27 February 2019

Review: Sharp EL-T100AB "The Brain Exerciser"

All my life, I've used calculators to solve math problems for me. I don't know the age demographics of my viewership, but I'd venture to guess that the previous statement is true for you reading this. Today's calculator is about both of these things: solving problems and our age.

Sharp EL-T100A(B?) "The Brain Exerciser."
According to the manual that comes with the Sharp L-T100AB, "your brain functions gradually decline after your 20's." So Sharp set out to address this problem via a calculator. I really wish I could find the year this device was released because I'm fairly certain it had to be around the time video games such as Brain Age were at the peak of their popularity- around 2005. This definitely doesn't look like something that existed before the 2000s, so I'd place the release some time between 2005 and 2010.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The EL-T100AB is the follow-up to the EL-T100A, which was functionally identical. In fact the manual that came with this calculator refers to it as the EL-T100A. It features a very large LCD screen for its size, and large buttons to match. This is the kind of calculator that focuses heavily on ease of use, yet it manages to look good doing it.

The buttons feel fantastic, and so does the rest of the calculator. It's made of plastic, but this is a very strong plastic that has little give when I try to bend it. Like other Sharp calculators I've reviewed, this one lives up to the quality that I've come to expect from them.

At the top of the buttons are two keys that change everything: Quiz and Age. These bring you to a little game that has you answering simple math questions as quickly as possible. You can choose either 25, 50, or 100 problems to solve. When you make a selection, a countdown of three seconds leads to either addition, subtraction, or multiplication questions.

One of the many questions this calculator might ask of you.
After you finish the quiz, you're presented with a percentage of correct answers and the time it took you to complete it. Pressing enter again gives you your "Brain Fitness Measurement" in the form of years. In one of my runs, I got 92% of 50 questions correct in 1 minute and 41 seconds. This gave me the score of 51 years. That's disappointing, but with practice I could certainly improve.

The calculator even keeps track of your highest scores, allowing you to keep track of your progression. It's all surprisingly fun and it works well.

I found this device at Goodwill for $8. Sadly, it appears Sharp has discontinued this device and I haven't been able to find any official retailers who still sell it. I almost feel bad for removing this device from its original packaging but let's be honest this isn't going to be high on any collector's list.

Original packaging, front.
Original packaging, back.
Back of calculator.
Back removed.
Motherboard separated from key pad.
Keypad (slightly) disassembled.

25 February 2019

Review: Servamatic Solar Systems, Inc. Calculator

While I'm still on the hunt for more calculators to add to my collection, I've found myself leaving thrift stores without purchasing any a lot more lately. I think this may be due to knowing I'll do video reviews with spicy foods or something equally stupid if the calculator isn't interesting enough.

Servamatic Solar Systems, Inc. Calculator with leather pouch.
Interesting doesn't always mean good, however. Today's calculator is proof of that. The Servamatic Solar Systems, Inc. Calculator is unlike any other in my collection, but its one unique feature is what makes it simply terrible.

See, this calculator is round. That's the gimmick. It's well-constructed with quality materials, and it looks fantastic. The copper and brown colors go great together, and everything is neatly arranged. The Servamatic sun logo is even a nice touch, which is unusual for promotional calculators. Usually the logo is more of an afterthought and the calculator isn't at all designed around the aesthetic. In this case, it's not that.

This calculator feels more like a pocket watch than a math device. That might seem like a cool thing, but in practice it's not at all. The positioning of the buttons is absolutely awful. There is no comfortable way to hold this and perform calculations, and to make matters worse, the buttons aren't very responsive. They're squishy and need to be pressed extra hard to have any effect. Performing any calculation is an exercise in irritation.

I found this calculator on Ebay for about $10, and it's an interesting piece to have in my collection. It's the kind of thing that can start conversations or stand out, but that's just not enough to make it worth recommending. Most calculators go for a rectangular design for a reason: it's intuitive. This is not.
Back of calculator, back of pouch.

Back removed, interior exposed.
Complete disassembly, part one.
Complete disassembly, part two.

22 February 2019

Review: Sterling No. 565 Automatic Adding Machine

If you've been following these reviews since I started this website, you've probably noticed I'm especially fond of vintage calculators. Some of my most exciting moments have been finding or receiving devices from the 1970s and early 80s. I want to preserve these calculators because they're an important part of history and I think they're cool.
Sterling No. 565 Automatic Adding Machine.
Or Sterling "Add-it" Automatic Adding Machine.
Or Sterling Dial-A-Matic Automatic Adding Machine.
While not my oldest calculator, the Sterling No. 565 Automatic Adding Machine definitely counts as vintage. Released some time around 1960, it was one of the first calculators made entirely of plastic. Despite this, the device has held up remarkably well. The white plastic has yellowed slightly, but remains sturdy and nearly unblemished.

The Sterling Adding Machine is a simple device, using a series of gears and levers to make simple addition and subtraction calculations. The instructions are printed on the back of the box, making it easy to learn and use. To add, simply input a number using the large numbers around the dials, and then input the number to be added to it. Subtracting is only slightly different, as you rotate the dials counter-clockwise and use the smaller numbers inside the dials.

Despite being well over sixty years old, the calculator still works perfectly. Dials rotate smoothly and I have no trouble performing calculations with it. The included stylus doesn't appear to be the original, but it works fine. A mechanical pencil would also fit nicely into the small grooves. 
Small hole in the top is designed to hold the stylus.
I really wish I could safely take this device apart to show the inner workings, but the plastic is sealed tightly. I don't want to risk destroying the calculator because like any very old thing, there are a limited quantity of them left. 

I found this calculator on Ebay for about $8 and it's a pleasure to have it placed in my display among other beautiful and historical devices.
I love vintage stuff. It's so pleasing to the eye.

Back of the box shows how to use the device.
Calculator with its stylus.
Back of calculator.

20 February 2019

Review: CNW PCC Series Digital Pocket Scale

One of the most difficult things about calculator reviewing and collecting is trying to figure out where these devices are coming from. They are so mass produced that even the companies that sell them can't answer basic questions such as "what year was this released?" The reputable companies like Texas Instruments, Casio, and Sharp are fairly reliable for finding details, but pretty much anything coming from China will leave me with more questions than answers.
CNW PCC Digital Pocket Scale
The CNW PCC Series Digital Pocket Scale is no exception to this rule. I don't even know if CNW had anything to do with the manufacturing of this device because their logo only appears on the box of the one I received and none of the pictures I can find online. I don't even know if CNW is even the name of the company that sold it because I can't find a website with that logo.

I purchased this device on Ebay a while back for $9, but I've seen similar devices on Aliexpress.com and Alibaba with wildly varying prices. Some go for as little as $8 while others that look identical are $40 or more.

A calculator that can weigh itself!
This particular model is capable of measuring up to 100 grams, but on the back of the box suggests other versions can get up to 1 kilogram, which would be impressive for a scale this size. I don't have small enough weights to test the accuracy of this scale, but some rudimentary experiments have led me to believe it's pretty decent.

The scale takes two AAA batteries, but the calculator is dual powered. It doesn't require the battery at all with sufficient light, but has nice enough contrast when it's running only on the battery. The buttons are adequate without anything special worth mentioning.

Overall, it's a nice compact design that fits easily in a pocket or handbag. Everything works as it should and the scale feels more like a feature than a gimmick. It comes with a thin leather case for added protection, and the manual fits nicely between the calculator and scale. If you're needing to measure and calculate small quantities of substances on the go, this is the device for you.

Here's the box.
Back of box next to leather case.
Calculator removed from scale, with manual.
Scale activated, weighing nothing.
Back of scale and calculator, battery cover removed.
Internal components of calculator exposed.

18 February 2019

Review: R Time Sport Watch (Strawberry)

Hello again! Taking a week off from calculator reviews gave me a chance to work on some other neat stuff that I'd like to eventually turn into content for this site and my Youtube channel. I don't know when you'll start to see that stuff, but I'll get to it some day. More importantly, on to the first calculator review of the week!

R Time Sport Watch and Calculator
I know what you're thinking: this is going to be another terrible calculator. I'll be honest; I thought so too. It's made of cheap plastic, has a crummy gimmick, and is clearly just a crappy thing you can get for like a dollar on Ebay. All of that is true. Yet, I actually really like the R Time Sport Watch.

I don't have particularly thick wrists, but usually children's watches don't fit me. It's one of those things I came to accept in life. I had this great Spongebob Squarepants watch that I always wanted to wear but it's just too small and no watch repair shop was willing to resize it for me because it was clearly a McDonald's Happy Meal toy.

So when I purchased the R Time on Ebay, I fully expected to be disappointed yet again. Amazingly, after several months of waiting for it to arrive, I discovered that it actually fit. The band has no give due to it being made of this weird flexible plastic, but there's enough of it for it to work.

Then there's the calculator functionality. I thought the buttons wouldn't work properly, if at all. They're very tiny. Yet in practice I'm proven completely wrong about this. The buttons feel nice to press and are spaced just far enough apart to comfortably press them individually.

Back cover removes for easy battery access.
The LCD display is perfectly serviceable as well, visible from multiple angles with plenty of contrast. It's not solar powered, but accessing the battery is simple enough. You can easily remove the back portion of the watch to get to it.

For $1.83, I have few complaints about this device. It's stylish, simple, and it works just fine. It's no Casio calculator watch, but those are proving difficult to find for a price I'm willing to pay. For now, I'm okay with settling for this nice strawberry-shaped calculator watch.

Battery connector thingy can be removed as well.

Full disassembly of the R Time Sport Watch.

13 February 2019

Review: Walmart Pen + Gear 8-Digit Handheld Calculator

I wasn't planning to do any reviews this week, but this is hardly a review so here you go.

Who cares
See that image? I didn't bother putting this calculator back together because it's just like any other cheap calculator in my collection. I've reviewed devices like this before, and I have nothing new to say about this one.

The video review says more, but I also eat a raw habanero in it. If you'd like to listen to me suffer and watch me struggle with this calculator, check it out.

I might do other challenges when reviewing boring, cheap calculators like this because otherwise it's just not going to be interesting. I hope you enjoy it.

10 February 2019

Update: No calculator reviews until 18 February

Hello, and welcome to the Calculator Review, hosted on calaquin.com.

I'm taking another brief break from writing reviews to focus on some other things. Some people have been saying they've been trying to catch up with reviews, so this should give them the chance to do that. I'm not sure why calculator reviews are something worth catching up on, but you do you I guess.

08 February 2019

Review: SNGU Multifunctional CS29 Bamboo Calculator

I get excited when I acquire a new calculator because it means I get to write another review. The backlog is massive at this point, so I'll be writing these reviews for quite a while. There's no real reason for a particular calculator being selected to be reviewed on any given day, but I find myself holding back the truly special devices until the time feels right. Today, it feels right to review one of the most beautiful calculators in my collection.

SNGU Multifunctional CS29 Bamboo Calculator.
The SNGU Multifunctional CS29 Bamboo Calculator, or SG-CS29 is stunning. With the exception of the extra large LCD display and solar cell, every external component is made of carbonized bamboo. This isn't plastic or some other cheap material painted to look like bamboo; it's the real deal. The imperfections of the wood give the calculator character and life, and it feels like a piece of nature on my desk.

Every button has its symbol laser-etched into it, giving each key its own unique feel. The key pad feels more like a computer keyboard than any other calculator I've reviewed so far. It's an absolutely joy to perform calculations with this device because everything feels great and responsive. 

The SG-CS29 features all the standard calculator functions, but includes a backspace key that allows the user to retype numbers and even make changes to results. It's a great feature that allows for some truly unique math.
The calculator has a huge, beautiful display.
While designed to be a desk calculator, this device has a nice weight to it and, combined with the smooth edges, makes it feel great in your hands. 

The only fault I can find in this device is the battery situation. The solar cell is real and works great, but the battery inside is not going to last forever. In order to get to it, you'll need to remove several screws as well as the rubber feet on the bottom of the calculator. This isn't a huge problem, as I found reassembling everything to be fairly easy. The internal components are screwed together to keep things from just falling out when you get inside.

Unlike previous reviews, I can actually supply a reliable link for readers to purchase this device. Click here to purchase it on Amazon.com (I am not sponsored in any way by the manufacturers of this device or Amazon). Currently it's selling for a little under $25.

Back of calculator, also made of bamboo.
Partially disassembled, keypad removed.
Keypad with one key removed.

Fully disassembled.

This device looks great in my display.
Back of original box.

06 February 2019

Review: CITLLZEN Electronic Human Tech CT-512

I'm conflicted for this review. I've made my stance on false advertising in calculators very clear, and it's something I intend to firmly maintain. But usually when a calculator advertises something it doesn't have, I find many other faults with the device as well. It's usually made of cheap plastic, terrible buttons, ugly display, or has any number of other flaws.

CITLLZEN Electronic Human Tech CT-512.
The CITLLZEN Electronic Human Tech CT-512 is perhaps the most deceptive calculator I've ever purchased. I actually didn't know it was going to pretend to be a Citizen calculator. That company makes, I assume, fine devices, but I've yet to get my hands on and review one. It appears that the company that produced this device is trying to use that name to make sales, and I've seen identical devices for sale on Amazon for several hundred dollars. I purchased this calculator on Ebay for $4.

So we're already facing a pretty big lie. The CT-512 does not deserve the CT initials, as that's designated for real Citizen calculators. So I'm going to refer to this as the NCT-512 from now on.

The video review shows my first reaction upon experiencing this device for the very first time, so I highly recommend that. But shortly into that, I disassembled the calculator and quickly discovered that the solar cell is 100% FAKE. Had the manufacturer not placed a fake solar cell on this device, and had they not pretended to be another company, I would be giving this calculator an absolutely glowing review. 

Fake solar cell exposed when the calculator is opened.
Honestly, the NCT-512 is a fantastic calculator. It's well-built, has excellent buttons, a beautiful LED display, and a really neat "112 Steps Check" feature that lets you replay calculations. The colors used for the buttons and plastic shell look great, and for a $4 calculator, I couldn't ask for anything else.

But this is a beautiful device built on lies and deceit. I simply cannot recommend this calculator, even though I really want to. A real Citizen calculator such as the CT-555N only costs about $14, and it will have a working solar cell as well as the same features. I'll work on getting one of those to review in the future. I hesitate to post a link to purchase one of those for two reasons: I haven't reviewed it yet so I can't currently recommend it, and I'm not sure if any links I've found so far are legitimate Citizen products.
Back and front of the calculator's packaging.
Back removed.
Key pad exposed.