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HomepageScientific Calculator Comparison:
CASIO fx-115ES & SHARP EL-W516
Jim Cullen



Scientific Calculator Comparison: CASIO fx-115ES & SHARP EL-W516


Scientific Calculator Comparison: CASIO fx-115ES SHARP EL-W516
Vol I & Vol II are now available for download. See link below.


The SHARP EL-W516 and the CASIO fx-115ES represent the best examples of the newest incarnation of the scientific calculator which falls somewhere between the capabilities of the scientific and graphing models currently available. They can be thought of as high-end scientific calculators with some of the capabilities normally found only in the graphing models... without the price-tag typical of a graphing calculator. For a very small investment, students now have the advantage of being able to easily explore the mathematical properties of vectors, matrices, simultaneous equation solving, statistics, complex numbers, and calculus operations such as integrals and derivatives.


The scientific calculator comparison ( now completed and going through proofreading ) will explore the differences between these two calculators. It is also a user's manual for both calculators and is now available in PDF format. A companion Volume II is also available, containing extra information, tables, applications, and other supplementary material. As of right now, the cost is free. The Scientific Calculator Comparison, in progress being proofread, is available through an account at MediaFire. To access the files in the account, click on this link to the Scientific Calculator Comparison. When you get to my MediaFire page, click on the name of the file (CasioSharp_Vol_1.pdf and/or CasioSharp_Vol_2.pdf) and you'll be taken to the download page. Click on the download box that says 'Click here to start download'. The downloads from MediaFire are ad-supported, so expect to see one or two advertisements. No real hassle but no free lunch, right? Any questions, comments, or notifications of errors and/or typos, are appreciated.
Vol I & II are completed and are now available for download.


The new versions of the SHARP EL-W516B scientific calculator have appeared in major chains such as Target and Sears. The new versions are the EL-W516XB-SL and variants, priced about the same as the EL-W516B. Despite what you might read in some online reviews about a faster processor, new functions, etc., the new versions are the same features as in the EL-W516B except presented in a new package. Speed tests using numerical integration, summation, and everyday functions shows no significant speed increase at all. The physical constants are identical, the same 2006 CODATA values. All numerical algorithms are the same and are the same accuracy as those found in the EL-W516B. The user manuals and example calculations are identical, the function menus identical, and the catalog listing internal to the calculator itself are identical. Side by side, aesthetically, ergonomically, or otherwise, neither has an advantage over the other. The screen pixel size and arrangement are identical, as are the key labels. Both are dual-powered with solar cells and main battery identical. The main differences between the two are entirely cosmetic, evidently a shinier more modern-looking calculator. If this was the goal that SHARP had in mind then they have succeeded, without sacrificing any features or overall usability.

CASIO has released an enhanced version of the fx-115ES scientific calculator, called the fx-115ES Plus. Here is a summary of some of the many improvements. Though somewhat lighter and less sturdy than the 115ES, the Plus version is adequately built and is actually a couple dollars cheaper than the 115ES. The new processor is about 10%-15% faster than the one in the 115ES. The physical constants have been updated to reflect the 2010 CODATA values. Several new modes have been added. VERIFY is used to check that two expressions are equivalent to each other. INEQUALITY is a solver that works with quadratic and cubic polynomials. DISTRIBUTION mode will calculate Normal, Binomial, and Poisson probability distributions or cumulative distributions. The Inverse Normal distribution is also included here. The Plus version includes numerical products as well as numerical summations. Results of division problems can now be represented in quotient/remainder form. Calculations as well as calculation results can now be represented as recurring decimals. Several new integer functions have been added; Prime Factorization FACT (for integers up to ten digits with prime factors of three digits or less), Greatest Common Denominator GCD, Least Common Multiple LCM, and two rounding functions Int and Intg. There is a new random function called RanInt which allows you to generate random integers between two given bounds. For example, RanInt#(1,6) will simulate the roll of a single die. There have been some changes in the way expressions are allowed to be entered and edited which makes the process faster and easier - movement of the cursor through expressions is more fluid and less restricted. In EQUATION mode, results may now be returned as exact instead of decimal approximations. The ref and rref functions have been added to the MATRIX mode. In TABLE mode, you may now tabulate two functions, f(x) and g(x). Two storage memories E and F have been added. On the 115ES these two letters could only be used for the input of hexadecimal numbers. You may now recall the result of the last calculation with Ans as well as the result of the calculation prior to that with PreAns. In short, the fx-115ES Plus includes everything that is found in the fx-115ES along with the new additions and improvements.

Texas Instruments has recently announced the TI-36X Pro, their latest and most powerful scientific calculator ( non-graphing ) model. Now available in stores and online, it retails for about US $20-$25. Based on the features and specs available from their website, it would seem Texas Instruments has released the TI-36X Pro to directly compete against the Sharp EL-W516 and the Casio fx-115ES. The Ti-36X Pro feels a bit heftier than the Casio or Sharp, and the cover is similar to that of the TI-36X Solar ( snap-on, not slide-on ). The keyboard is clean and uncluttered though the keys down the right hand side for the basic operators are shiny and embossed with the symbols so can be unclear from certain viewing angles. The display is four-line and contrast is acceptable, as well as adjustable. The capabilities of the TI-36X Pro, according to the manual already available for download, are above and beyond those of the TI-36X Solar or the TI-36XII, and are comparable to the offerings by Casio and Sharp. The new TI model has the usual scientific and statistical functions; trigonometric, hyperbolic, powers, roots, logarithms, number systems, complex numbers, conversions, constants, angular modes, and fractions. When you power down the TI-36X Pro, you do lose your current work expression but calculation history is maintained. Though there are only about half as many constants and conversions as found in the Sharp or Casio model, the TI-36X Pro physical constants are the up to date CODATA 2006 values. The display gives a 'textbook' view of mathematical expressions and the keyboard is very responsive, even while entering large expressions. There are eight variables - a, b, c, d, x, y, z, and t. The variables may hold numbers, complex numbers, or expression results. An 'op' function allows you to store a sequence of operations to be repeated. Not only does the TI-36X Pro perform numerical integration and differentiation, but also performs products ( something not available with either Sharp or Casio ). It's not known yet if the integration algorithm is a Simpson method or a form of Quadrature. On average, the TI-36X Pro seems to be about two to five times faster than the fx-115ES at numerical integration. My guess is that the TI-36X Pro uses a form of quadrature or other adaptive algorithm since it's faster than the Sharp EL-W516B but just as accurate as the Casio fx-115ES, though it doesn't seem to provide algebraic results in the cases where the Casio is able to do so. On the TI-36X Pro you have to press the decimal-fraction toggle to get the exact answer, and there is no mode setting available to make decimal or algebraic form the default for calculation results. In nearly every test (integration, summation, etc), the TI-36X Pro is faster than the Sharp and nearly as accurate as the Casio. The Mike Sebastian test result on the TI-36X Pro is 9.00000107732 - the Casio result is 9.00000000733338, and 9.000000098906 is returned by the Sharp. Trig functions are very fast on the TI-36X Pro but, based on the above test result, maybe not as accurate as the Casio or Sharp results. This may have to do with the fact that the TI-36X Pro seems to use only 13 decimal digits for internal calculations instead of 15. Additional numeric functions include int(), abs(), iPart(), fPart(), mod(), round(), min(), and max(). Some very useful integer functions are also available; LCM(), GCD(), and Pfactor (integer factorization). You may only factor integers that are six digits or less. Matrices (up to 3x3) have impressive capabilities; determinant, transpose, inverse, as well as ref() and rref() functions. A matrix may be raised to an integer power ( very quickly ) up to a maximum of 99, unlike the Sharp and Casio which are both limited to a matrix raised to the third power. I checked to see if complex numbers on the TI-36X Pro could be raised to integer powers greater than three - and found that, like the Casio and Sharp, this operation is limited to a power of three. Use a matrix representation to overcome this limitation. I could find no easy way on the TI-36X Pro to quickly extract one specified number from a matrix. Matrices can not be used inside a summation. Vector functions include DotP(), CrossP(), and norm(). The Ti-36X Pro includes function tables and solvers. The solvers include a flexible numeric solver similar to that on the Casio, a polynomial solver (quadratic and cubic), and a linear systems solver (up to a 3x3 system). There is a data and list editor also. In the area of statistics, there are the usual factorial, combination, and permutation functions. There are also generators for random numbers and random integers within a specified range. Included statistical regressions are; linear, quadratic, cubic, logarithmic, power, and exponential. Distribution calculations are also impressive; normal pdf, normal cdf, inverse normal cdf, binomial pdf, binomial cdf, poisson pdf, and poisson cdf, all customizable and calculated to thirteen digits of precision. Depending on the calculation though ( normal distribution specifically ), the results may only be accurate to as few as eight digits, which is still more accurate than the Casio or Sharp. For more information, refer to the TI-36X Pro Guidebook, from Texas Instruments website.


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© 2010: Jim Cullen - all rights reserved.
Contact the author with any questions or comments: Jim Cullen
Last Update: May 2, 2010.

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