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The TI-89 VS HP 49g Calculator Comparison

This is an old comparison I did of the TI-89 and the HP 49g. Neither of these calculators are produced anymore, being replaced by the TI-89 Titanium and the HP 49g+. The information in this document is seriously out of date and shouldn't be assumed to be accurate or complete in any sense.

Document Version 2.0

Author: John David Ratliff


  • The Most Significant Differences

  1. The HP 49g supports both algebraic entry and RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) for more efficient entries.

  2. The TI-89 has a MUCH more extensive and complete manual than the HP 49g. Few features are documented in the 49g's manual. HP has promised an Advanced Users Guide which will be on the internet and describe in detail the more complex aspects of the calculator.

  3. The HP 49g has more memory: 1.5 MB (megabytes) compared with 580 KB (kilobytes). The TI-89 is currently being refined so that it will have more memory via software upgrades. In its next software revision, the TI-89 should have close to 1 MB (megabyte) of memory.

  4. The TI-89 costs less than the 49g. MSR (manufacturers suggested retail) price lists the TI-89 at $149.99 (but you can get it for less -- as low as $100 from eBay online auctions for used TI-89's) and the HP 49g at $179.99 (but mine cost $190.00 + $9.50 tax).

  5. The HP 49g supports HP BASIC, User and System RPL (Reverse Polish Lisp or ROM-based Procedural Language), and assembly verses the TI-89's TI-BASIC and assembly.

    The C programming language will be available for both calculators once their respective SDKs (software development kits) are released.

  6. The TI-89 has more classroom support meaning that you will find more teachers familiar with the TI-89 or in general TI calculators. It should therefore be easier to get help for the TI-89, but this may not always be the case as it will vary from school to school. As far as real-world support, the HP calcs are the calcs of choice for real-world engineers.

  7. The HP 49g has a better keyboard layout for text entry. You can use alpha-lock and enter both letters AND numbers without changing the state of the lock.

  8. The TI-89 has a easier to press keyboard. The HP 49g's keyboard is VERY stiff and hard to use. Note that this should become easier with time.

  9. The HP 49g has a complex and fancy equation writer which allows sub-expressions to be edited directly in "Textbook Mode" (Pretty Print if you will). A very nice feature!

  10. The TI-89 has a better screen resolution. 160x100 as opposed to 131x64. Resolutions are given width by height in pixels. Note that the TI-89's effective history resolution is only 160x64, but both the Program I/O (input/output) and graph screens take advantage of more (all) of the screen.

  11. The HP 49g has a built-in step-by-step solver for derivation, integration (anti-derivation), and linear algebra.

  12. The TI-89 has Split-screen mode, which allows you to look at a graph and the home screen at the same time. (I couldn't find this on the HP 49g, so correct me if it has it and I just missed it)

  13. The HP 49g has a financial solver for tvm (time value of money) and amortization problems.

  14. The TI-89 is faster in MANY areas. Many 49g menus and screen display alterations cause a noticeable delay in operation where there should be none.

  15. The HP 49g has what I will call Trigonometric Identity Functions. In other words, if you want things in terms of sine, you can use the T2SIN function and your answer will be in terms of sine. You can do this for COSINE, TANGENT, SINE, TAN -> SIN/COS identity, and more.

  • HP 49g Specific Features and the TI-89 Response

  1. The HP 49g has a clock with a messaging alarm system. What I mean by messaging is that you can attach a message to any specific alarm which will be displayed when the alarm goes off.

    The TI-89 doesn't have a clock or an alarm system, but it does have organizer programs, they just don't have alarms. This could be a useful feature for lab-timing experiments.

  2. The HP 49g has an xroot key and a log button.

    xroot functions are implemented on the TI-89 using fractional exponents in which the cube root of x is given by x^(1/3) and the fourth root is x^(1/4) and the nth root if x^(1/n).

    Another complaint about the TI-89 is the lack of a log button. log base 10 is simply ln(x)/ln(10). This goes the same for any logarithm. ln(x)/ln(5) is log base 5. ln(x)/ln(2000) is the log base 2000. The log() function (for log base 10, the second most common log) can be accessed via the CATALOG on the TI-89.

  3. The HP 49g has an expandable catalog of functions. This means that you can add your own functions to the list of functions in the catalog. This is good if you use the catalog a lot.

    The TI-89 is supposed to support an expandable catalog with the advent of AMS 2.00, but this is as of yet unverified.

  4. The HP 49g Auto prompts the user to switch into approx/complex mode for some calculations which require it.

    Most of the time the user will know when to be in complex mode, but this may be a nice feature for some and for learning. If you didn't know that you can't take the square root of -1, then this would be a learning assist.

  5. The HP 49g supports conic plots. Equations that have Y's and X's on the same side, usually with both the X and Y to the second power.

    The TI-89 can do conic plots in a limited fashion, i.e. only if you can solve for y. The HP 49g has much better support for conics than the TI-89 does at this time.

    The 49g has a number of other-type plots which the TI-89 does not support also. The only type of plot which the TI-89 has that the HP 49g does not is sequence plots.

  6. The HP 49g supports directory hierarchies. This means you can put directories inside OTHER directories. This is a nice way to separate programs.

  7. The HP 49g has a separate file menu/var menu for easy access to variables. This is nice because you don't have to run through a long list of files along with your variables if variables are all that concern you. Very nice if you have 10000 files and 5 variables (often the case with large BASIC programs).

  • Last Minute Things to Mention

  1. The HP 49g and the TI-89/92+ have FlashROM, so they are user upgradable (provided you buy a cable from their respective makers). You'll never have to buy a HP 49gX or a TI-89+.

  2. I have left out some of the stronger abilities for lack of examples. I am hoping that some people will ask again some of the questions about integrals the 89 can't do or good engineering software for the TI-89 so I can list some functionality comparisons, rather than just feature comparisons.

  • Creator's Web Sites

This document is severely out of date and is in many places inaccurate. It was written in 1999 or 2000, I can't remember. The point is, it's old. There have been improvements to both products over the years which invalidates some of the data above. I would not seriously consider using this document as a reason for or against your decision to purchase a calculator. Especially so when neither product is producted in the form it was at the time of this writing. Maybe someone has compared the TI-89 Platinum to the HP 49g+.
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