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.

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