A review of Texas Instruments' most versatile graphing calculator, the TI 84 Plus

TI 84 Plus

The award winning TI 84 Plus graphing calculator from established manufacturer Texas Instruments is widely considered to be the benchmark to measure all other calculators by. This durable device has pretty much been adopted by high schools and colleges around the world, becoming one of the most recommended calculators in schools. This model is compatible with every major test such as the SAT and ACT.

The overwhelming acceptance of the TI 84 and its predecessor the TI 83 is even demonstrated by textbook publishers. The majority of math texts have directions on calculator input for equations that have been written specifically for the TI 84. That reason alone makes it one of the best choices you can make for a graphing calculator. The TI 84 may lack a little in extra features like a touch screen and isn't ideal for chemistry, but it is incredibly valuable in a classroom when the instructor and textbook are both assuming you’ll be using this model.

Texas Instruments is by far the biggest calculator manufacturer currently, with accomplishments like being the first to make an electronic, hand-held calculator not to mention the invention of the very first (working) integrated circuit. With their reputation for groundbreaking products, it’s no wonder they have turned into the industry leader of quite a few different markets, including graphing calculators.

What features does the TI 84 include? It is essentially a better version of the TI 83 model. It is packed with features, covering subjects from Algebra to Pre-calculus. Basic operations like multiplication and exponents are right on the physical buttons. More functions can be performed using the same keys just by pushing the 2nd or alpha buttons first. The explanations for these functions are shown in a color coded print that corresponds with the blue color of the 2nd key and the green of the alpha button.

This specific calculator has 480kb of ROM and 24kb of RAM. This might not seem like much compared to desktops or notebooks, but calculators don't need much storage space or processing power like a modern computer does. All Texas Instruments calculators use an algebraic input method, which is usually more familiar and intuitive to the average user. The display of the TI 84 is 160 by 120 pixels. That's a bit larger than most calculators on the market. The bigger display is enhanced by a high contrast display with a clear readout of your input and answers.

When it comes to durability and longevity, suffice it to say this one machine should be the only calculator needed for all of your high school and college years. Users of this device who have had it for years report they have never needed to buy an upgraded model throughout their school career, and rarely even need to change the batteries (standard AAA size). Longevity and durability are the best features the TI 84 boasts. Use of this specific model has become so common that competing varieties on the market are effectively eclipsed. It has gotten so popular that textbooks and teachers now customize their lessons to this model. Examples of calculator use in major textbooks use the TI 84 interface to demonstrate the equations.

Besides being accepted by almost every professor and instruction manual, the TI 84 calculator is compatible with every major test that has a math section, including the SAT, ACT and AP tests. It is not just allowed in these tests, it is frequently the first calculator to be suggested by proctors. This model is the most durable and versatile calculator you can find. It is also the easiest to learn and use. If having directions for it in every math text and being instructed based on the use of this calculator is not enough, an thorough user manual comes with the machine to help you get familiar with it.

Today's graphing calculators are powerful and complex devices. The T1 84 is very uncomplicated and simple to use. After checking the manual a few times, specific symbols and functions you need should be second nature. The buttons layout is intelligent and straightforward. There are lists and menus which hold less used functions, but they are not at all difficult to find. The extra functions accessed using the 2nd or alpha keys are clearly marked and not difficult to read because they are found right above the key they correspond to. This is important, because a big complaint about the TI 89 model that came out later is that those labels are not at all easy to read.

A one year limited warranty comes with the purchase of a TI 84. This warranty guarantees the calculator and covers defects in the materials or manufacture of the product, but not any user caused damage. The calculator is tough enough that this should never be a big deal and the protection against defective materials is good to have just in case.

Texas Instruments’ website has an extensive FAQ section. There is also quite a lot of online documentation provided. Everything from informational articles on taking care of your calculator to product tutorials and tools for parents can be located on the support page. Another useful feature is the user groups function. These groups were started by professors and teachers that wanted to share information concerning instruction and the use of TI technology in their institutions.

In summary, if you need a reliable graphing calculator that can be used in just about any situation, the TI 84 Plus should be your number one choice. Its list of features may not be as long as some of the newer (and more expensive) calculators, but its acceptance and recommendation in schools and for major tests put this device on the top of the rest.