Graphing calculators are essential tools for students to visualize mathematical concepts and perform advanced calculations. With so many models on the market, how do you determine which color graphing calculator is the best for your needs? In this comprehensive guide, we will compare the top color graphing calculators based on performance, features, price, and more to help you make the right choice.
After extensive research, we have narrowed down the selection to the top 5 best color graphing calculators:
- Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE
- Casio fx-9750GII
- HP Prime Graphing Calculator
- Casio fx-CG500 PRIZM
- NumWorks Calculator
These advanced calculators stand out for their processing power, sharp display, intuitive interface, and robust feature sets. Now let’s take a deeper look into each one.
Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE
Texas Instruments is the undisputed leader in the graphing calculator space. The TI-84 Plus CE takes their proven TI-84 Plus model and adds a high-resolution full-color backlit display. With over 25 years of classroom use, Texas Instruments has refined the TI-84 Plus CE into an ideal math tool for students.
Performance: The TI-84 Plus CE uses a fast 80 MHz processor and has plenty of memory to run mathematical programs smoothly. It can quickly render high-quality graphs on the color screen.
Display: The large backlit 320×240 pixel display can show graphs and equations in full color. The sharp images make visualizing math concepts much easier.
Ease of Use: Familiar TI-84 Plus interface with added shortcuts and menus streamline operation. Students can easily transfer existing TI-84 Plus programs and apps to the CE.
Features: Preloaded with lots of functionality for algebra, calculus, statistics, biology, chemistry, and more. Advanced features include regression capabilities, a polynomial root finder, matrices, and support for images.
Connectivity: USB cable connectivity to PC and Mac. Can also connect wirelessly to other TI-84 Plus CE calculators for file sharing.
Battery Life: Uses 4 AAA batteries. Battery life is about 2 weeks of typical use.
Price: MSRP $149.99, but often available for ~$100-$130.
With its perfect balance of user-friendly design, optimized math functionality, and color display, it’s easy to see why the TI-84 Plus CE remains a top-seller.
The Casio fx-9750GII is an excellent graphing calculator that gives the TI models a run for their money. It combines Casio’s thin, stylish form factor with a high resolution color display.
Performance: Powered by a fast dual-core processor that breezes through graphing and math tasks. Can compute derivatives, integrals, limits, matrices and more.
Display: Large 640×480 pixel LCD display renders graphics in 65,000 colors. Excellent color contrast and wide viewing angles.
Ease of Use: Logical intuitive menu system. On-screen icons provide visual cues. Compatible with many TI-84 Plus apps and programs.
Features: Extensive graphing, geometry, statistics, and spreadsheet functionality. Can display and analyze charts, vectors, and inequality graphs. Comes preloaded with eActivity learning apps.
Connectivity: Mini USB port and built-in microSD card slot. Can transfer data between calculators and export to a computer.
Battery Life: Uses 4 AAA batteries. Lasts approximately 175 hours of continuous operation.
Price: MSRP $129.99, can find on sale for ~$100.
With its slim profile, beautiful display, and robust math engine, the Casio fx-9750GII is a smart alternative to the TI-84 Plus CE.
HP Prime Graphing Calculator
The HP Prime pushes the boundaries of what a high-end graphing calculator can do. This powerful tool has an intuitive touchscreen interface and a computer-like app and storage system.
Performance: Blazing fast ARM CPU and 512 MB of memory. Smoothly runs the most demanding math programs.
Display: Large 3.5 inch diagonal multi-touch display with 320×240 pixel resolution. Crisp and bright.
Ease of Use: Innovative customizable touchscreen-based UI. Overlay keys adapt during tasks. Mathprint mode displays equations naturally.
Features: Extremely robust graphing, geometry, CAS, spreadsheet apps. Advanced matrix calculations, vectors, regression tools, and more. Lots of functionality right out of the box.
Connectivity: Built-in USB, Wi-Fi, and microSD card slot. Seamless file sharing and data transfer.
Battery Life: Rechargeable battery lasts up to 12 hours of typical use. Charges via USB.
Price: MSRP $149.99, available on sale for ~$130.
With its unmatched power and innovations, the HP Prime sets the new standard for premium graphing calculators.
Casio fx-CG500 PRIZM
The Casio fx-CG500 PRIZM stands out with its vivid full-color display and unique design. This slick graphing calculator comes loaded with features tailored for advanced math work.
Performance: Speedy dual-core processor has no issues handling complex graphs, matrices, or 3D charting.
Display: Massive 5.1 inch LCD display with 640×480 pixel resolution. Displays over 65,000 colors. Color-coded graphs.
Ease of Use: Innovative sliding keypad reveals additional functions. Intuitive icon-based menu system.
Features: Excellent graphing tools plus specialized functions for statistics, geometry, algebra, calculus, and more. Built-in eActivities, spreadsheets, finance apps.
Connectivity: USB port for file transfer to a PC. Can link wirelessly to other fx-CG500 calculators.
Battery Life: Uses 4 AAA batteries. Lasts for approximately 215 hours of typical use.
Price: MSRP $199.99, available for ~$150 online.
The Casio fx-CG500 PRIZM stands out from the competition with its extra-large high-res display and innovative design features.
The NumWorks calculator takes a unique approach by integrating a full-fledged programming environment. Made in France, this tech-forward graphing calculator feels like a mini computer.
Performance: Powerful ARM processor runs a custom Linux-based OS. Very responsive for running math apps and programs.
Display: Sharp 160×64 pixel black and white display matches graphing capabilities of competitors.
Ease of Use: Sleek streamlined design. Tactile clicky buttons. Logical menu layout with pop-up contextual help.
Features: Robust graphing, algebra, calculus, statistics tools. Built-in Python environment for programming the device.
Connectivity: Micro-USB port for file transfer and charging. Bluetooth LE connectivity.
Battery Life: Up to 20 hours of battery life. Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
Price: MSRP $149.99. Can find discounted to ~$130.
With its hackable open design, the NumWorks Calculator is ideal for math students who want to code their own tools.
To recap, here is an overview of how the top color graphing calculator models compare:
|Model||Performance||Display||Ease of Use||Features||Connectivity||Battery Life||Price|
|TI-84 Plus CE||Very fast||320×240 color||Intuitive interface||Extensive math tools preloaded||USB, device-to-device wireless||~175 hours||$100-$130|
|Casio fx-9750GII||Fast dual-core processor||640×480 color||Logical menus||Robust graphing and geometry functions||USB, microSD||~175 hours||$100|
|HP Prime||Blazing ARM CPU||320×240 color touchscreen||Customizable interface||Extensive math, CAS, and app functionality||USB, Wi-Fi, microSD||Up to 12 hours||$130|
|Casio fx-CG500 PRIZM||Dual-core processor||640×480 high-res color||Unique sliding keypad||Specialized apps and eActivities||USB, device-to-device wireless||~215 hours||$150|
|NumWorks||Powerful ARM processor||160×64 black and white||Minimalist design||Graphing, programming environment||USB, Bluetooth LE||Up to 20 hours||$130|
With an overview of the top models, let’s discuss some key factors to weigh when choosing the best color graphing calculator for your situation:
Consider what math classes and concepts you will be using the graphing calculator for. Advanced models like the HP Prime and Casio PRIZM are best suited for calculus, engineering, or science needs. For statistics or more basic high school math, the TI-84 Plus CE or Casio fx-9750GII offer everything you need at a lower cost.
Make sure to choose a model with built-in apps and features to cover the math functionality you require. The HP Prime and Casio PRIZM stand out here with specialized calculus, geometry, statistics, CAS, and spreadsheet apps. Or if you plan to program your own math tools, the coding-focused NumWorks is a good option.
Opt for a high pixel resolution color display if you want sharp, vivid graphs to visualize math principles. The Casio fx-9750GII, HP Prime, and Casio PRIZM have exceptionally clear displays with plenty of screen real estate. The TI-84 Plus CE display gets the job done for a lower price.
Ease of use
Consider how intuitive the user interface is designed. Models like the TI-84 Plus CE and HP Prime carefully optimize the layout and menus for math work. Unique innovations like the Casio sliding keypad also improve ease of use. Opt for the NumWorks if you like a simplified minimalist design.
The connectivity options allow syncing data and files between devices. The HP Prime stands out here with built-in Wi-Fi and extensive compatibility. Other models rely on USB, microSD, or proprietary wireless transfers.
Battery life varies from about 12-215 hours, so factor in your typical daily usage. The rechargeable HP Prime has shorter battery life but charges via USB. Most other models take AAA batteries lasting weeks to months depending on use.
Graphing calculator prices range from $100-$200 MSRP, with frequent sales bringing most models under $150. Consider whether paying more for premium features is worthwhile for your needs and budget.
So which model is definitively the “best” color graphing calculator? With so many quality options, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
For a balance of proven reliability, user-friendly design, and excellent display, the TI-84 Plus CE stands out as a top pick for high school and college math. It will serve most students extremely well for algebra, statistics, calculus, and more.
Students taking advanced science and engineering courses may benefit from the beefed-up HP Prime with its blazing performance, apps, and connectivity. Casio fans should look at the fx-9750GII for its sleek premium design and quality display.
The NumWorks is ideal for students who want to hack their calculator and code custom programs. And the extra-large Casio PRIZM display takes graphing visuals to the next level.
While the TI-84 Plus CE leads the pack, make sure to weigh your specific needs against the calculator models. Any of these excellent color graphing calculators will serve math and science students well for years to come.
Finding the right color graphing calculator can take your math learning and problem solving skills to the next level. With their powerful processors, visual displays and robust functionality, models like the TI-84 Plus CE, Casio fx-9750GII, HP Prime, Casio PRIZM and NumWorks represent the best options on the market. Consider key factors like required features, display quality, ease of use, connectivity and price when choosing among the top color graphing calculators highlighted in this guide. Whichever advanced calculator you choose, it will be an indispensable asset to help visualize and understand challenging math and science concepts.