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TI Nspire CX CAS – Graphing Calculator Review

TI Nspire CX CAS graphing calculator review

First off, this is not your father’s calculator! The NSpire graphing calculators are powerful, sleek and stylish. They have an entirely different look about them than your typical TI-83, TI-84, or TI-89 and are sure to turn heads (in the math classroom, at least!). The NSpire’s display is crystal clear in full, beautiful colour and is also capable of graphing in 3-D. Another interesting feature is the touchpad, which behaves like a small laptop and allows you to move the cursor around your screen. Lastly, this calculator is loaded with templates, similar to what you see in a textbook with general statements of integrals, for example, allowing you to fill in the blanks with your particular question and then evaluate.

What does CAS stand for?

Computer Algebra System. This system allows you to solve equations symbolically (using variables and symbols) rather than just numerically. It’s a valuable tool, but should never be a replacement for understanding how to do it by hand on a piece of paper! Once you do understand the use of algebra to manipulate equations and isolate variables, the CAS can be a great time-saving device.

Lithium Ion Rechargeable battery on a graphing calculator?

Like the other new calculators out there, the NSpire CX CAS offers a rechargeable battery. While some models of graphing calculators use four AAA batteries, this edition lets you charge via a supplied cord, similar to an iPhone or iPod. Most students say that one charge can last up to a month with regular moderate use of the calculator. Keep in mind that this means you run into the rare chance of the calculator running out of charge in the middle of an important quiz or exam, and you’ll soon get in the habit of charging your calculator the night before the big test, anyway.

Is the TI-NSpire CX CAS graphing calculator right for you?

If you’ve never owned a graphing calculator but know you plan on going on in mathematics and or the sciences (that is, you’ll have a use for this calculator beyond grade 12), and you want to splurge on one of the finest pieces of hardware out there, then this is the one for you.

If you’re already used to using a different model such as a TI-84 or TI-89, then the NSpire line may be hard to get the hang of. Many students who are used to using older graphing calculators report a lack of intuition about how to input equations, and find that the learning curve is steep. That being said, once you get the hang of it, the NSpire is powerful, fast, and an absolute pleasure to use.

Some students will actually upgrade to the NSpire but hang on to their older TI-84 or TI-89. They like to use the NSpire as a learning tool when doing homework and practice problems, but keep the older, more trusty model available for writing tests. It never hurts to familiarize yourself with more than one piece of hardware and the matching software.

The Final Two Cents

This is an excellent calculator with top-notch software and hardware. The screen is crisp, easy to read and full color. The NSpire line is almost approaching computer/tablet territory in terms of its style and functions, and is definitely designed with the advanced user in mind. That being said, it is certainly something that a bright and ambitious high school student can grow into.