The Casio ClassPad II (fx-CP400) is the latest CAS offering from Casio: building on the previous ClassPad model to provide a calculator with a large color screen, and the ability to operate it in landscape or portrait mode.
I acquired one of these babies a few months ago, and should have posted about it then, but didn’t. So here goes.
The first reaction on seeing it was that it was very big. In fact I think this is just a matter of its huge screen: the entire unit is in fact not much bigger than the TI-nspire. Here’s a shot of the two of them (in their protective cases), with a pair of spectacles and a ballpoint pen for comparison (the ClassPad is on the right):
And here with their cases off, ready for action:
The screen is absolutely gorgeous – I can’t say enough good things about it. Crisp, well saturated colors, great for things like sketching a function and its derivatives; really beautiful. What else is good about it? Well, here’s where things get a bit tricky: in fact, I can’t really find any.
Here’s a few random comments:
- The system is not much unchanged from the previous ClassPad models. You still have the stylus-driven menus (and very good they are), and woefully underpowered hardware. I did a tiny test: to factorize Cole’s number . Here are some timings:
- TI-nspire: Pretty quick (a few seconds; sometimes longer if the memory’s full)
- Android Maxima (on my Samsung Galaxy S III): almost instantaneous
- Casio ClassPad: a day until it ran out of batteries
- I have long been critical of 3D graphing on the tiny screens of most CAS calculators: but here at last is a screen on which 3D graphics would work very well. But guess what: Casio, in their wisdom, have not included 3D graphing in this system!
- The buttons below the screen are small, plasticky, and feel cheap. Because of their size they wobble a lot. (However, the buttons on the TI-nspire, in spite of comparable size, have hardly any wobble.) The feeling is of a cheap build.
I expect that Casio is aiming fully for the school market. The combination of software and hardware means that this machine would be inadequate for any but the simplest mathematics. I don’t see why this should be so – better programming and a more powerful chip would make this machine into a really useful mathematical tool. As it is I see it as a gorgeous body with not much strength underneath.