Advantages Very competitively priced, Casio dependability, excellent display, lots of features
Disadvantages Build quality isn't great, the odd feature missing, hugely annoying closedown splash screen
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|Robustness & Durability|
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Casio have had the school scientific calculator market pretty much sewn up for as long as I can remember. Back when I was doing my GCSEs - shortly after we'd stopped carving notches on mammoth tusks - I had one of the original fx-82 models, and variants of that trusty machine served me well for the rest of school and beyond. The spiritual successor to that calculator is this one, officially dubbed the fx-83GT PLUS. Why Casio felt the need to use that idiotic ALL CAPS formatting is beyond me, but given that car-like "GT" moniker maybe it can be considered the equivalent of go-faster stripes.
If you are coming from a simpler and/or more traditional calculator, you may briefly be irritated by the fact that pressing the AC key doesn't turn the 83 on. For that, you have to use the dedicated "On" button up on the top row. I don't like this particular design choice: pressing AC to start makes perfect sense and works well, so why change it after all these years? It doesn't help that to switch off, you do need to press the AC button, albeit shifted. (Another change: on the old fx-82, the Shift function was called "Inv".) When you turn off, the display shows a large "CASIO®" splash, which though brief is intensely annoying.The big deal with this machine over a traditional calculator is the display. Banished is the traditional eight-segment LCD, and in its place comes a rather nice two-line display on which numbers - gasp! - actually look like numbers and - another gasp! - both sum and answer can be shown at the same time. This is certainly a very useful feature, especially as it is possible to use the four-way pad as a "replay" function to step through a sum, altering or deleting as you go along, which greatly speeds up repetitive calculations. More impressively, fractions, roots and powers are all shown more or less as they would be written.
This being a school calculator, intended for GCSE and A-Level students, there are a few functions notable by their absence. For example, the GT will not do integration or differentiation, and it cannot solve simultaneous equations. The reason for these omissions is simple: calculators which can do them are not permitted in school exams, and so had Casio built them in they would immediately have lost their core market! Those are about the only obvious functions missing, however, and everything else you are likely to need in an everyday calculator is present and correct.Fraction handling, as I touched on a minute ago, has improved markedly in this model. I can still remember when calculators couldn't handle fractions at all; then for some years there was a rather clunky system of manipulating them. With the improved display on offer on the GT, fractions are shown naturally, as they would be written. If you multiply 1/3 by 2/5, you will see 2/15 shown as the result. You can convert this to decimal with the press of a button, but here is another new feature: recurring numbers are now shown in conventional notation, with dot(s) above the relevant digit(s).
Another clever feature which I have not seen before on any of my calculators is automatic factorisation. This allows you to enter a number and have the GT break it up into its constituent factors - assuming it has any. For example, if you enter 12345678, press equals, and then press the [FACT] key, the result will come up (after a moment or two; this is tough work!) as 2x3^2x47x14593. (The power is actually shown as a proper superscript, but I can't do that in this review!) Of course, if you try this with a prime number such as 17, factorisation is of no use, so you'll just get back what you put in.
Because of the enormous volume in which these calculators are sold, you should be able to find the 83 pretty cheaply without having to search around too much. For example, at the time of writing Argos had them available for £8.99, but I've certainly seen them for less. WH Smith, not always the place I'd recommend looking for a bargain, can have some very good deals on school equipment, and at least once I've seen one of these in there for £4.99, which is outstanding value. The GT isn't a perfect calculator, but it's probably the closest you're going to get for that sort of money.
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Casio scientific calculator black 260 functions 9 variable memories fraction calculations table functions Suitable for keystages 3 4 & above 252...
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