What's not to like about the TI-Nspire™ CX Handheld? It's a teacher tool, it's a student tool, it has full color (3-D imaging), the color highlights different factors in your equations, you'll love the great side by side views (tables, graphs and text) and best of all, you'll get up to 100 hours of battery life on a single charge. The first time I used it, I got pretty close to 90 hours which was impressive. The transfer of information back and forth to your computer is seamless and it supports all of the standard image types: jpg, jpeg, bmp and png. The TI-Nspire is also approved for most standardized tests.
An Overview for Students
It's suitable for students from middle grades to post secondary/high school. Students will love the 100 hours of battery life time (charges via USB), its slimness, lightness and compactness with a great color back lit screen make it even more appealing. You can transfer files to both PC and Mac. One notable differenence from the TI-84/89 it that it has a track pad that moves the cursor like a mouse. I preferred this over the previous graphing calculators. It's relatively easy to learn. When you turn it on, you'll see the list of applications (calculator, graphs, geometry, spreadsheets, statistics, geometry and Verner). There's a bit of a learning curve if you've used earlier models like the TI-84
or 89 but when given a choice, students I worked with preferred this calculator, especially if they've never used the TI-84 or TI-89 before. Once you get used to it, you'll really appreciate how easy it is to use in graphing, geometry, algebra, calculus and stats to name just a few concept. Having color is a real plus. The image and the equation are displayed on the same screen and the math symbols and characters are superb, they look and display as they should. The TI-Nspire CX Graphing Calculator is allowed for use for most standardized tests: SAT, AP, PSAT/NSMQT, IB, and ACT college entrance exams/tests. (When you use test mode, it will diable many of the functions and it's a tad tricky to exit the test mode.) The notes are a great feature, there is immense value in taking notes/journals
in math. Not convinced? Download the Student software for 3.0 and try the calc on your PC.
An Overview For Teachers
It's a learning and teaching tool, it's more than just a graphing calculator. If you have owned a previous version, the TI-Nspire is compatible and although your images will be fine when you bring them into your new TI-Nspire, they will be in gray scale. However, you can insert all types of color images and display them in color. Some of the features I really like are: the full color backlit display, the exact values in graphs, you'll really appreciate the colored bar charts, and the side by side views for graphs and data will let your students make connections and quickly see the patterns as you present your lesssons, let these pictures do the talking! For instance, they'll see when points are graphed on one side and the ordered pair will show in the table at the right of the graph. The 3-D graphing is stunning, by far, my favorite enhancement! It lets you rotate your objects for various views and it's quick, unlike the previous version, you won't have to wait. You can easily create interactive worksheets for your students that they can explore and manipulate with ease and you can also embed videos. Texas Instruments provides an excellent online collection of lessons and tools, no sense re-inventing the wheel as these lessons were developed by qualified educators and are quite good. However, you can also create your own dynamic lessons and interactive worksheets. Teachers really need to invest the time to fully utilize everything this calculator has to offer. However, it is time well spent. You will want the navigator system to see all of your student screens.
Some Final Thoughts
Whether you're a student or a teacher, you need to take time to explore this calculator. Check out some of the free activities and tutorials both at Texas Instruments and at Atomic Learning. Initially, this calculator may put you out of the comfort zone, however, given time you will soon use it with ease. Students today are growing up digitally, tools like these help to enhance their math skills. I have found that for the most part, teachers don't seem to care which graphing calculator students use and many still use the 84s and 89's. However, given a preference, most students will pick this one.
I've left off the engineers in this review because they tend to be pretty content with their TI-89s and feel the color factor is neither here nor there. Personally, I'll take color over monochrome or black and white any day! It's like asking me if I would prefer to watch TV in color or black and white. I give this calculator thumbs up.