I wrote about the HP 35S calculator a while back and even though that is my current favorite, I have to say that this HP 11C emulator is pretty darn good. I use it on my Ipod Touch (1G) and it looks and performs exactly like the classic calculator. It is a little bit smaller, overall, than the calculator: the original is about 128 X 80 mm and the emulator is about 80 X 50 mm. The biggest difference is, of course, the keyboard. There is no way that the ipod’s touch screen can hope to compete with the legendary feel of the HP’s keyboard, but the one on the ipod is fine considering. The keys are large enough not to make many mishits, the keys light up when you hit them and there is a sound very much like the old calculator associated with the key strike. Both of these provide ample feedback that you’ve hit the right key. One nice feature is when you press either the f and g function buttons the alternate legend brightens up over (or under) the keys making it that much easier to find the key you need.
The emulator works just like the old calculator, though I have to say that I have not tried to do any programming on it yet. I have also not been able to run it side by side with an 11C but my impression is that the ipod version is much faster.
If you don’t like the classic landscape orientation, just turning the ipod touch (or iphone) will flip the display into a portrait mode. I’m not sure why this mode is needed, but some people may like it. See below.
There are currently two 11C emulators on iTunes right now. One is by R.L.M. (http://www.rlmtools.com/iPhone/11C/Detail.html) and goes for ten bucks which I think is a great deal. The other one is from Thomas Fors (http://code.google.com/p/hpcalc-iphone/wiki/InfoHP11C) for fifteen dollars. I haven’t played with that one, so I can’t say how the two stack up against each other. The latter also have an HP-15C emulator for 20 bucks as does HP itself for a pricey 30 dollars. I’m not sure I will put out the cash to evaluate those, but if anybody out there has tried them, post a comment.
There are other RPN calculators for the iPhone/iTouch, and I have tried some of them but I just can’t seem to get used to their keyboard setups. However, there is another emulator out there that I like a lot: the HP-41CX+ by AL software (http://alsoftiphone.com). This is a full emulation of the 41 CX, even down to the kind of strange digit display that the original had. There are two versions out there, one at 8 bucks and one with a printer for 15 bucks. The “printer” is a separate screen that shows a strip printer. The roll of “paper” can be saved to the iphone’s photo album. Like the others, I haven’t gotten a chance to do any programming in this calculator – I never had a real 41 so I’m not up on the programming, but I remember my friend using it a lot for some pretty sophisticated engineering problems. From the comments on iTunes it seems like this emulator can do anything the old calculator could do. Pretty impressive.
So bottom line, these iPhone/iTouch emulators do a really go job at providing most of the HP calculator greatness at a fraction of the old or current price. The originals still trump the emulators in terms of keyboard goodness, and I will still use one most of the time if it is handy, but in a pinch the iPhone apps work well and are keeping the RPN calculator world alive.
What do you think? Post a comment below.