderful for understanding concepts, working on homework--things that you can do when you are at home.0209

But you might want the ability to easily graph during a test.0216

Very, very few teachers are going to let you bring out a tablet, a smartphone, or a computer in the middle of a class test.0220

So, that is pretty much the big reason for why you want a graphing calculator,0226

one of those actual things that you can hold in your hands, that only does graphing.0231

So, that brings us back to our starting question, "Should I buy a graphing calculator?"0235

My answer to that is "Probably." A graphing calculator can be really useful in math and science classes, especially ones that you will be taking later on.0239

The only real downside to getting a graphing calculator is that they are rather expensive.0247

It is pretty much just price that I would say is the only reason you shouldn't go out and get one right now,0251

which leads us to the following way to decide if you should buy a graphing calculator.0255

If both of these things are true: you plan on continuing in math and/or science after the courses that you are taking this year0260

(you plan on taking more math or science at some point) and money is not particularly tight for you,0267

then you should almost certainly go ahead and purchase a graphing calculator.0273

The investment now will pay off later; it is definitely going to be something that is going to be useful0277

when you make it to those future math and science classes.0281

And you will find out that you will be using it in your precalculus class; it will be useful right now in your precalculus-level class (whatever its name may be).0283

And so, it will pay off today; but it will also really pay off later on.0290

If neither of the above is true, don't worry; you will do just fine without having an actual graphing calculator.0294

If you don't plan on continuing, and you don't really want to spend the money, you don't need to buy a graphing calculator.0299

You will do just fine in this course without having a graphing calculator.0304

If you can easily afford it, but you won't be helps a little now; it is not a massive benefit.0307

So, it is your choice: if you feel like spending the money, go ahead and get a graphing calculator.0315

But you really don't need one, so it is your choice.0319

Finally, if you do plan to continue, but money is tight (it's not really easy for you to buy something that expensive),0321

keep watching: there are some tips later on to help out with what you can do so that you can get that price a little bit more manageable.0327

And if you try, you can probably find something that will be affordable for you.0333

Don't despair; there is definitely the possibility of being able to get one, even if you think that it is kind of expensive to buy a graphing calculator.0337

Now, we come to the most difficult question of all: which graphing calculator is best?0343

Quite simply, there is no answer; there are just too many factors.0348

We have so many options for what kind of graphing calculator we have.0353

There is speed, flexibility, ease of use, how powerful it is, the teaching support0356

(that is, how many people will be able to help you with using it), the price of the thing, and even other stuff.0362

In the end, no one calculator is best in all of these different categories.0367

So, what you want to do is start by doing your research.0372

Look into the various kinds of calculators out there, if you are going to go and buy a graphing calculator.0375

Go online and look up product comparisons to get a sense for what it is out there.0379

You want to have some sense of the various graphing calculators out there.0383

Once you have found a couple that you like, narrow your search; look up specific reviews, and then decide.0386

If you have someone who is a family friend, or there is a teacher who you talk to who is a math teacher,0391

or really any teacher who has anything to do...probably any science teacher, or maybe even other teachers,0396

would be able to help you...ask them if they have any recommendations for what a good graphing calculator is.0400

They might tell you that they personally like working with that.0405

And since you have a good relationship with them, you will be able to ask them questions,0407

and they will be able to give you a quick guide for how to use it when you first get it.0410

So, if you have someone who uses graphing calculators or might do that sort of thing, ask them and see if they have any recommendations, as well.0413

To get started, a simple Internet search like "graphing calculator reviews" or "graphing calculator comparisons"0419

should be plenty to get you started and help give you a sense of just what is out there.0425

Of course, if you really don't feel like doing any research, and you just want to buy something and be done,0430

I would say to just get either a TI-83 or a TI-84; they are also called TI-83+ or TI-84+; that is really the model name now.0435

But TI-83 and TI-84--they are easy to learn; they are capable of pretty much anything you will need for a few years.0443

They are not as powerful as some things out on the market, but they will be fine for at least a few years.0449

And it is common as dirt; it is that last thing that is most useful, actually.0453

It is because they are so common that you are going to find them useful, because you can rely on other people being able to help you.0457

Pretty much any math teacher, if you come up to them with a TI-83 or a TI-84,0465

and you say, "How do I get this thing to happen?" will be able to tell you immediately.0468

If you come to them with a lesser-used model, it might take them a while.0472

They might not even be able to figure it out.0474

But if you come to them with a TI-83 or a TI-84, they are going to know how to deal with it.0475

And pretty much anyone who knows graphing calculators will be able to show you what to do on the TI-83 or TI-84.0479

They have that nice benefit: since so many people involved with doing those sorts of calculations know how they work,0484

you can ask them, and so many people will be able to help you out with that.0490

All of that said, personally, I kind of resent these products, frankly.0493

My problem with them is that they are over-priced; the price has stayed constant for more than a decade,0497

even though newer, faster, more powerful graphing calculators have been released for less money.0503

And if you are curious how this is possible--that something so old and the way that it is built has managed to stay at the same price0508

for so long, it is the common-ness of these products that has kept the price so high.0514

Since everyone keeps buying them because everyone else is used to them, and so many teachers end up saying,0518

"Go out and buy a TI-83 or a TI-84," there is no incentive to lower prices, because,0523

since everyone is buying them, why make it cheaper?0528

So, nobody lowers prices; and we have basic economics--the price just stays the same all the time.0530

So, if you like, either of these calculators will do fine for many years.0535

It is basically that, if you buy a TI-83 or a TI-84, you should just know that you are paying a little extra for ease of use.0540

You are not really buying the best calculator on the market; you are just buying the one that is most popular,0546

and that will be the easiest to get help from other people with.0550

Finally, some quick tips for purchasing: when you are buying a graphing calculator, it helps a lot to buy online.0554

Start by looking at Amazon, but you can also check around in general.0560

Chances are that you will be able to find one for a pretty good price.0564

You can normally knock 20% or 30% off the price than if you had bought it in an actual physical store, by just looking online.0566

Also, you might want to consider buying used; a graphing calculator,0572

as long as it is in reasonably good working shape, is going to be just as fine as a new one.0575

So, check out things like eBay, Craigslist, or similar sites, and see if there are any graphing calculators in good shape.0579

Be careful to make sure that it works before you purchase the thing.0586

But you can get a great deal this way.0589

Also, I want to say: if you do buy used, and you have to make the purchase in person,0591

make sure that you have adult supervision with you to be safe.0595

You want to be careful, just in case; and so, make sure you have an adult with you0598

if you are actually going and meeting someone in person to buy this thing.0602

Finally, before buying anything, ask around; you might have a friend or a relative, or know somebody,0605

who already has one and just doesn't need it anymore, or is willing to loan it to you or give it to you for a really nice price.0611

There is nothing wrong with a free calculator or a really inexpensive calculator.0618

If you have the chance to get one, go ahead and take it; just ask around before you end up purchasing one.0622

There is a good chance that you know someone who is looking to not have it anymore, and that is great.0627

All right, in the next lesson, we will talk about how you actually end up using a graphing calculator--what the basics behind just using the calculator functions are.0631

And we will keep working through it later.0638

All right, goodbye--we will see you at later.0639