By tpm | November 30, 2012
Yesterday, Casio made a big announcement that it was continuing a trend of upgrading an existing graphing calculator line to color with a new ClassPad model. The Casio ClassPad 330 will no longer be the premier (and only) touchscreen graphing calculator on the market. A new model, the fx-CP400, will take its place at the top of the touchscreen hill. The color calculator trend is one that Casio kicked off two years ago when the Prizm was announced, moving beyond their fx-9860 GII. Much like when the Prizm was released with an OS similar to the 9860 GII, the new CP400 screenshots appear to indicate a similar OS to previous ClassPad models, but with new features based on its new color capabilities, increased memory, etc. It also features a much more stylish look than the older ClassPads.
I will admit to letting out a deep sigh when reading the coverage of the new ClassPad on Engadget, though. The author seems to think the touchscreen is brand new to the graphing calculator world, even though previous models of the ClassPad have had touchscreens for the better part of a decade. And while I know it’s not possible for their writers to be experts on every technology niche, to characterize the fx-CP400 as going head to head against the new TI-84+ C is more than a stretch. Even though they were both announced this month, they really have very little in common in an American classroom. While a touchscreen is a terrific capability, and I applaud Casio for continuing to push the issue, there’s a reason the previous ClassPad models have barely made a ripple in the ocean of American schools. Until ACT and the College Board (SAT) modernize their calculator testing rules to allow touchscreen calculators, very few American schools will be interested in adopting them. This is why Texas Instruments has yet to release a touchscreen model, and the only other touchscreen model ever released, the Sharp EL-9650, was an abysmal failure in the market place.
Privately, Casio officials will admit that the ClassPad hasn’t ever gotten much traction in America. They do point out, however, there are a few smaller countries with more progressive standardized testing policies where it has a very large market share. I’m sure that the new fx-CP400 will be embraced with open arms in those parts of the world. I look forward to taking a look at one myself. I was impressed with the older ClassPad 330, and based on past experience with Casio, I would expect to see a model that pushes the platform forward into exciting new places. I applaud Casio for this release, I’m excited to see it, and I hope the standardized testing folks in America are paying attention.