27 December 2018

Still Here

Hello, and welcome to the calculator review, hosted on calaquin.com (except not right now).

I apologize for the lack of content over the past few weeks, and I apologize for next week too, because there likely won't be much content then either. I'm on my winter break from school so this has been a time for me to relax and be as lazy as possible.

Despite the lack of content, I have been working on some material for upcoming reviews. I'm excited about it and can't wait to show everyone. It's not quite ready, but it will be soon.

Next week I'll be going to a gaming convention, so it's not likely that I'll have much to share until the second week of January.

The three reviews a week schedule will resume some time next month. Until then, I hope everyone's okay with sporadic updates for this content that I pay for you to enjoy.

Also, calaquin.com is currently not working. I'm trying to fix this.

24 December 2018

Review: Sharp EL-8141

Today is Christmas Eve, which means we're only fourteen days late for Hanukkah! But not to worry, because it's only 311 days until Halloween! To t̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶a̶d̶v̶a̶n̶t̶a̶g̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶ celebrate the holidays, I've got a special calculator to share with you and review.
Sharp EL-8141.
The Sharp EL-8141 is tiny. It's about the size of a credit card. Even in its leather case, it still fits comfortably in my wallet. Credit card-sized calculators are common these days, but the EL-8141 was released around 1979 and looks better than the devices people hand out for free.

It also feels better than any free promotional calculator. It feels like a solid block of metal that won't bend without a significant amount of effort. The buttons are flat and have no tactile feedback, but surprisingly satisfying to use. Digits display effortlessly on the LCD screen and the calculator has an optional beep to indicate a button has been pressed.

Back of calculator.
I purchased this calculator specifically because of the musical note button. I thought this was going to be a musical calculator similar to the Toysmith Rock On! Drumkit Calculator. Sadly, this is not the case. That button only turns on or mutes the beeping noises whenever buttons are pressed. Still, it provides some unique functionality you don't always see in a device, especially one this old and this small.

The one notable flaw with the device is its use of two LR1120 batteries. The entire back of the calculator must be removed via a single screw to access the battery compartment, so this probably isn't the best one to take into a situation that requires reliable mathematical operations.

With its sturdy leather case and sleek overall appearance, the EL-8141 is a must-have device for any calculator enthusiast. As previous reviews have suggested, Sharp tends to nail their designs and I've been happy with every device I've looked at so far.

This Sharp EL-8141 was found on Ebay for about $11.

Internals with batteries removed.

21 December 2018

Review: Casio fx-300ES PLUS

This Facebook review was modified for privacy reasons. It's also inaccurate because this was originally posted a while ago.

Yesterday my brother [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] got engaged, and I'm so happy for them. To celebrate this, I could think of no better calculator to review than the Casio fx-300ES PLUS.

Casio fx-300ES PLUS
Most of the calculators I own are at least twenty years old, but every now-and-then I come across something newer that is too good and inexpensive to pass up. The Casio fx-300ES PLUS is the third generation of a proud line of calculators often used for SATs and other nonsense academic testing. It's not quite a graphing calculator, but it's definitely not your average statistic or scientific calculator either.

Eight digits is, for some reason, the standard limit for most calculators. It's always interesting to see this limit be different, but what makes the fx-300ES PLUS- as well as its ancestors- so special is that there doesn't appear to be such limit. I typed dozens of numbers in and the screen just kept scrolling over to allow more. In fact you can type in massive equations and this modern masterpiece will handle them.

The scroll function is also a fantastic feature, allowing you to correct mistakes even after running an operation. This is on top of tons of other features that I simply don't feel like reviewing.

Released in 2012, this calculator is by no means vintage. It's made from a strong plastic and every button is clearly visible thanks to outstanding color contrast. It runs on a single LR44 battery and is aided by a small solar cell. I found it at Goodwill in a basket for $4.99.

If you'd like to learn about all of this calculator's features, Casio still has the guide posted on their website. Check it out here: https://support.casio.com/pdf/004/fx-300ES_PLUS_E.pdf

Sleek cover.

Back side, with battery removed.

Internal components exposed.

19 December 2018

Review: Sonin 10012 Calcu-Tape+ 5-In-1 Measuring Tool

I have a lot of calculators at this point. I think it's safe to say that I have the largest calculator collection in a three-block radius. There's going to come a point where you, as a fan of these reviews, think "we must be getting near the end of his collection by now." And when that happens, you're probably going to be surprised by how long this continues after that initial thought.

Sonin 10012 Calcu-Tape+ 5-In-1 Measuring Tool
Some fans have asked me how many I currently have. To be honest I don't know. I stopped counting a long time ago, but the number back then was pretty large. It's much bigger now. To find out the answer, we're going to have to go on this journey together.

And that journey continues today with the Sonin 10012 Calcu-Tape+ 5-In-1 Measuring Tool, but from this point I'm just going to refer to it as the Calcu-Tape+ because that name is very long. I don't even know why Sonin gave it such a long name.

As the long name implies, this device has 5 tools. I'll review each one.

12 Foot Tape Measure
As the type of person who likes to constantly rearrange furniture, a measuring tape is essential to my everyday life. Upon discovering that there was a calculator with a built-in tape measure, I knew I had to get my hands on one of these. Compared to other non-calculator tape measures, this one is just fine. It locks automatically when pulled out, and a large button retracts the tape. This device only has imperial measurements, but apparently other models also include metric.

Of course I already had a level as well, but this one is neat. It can rotate for 0 - 180 degree measurements. It too works just fine. Having this feature along with the tape measure is nice because now two tools I already had are in one device.

Tape measure extended.
Rotating Angle Finder
So this is actually the level, but this is one of the listed features. You can find the angle of things with it.

Erasable Write-On Strip
Apparently you can write on the bottom of this device with a dry-erase marker. I didn't realize this counted as one of the five features when I made the video review. You can write on it with a dry-erase marker and then erase what you wrote. As you would expect.

This is what we're all here for, and I can say that it's okay. The buttons are a bit uncomfortable to press and holding it for calculator use is awkward due to the other features and shape of the device. The screen is very tiny and requires direct light at all times to function. This can be a problem because the button to turn the calculator back on also clears the memory, so if you haven't finished an operation and recorded the results, you'll have to do it again.

With the exception of the calculator, I really like this device. The pastel blue and off-white color scheme are pleasing to the eye, which is unusual for such a utility thing. It's also just as sturdy as a good tape measure or level and I'd be totally comfortable tossing this into a toolbox along with other stuff. I won't, however, because I want to keep it as scratch-free as possible.

It appears Sonin discontinued the Calcu-Tape+, but the company never focused much on calculators. They first released these some time around 1997. I found this one on Ebay for about $12.
Level thingy.

Dry erase part without something written on it.

Dry erase part with something written on it.

17 December 2018

Review: Jot Calculator with 8 Digit Display

Jot Calculator.
Taking a week off to focus on non-calculator aspects of my life has been beneficial. I missed reviewing my calculators though, so I'm very happy to be back to tell the world what I think about them.

To make up for the lack of reviews, I decided to start this brand new week off with something truly special...

Fans of calculator reviews, this day marks the end of an era. I've been reviewing calculators for a while now, and at long last it's time to bring about the conclusion. I hope this doesn't disappoint everyone, but I understand if it does. Today, I am reviewing the third and final Dollar Tree $1 Jot Calculator.

My hopes were not high for this device, especially after the Jot Scientific Calculator and the Jot Pocket Calculator. Long-time followers of these reviews will also notice that today's calculator closely resembles the Big Display 8-Digits Electronic Calculator. I'd been dreading opening the packaging because I knew this calculator was going to suck. It's time I move on with my life and be done with the Jot line.

This calculator sucks. It's exactly the same as the Big Display, except it doesn't pretend to be solar powered. The internals are identical. The only difference with this one is the color scheme. I like the black and white look, but it's wasted on this garbage.

I don't recommend this calculator nor any other device in the Jot line. I'm sorry this is such a short review.

Back side.

The buttons just fell out during disassembly.

Innards of this garbage calculator.

The motherboard.
Back of the packaging.

07 December 2018

Review: Radio Shack EC-21

Happy Friday! Today is another Facebook review day, and since my reviews there got better, it means less work for me! I mean, I still did the work, but I don't have to do it now, and present me is happy about that.

Once again, the context of this Facebook review has been lost a bit, but I'm going to leave it as it was.
Radio Shack EC-21.
Eventually, I knew I was going to have to repeat companies with these reviews. I wanted to put it off for as long as possible, but then I realized if I kept doing that, I'd just be reviewing the same three companies' calculators for weeks. So this is my first repeat company, but I made sure to pick something interesting to distract from that.

The appropriately named Radio Shack EC-21 is more than just a calculator. If you've already looked at the images, this build up is pointless, but if you haven't, then you'll be stunned when you learn that this is also a gaming machine! The EC-21 not only handles basic calculations, but can also play rounds of Blackjack.

Fancy leather cover.
Before I get into the game play of the Blackjack, I want to give credit to the construction of this calculator. It feels like a solid block of aluminum- sturdy, but lightweight. The buttons are clicky and responsive, and don't have that remote-control squishy feel most calculators tend to have.

To play, simply slide the left slider to GAME and 0 will begin blinking. It's asking you to place a bet. You can bet however much you want, so I like to pretend I'm rich and bet $5. Press the bet button, and you'll be dealt cards represented by a single digit. It plays like any electronic game of Blackjack, but can be a nice distraction from a long day of math homework.

The one flaw that I didn't notice until I spent a few minutes with regular calculator use is the positioning of the equals button. Most calculators place this in the bottom right, but for some reason Radio Shack put it at the top, and not even in the right-most position. I found myself pressing the ( ) button, which is useless for most basic operations, and I had to clear the screen to try again.

The EC-21 was built in 1978 and runs on three AAA batteries. It comes with a nice leather case that also houses the manual. Nothing about it is complicated enough to warrant the need for the manual, but it's a nice touch. With its brushed aluminum exterior, It's a beautiful calculator, even without the case. I found it at Goodwill for probably $3.
Back, outside cover.

Back, batteries removed.

Front and back components separated.

Motherboard partially removed. Wires left intact.
Better view of motherboard.

View beneath motherboard.

To view the manual, click here.

05 December 2018

Review: Produx Original

I haven't said this for a few reviews, so it's time I say it again: thank you so much to everyone following these calculator reviews. I've loved the pictures and comments people have sent me. If you have a calculator you think is interesting, please send me a tweet or something. I'm also interested in any other vintage technology you'd like to share, so send me pictures of that stuff too. In the near future, I'd like to create a second blog specifically for old, forgotten technology, but calculators will remain my priority, of course.

Produx Original Calculator.
The Produx Original comes from West Germany some time between 1940 and 1960. This is just one of many mathematical devices from Produx, and since it doesn't seem like the company is around anymore, finding details is challenging.

Calling this device a machine is a stretch because the only moving parts are controlled entirely by using the stylus. I can't get inside the Produx Original without destroying it, but I can safely assume that there are no gears, levers, or mechanical mechanisms inside other than the sliding numerical parts.

So if everything's done manually, you'd think that means this is no less difficult than doing adding or subtracting by hand. And you'd be very wrong. With only a few minutes of practice, I was able to figure out how to quickly add and subtract large numbers without the aid of a manual or guide.

Green leather case for calculator and stylus.
The video review shows the process to perform operations, but it's little more than a matter of inputting an initial number, then inputting a second number that you want to add or subtract. For addition, you use the lower portion of the device, and for subtraction, use the upper. To clear the numbers back to zero, you simply pull up on the handle at the top of the calculator. There are a few tricks that might take a minute or so to learn, but overall the Produx Original is very intuitive.

Considering this device is over fifty years old, it's in fantastic condition. Even the leather case looks great. This is a calculator that was designed to last as it's made entirely of metal. It's definitely not cheap metal either because it's very difficult to bend (not that I tried that hard).

It's comfortable to hold and looks stunning. Despite it clearly looking like something decades old, there's hardly a scuff on the front of it. The previous owner(s) must have taken good care of this calculator and I hope they can rest easy knowing it's in good hands now.

I purchased this Produx on Ebay for $11.
Back of Produx Original.

Reset handle in use. Sets all values to 0.

03 December 2018

Review: LeWORLD W2099 Scientific Calculator

The LeWORLD W2099 Scientific Calculator feels like the product (haha) of a company that just doesn't care. Yes, it is a budget calculator, and yes, I don't purchase such things with high expectations or standards. The thing is, they know people need calculators, and they know people will often just look for the lowest cost for the functionality they need. So they produce a cheap calculator that doesn't just look and feel cheap, but is also borderline useless.

LeWORLD W2099 Scientific Calculator.
I found this calculator at Ollie's for $2.99, and honestly I was pretty excited about it. In the packaging, it looked like a solid device, so I left it in its packaging until I made the video review to let me give my unscripted initial reaction. I was expecting to review a decent calculator and admire that a company would make a quality device for those on a budget.

Rough edges make a crummy calculator even crummier.
But alas, the moment I took it out, I realized I was in for a disappointment. Wow does this thing feel cheap. I mean cheaper than even lower-priced calculators. It features a swinging cover that looks awesome, but its design prevents it from closing securely. This wouldn't be a terrible thing if the screen wasn't made of super thin, easily-bent plastic, or if this ran on solar cells. I wouldn't feel safe tossing this in my backpack for fear that it might accidentally get turned on and waste battery life or have its screen damaged.

Another problem is the battery situation. It runs on two LR1130 batteries that are concealed by a panel on the back. I actually love when a calculator does this. It's supposed to make the battery easy to access, but for some reason LeWORLD decided to use a screw to hold the battery cover in place. The screw doesn't tighten completely, and is a pain to remove, so what could have been major points for convenience ended up just being one of the device's many flaws.

What makes this so disappointing is that this calculator looks great- from a distance. The color scheme is great, utilizing different shades of blue with nice contrasting colors used for text. This is on top of a slightly shiny silver plastic that almost looks metallic. In fact, if this thing was made of aluminum (made well, I mean), it would be among my favorite calculators.

Back, battery cover and batteries removed.
Functionally, it's also pretty great. Ten digits, lots of possible operations, and solid programming behind the plastic show that at least some employees of LeWORLD cared about this device. The buttons don't feel special, but they work just fine.

Finding information about this calculator proved difficult, but I managed to get in contact with the manufacturer and found out this model was started in the 1990s. The person who responded to me couldn't give me a better estimate than that. My guess is it was mid-to-late 90s, and this is purely based on its style. It looks like something that would have come out during this time frame. The W2099 is no longer in production.

I feel a bit bad about writing such a harsh review when the company got back to my inquiry so quickly, but I have to stay honest with these calculator reviews. For what it's worth, I appreciate the gesture.

Original packing - front.
Original packaging - back.
Inside look reveals that cardboard makes up the support structure.
This was not built to last.
Extremely fragile components inside.
Another look at the cheap components within.
Buttons removed from face plate.
Manual - click to enlarge.