# TI-30X IIS vs. TI-30X Multiview Review

A graphing calculator isn’t a necessity for everyone’s mathematical needs.  For many students, a simple scientific calculator will do the trick.  But buyer beware–even though the most popular calculators can usually be purchased for under \$20, there’s a huge difference in the usability and capability of these calculators.

You don’t have to be an advanced math student to tell the difference.  The differences in the inputting methods would be obvious to any 5th grader since they reach to topics as fundamental as fractions.  A wide variety of entry level scientific calculators will greet you at any electronics store. In the end, most students still select a Texas Instruments model, usually from the popular TI-30 series that has been around for decades.

TI-30X IIS

The TI-30X IIS and its partner, the TI-30X IIB (S for solar powered and B for battery powered), have been around since the late 90’s.

The most important part of the TI-30X II’s name is the “II,” which tells you that this is a two line calculator.  This means that a student can enter his (or her) work on one line, press enter, and see his answer on a different line, with his work still displayed.  If a mistake was made, just pressing up will go back to that work to allow editing.

The TI-30X II was a big advance from previous one-line versions of the calculator, but it’s not the nicest calculator in this series anymore.  Our biggest complaints deal with the inputting of fractions, roots, and exponents.  None of those can be inputted the same way on the screen as they will appear in a textbook.  Additionally, special trig values are returned as approximate decimals instead of exact radicals. Admittedly, this is still the standard on almost all calculators, but for about the same price, the TI-30X Multiview will give exact answers.

To demonstrate the differences, we’ll work a several simple problems on each calculator:

Over course, the answer to this problem is obviously 1/2.  To input it on the TI-30X II, you use the divide button, because using the fraction button will result in an error.  Then you must use parentheses, or you’ll end up with an incorrect answer.  The answer is returned as a decimal, which can be converted to a decimal

Here, we get the right answer, but our question looks very different from what we had to type to get it.  As you’ll see further down, that’s not the case with the Multiview.

Well, it does equal .577 (approximately).  But, as we’ll see below, there’s also an answer to this question involving square roots, and that is what’s usually more important in a trigonometry or calculus situation.

Pros: Been around for along time and widely accepted by teachers, two-line display

Cons: Requires students to learn new calculator syntax at the same time they are learn mathematics, same cost as TI-30X Multiview

Price: \$15 at Amazon

TI-30X Multiview

The areas where the older TI-30X II stumbles are exactly where the newer TI-30X Multiview excels.  Instead of a two line display, there are up to four lines, each capable of displaying a problem and an answer.  It’s greatest strength is that everything can be inputted almost exactly the way it looks in a textbook.  It also has the distinct advantage of returning exact results for trig functions.  This makes it the only ACT legal calculator manufactured by Texas Instruments with this capability, including their line of graphing calculators.

Lets take a look at that same set of problems on the Multiview:

You can see that the Multiview allows students the ability to input with a fraction bar, far more intuitive than the TI-30X II interface.

Again, the formatting is much simpler and appears just as it would in a textbook.

Now, we can see that radical answer.  In fact, not only can the Multiview find exact values for special trig values involving radicals, but it can simply radicals, including rationalizing denominators.

Pros: Just about everything. It’s great for students to be able to enter what they see in their textbook into their calculator since it allows more time learning math and less time learning calculator syntax.

Cons: Even though most teachers are catching on to the Multiview pretty quickly, there may still be a few that can’t explain its features as well as the TI-30X IIS. Check to make sure it’s acceptable at your school.

Price: \$15 at Amazon

Here’s even more about the differences on these two devices in a video I put together.

Summary:

There’s a hands down winner in this competition, and it’s the TI-30X Multiview. Some teachers may require the old school TI-30X II because they don’t want students to have a calculator that makes certain aspects of fractions, radicals, or trigonometry so easy. However, if you’re given the choice, it’s hard to understand why anyone would take a pass on the Multiview. Every year, millions of students head off to middle school or high school with the TI-30X II, despite the fact that for no additional cost, they could have had a huge additional advantage in math and science classes. One can only assume that they or their parents haven’t done their homework before making the purchase.  Of course, if you’re reading this, you know how to buy the best calculator for this school year without spending an arm and a leg.