At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

How Do I Choose the Best Digital Calculator?

Tara Barnett
Tara Barnett

Almost all calculators that exist today are digital calculators. The only calculators that are not digital are tools like the slide rule and abacus, which can be used for computation but are not electronic. Choosing the best digital calculator, then, is really as simple as choosing the most appropriate calculator for your needs. From simple, inexpensive calculators for basic tasks to scientific calculators capable of performing advanced scientific functions, there are calculators appropriate for all types of jobs. In addition to thinking about the types of tasks the calculator will be used for, it is also a good idea to make sure this tool obeys any regulations set in place by the institution in which the calculator will be used.

Choosing the best digital calculator requires considering what the calculator will be used for. If you need a digital calculator for a math class, for example, a scientific calculator will be necessary. Non-mathematical features, like the ability to print out the numbers entered into the digital calculator, may also be useful in certain situations. When choosing a calculator, thinking about the types of machines used by others in the field can help identify which models are appropriate for a given task.

Choose a calculator with the functions you use most often.
Choose a calculator with the functions you use most often.

It is generally best to choose a digital calculator that will fulfill all necessary functions but will not do more than you need. Additional functions can add to the cost of the calculator, and a person who needs a simple mathematical calculator may not require the ability to do advanced math. Many phones and computers have built-in calculators, which can be more convenient than purchasing a portable calculator. When the calculator is for use in a school, it is important to make sure that the model chosen is permissible in the classroom.

The slide rule is an example of an analog calculator.
The slide rule is an example of an analog calculator.

Whether a calculator is functional is fairly straightforward. Some calculators are powered by batteries, but many basic calculators are solar powered. The functions performed by the calculator should always be accurate, and mistakes are highly unlikely. Most of the time, whether a calculator remains functional is a factor of its body and construction. For a durable calculator, it may be a good idea to choose a more expensive model.

Certain features can make a calculator more appropriate for a specific group. Digital calculators with large displays and buttons, for example, can be very useful for older people or those with limited mobility. A watch calculator is a fun and highly transportable device that performs all the functions of a digital calculator. There are also calculators available attached to magnets or clips. Some come in fun shapes that can make them more pleasant to have around.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


@Vincenzo -- You can save yourself even more money than that if you have a smartphone. Mine has a calculator built in that can switch from a basic one to an advanced, scientific calculator very easily. That scientific one has the same functionality of one that costs a heck of a lot of money and it is baked right into the operating system.


Good advice on grabbing the calculator with only the functions you need. There are still some very expensive digital calculators out there. Those are primarily scientific calculators that can be programmed, can be programmed and offer functions that only a career physicist or student would need. Dropping $100 or more on one of those is not unusual.

Meanwhile, if you just need a basic calculator to help you balance your checkbook and such, you can get away with around $5 for one that will last for years. There was a time when a decent digital calculator cost a ton of cash. Those days are over for the models that most of us actually need and that is a very good thing.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Choose a calculator with the functions you use most often.
      By: robert
      Choose a calculator with the functions you use most often.
    • The slide rule is an example of an analog calculator.
      By: poselenov
      The slide rule is an example of an analog calculator.