Back in 2011, Casio released the Casio Prizm calculator, a revolutionary device that added a bright full-color screen to the classic graphing calculator. It offered 384x216 pixels of space for numeric math, graphing, and user-made programs, powered by a 58MHz processor that could be clocked up to nearly 100MHz. Here at Cemetech, we embraced the calculator, building up lots of documentation and creating plenty of programs. We even wrote a forceful editorial promoting the Casio Prizm over the subsequently announced color-screen TI-Nspire CX, citing the latter's lack of programmability (which was subsequently ameliorated). The Casio Prizm's popularity eventually waned in favor of the admittedly weaker and slower TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition and TI-84 Plus CE, the latter being by far the calculator with the most active set of projects these days.
This March, we announced that Casio was following up the trusty Casio fx-CG10 / fx-CG20 Prizm with a new fx-CG50 calculator. Casio was kind enough to send along a review model of this calculator, so we had the opportunity to go hands-on with it. I outlined my initial impressions in a hands-on review video, while Cemetech administrator Daniel "tifreak8x" Thorneycroft explored the speed of user-made BASIC programs on the new calculator. We found that the calculator represented a significant improvement on the physical design of the older calculator, with a brighter, crisper screen and a zippier experience. On the other hand, the interface remains somewhat unintuitive, and the calculator continues to rely on now-outdated AAA batteries. Among our most important takeaways:
Pro: More modern, squarer case design, with attractive white and pseudo-carbon-fiber plastics separated by a thin aqua line, and a more comfortable keyboard, with a few chromed keys as accents.
Pro: Iterated color screen, brighter, crisper, and with truer colors (but the same resolution as the fx-CG10/20)
Pro: Significantly faster interface, especially for running Casio BASIC programs, as shown in tifreak8x's video below.
Pro: New built-in (limited) 3D graphing application
Pro: Unrestricted BASIC, C, and SH ASM programming features (the latter two only unofficially supported)
Con: Same arguably unintuitive OS interface as the older calculator
Con: Necessarily thicker than the TI-Nspire CX and TI-84 Plus CE due to continued use of AAA batteries for power.
The vast majority of our criticisms about the new calculator could be solved by updating the operating system, but we also believe that avid Casio calculator users will find the interface much more intuitive than those of us trained on TI graphing calculators. We just wish there was more official documentation on the Casio BASIC programming language! Are you considering getting a Casio Prizm fx-CG50 for the upcoming school year? For that matter, have you taken a look at our Back to School Graphing Calculator Guide yet? We're more than happy to field questions or comments on Casio's newest calculator in the comments, and be sure to check out our video reviews below.