Texas Instruments TI-Nspire

For a good example of stagnating technology, look no further than your local math classroom. While educational computers see replacement every couple of years, and the software on them even more regularly, many popular graphing calculator models have been around for over a decade with very few improvements. The basic functions these devices perform just can’t be improved with more processor power. But that doesn’t preclude making them simpler and easier to use, which Texas Instruments has attempted to do with its latest calculator, the TI-Nspire.

The fact that the TI-Nspire has no model number associated with it is itself a radical departure from all of TI’s previous efforts. While model numbers used to represent incremental increases in processing power and capability, the Nspire’s label is a cue that all of that has taken a backseat to accessibility.

This is most apparent in the calculator’s appearance. The old black cases of yesteryear have been replaced by a colorful blue and white design. Arrays of rectangular buttons crowded with second and third functions on one key have been replaced by an innovative new diamond-like design that places letters and other less-used functions in diagonal nooks between primary keys. In short, it’s a lot less intimidating.

Texas Instruments TI-Nspire
The TI-Nspire and swappable keypad

Of course, a lot of flashy plastic is good for nothing if students are greeted by the same tired operating system when they turn the calculators on, but Texas Instruments has gone through and updated that as well. An array of new functions is designed to make the same capabilities easier for students to wrap their minds around.

For instance, a new split-screen feature allows an equation to be viewed in its ordinary algebraic form, on a graph, in spreadsheet form, or with notes – simultaneously on the same screen. Students can also poke and prod at graphs they’ve made, then view the equations they represent to see how visual changes play out on paper.

While these new ways to do things offer students more options, they could also potentially pose a problem in the calculator’s transition stage, before it’s widely adopted in classrooms. Following along with a class can be tough when you’re working with a totally different interface. Fortunately, TI anticipated this, and gave the Nspire a unique swappable keypad that makes it reverse compatible with the TI-83 Plus, TI-84 Plus and TI-84 Plus Silver Edition Calculators. The entire keypad actually snaps out, and can be replaced with a new pad that resembles that of the TI-84. It even comes with the pre-installed software from a TI-84.

To go along with the new features of the Nspire, TI also introduced a new computer software suite to accompany it. The Nspire software will, like older versions, allow students to transfer data back and forth between computer and calculator, but also offers a full-function Nspire calculator on the computer. This makes it possible for students to do homework on their computers, then transfer it to a calculator and bring it to class, or vice versa.

Texas Instruments will begin selling the Nspire directly from its Web site in October at a price “slightly higher” than the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, which currently runs for $129.99 USD. A variety of bundles will be offered with different combinations of spare keypads, storage devices, and computer software. Educators and early adopters may want to pick them up immediately, but students should probably wait for recommendations from a math teacher before investing.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

The best smart locks to increase your home security in 2019

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Smart Home

Which is better, the original Echo or the Echo Dot? We compare them

Amazon Echo vs. Dot: Having Alexa answer your questions is nothing short of futuristic, but which device should you get? There are some big differences between the two, especially in size, sound, and cost.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.