Once again, it’s time to update my calculator recommendations for the 2020 school year. Each year, I try to create a list to reflect the changes that have happened with new models and new operating systems. This lets me share my thoughts as a long time teacher about what the best graphing calculators are in a classroom setting. This year, I’m doing this list a little differently, with specific categories of calculators and winners in each. Based on their ease of use and features for learning in the classroom, and my experience using and teaching with these graphing calculators, these are my picks for the best graphing calculators of 2020.
You can examine graphs and display data on the screen, which is backlit for better viewing. You can explore all of the preloaded programs that can be used with particular subjects or courses. The TI-89 Titanium is definitely designed for a user who has experience with graphing calculators because a novice may become overwhelmed with all of the available functions.
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Please note that some links on this site are affiliate links, meaning a percentage of your purchase will support my work at Tech Powered Math at no additional cost to you. Graphing calculators are useful for anybody who needs to be able to program customized functionality into their device, or for anyone who needs to be able to plot points on a graph. This includes engineering majors, as well as those taking geometry or calculus classes. Graphic calculators are significantly more expensive than scientific models. It is also worth noting that there may be classes or tests in which a scientific calculator is allowed, but a graphing one is not.
Another advantage of the TI-84 Plus CE is the sleek design and full-color option. This calculator is one of the most popular graphing calculators because it is simple to use for the college student. It comes preloaded with a multitude of amazing applications. These applications range from data collecting and inequality graphing to proper notation. You are probably now even more comfortable and confident about graphing calculators and ready to make a purchase.
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One of the best advantages of this calculator is the number of available functions, and it’s easy to use design. The available features allow for diverse calculations for various college courses.
Despite some similarities, scientific calculators should not be confused with graphing calculators. Graphing calculators contain a superset of scientific calculator functionality, in addition to having the ability to plot graphs. Most are programmable, as well, meaning that the user can create custom programs perfectly suited to their specific needs. For these reasons, a graphing calculator can be fully capable replacement for a scientific calculator in all applications, but not vice versa.
Basic calculators, as mentioned previously, are generally only capable of four functions, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Some may be able to calculate square roots and percentages, as well, but in truth, these are just applications of a combination of some the four basic functions. If your mathematics needs don’t extend beyond these functions, then there is no reason to spend more money on one of the more advanced calculator types. Since basic calculators have a very limited functionality, they can be quite compact and lightweight too, as they don’t require too many buttons, making them very easy to transport.
They also have dedicated trigonometry and logarithmic buttons. As such, the TI-36X Pro remains the top choice for standard scientific endeavors, and the TI-84 Plus CE is still the calculator to use for students who need advanced, yet still test-approved, graphing functions. If you’re not concerned about proctored tests, the Texas Instruments Nspire CX II and TI NSpire CAS are both highly advanced options that boast significantly more complex processing systems and displays than many others. The high-resolution display is large enough for those individuals who have trouble seeing the smaller standard displays on other calculators.
The newest model, the TI-84 Plus CE, gives the Nspire a run for its money with a very thin, light design, a color screen, and a battery than can literally go for months without charging when in “sleep” mode. Like many of the models on this list, the new TI-84 Plus CE can now graph on images as well. It is a big step up from older, black and white versions of the TI-84 Plus, and it doesn’t cost much more. Texas Instruments has introduced many fun download free software new colors for the TI-84 Plus CE that are available on Amazon.