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I have to use a calculator at work, so when my old one finally gave up on me, the company I work for supplied me with another - a Casio fx - 85ms.

I've had it for about 6 months now and I still have no idea how to use it.

The calculator is approximately 15cm by 9 cm and is only 1.5cm thick. It weighs a mere 138g so feels quite light for quite a large calculator. It is two way powered (solar power or 1.5V battery) and comes in a greyish - black plastic. It has a flat cover that can be slid off and on to protect the calculator front when not in use. There is a two-line display that makes it possible to view both the calculation formula and its result at the same time.

The Casio fx - 85ms comes with clearly displayed numbers and signs (such as addition, multiplication etc.). It is divided into three main sections. The bottom section (grey and red buttons) is where the numbers and the more everyday functions are situated. The middle section (black buttons) is for more complicated calculations such as 'sin', 'hyp', 'x²' and 'log' buttons, and the top row (grey buttons again) is for the mode and on buttons.

A users guide is provided and this is definitely needed. To be fair most of the buttons and functions are easy to use and fairly self-explanatory if you have used a scientific calculator before. Unfortunately in making way for more complicated functions, they have made it more difficult to use some of the simple, yet more useful functions. For example when using the memory button, normally you would calculate your result and press the M+ button to add to the memory, the RM button to recall it, and the M - button to remove it.

Not the Casio fx - 85ms:

Instead of the M+ button, you calculate your result and press : shift button, STO button followed by the M+ button Instead of RM button you press: RCL button and M button Instead of M- you press : shift button and M- button And to clear the memory altogether press: 0, shift, STO and M button.

I find this totally confusing and tend to use another calculator if I need to use the memory.

Normally there are three different mode buttons - COMP for basic calculations, SD for standard deviation and REG for regression calculations. The fx - 85ms has only one mode button that you press with the number 1 button for COMP mode, number 2 button for SD mode, and number 3 button for REG mode.

The calculator does, however, have a great memory. The memory area used for calculation input can hold 79 'steps'. One step is taken up each time you press a number key or arithmetic button.

I have also found the DEL button or delete button really useful. This will delete the last number you have entered (for example if you have typed 75 instead of 74, the DEL button will remove the 5 instead of cancelling the whole thing). This, you may think, is the same as the C (or cancel button) on standard calculators that removes the whole number, however this is more useful when you are entering 10 digits into the calculation.

The fx - 85ms also has a useful replay function. Every time you perform a calculation, the replay function stores the calculation formula and its result in replay memory. Pressing the arrows on the replay button displays the formula and result of the calculation you have performed, and allows you to scroll through them.

The calculator can also perform the normal standard functions:

As I've only had this calculator for 6 months I've no ideas how long the battery lasts, but as the calculator works on solar power as well, I cant see this being a problem, and although there is an off button, the calculator will switch itself off if not used for approximately 6 minutes.

The calculator was bought through an office supplier and cost us £11, but can be bought for about £9.

I personally wouldn't recommend this calculator, the buttons are far too confusing and I'm sure there are much better calculators for less money

I don't think I'll be getting one of these! I like my fx-83ms...I suppose it just takes some getting used to, but eventually you'll find it hard to use another one as the buttons won't be in the right place etc.

leoandrews 01.02.2006 22:27

I've used a Casio fx 85 calculator years ago. This model is a "scientific" calculator for rather more complex calculations rather than adding up a few till receipts. Those who are not very numerate may indeed find it confusing. But actually this model is the simplest scientific calculator in Casio's range.

Deru 08.12.2005 18:53

Well, it's good if you use some of the advanced functions. I think I did at GCSE. Otherwise, a more basic calculator would be a better option.