Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM calculator review

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EXAM – I was on back-to-school night when another mom nudged me and asked me what calculator my son had because her daughter “must have the same calculator.” Such was the buzz surrounding the Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM calculator. I was a little surprised…I mean, when I was in high school, it was all about having the right jeans. I guess times are just more exciting now. Good Jeans can’t 3D graph and support python programming like this calculator.

What is that?

The Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM calculator is a truly amazing scientific calculator with a color display capable of 3D graphics, E-CON4 applications, catalog functions and much more.

What’s in the box?

  • Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM calculator with case
  • a 3-pin to USB cable
  • Some instructions/warranty information

Hardware specifications

Basic functions

  • Angle Unit, Angle Unit Conversion (Deg, Rad, Gra)
    • Trigonometric functions, inverse trigonometric functions
    • Hyperbolic functions, inverse hyperbolic functions
    • Exponent functions, logarithmic functions
    • Power functions (square root, cube root, square, power, radical root)
    • Coordinate conversion (Pol, Rec)
    • Combination/Permutation (nCr, nPr)
    • Factorial, inverse, random numbers, random sampling from an existing list, fractions
    • Logical operations
    • Sexagesimal ↔ decimal conversion
    • Matrix calculations
    • Vector calculations
    • Complex number calculations
    • Base n calculations/conversions
    • List of data calculations
    • Round
    • Display format
    • Conversion (pre-installed software)
    • Calculation of engineering symbols
    • Engineering notation

Chart

  • 3D graphics (software pre-installed)
    • Rectangular coordinate graph, polar coordinate graph
    • Integration graph
    • Graphic representation of parametric functions, graphic representation of inequalities
    • Trace, Zoom (zoom box, zoom in, zoom out, auto zoom)
    • Table and graph
    • Double graph (table and graph, graph and graph)
    • Sketch (tangent line, normal line, inverse function)
    • Solve (root, minimum, maximum, intersection, integration: improved integral calculus (real-time integral calculus), new integral calculus function (mixed integrals))
    • Dynamic graph
    • Conic section graph
    • Recurrence graph
    • Picture Plot (pre-installed software)

Statistics

  • List-based univariate and bivariate statistical analysis
    • Statistical regression calculations
    • Statistical plot (scatter plot, xyLine, normal probability plot, histogram, boxplot)
    • Statistical regression plots (linear, med-med, quadratic, cubic, quartic, logarithmic, exponential, power, sinusoidal, logistic regression)
    • Advanced statistical calculations: tests (Z test, t test, χ² test, F test, ANOVA), intervals (Z interval, t interval), distributions
    • Circular diagram
    • Bar graph

Material

  • Power supply: Four AAA alkaline batteries or four nickel-metal hydride batteries
    • Approximate battery life (hours): 140 (AAA alkaline batteries), 85 (nickel-metal hydride batteries) Assuming 5 minutes of calculation and 55 minutes of display per hour
    • Matrix display: 216 x 384 dots
    • Display capacity (characters): 21 x 8
    • Internal working digits: 15
    • Levels of nested parentheses: 26
    • Data communication: 3-pin cable, USB cable
    • 3-pin serial port
    • USB port

Design and features

The Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM is a powerful graphing calculator designed to help math students from geometry to college-level math and science. It is approved for SAT, ACT and AP tests and has an “exam mode” that can be locked for testing purposes.

As a gadget, I open technical stuff all the time, and I can tell you, I’ve never had a more difficult package to open. The plastic was incredibly thick and I had to use a craft knife, which made me worry about damaging the calculator. I found myself quite frustrated. I understand they don’t want to be robbed, but there has to be a better way.

I don’t need such a powerful calculator – I’m fine with the dollar store one. My son, however, wants to major in engineering and is great at math, so he’s had a graphing calculator for a while. In fact, he usually brings two graphing calculators to school in case one runs out of battery or a friend forgets his, so I asked for his help with this exam. His calculators are another brand (named after one of the 50 states, if that’s any clue), so there was a bit of a learning curve. He found the Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM calculator quite intuitive, but he says he still has to fiddle with it to find what he wants simply because he doesn’t know it as well as his old calculators.

The Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM is really great for graphics. It can display four types of graphs (line, cylinder, plane and line) and it uses templates to draw them to make it easier for the user. You can draw and display up to three 3D graphs, then compare them mathematically and visually. Once displayed, you can zoom them in and out, rotate them vertically and horizontally, and view cross sections of them. It’s an awesome way to connect mathematical expression with visual expression.

My son mostly used graphing modes because his classes this year didn’t require complicated equations like last year’s numeracy classes. The graphical representation is where he noticed the biggest difference between the Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM and his others. “This one is a monster,” he said. It’s apparently much, much faster at plotting graphs than its other “lone star” calculators.

The Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM calculator has a special financial mode that allows you to calculate and design graphs specific to the economy. This should not be confused with the special E-CON4 mode, which enables data collection for use in classroom science and technology lessons.

We haven’t tried any of the programming parts of this calculator that include a Python programming mode. Although neither my son nor I currently program in Python, I know my son wants to learn, so I’m glad this calculator can grow with him.

For instructors, the Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM calculator in “Manager” mode allows teachers to prepare activities for their class and then display them by connecting the PRIZM to a computer or projector via a USB cable. Unfortunately, the “Manager” requires a software license subscription. It comes with a one-year subscription, but after that it looks like you’ll have to renew for around $25 a year. I’m not a math teacher, so I don’t know if that’s the norm, but I do know that as an underpaid servant of the state, I don’t like having to pay anything for do my job and I’m sure I’m not alone. I think Casio would give teachers pause if they want them to recommend the fx-CG50 PRIZM to their students. The reason my son has two calculators from the other brand is because the teachers recommended them.

Another thing the fx-CG50 PRIZM lacks is the CAS. CAS allows the user to enter some of the operations using symbols, which can eliminate human typing errors and, of course, is faster. My son didn’t miss it as none of his other calculators have it, but if you like it, it might be a deal breaker.

Another curious feature that I am surprised to see in the Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM calculator is that it is not rechargeable. It takes four AAA batteries. They seem to last a while, but I was surprised to see this on a calculator that has such processing power.

My son said that nothing bothered him ergonomically on this calculator, but that it was a little harder to get out of its case than the others. And speaking of its casing, it is white. I wish they had made another color optional because the Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM really picked up the pencil lead in my kid’s backpack. (Correction: they offer it with a black case). While he’s admittedly not the neatest kid (he’s a teenager, after all), if you like to keep his things in pristine condition, you might need to wipe that thing down once in a while.

Before
After a month in the backpack

What I liked :

  • Much faster in graphics than other brand
  • This calculator will grow with you

What I would change:

  • He gets dirty in white
  • It is not refillable.

Final Thoughts

If you do a lot of graphing, the Casio fx-CG50 PRIZM calculator is your calculator. Although it has a lot in common with other brands of graphing calculators, this one is much faster.

Price: $80.99
Or buy: Casio and Amazon
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Casio.

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