Most high school students come to math class equipped with the best calculator money can buy. Armed with their trusty calculator, no equation is too large or too complex to solve.
Enlightened by their teachers who say they will use all these math equations into adulthood, they study hard and soak up the information like sponges.
But unless you’re a math professor, an engineer, or something equally as math-dependant, you won’t need to use your scientific calculator to solve quadratic functions or parabola problems.
The average Joe’s real-life scenario mostly require nothing more than your average calculator. But if you’re wondering if you need something more, say, to help with your taxes, we’ve got just the thing.
Types of Calculators
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First thing’s first: to find the best calculator for you, we need to run down what functions each calculator has. All of them do your essential addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
But other calculators have essential functions that could make your life a little bit easier.
The basic or standard calculator is the most commonly-used calculator you’ll see in your day-to-day activities. You’ll see it on your kitchen counter as parents add up their monthly expenditures or in the hands of your little sister playing grocery store.
The everyday calculator has several functions, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Some of them also have a simple memory function and may also have a square root or percentage button. It has an on and on button and most are solar-powered, so it’s ready to go when you need it.
Fun fact: the first solar-powered calculator debuted in 1976. The Sharp EL-8026 (also known as the Sun Man) needed plenty of direct sunlight to power the calculator.
However, as technology evolved, so did calculator solar panels. Today, the panels are small, inconspicuously designed, and require minimal artificial light to power the calculator for days.
The best calculator choice for anyone dealing with numbers daily is an accounting calculator. Professions include accountants, tax professionals, and mortgage brokers.
They’re visibly slightly different from your run-of-the-mill standard calculator. While some do run on a combination of battery and solar power, the larger ones run on electricity. These electric, stationary calculators feature an angled LCD screen, tax buttons, and a printer that usually prints both in black and red.
There are also accounting calculators that offer the same functions as electric ones but are more mobile. These are often slightly smaller, do not provide printing capabilities, and run on a combination of batteries and solar power.
Most high school math classes require a scientific calculator for their curriculum. The best calculator for teens taking these kinds of courses offers a wide range of functions. Scientific calculators are rectangular and usually include a sliding case to protect the buttons while not in use.
But unlike basic or accounting calculators, they offer a whole host of other functions besides the basics. They include degrees, exponents, quadratic function, roots and powers, linear regression, and much, much more. Additionally, they offer equation editing capabilities and plenty of memory space.
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Some math courses go beyond the capabilities of a scientific calculator and instead, require a graphing calculator. A graphing calculator solves more complex problems that a scientific calculator cannot work through.
Functions include logic operations, random numbers, graphing and dynamic graphing, statistical calculations, and much more.
Visually, they look similar to scientific calculators save for the screen. Graphing calculators have a more substantial screen (both wider and longer). Plus, the screen displays actual graphs which most scientific calculators cannot do.
The other main difference is their power source: graphic calculators tend to use batteries (mostly AAAs), which provides approximately 2,000 hours worth of life.
Before you purchase, it’s essential to know which calculators you can and cannot use for both classes and exams. The ACTs, for example, do not allow specific scientific and graphing calculators during the test.
Check what your courses and exams allow before making a decision because even the best calculators are useless if they aren’t allowed.
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Financial calculators are suitable for a few different situations. Firstly, students working through an introductory financial management course may find a financial calculator within their “must-have” tools. These courses require nothing more than the most basic of financial calculators.
Secondly, those working in finance (or undergraduate students with a finance major) may also require a higher-caliber financial calculator.
They look very similar to scientific calculators (smaller screen than a graphing calculator and solar powered) but have different functions.
A financial calculator does not offer as many of the complex functions as scientific or graphing calculators. However, they provide finance-related functions such as amortization, compound interest calculations, and time-value-money calculations.
HOW WE REVIEWED
We looked far and wide to bring you the best calculators we could find. We’ve sifted through the world wide web and selected a handful of the best calculators based on real customer feedback and reviews.
THE BEST CALCULATOR FOR YOUR NEEDS AND BUDGET
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To give you some choices, we’ve selected two of each of the best calculators described above. This way, buyers can make an educated decision based on budget, usage, and personal preference.
Basic: Canon LS-82Z
Basic: Canon Ls-82z
- Extra-compact portable size; Product Dimensions: 4.4″ x 3.5″ x 1.3″
- Floating decimal point system. Automatic power off-Approx 7 minutes
- Large, eye-angled, upright display
- Extraction of square root; Product Dimensions:
- Dual power source : solar and battery
If you need a basic handheld calculator that won’t let you down, look no further than the Canon LS-82Z. This calculator features a super user-friendly set up that is intuitive even to the most stubborn of Luddites (also known as those who are technology-adverse)!
Over 1,300 customers rated this little 1.6-ounce calculator 4.0 stars out a possible 5.
Its large numbers and upright 8-digit LCD makes it easy for those who have vision problems to quickly punch in their calculations. Powering this handy calculator is a combination of a battery as well as solar power. If you forget to press off, fret not: it has an auto-shut off after seven minutes sans use.
Functions include the typical addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as well as square root, and percentage capabilities. It also features some memory space, accessible via the M buttons. Find the Canon LS-82Z on Amazon or at your local brick-and-mortar office supplies stores.
Basic: Casio Inc. HS8VA
Basic: Casio Inc. Hs8va
- Pocket calculator
- Solar powered
- 8 digit LCD display
- Dimensions: 5/16H x 2-1/4W x 4L inches
If you don’t like how wide the Canon calculator is, the best calculator for you might be the Casio Inc. HS8VA calculator. Measuring 2.2 inches in width, this 1.92-ounce calculator is significantly less broad than the Canon but has the same capabilities.
At 4.3 out of 5 stars, it’s rated slightly higher by customers in comparison to the Canon. If you’re worried about budget, the Casio Inc. is also slightly less expensive than the Canon.
Instead of a tilted display, this one lays flat like the rest of the calculator, which is ideal if you’re transporting it with you from place to place. It displays a maximum of eight characters and is solar powered. Should the solar panel receive insufficient light, a battery picks up the slack.
In terms of sturdiness, this calculator tends to survive whatever life throws at it. You can drop it, spray it with disinfectant, or have your feline pets walk on it without much damage.
However, like most calculators, it is not entirely indestructible. Submerging it in water, for instance, is undoubtedly a recipe for its demise. But for the most part, the Casio Inc. HS8VA (and many other standard calculators) are rather robust.
Accounting: Casio Inc. HR-100TM
Accounting: Casio Inc. Hr-100tm
- Printing calculator, 2 line/second, 12 digit LCD display. 2-color printer with large easy-to-read display
- Paper Width : 2 1/4 Inches and key rollover- key operations are stored in a buffer, so nothing is lost even during high-speed input
- Sign change, item total and grand total functions
- Cost-sell margin and right shift functions; tax and currency exchange functions. Full decimal system; floating, fixed (0-3) with round off
- AC adaptor or 4 AA Batteries required (best with Polaroid AA batteries)
Considering Casio is a leader in calculator manufacturing, it’s no surprise one of our two accounting calculator picks is a Casio. We’ve selected the Casio Inc. HR-100TM, a calculator that customers rate an average of 4.4 stars out of 5.
The Casio Inc. HR-100TM prints up to 2 lines per second (both red and black), features a 12-digit LCD, and comes with an AC adaptor. Besides its essential functions, it also features tax calculations, cost/sell/margin functions, and a markup/markdown key.
At a glance, it’s quite a large piece of equipment. It weighs 1.33 pounds and measures 8.62 by 6.51 by 2.12 inches: quite massive in comparison to some handheld calculators. However, its large presence may be a comfort to those with vision problems or large fingers.
It may very well be the best calculator for accountants who have plenty of room on their desk or for home offices. And in terms of sturdiness, take it from us: this calculator is an absolute tank. Unless your dog sinks its teeth into it and rips up all its insides, expect to have it for at least a decade without any issues.
Accounting: Sharp EL-334WB
Accounting: Sharp El-334wb
- 12 digit large LCD screen with fold up kickstand
- Cost/sell/margin keys make for quick and easy profit margin calculations
- Durable plastic keys
- Functions include: grand total key, double zero key, backspace key, automatic tax keys, percent key, 4 key independent memory, extra-large plus key, sign change, and automatic power down
- Modern white design
Our second accounting calculator choice is the Texas Instruments. It’s fast, compact, and runs on dual power: a battery as well as solar power. Customers rated it a whopping 4.7 stars out of 5, with 85 percent of customers giving it an excellent 5-star rating.
It’s advertised as a business calculator but has all the functionality of an accounting calculator, save for printing capabilities. Unlike the Casio, this one is the best calculator for business people on the go.
It’s significantly smaller than the Casio: 6.6 by 4.4 by 1.5 inches, to be exact. While it can’t necessarily fit in your pocket, its 5 ounces in weight is much lighter than the Casio.
If you have smaller hands, however, you may find the Sharp a little awkward to hold. Then again, thanks to the fold-up kickstand, you can rest it on the table at a comfortable viewing angle.
Like the Casio, the Sharp EL-334WB features cost/sell/margin buttons as well as tax, a double zero key, and large, user-friendly number keys. It also includes an automatic power down function in case you forget to turn it off.
Scientific: Texas Instruments TI-30X
Scientific: Texas Instruments Ti-30x
- Basic scientific and trigonometric functions
- Hard plastic, color-coded keys
- Two-line display, 11 digit scrollable entry line with 10-digit answer and two-digit exponent line
- Dual power – solar and battery powered
- Impact-resistant cover with quick-reference card
Texas Instruments is one of the most famous brands when it comes to calculators, especially scientific calculators. The best calculator for students enrolled in math and science class in high school is a scientific one.
While more expensive than standard calculators, scientific calculators tend to last much longer. Believe it or not, I still have my Texas Instruments scientific calculator almost a decade after I purchased it without a single problem!
Our personal experience and that of customers is the reason why we’ve chosen the TI- 30X IIS as one of the best calculators in this category.
Seventy-five percent of customers who purchased it thought this was the best calculator, as they gave a 5 out of 5-star rating. Overall, it has a 4.5-star rating, which is above average.
We’ve chosen the pink calculator, but this model is also available in a rainbow of colors including blue, green, grey, and even orange.
This scientific calculator is visibly longer than your standard calculator because it has so many additional features.
Besides your basic functions, it includes a whole host of other features including trigonometric functions, sine/cosine, tangent, and exponents. Unlike basic calculators, scientific ones contain a two-line display and a ten digit answer line.
Thanks to its hard plastic cover, the keys stay protected if you chuck the calculator nonchalantly into your bookbag. Considering a student’s typical backpack contents (drinks, lunch, textbooks, etc.), the plastic is well warranted!
Scientific: Casio FX-115ES
Also in the running for the best calculator in the scientific calculator category is the Casio FX-115ES Plus. Customers rated this calculator a total of 4.6 stars out of 5, which is above average for most calculators.
Also good to note is that this scientific calculator is allowed on several exams including NCEES exams, PSAT/NMSQTs, as well as the SAT and ACTs.
The Casio FX-115ES Plus is ideal for students working through high-school courses including trigonometry, statistics, algebra, calculus, engineering, and physics.
It contains over 280 functions, including complex number calculations, standard deviation, polar-rectangular conversions, and much, much more. Users can also go back to their previous calculations and edit them thanks to Casio’s multi-replay function.
The Casio is slightly less expensive than the Texas Instruments scientific calculator. But it’s also a little bit heavier: the Casio weighs 7.2 ounces while the Texas Instruments weighs 5.6 ounces.
However, when you’re lugging around the weight of your textbooks (and teen problems), your calculator weight probably won’t matter much!
Graphing: Casio FX-9750
Moving on now to the next level: graphing calculators! We’ve selected another Casio calculator for this category: the Casio FX-9750.
It weighs 7.5 ounces and measures 1 by 4 by 6 inches, which is about the length of your hand from the tip of your middle finger to the base of your palm. Customers rated this battery-operated graphing calculator a solid 4.4 stars out of 5.
At a glance, it looks like a relatively complex piece of machinery necessary for many statistics, biology, chemistry, and geometry classes.
It features a large, high-resolution LCD with enlarged dot-area technology. This tech makes all of your graphs (such as inequality, dynamic, integration, and conic section) look bright and crisp.
The one exciting function that this calculator contains is its USB connectivity. The Casio features a built-in USB port so students can share information with other calculators, display their calculator screen to a Casio projector, and even connect to their computer.
Graphing: Texas Instruments TI-84
Our second graphing calculator choice is yet another Texas Instruments: the TI-84 Plus CE. Over 80 percent of customers rated this the best calculator for them, bestowing it 5 stars out of 5. Despite the vast price difference, the TI-84 Plus CE has an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.
While its priced relatively high, its quality far surpasses other graphing calculators. Just at a glance, you’ll note a crisp, light-up screen that mimics a smartphone’s brightness and quality.
Another excellent quality is its battery: most Texas Instruments products feature a rechargeable battery which reduces on waste. The battery lasts from one to three days of regular use. Students also can add applications to the calculator (much like a smartphone), which extends the calculator’s functionality.
But all those features and functions come at a price — both monetary and in terms of weight. Instead of the usual 7 or 8 ounces, this graphing calculator weighs 15.5. However, this may very well be the best calculator for environmentally-conscious math and science students if you can afford its higher price tag.
Finance: HP 10bll
Our first finance calculator is the HP (Hewlett-Packard) 10bll, rated 4.3 stars out of a possible 5. While it may look similar to scientific calculators, it offers very different functions.
Users can calculate loan payments, interest rates, percentage, and a whole host of other functions thanks to the HP 10bll. There are over 100 different functions as well to assist financial students and professionals in all their day-to-day problems.
Its a slim calculator (0.6 by 3.2 by 5.7 inches) and weighs a mere 8 ounces — perfectly acceptable for chucking in your briefcase on your way to work.
HP promises a user-friendly, easy-to-learn interface and a quick processor for immediate results. The price is also reasonable: not particularly cheap but not entirely out of the question either. Also included is a slide-on case to protect the calculator en route from place to place.
Finance: Texas Instruments BA II Plus
Texas Instruments BA II Plus Financial Calculator
- Profitability calculations; cash flow function Calculates NPV and IRR for uneven cash flows
- Time-value-of-money and Amortization keys solve problems including: pension calculations, loans, mortgages, etc.
- Ideal calculator for students, managers and statisticians
- Built-in functionality : List-based one- and two-variable statistics with four regression options: linear, logarithmic, exponential and power
Our second financial calculator choice (and last calculator) is the equally-as-affordable Texas Instruments BA II Plus. The star rating on Amazon for this calculator is also identical to that of the HP: 4.3 stars out of 5.
Like the HP, the TI BA II Plus offers plenty of functions including amortization keys, time-value-of-money keys, pension calculation capabilities, and much more. Its price is also comparable to the HP. Depending on the retailer, the price could be mere dollars different.
The display is what differentiates the TI from the HP calculator. This one features a light grey background while the HP’s features a green-tinted display. The TI BA II Plus also weighs less than the HP: 4.16 ounces less, to be exact!
Both models are very similar in functions and price but different in appearances, button layout, and weight. Figuring out which one works best may boil down to personal preference or brand loyalty.
VERDICT: WHICH ONE WOULD WE CHOOSE?
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Choosing just one calculator out of our list of the best calculators is easier said than done. It’s dependent on many things, including budget, mobility, and (most importantly) primary use.
However, if you don’t work in finance and aren’t a student, you merely require something to get you by your day-to-day calculations. In that case, we recommend the Casio Inc. HS8VA. It’s small, lightweight, and practically bullet-proof.
What is your top pick for the best calculator? Share your thoughts in the comments below.