Best graphing calculator
I have to admit that I have no love for anything related to math. As soon as they decided to introduce the letters of the alphabet in it, I pretty much gave up on trying to understand it. And that is ok. Some people are wired to be more creative than mathematical, and it seems that I am one of them. That is why, as long as I was in school, I had all kinds of tools that helped me go through things like algebra, and one of the most useful tools was the graphing calculator.
What is a graphing calculator?
A graphing calculator is precisely what the name suggests, a calculator that can work with graphs, solve several equations, and performs other tasks that involve variables. It is a handheld calculator that I assume got a lot of kids out of trouble during high-school, and it can help you as well. The unit is available in multiple shapes and sizes, and while they are generally pricey, they are worth every single penny. It may not teach you algebra, but it sure will help you with the math.
Why you should invest in a graphing calculator
Before the graphing calculator was released, we were all about the scientific calculators. And I am not referring to the one that had the 4 primary mathematical operations. As you can imagine, the graphing calculator holds some benefits over its scientific counterpart, and they are as follows:
- It allows you to graph functions – this the most obvious advantage a graphing calculator has. It is where it got its name. I still think that it is worth mentioning. I never believed that such a device can exist until I tested it. That makes it very helpful when you are working with linear, quadratic, polynomial functions, and more. You can graph the lines, the cubic functions, and you can also do the math of the points of intersections. This is reason alone to buy one, don’t you think?
- It provides visual input – since you are able to visualize the data, you can manipulate the algebraic equations using brackets and stored answers from previous work. It can be very helpful when you work with precise numbers that have a lot of digits and scientific notations. Think about this the next time you need to make some calculations in physics or chemistry.
- You can use and edit programs – a graphing calculator can include multiple programs, and they are sure to make your life easier. Some of the available models even have games installed, although I do not think that playing a game when you are supposed to do math is the best idea.
- It is, most of all, a form of help – a graphing calculator can actually improve some aptitudes among students. They can make connections faster and work at a higher rate. According to a study, students even scored better on tests and improved their manipulative skills. It is a great tool to have in class, and while it is not mandatory, it is recommended.
You can still use the scientific functions
Just because you decide to buy a graphing calculator, it does not mean you cannot use it for more basic operations. You may be able to plot functions and graph them, but you can still get some help with trigonometric functions, sine, cosine, and tangent. After all, there are necessary for any student above the 9th grade. It would be silly for a manufacturer to take them out.
While the graphing calculator can do pretty much everything a scientific calculator can, it is important to know that the former is so much better. The display allows a better workflow, and you can see each line that is done. Plus, you can copy and paste values from previous work. All that is essential when you are dealing with complicated math, but it can also come in handy in chemistry, biology, engineering, physics, and so on. Furthermore, when there are multiple steps that you need to go through, and the numbers are large, a graphing calculator is your best friend.
How to choose the best graphing calculator
If you find yourself in need of a graphing calculator, you need to pick one that is right for you. After all, not all units are created equal, and there are different needs among students. That is why you need to pay attention to what you are buying. Always check the specifications, and make sure that you buy what can help you the most. Here is what you need to consider before you make a purchase.
- The second and maybe the third function – most graphing calculators come with a second function of a button, and some even have a third. For example, the SIN button may also have the inverse of the function, and that may come in handy. The functions are changed with a toggle button or a shift button. However, when you look at a particular unit, make sure that you understand its buttons so that you can actually use them. You do not need gimmicks. It is useless to buy a highly performant unit if you cannot use it, isn’t it?
- Graphing capabilities – as I said above, not all graphing calculators are created equal, and some may have different graphing capabilities than others. It really matters what you are buying the product for. For example, if you are in science and engineering, you need another type of graphing calculator than the students/people who use it for algebra and calculus. The devices are tailored to suit different needs, so make sure that the one you buy can satisfy yours.
- The possibility of downloading apps and programs – believe it or not, graphing calculators are capable of such a thing, and it may come in handy when you want to custom your unit. The programs can usually be found on the manufacturer’s website, and they are free.
- Quadratic solver – when you are in high-school, a quadratic solver app is pretty valuable. You can learn to understand the graph of a parabola, for example, and how the values affect its shape. Generally, students learn the formula to solve it, but a graphing calculator can do that better and faster. If you want to know and solve the formula equation, you can use the device to just check your work. Either way, the graphing calculator is more than helpful.
What are the best graphing calculators?
Many people, especially parents, wonder if such a device is worth the investment. After all, a graphing calculator is not cheap. However, it can be of real help in learning and understanding different functions. Choosing the best graphing calculator should not be difficult because there are not many manufacturers out there. Even so, you need to make sure that you follow the criteria mentioned above, plus some of your own. It is important to buy one that suits your precise needs. If it helps, you can read some graphing calculators reviews online to learn about other people’s experiences with what they bought. It can help paint a clearer picture of the matter. In the meantime, check out the products presented below. Maybe one of them will pique your interest.
Texas Instruments Ti-84 Plus Graphing Calculator
The first unit that got my attention is the one manufactured by Texas Instruments. You could say that this manufacturer dominates the market in this category, and this particular model is one of the best-selling units. It is one of the cheapest graphing calculators from Texas Instruments, but it will prove to be most useful nonetheless.
The Ti-84 is capable of calculating real and complex numbers to 14-digit accuracy and displays 10 digits plus a 2-digit exponent. It can graph 10 rectangular functions, 6 parametric expressions, 6 polar expressions, and 3 recursively-defined sequences. It can define 10 graphing functions, save, and analyze, all at once. It can store up to 999 elements, and it has 14 interactive zoom features. The graphing sequence mode can show time series plot, cobweb/stair-step plot, and phase plots.
The Ti-84 features an interactive analysis of function values, roots, maximums, and minimums, integrals, and derivatives. It has 7 different graphing styles so that you can differentiate the look of each, and horizontal and vertical split-screen options. If you look at the entire list of specifications, you will see that the Ti-84 has many more capabilities, and chances are you are going to use them all. But overall, the Ti-84 is an excellent graphing calculator, and I strongly recommend it for both beginners and advanced users. If you have never used such a device before, you will grow into it and end up loving it. Of that I am sure.
Casio fx-9860GII Graphing Calculator
Casio is a very old manufacturer, and if I remember correctly, one of their calculators were my very first one in elementary schools. Of course, at that time, the calculators were not so advanced, but they proved to be enough for the moment. The point is that Casio is a manufacturer with tradition, and they are still capable of producing high-quality calculators at affordable prices. This unit makes no exceptions. It is a lot cheaper than the previous model. It may have fewer functions, but I think it is enough for the regular user.
The Casio fx-9860GII features a REF/RREF function, random integers, unit conversion, new types of regressions, Chi-squared GOF function, 9 probability functions, pie charts, bar graphs, Graph X=f(Y), and many others. I am sure that you will find it very helpful. It has a built-in eActivity and spreadsheet applications and 1500 KB Flash ROM.
The fx-9860GII model has an icon-based menu that adds to its intuitive usability and a direct connection to Casio projectors. That comes in handy for a teacher. You can transfer the data from this unit to another one, but you can also share the data with a computer. The LCD is backlit for more visibility in dark conditions, and the software is user-friendly. I have to admit that for what you are paying, you get a lot of functions and features.
Texas Instruments Ti-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator
Before judging that this is the same graphing calculator as the first product I presented, take a break and think again. That ‘CE’ in the title makes this one different from the other TI084, and the most obvious difference is that the display is colored. While that features may seem like a gimmick for many, it can actually be helpful. Plus, it makes math look less gloomy.
The TI-84 Plus CE has pretty much the same functions as the other one. However, this one can be considered an upgrade. It is indeed a little bit more expensive, but it has a new and improved design. For one, it is 30% lighter than the previous version and has a high-resolution screen.
One of the features I like the most about this model is that it is equipped with a rechargeable battery. The indicator will let you know when to plug it in so that you are not left hanging when you need it the most. This unit comes with pre-loaded apps and images and has MathPrint functionality. I am sure you are going to love it.
I am certain that whatever product you choose, you will be happy with its use. Nonetheless, if I had to make a choice, I would go with the Texas Instruments Ti-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator. It looks nothing like an old-fashioned calculator, and it is very useful in multiple fields. I think it is one of the best graphing calculators ever created.
It seems that you no longer have to be good at math to actually do the math. Nowadays, you have all these tools to help you. You do not have to draw anymore or remember formulas because a pocket-sized device can do that for you. A graphing calculator will help with that, and your life will be easier for it. Click here to buy on Amazon
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