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While most end up buying a new calculator, some thrifty students (or their parents) end up buying a used graphing calculator. Much like buying a used car, the main advantage is depreciation. You can often buy a used graphing calculator for half of what a new one would cost. On the other hand, much like buying a used car, there are some risks. By following my advice, you can be sure that you can purchase a used calculator that will serve you well for years to come.
Know the Exact Model of Used Calculator You Are Looking For
I can’t stress this one enough. Some graphing calculator models have been continually upgraded for more than a decade but kept very similar names. Don’t buy a Casio fx-9860 if what you really want is a Casio fx-9860GII. Often, a small difference in the name can make a big difference in the capabilities. I know doing your homework is not the most fun part of making the purchase, but it is important. Luckily, you’ll find that I have graphing calculator reviews of most past and present models here at Tech Powered Math.
One of the most obvious examples when you’re looking at older graphing calculators is with Texas Instruments’ “plus” and “non-plus” models. Anything Texas Instruments makes with a “plus” has flash memory. That means you can upload apps to the calculator and can continue update the operating system. For other cases where a different model name makes a big difference, compare the TI-Nspire and TI-Nspire CAS, the TI-89 vs. TI-89 Titanium, or the TI-Nspire clickpad vs. touchpad editions.
Choose a Used Graphing Calculator That’s Reliable
You should have no problems finding over 100 models of graphing calculators through used sources like eBay. I’m familiar with dozens of models, but certainly not all. Texas Instruments models, while often the most expensive, have also proven extremely reliable. If you’re looking for an older TI product, I suggest picking one with a plus (or Titanium) in the name since they can be updgraded. Casio and HP also make some really good models. For the 2013-14 school year, here are a few used graphing calculators to consider that have been around for a while that are both a great value and still fairly current with what available to students today, all of them linked to what’s currently available on Ebay.
- TI-84+ (try to hold out for a “Silver Edition” for more memory for apps)
- TI-89 Titanium
- TI-Nspire (get the touchpad, not the clickpad)
- TI-Nspire CAS (again, the touchpad, not the clickpad)
- HP 50G
- Casio 9860GII
You may also want to consider buying a new model that is gently used. Sometimes college students only need their graphing calculator for a year and sell it back in near mint condition. Here are some of the newest models that have been out for a year or more that I really like:
Ask Questions of the Calculator’s Seller
If you are buying your used calculator in a marketplace with many sellers like Ebay, be sure to check your seller’s rating. They should be familiar with the product and willing to answer questions. If not, move on to another seller. There are a number of questions you many want to ask.
- Can they verify the calculator turns on? (an important one)
- Are there any dead pixels or other display problems?
- Does the calculator come with any of it’s original accessories?
- If you’re buying a new model, does the SD card or USB port work?
And again, don’t forget to verify the exact model number! I recommend you click here to shop for your graphing calculator on Ebay. Good luck, have fun, and don’t forget to enjoy your “new” graphing calculator.