For many students and professionals, having a reliable calculator that can handle their daily assignments and projects is imperative to their success. Whether you’ve gone back to school to study math and science, you need a calculator for your older child, or you’re looking for something that can help with balancing your budget at home or work, having the right calculator for your specific needs can mean the difference between solving for X and getting an F.
Not all calculators are created equal, which is why we included three very different calculators on our list. The Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering and Scientific Calculator is the preferred calculator for older students in high school and college, as well as professionals. This calculator assists in geometry, statistics, biology and more and can be used in situations when graphing calculators are not permitted, which is often the case in tests and exams.
The Casio fx-115ES is a calculator that not only mirrors the style of your textbooks, but will also allow you to backtrack through your calculations step by step, so you better understand how you arrived at the (hopefully) correct answer.
We also included the Helect Standard Function Desktop Calculator, a more straightforward calculator that is better adept at helping with everyday math problems involving balancing a budget, crunching numbers for a project, and general invoicing. We like this calculator for home and office use, especially for older users thanks to the large and sturdy buttons that are easy to read.
1. Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator
The TI-84 features several improvements over the original, including a backlight display and a 30 percent reduction in weight. The calculator includes a rechargeable battery and comes pre-loaded with apps and images.
Pros: easy to distinguish between graphs and plot points thanks to the color-coded equations. Like the TI-36, the TI-84 includes MathPrint. The TI-84 is allowed for most major exams, including the SATs, PSATs, IB exams and AP exams that allow a graphing calculator.
Cons: Battery can lose charge rapidly after extended use.
2. Casio fx-115ES PLUS Engineering/Scientific Calculator
With over 280 different functions to perform, this calculator is sure to come in handy through just about any math problem you’ll find in the average high school. But more than just solving problems, this calculator by Casio can actually backtrack, allowing you (or your professor) the ability to walk through the solution, step by step.
Pros: Textbook display helps ease transition from books to calculators and the playback function allows you to better understand how each problem was solved.
Cons: Lacks graphing ability
3. Helect Standard Function Desktop Calculator
The Helect is a standard desk calculator and is ideal for tax and currency conversion, while also including function and command signs.
Pros: The 12-digital calculator includes large, easy to read buttons and anti-slip feet to keep it in place. The digital readout is placed on a 30-degree incline for clear visibility.
Cons: The Helect uses solar power and can be run on one AA battery for extended and uninterrupted use, but the battery must be purchased separately.