TI-84 Color Review

I required to purchase a TI-84 series calculator for one of my classes (can’t use Ti-89), and ended up with the Color TI-84 that was recently released. Long story short: Take your TI-84 and bolt a color LCD and a cellphone battery onto it. You are now the proud owner of a TI-84 Color.

Read full review after the break. Saver2 update in the works.

The good: Color, high res display is extremely useful when graphing. Slightly larger home screen and a nice font. Rechargeable battery.

The bad: Slower all around compared to B&W TI-84s. Mathprint features not implemented as handily as they could be in favor of keeping exact same layout. Not much new in the way of features.

The ugly: Sluggishness can’t be fixed as it’s the exact same hardware with a greater workload (that fancy LCD). No programs/apps for normal TI-84s can be used without being updated.

Basically, what the TI-84 Color boils down to is TI bolted a color screen and a rechargeable battery onto the good ol’ TI-84 and called it a day, without upgrading its elderly CPU. As a result, the calculator is slower everywhere because it has 12 times more pixels to drive. UI is where it shows the most; graphing has thankfully not slowed down much further.

No existing programs or flash apps can be used without the developer updating them. If you have an app you simply must have, DON’T GET THIS CALCULATOR! A lot of programs are no longer maintained, and the ones that are will require varying degrees of effort to be ported as the display slows things down a lot. Don’t expect any games for a long time.

Conclusion: Do you own a TI-84? Good, keep it and don’t bother with the color version. If you don’t have one, and need to buy one NEW, you may as well get this, seeing as it’s only 10$ more. Used TI-83+/TI-84+ are way cheaper, though.

3 stars. Not majorly deficient, but nor is it outstanding. I’m really disappointed in you, TI.

Technical rant: In the day of carrying multi-gigahertz CPUs in our pocket, the least TI could do is grab a more modern member of the Z80 family, like the eZ80, which is 4-11 times faster than a Z80 of the same clock speed. Software modifications would be minor as it’s binary compatible, and the benefits manifold. Faster everything, more RAM (up to 256 times more!), more powerful software, longer battery life… the cost to TI being that they’d have to design a newer PCB, which would eat into the truly ludicrous profit margins on these calculators.

Software changes required would be minor at best, which is hilarious because of the effort TI had to make to port the OS and flash apps to this hardware, breaking all existing programs for the TI-84. If they were going to break everything, they might as well have done it for the sake of an upgrade.

Even more bad news: since this calculator is slower overall, drastically so in the display department, many apps *cough* games *cough* will never be updated because they were already operating on the wire on the old hardware.

Even jettisoning the ancient TI-83 layout in favor of a layout similar to the TI-36x Pro scientific calculator would have been a worthy improvement. Nope, too much effort. Sigh.

One thought on “TI-84 Color Review

  1. Have you thought about over-clocking the cpu? I was getting up to around 15-20 Mhz out of my old 86 around 99-2000, I even put dip switches on the back so I could slow it down as some asm games became so fast they were unplayable. tokenizing massive basic programs that used to take 10 minutes loaded in just a few.

    I’m sure there are still a few tutorials on which capacitor you need to change i did both changing the cap and the resistor as its just a simple RC tank circuit, I wouldn’t go too excessive (>30 Mhz IIRC) on the speed otherwise you start getting artifacts but its pretty up there in speed when it starts happening, the 86 had no issues all the way up to a calculated 20 Mhz and IIRC the program I made to see calculations per minute supported that it was ~4x faster as well, only drawback was the lowered battery life but really inconsequential.

    I see where they have it running at 15 Mhz with 6 Mhz compatibility mode I bet you can get it up to 25-30Mhz before you see issues..

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