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Tips For Finding the Best Basic Calculator

Updated on September 28, 2011

When All You Need is Just the Basics

For most of us a graphing calulator or scientific calculator is a bit much. Most of the time, all we need is a basic calculator to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Why pay for all those extra functions and complicate matters with the extra keys?

On this page you can learn about some of the options available with basic calculators and browse some of the models available.

Buying Tips

If you've decided that all you need are the basics, then all you need to think about are a few general characterstics before you make your choice. Here are some features and functions to think about when selecting a basic calculator:

  • Design
    Desktop or portable handheld? If your need is to keep a calculator at the ready on your desk, then desktop models are ideal. They offer the right size for easy operation and viewing as well as stability. However, if you want to take your calculator along with you wherever you go, then a portable model makes much more sense as it can fit in your purse or pocket easily.
  • Display
    Clearly, you want a display that is easy to view. The size of the display and the numerals on it matter of course, but so does the angle of the screen. An adjustable screen can assure visibility in almost any situation. Additionally, you need to determine what types of numbers you will be dealing with routinely. Some basic calculators display 6 digits, others 8 or more. Obviously, if you deal with larger numbers, you need a display that can handle it. You also want to know if the display will include punctuation such as commas, which reduces errors in reading results.
  • Power Source
    Battery powered calculators offer reliable operation even in low light settings. Solar powered devices however provide economical and maintenance free operation as you don't have to worry about recharging or replacing the power source. On the other hand, if you are indoors without a lamp or window nearby, a solar powered calculator can be frustrating to use. Of course, you can also get the best of both worlds with a dual power source device (solar/battery)
  • Ease of Use
    Keyboard size and the size of the individual keys you want is based on your individual needs. Clearly for some people, larger keys with extra spacing reduces keying errors.
  • Functions
    Sure you want a basic calculator, but are there some other calculations you occasionally need to make? Some basic calculators add in things like tax, profit margin, currency exchange, percentages, square roots, and other calculations. They typically aren't loaded up, but may add just one or two of these.
  • Auto Shut-Off
    Auto shut-off can help reduce the risk of finding your batteries dead at an inconvenient time.


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    • profile image

      LizzyJean 7 years ago

      I use a scientific calculator at school but a good basic one here at home.

    • BevsPaper profile image

      BevsPaper 7 years ago from Central Indiana

      Great information on finding the right Basic Calculator.

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 7 years ago

      Hey, I have a basic calculator too Sharp EL244TB...This lay's in the kitchen drawer for the small jobs...LOL