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Is it time to upgrade your HP-12C?

Since its introduction in 1981, the Hewlett-Packard HP-12C financial calculator has been the workhouse of the real estate industry. While other hand-held financial calculators have tried to usurp its place, the HP-12C has maintained its position as the choice of most real estate professionals. However, the introduction of the HP-19BII in January 1990 may change all that.

It looks different

The most noticeable difference of the new 19BII calculator is its increased size. The keypad and the display screen are both larger. A keyboard of alphabetic keys for text and label entry folds out, creating a "clamshell" package. The screen allows for a four-line, 23-character display, as well as new financial and statistical graphics capability.

The new HP-19B also has six "virtual" keys at the top of the numeric half of the keyboard, below the display screen. These unlabeled keys create a menu-driven interface for the preprogrammed functions of the calculator's program. The label or function for each key appears on the screen above each key. In this way, the keys may function as different options in different portions of the program.

It uses different logic

Another startling difference from the HP-12C is that the HP-19BII is set to operate in algebraic notation rather than RPN. Thus, calculations are entered with the operators (+, -, etc.) entered between the numbers, just as they are in standard math.

Fortunately, veteran HP users may still revert to the RPN logic by pressing a few keys (Gold shift key, Mode, More, RPN). The calculator stays in either mode until shifted to the other. The new manual also helps the RPN users by highlighting those areas in the instructions that are performed differently in the RPN mode.

It runs different

Other significant differences in the HP-19BII are its increased speed and its expanded user friendliness. The calculator uses a CPU developed for the HP-71B Handheld Computer, enabling it to run 15 or 20 times faster than the old HP-12C.

Memory capacity has also been expanded. The user now has an additional 6,600 bytes of RAM at his or her disposal. The cash-flow and statistical functions use a list methodology with user-friendly on-screen prompts. The HP-19BII can handle as many as 800 cash flows and 999 consecutive cash flow occurrences. Values of key variables are identified on the display.

It offers added functions

When a user turns on the new HP-19BII, he or she is confronted with a menu line of six options, displayed across the bottom of the screen: Fin, Bus, Sum, Time, Solve, Text. Each option is accessed by pressing the blank key immediately below it on the keypad.

Fin (Financial) will be used most by property managers. In this section are preset compounding and discounting calculations for the time value of money (TVM) including amortization, present and future value, and lease income; cash flows and IRRs; and net uniform series. Menu selections are also available for bond yields and depreciation calculations.

The compounding and discounting functions are very similar to the HP-12C, with several usability enhancements. The menu provides for the input of interest as interest per year (1%YR) and adds an automatic feature for N, which multiplies by the number of periods per year.

The amortization function adds an automatic repeat of increments of periods amortized. This is extremely helpful when calculating the annual interest and principal reduction of a mortgage loan. The display clearly identifies both inputs and the solution.

Bus (Business) is a section which contains more general business calculations, such as percentage of change, percentage of total, percentage of markup on cost, and percentage of markup on price.

This section also contains a sophisticated currency conversion section, which permits the user to convert U.S. dollars into more than a dozen foreign currencies and to calculate the rate of exchange. Exchange rates for currencies may be stored in memory for future use. Another feature permits conversion of lengths, areas, and like measurements to metric equivalents.

Sum allows the user to input and label number lists for statistical calculations. It may also be used to store any labeled lists of figures, including expenses or sales.

A subsection of the program also allows for the calculation of mean, median, and other statistical variables. Forecasting functions include curve fitting, estimation, and grouped statistical deviation. It is possible to create simple histograms and curvefitting and scatter diagrams for forecasting purposes.

Time permits the user to store appointments and to calculate the time period between two dates. The function also contains a "beeper," which can be programmed to remind the user of an appointment.

Solve is perhaps the most significant addition to the new HP-19BII model. This function allows the user to create unique menus of variables for equations and to store these equations for future calculations.

Labels for formula variables are entered using the alpha keyboard. Once variables are created and values assigned, the formula can be reused and manipulated using the virtual keys in the same way that the preprogrammed formulas under the Fin and Bus menus are operated. This new function opens the door for a widely expanded use in the real estate business.

Text operates as a memo function, allowing the creation of text lists, which can then be sorted alphabetically. Practical applications include use as an address book, an inventory list, or wherever a portable list is needed.

It does more

In addition to the six main function areas, the HP-19BII also has a math option, which offers preprogrammed menus for rounding, calculating with pi, performing logarithmic and trigonometric functions, converting angles, and calculating probabilities.

With the addition of an add-on printer, the calculator will create printed tapes of calculations. It will even do simple adding and subtracting.

Is there room for improvement?

Although the new HP-19BII is an excellent business tool, it is not perfect. The dot-matrix display is still hard to read, although it can be lightened or darkened. The depreciation menus do not tie in with the real estate cost recovery schedule established by the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Is it time to trade?

The final conclusion is that the HP-19BII is a giant step forward in portable real estate calculation. While some of the features, such as the text list and the time calendary, may be non-essential, the added real estate financial and statistical features make the calculator a worthwhile investment.

When the new flexibility of creating customized formulas through the solve function is added, the answer becomes clear. It's time to replace your HP-12C with an HP-19BII--before your competition does.

Portions of this article were based on the article "Calculator Enhancements," which appeared in the Commercial Investment Real Estate Journal, Vol. IX, No. 2, 1990, published by the Commercial-Investment Real Estate Council, Chicago.

Gary M. Ralston, CCIM, SRS, SIOR, is senior vice president of CNL Properties, Inc., an Orlando-based real estate syndication and investment banking firm. He is a member of the editorial review board of the Commercial Investment Real Estate Journal, the author of a weekly real estate newspaper column, a member of the faculty of the Florida REALTORS [R] Institute, and a senior instructor in the CCIM program.
COPYRIGHT 1991 National Association of Realtors
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Computers; Hardware Review; includes related article; Hewlett-Packard financial calculator
Author:Ralston, Gary M.
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Article Type:evaluation
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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