Calculator (DSiWare)

Game Review

Calculator Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Does it add up?

Although the majority of titles on the DSiWare shop are games, since launch there have been some items that would more accurately be described as ‘apps’. Common on smartphones, they have become increasingly less frequent on DSiWare. Cinemax are bucking the trend with Calculator; does it get the sums right?

The list of features for this calculator is, on paper, substantial. Cinemax state that this app combines basic and scientific calculators with a unit conversion function. It sounds good, but the first problem that you may encounter is the lack of useful instructions, making it difficult to actually figure out how to use the functions on offer. Whereas a typical scientific calculator will be accompanied by a substantial user manual, this app provides basic instructions on how to use the unit conversion tool, but no details on the rest of the functionality. As a result you are presented with a complex range of buttons and no clue what they all do.

It’s also important to state that this is a basic scientific calculator. It has some functionality, but it is missing a lot of tools considered important in more advanced devices. There are no graph drawings, nor is there an easy-to-use 'Shift' button for additional functions such as inverse cosine etc. Inverting functions is possible with the 'INV' key, but it is a 'trigger' function that is awkward to use and can be left on by accident, causing confusion and incorrect calculations. In addition, the workings of your calculations, as displayed on the top screen, are presented in an old fashioned manner, with multiple lines employed to separate calculations. Many modern calculators display workings in linear and logical single lines, assisting understanding of how a solution is reached. The method of displaying even simple calculations in multiple lines could and should have been executed better.

The functions included do work properly. Simply tapping with the stylus allows you to use simple mathematical commands such as logarithms, sine and cosine, with accurate results. There is a neat slider to change from a decimal setup to those such as hexadecimal, as well as perfectly competent memory buttons, allowing you to retain up to two previous answers for convenience.

The main advertised function of this app is the conversion tool, which proves to be a strong point. Not only is it the one area explained in the user manual, but it also easy to use and highly detailed. One tap of the ‘CNV’ button changes the top display to show twelve categories of common measurement types, such as area, volume and velocity. Once you’ve selected a category you simply press left on the d-pad, at which stage you are given a list of relevant measure units. Using either the d-pad or assigned buttons on the touch screen you can apply instantaneous conversion of a value from one unit to the other. Strangely, there is a conversion button that is supposed to be used to calculate the result, but the app does this automatically and instantaneously anyway. That makes this button redundant, and amongst other things this could have been used for the missing ‘shift’ button functionalities.

The presentation of this calculator has strong and weak points. Visually, the buttons on the touch screen are clear and easy to distinguish, while the top screen does an adequate job overall. The conversion tool is presented well on the top screen, but as mentioned before the calculator could have displayed mathematical workings in a more logical and user friendly style. Overall though, the designers have done a respectable job of producing a crisp, structured display.


This calculator app is a reasonable effort on the DSiWare platform, though it does fall short in some key areas. The functionality is that of a basic scientific calculator, lacking some vital functions such as graphs. In addition, the lack of a meaningful user manual is problematic for those who are unfamiliar with scientific calculators, therefore severely affecting the level of accessibility. The conversion tool is well constructed and, overall, Calculator serves some purpose for those who desire such an app for their DSi. Unfortunately, the overall package doesn’t quite give all of the right answers.

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User Comments (25)



LordJumpMad said:

For $2 bucks, is not bad.
Scientific calculator cost way more then that. but having graping, would have been useful.
But still, this will come in handy to have.



TheAmazingRaccoon said:

[start sarcasm] I have been eagerly awaiting this review because I wasn't sure if it was going to be worth me purchasing [end sarcasm]

Good review though.



Bloodysaber said:


Doubtful and better, more useful tools are available to any person needing a calculator. (Even free.)



TikiTong said:

Well,i know its less expensive than a real calculator.But try brining a DS to class to help you with tests,



RedYoshi999 said:

I'd get it because I'd like to have a calculator on my DSi but I only have 100 points and I'm not really into buying another 1000 points to get a calculator.



ThomasBW84 said:

@iphys and Martin_Linda - You are correct. Having checked again, the INV button triggers inverted functions. However, when trying it out for the review I couldn't get this to work properly, and it isn't the most user friendly way to do things. It is easy to leave the INV trigger on by accident as it stays on beyond the calculation that you're working on, which can cause confusion and problems.

I'll look into tweaking the line referring to the 'Shift' button functionality, though the over-riding point is the same. A 'Shift' key can help the user to easily distinguish when they're using the likes of inverse cosine, whereas this INV key does work, but works in a strange way that isn't exactly user friendly.

I was competent at maths in High School (many moons ago), but needed the help of my older brother who has mathematical University study behind him, as well as my father, a Senior Engineer, to get to grips with elements of this app. Although I missed this INV function, it was due to the fact that I struggled to get it to work!

As stated in the review though, this calculator app is competent overall and may be useful to some.



shinesprite said:

From what I've seen, the average scientific calculator does not have graphing capabilities (perhaps you were thinking graphing calculator?).

The lack of a "alpha", or even a "shift" key is a major turn-off though. I would like to see cinemax flesh out the features offered (perhaps modes and sub-modes?) at the 500 price point.



ThomasBW84 said:

A tweak has now been made to the review to correct my error, ie the lack of inverse functionality. As stated in my comment and, now in the review as well, the 'INV' button isn't particularly user-friendly and can be problematic to use. My points about the 'Shift' key remains, but I hope this clarifies things after the initial error.

@shinesprite - When I was at school scientific calculator referred to basic models, like this one, and more complex devices with graphs etc, but maybe things have changed or are different elsewhere. You're right though, if Cinemax improve this decent effort with a follow up that includes enhanced features, then it would be useful to even more people.



Oregano said:

In my experience calculators like this one are called scientific calculators and you called them graphics calculators if they did graphs and stuff. I own one of each but it's probably just semantics.

Also for 200 points I might get this.... could come in handy(I still have the mario calculator on my DSi)... I wouldn't mind a graphics version for the eShop either!



ThomasBW84 said:

@Tempaura - When trying out some of the conversion options I didn't see any problems, examples I checked seemed correct. I didn't check every single unit conversion as I don't have the relevant expertise for some of them. If you want us to cross-check specifics in detail then by all means use the 'Contact Us' form with examples and they'll be passed to me to check out.

I am not a mathematician, so while I have an idea of what some unit conversions should be (approximately), I wouldn't necessarily see a particular unit value and know it was wrong. As well as giving us these details to us it will be worth providing the developers with the same information, if you believe that elements of their conversions are wrong.



komicturtle said:

They should have a graphing calculator app available for $5

Those things are $100 and i have one and am terrified of loosing it (mind you, the DSi is much more than that but at least does more than the calculator).

That would make people happy if such a calculator shows up on DSiWare.



zeeroid said:

This actually looks pretty decent. I'm just not sure why I would want to use my DS for this kind of thing.



Supremeist said:

It's too bad you can't use your 3DS as a calculator in school. This is full of glitches I've heard, don't get it.



Cengoku said:

and what about the european version, is this revised too? I want to buy it but from what I'm reading in this page, i'm a bit sceptical



Jono97 said:

I was thinking about it but it can't draw graphs..... I'm sick of drawing parabolas.



Jono97 said:

aw... Americans pay $2 for this? We pay $3 in Australia. The currency is around the same and The Australian Dollar occasionally goes over the American. That does not mean we have to pay $1 more >_>

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