A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2020 Apr 30, 11:21 -0700
"What are people using if not calculators...?"
Tablets and smartphones (of course!). If you can hold a supercomputer in the palm of your hand, then why use a calculator? Short answer: calculators are much more durable (I would even call some of them "nearly indestructible"), significantly cheaper, and frequently solar-powered --or at least the battery replacement/recharge time is measuring in months and not days.
There comes a point where the smartphone beats any calculator. It might be price. It might be computer power that seals the deal. It will vary from one person to another. If a specialized calculator costs more than $50, you can get a low-end tablet for the same money. On any computer or tablet or smartphone, if I can keep a spreadsheet open, then I do short calculations there instead of on a calculator.
As most everyone knows already, for my Modern Celestial Navigation class (session starting on Monday), I recommend a calculator: the Casio fx-260 solar or equivalent model. It's "nearly indestructible", cheap ($9, get one on amazon), and solar-powered. I consider this calculator an important element of a navigation kit. It doesn't do polar coordinate transformations, so that's out.
PS: I just worked out my electric bill for April (rent+electric due tomorrow). My apartment is essentially unheated with an electric space heater in one room. It's a measure of our warm Winter and cool Spring this year that the bill for April is only $2 less than the bill for March. Though the calculation is just a subtraction and a multiplication: rate×(kWhr₂-kWhr₁), I did it in an open spreadsheet rather than a calculator. If I had been outside in the rain? I think I would prefer a calculator. :)