Sharp EL-531W vs. EL-531X Calculators

(Typo in the permalink: should be W vs. X. Fixing it will break all the auto-linkies. Hate it when that happens.)

When our lass first began using calculators, I put a pair of Sharp EL-531W calculators in harm’s way around the shop, where they still reside. The new EL-531X seems to have an identical key layout and internal logic (*), as well as the same under-ten-buck price, but I don’t like it nearly as much:

Sharp EL-531W EL-531X calculators
Sharp EL-531W EL-531X calculators

It’s maybe 10 mm wider and doesn’t fit readily in my hand. I’m sure the rounded-rectangle stylin’ mimics a phone, but the cheapnified keys look ugly (particularly the ones around the arrow keys at the top) and don’t feel nearly as good.

The new one fills a gap next to the lathe, where it should collect plenty of swarf.

(*) Including engineering notation with multiple-of-three exponents, which I regard as vital.

9 thoughts on “Sharp EL-531W vs. EL-531X Calculators

  1. I have a TI 36X Pro quietly sitting next to the printer (to keep its solar charger happy), where it gets ignored. My at-the-computer calculator is a 1980s vintage HP-15C while the shop calculator is a very slightly newer HP-41CX. The 41 sits in the leather case formerly used by the late HP-45. (Using that calculator without any Ni-Cd batteries for years might have been A Bad Thing; it used to churn a second or two before coming to life; at the end, all it did was churn.)

    I can use a calculator with an ‘=’ sign, but I’m not comfortable with it…

  2. Calculator craze somehow bypassed me leaving me free to use iPhone calc app (gasp :O) for my humble purposes :)

    But keyboards, ughh, don’t get me started. Since st#$d Lenovo ditched standard Thinkpad 7-row keyboard for the “trendy” 6-row island type, I’m dreading the day when my venerable Thinkpad T410 gives out the ghost and I’m forced to pick up a new one. Well, at least they brought back IPS panels after 10 years of awful TN matrices.

    1. I was an early adopter of calculators, with my first a 4-function Craig. Skipped the HP-35, but I got one of the first HP-45s at U of Illinois (S/N 9xxx, if memory serves).

      At first I had to ask permission to use a calculator in an exam; always granted, but frequently provided that the proctor could play with it a while. [grin]

      The adjunct professor in my MSEE circuit analysis/design courses strongly recommended the 41CX. This was when the PC-AT was hot stuff. Hmm, now I feel old. [wince]

      1. In our collage exams HPs and Tis were allowed with caveat that some proctors would simply erase user memory without exception – simply walk up to you, press the right key combination (don’t remember what it was) and on to the next :)

  3. I always liked Sharp’s calculators for one simple function key the others never seemed to have, the mixed fractions key. Really helps convert the ugliest of fractions to something usable.

  4. Never liked the jump to cheap glossy plastic in something used as often as a calculator. That said the new Sharp line, the “T” seems to tone it down a lot and present quite clean looking matte keyboard. You should maybe give it a look!

    1. What’s the model number for those? A quick look through Amazon’s stock shows the new-ish scientific calculators all have either oval or elongated rectangular cursor keys.

      AFAICT, they’ve been using the same firmware for decades, with periodic cosmetic refreshes to produce The New Shiny. Of course, after you figure out the algorithms and implement them correctly, they don’t need much maintenance.

        1. Ah! The “T” versions seem rare in the Amazon listings, so maybe they’re all bootlegs right now. The pix definitely seem less glossy, but you’d want one in hand before depending on the styling.

          Maybe by the next time I buy a cheap calculator, gloss will be out, matte will be in, and all will be right with the world.

          Alas, HP’s classic double-shot injected “last forever” keys will never happen again.

          Thanks for the pointer!

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