10 Best Basic Calculators

Last Updated November 2019
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Some Basic Calculators that Stand Above the Rest

Mark Schwarz

What are Basic Calculators?

We’ve come a long way since the 9th Century, when China devised and produced the first basic calculator. It was known as an abacus, and was an ingenious way of counting, back in the day. They generally consisted of colored balls on a wire loop, that let you keep track of several rows of calculations at the same time. Fast forward to 1642, when a Frenchman came up with a mechanical contraption for counting. This was to be the first basic math calculator that could actually do the work for you. These days, even when a calculator is basic, it’s pretty advanced and has pretty much all you need. If you simply require something to help with run-of-the-mill calculations and aren’t involved in forensic accounting, a basic calculator will serve you well.

Basic calculators have the ability to add, subtract, divide, and multiply. These are their functions, and they don’t have all the fancy buttons and advanced functions of a basic scientific calculator. Let’s have a look at some of the frequently asked questions you’ll need to answer before you invest in a basic calculator.

Types of Basic Calculators

What should you look for when buying a basic calculator?

Basic calculators come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There’s everything from tiny pocket-sized machines to huge desk calculators, so it all depends on what works for you. At the end of the day, a calculator is a tool to help you solve problems, so you have to look at the size of the buttons, the size of the display, the battery life, and general all-around usability before you make your selection.

What reviewers say

What are the Main Features of Basic Calculators?

When you’re shopping for a basic calculator, there are several different things you should consider. The best basic calculator for you should include all the features and qualities you are looking for. You need a good battery life, a durable machine (we all drop stuff from time to time), and you want it to be priced fairly in comparison to the other basic calculators on the market. The features that make the best basic calculator for you might be very different from what would be the best choice for someone else. The main features are listed below:

  • Overall Size: What do you need it for and where will you use it? If your basic calculator will be permanently desk-bound, then you might choose to go for something a little bit bigger. If you will be slipping the basic calculator in your coat pocket every morning as you head out to grab your morning coffee fix, you might want something slim and light that won’t weigh you down.

  • Button Size: If you’ve got tiny little fingers, then a small basic calculator, with tiny buttons and display might be the right fit for you. If you don’t, this might not be the best choice. Having to type and retype numbers because the buttons on your machine are way too small for your enormous hands is a recipe for disaster...and possibly a broken calculator.

  • Display Size: Peering down at a tiny display on a basic math calculator and trying to establish if that second number is a 6 or an 8 can be pretty frustrating. Make sure you test your model out and are happy you can see everything clearly.

  • Battery Life: The longevity of the battery life is one of the key factors in choosing your basic calculator. No one wants to be in the middle of an important problem when their machine decides it’s done enough work for the day. You need to know how long your battery is likely to run for, whether the batteries can be replaced, whether the calculator is solar-powered, how much they will it cost to replace the battery, and how easy is it to buy a replacement battery. 

  • Price: The bottom line is usually a driving factor for many people when considering purchasing a basic math calculator. The good news on this front is that they’re generally inexpensive. However, that doesn’t mean you should just up and buy the first one that comes along. Always make sure you’re getting excellent value for your money.

Important Features

What Should You Consider When Buying a Basic Calculator

Let’s face it, you don’t need a math-based job or a hobby to require the assistance of a basic calculator. Everyone uses them from time to time, and they’re extremely handy to have around when that time comes. Even if it’s just for monthly budgeting of your house or your savings, it’s worth investing in a good basic math calculator you can rely on when the time comes. It’s highly unlikely you’ll regret having one around.

Main Pros and Cons of Basic Calculators

The advantage of a basic calculator is that you can do simple calculations quickly and easily. They can be quite portable, so you can whip it out at a moment’s notice if you want to double-check a calculation at a store’s check-out counter.  The downsides of a basic math calculator are that they are relatively limited in their capabilities. If you need trig functions or statistics, you’ll need something with more features.

Special Functions on Basic Calculators

Besides addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, basic calculators will have some additional buttons to make calculations easier. Let's examine a few:

  • Memory buttons: You’ll see buttons such as “MS”, “M+”, “M-”, and “MC” on most basic calculators. Just a brief reminder about their functions: 

    • MS stands for “Memory Store”. That will put the number presently displayed on your calculator into memory.

    • M+ stands for “Memory Plus”. Pressing this will add the number displayed on your screen to the number stored in memory.

    • M-  stands for “Memory Minus”. Pressing this will subtract the number displayed on your screen from the number stored in memory.

    • MC stands for “Memory Clear”. That clears the calculator’s memory.

    • MR or MRC stands for “Memory Recall”. That will bring up the number stored in memory, and display it on the screen. In calculators without an MC button, press the MRC button twice, to clear the memory.

  • MU button: MU stands for “Mark Up”. It marks the price of a commodity when a merchant wants to raise the price of a commodity. If you want to sell a product worth 100 dollars, at a 20% markup, you press 100-MU-20-%, and the display will show 125, telling you to sell the item at $125. 
  • GT button: In some Casio calculators, there is also a GT button. That stands for “Grand Total”. Whenever the “=” button is pressed at the end of a calculation, the answer will be stored in the Grand Total memory. After several presses of the “=”, pressing GT will show the result of all of the calculations up to that point.

Top-Rated Brands

Top 5 Basic Calculators

There are numerous basic calculators available on the market today. These include full-size desktop models and pocket models designed to be easily slipped in your pocket and carried along with you. The list below gives an idea of some of the best basic math calculators available today:

  • Canon LS-82Z Basic Calculator: This has a tilted LCD display--that way, you’ll have no trouble reading the numbers, even in a well-lit room. It also has a large display, which is readable in dim lighting as well. It has a dual power source, using both a solar panel and a backup battery in a darker environment. It also will turn itself off after 7 minutes, to conserve battery power.

Canon LS-82Z Basic Calculator

  • Helect Standard Function Desktop Calculator (Model No. H1001): This is distinguished by a 12-number display (as opposed to the 8-digit displays of most basic calculators). It also has GT (General Total) and MU (Mark Up) buttons (which we discuss below), and a backspace button makes corrections to the numbers that you enter.

Helect Standard Function Desktop Calculator (Model No. H1001)

  • Casio Inc. SL-100L Basic Calculator: This model utilizes the advantage of the tilted screen a bit further. It has a dual-leaf case so that you can tilt the display at practically any angle you choose! The other function keys are all pretty much the same: M+, M-, MR, MC.

Casio Inc. SL-100L Basic Calculator

  • Emraw 8-Digit Dual-Power Pocket Size Calculator: This has very large, protruding buttons, which ensures that you don’t press anything by mistake. It also comes in a number of color patterns.

Emraw 8-Digit Dual-Power Pocket Size Calculator

  • Casio HI-820lv-bk-w Portable Calculator: This is another Casio, with an extra-big display. It measures 5” x 4.1”, and has a folding cover to protect it when not in use. It also has some verbal reminders that pop up on the screen, such as “Minus Memory”, “Error”, and the like.

Casio HI-820lv-bk-w Portable Calculator

Of course, these are only a tiny selection of the basic calculators available from retailers or online stores. You’re bound to find one that fits your specifications and satisfy the criteria you require.

Final Verdict

Basic calculators take the stress out of some jobs in life and, sometimes, we need all the help we can get. They’re cost-effective, portable, inexpensive and you’ll inevitably be in a situation where it will be useful. Do yourself - and your brain - a favor and buy one to simplify your life. You know it makes sense.


 

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