Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting | Thursday, June 25, 1999 | Drexel University

The HP49G

At the May 21st "Open HP ‘99" meeting in Paris, the ACO group of HP announced the HP49G, a successor to the HP48-series machines. This unit is definitely a departure from the norm for HP, but perhaps they need such a departure in order to maintain a market share which no-doubt is decreasing in 1999, with six years gone since a new top-of-the-line product. TI has introduced perhaps four scientific/graphing machines in the same time frame, and is constantly making further inroads into the education market. Since the (right or wrong) perception is that most professionals will look to a computer for higher-powered math crunching, it makes sense that HP should turn its attentions toward the educational users. (Back in 1990 at the Chicago-area CHIP HP conference, Bob Bradley put it best: when the only affordable computing was portable computing, everybody bought the HP-41 calculator as their primary math machine. Now, things have obviously changed drastically.)

We can always hope that if HP scores a hit with the HP49 machine with its algebraic feel, they will be able to afford to do a new machine with a new CPU and features more suited to the veteran HP user. In the mean time, we’ve got a new machine which has no set announcement date (although sources say August is likely for the Back-to-School crowd) and information flowing over the Internet. Jim Lawson’s distributor claims that the manufacturer’s suggested retail price will be $229.95, although I feel that this is a bit too high to really compete head-to-head with the TI-89. Along with this, word has come down that:

1. the HP48G has been officially discontinued;

2. the HP48G+ is now $119.95; and

3. the HP48GX is now $179.95.

And indeed, some dealers have already adjusted their sale prices accordingly.

The initial comp.sys.hp48 newsgroup reaction to the trickle of HP49 information was decidedly negative, and even violently so. (Our calculators are, after all, a religious experience!) But more recently, it seems that with further info, the zealots have toned their complaints down a notch and have become a bit more civil. Jean-Yves Avenard, leader of the HP49 software team (and Meta Kernel team leader as well) has gone out of his way to explain many nuances of this beast far further than necessary at this point in time. In fact, this is probably the first time Hewlett-Packard has ever pre-announced a machine this far in advance. (Perhaps this will be a lesson learned, although sadly, to our detriment.)

Check out the materials provided by Eric Rechlin on his website and reproduced in this handout; and the long, detailed posting by J-Y A on the keyboard, CPU and flash memory of the HP49. It is all interesting reading. Also, Eric is now doing a shopping comparison guide on his site, which references Jim Lawson’s HandiCalc among the others. Finally, I reproduced a comp.sys.hp48 posting which I did as an attempt to quell the vicious attacks on the ACO people. The next few months will help unravel the story further, and we will eventually know the whole story (at release time). For those who participated in the "Design the Calculator Contest", if you choose to be patient, we will be able to obtain a free machine for you. If the HP49 goes on sale before the freebees come and you cannot wait, I’m sure there will be someone in the PAHHC group who will gladly take the free unit off your hands J

Jake Schwartz