A Review of the HP 10B Financial Calculator

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I am often asked which business/financial calculator I personally use for my day-to-day calculation needs. After using business and financial calculators for the past fifteen years, I have found that the Hewlett Packard 10B Business calculator is the obvious choice among many far-inferior competitors.

HP 10B

The HP 10B

Main Business Features (5 out of 5)

The HP 10B Business calculator functions more as a financial calculator than anything else. Its easy of access to Present and Future Value calculations allows the user to check these values under a variety of conditions. At the top row of the calculator, the Time Value of Money buttons allow the user to change any part of the equation without re-entering all the data over and over. For example, suppose the user wants to check the Future Value of a $1,000 investment over 10 years at 5%. The following sequence is punched in:

N = 10

I/YR = 5

PV = -1,000

PMT = 0

Then, when the FV button is pressed, the result shows the correct Future Value of $1628.89. If the user wants to see the effects of a 7% return, only the interest rate, not all the information, needs to be changed. This feature alone makes the calculator one of the most useful when figuring investments under varying conditions.

The feature to choose whether the investment occurred at the beginning or end of the first year is as easy as switching modes from “end” to “beg.” To avoid confusion, the mode will display “BEGIN” on the screen so the user knows the current timing assumption.

The rest of the HP 10B’s features include a full array of statistical functions such as regression and forecasting, net present value, margin/mark-up, percent change, and basic math functions such as exponents, square root, reciprocals, and natural logarithms. In all, the main features of the calculator make for a fully-functioning companion to investors and business professionals.

Physical Features (4 out of 5)

The main selling point for the HP 10B is the physical features it sports. Unlike other, cheaper calculators, the HP 10B feels like the calculators of the 1970s. This is actually a good thing because the buttons, like those of the 1970s, have a nice tactile feel to them that lets the user know that the button was pushed and the correct figure was entered. Sloppier keys found on competitors’ calculators can be a lesson in frustration as the button can not be punched quickly.

The display is large and clear with the ability to punch in 12 numbers at a time. Spacing can accommodate the U.S. standard of using commas to separate number as in $1,000,000.00 or periods such as $1.000.000,00 for the European standard.

About the only negative aspect to the HP 10B’s physical features is its batteries. Unlike other calculators that are powered from solar cells completely eliminating the need for batteries, the HP 10B is powered by three button batteries which can cost up to $2.00 a piece to replace. Luckily, the batteries last for years even under daily use and a handy automatic shut-off feature preserves battery life. Implementation of solar or AAA alkaline batteries would decrease the likelihood of the calculator conking out at an inopportune moment.

HP 10B Price (5 out of 5)

The price for the HP 10B is unbeatable for a calculator of this quality. An informal survey of Internet prices at major online retailers suggests that the calculator can be purchased for about $25.00 with a MSRP of $29.99 direct from the manufacturer. HP does offer other, more sophisticated calculators such as the HP 12C and the 10BII, but the lack of the use of a menu system to get to the 10B’s features is what makes it so useful to make calculations quickly.


Although there are several good competitors in the financial calculator market, the HP 10B remains as the clear choice for quality, features, and economy. With speedy access to functions without the need for a cumbersome menu system and tactile buttons, the HP 10B is useful for students, professors, and investors. Its price is unbeatable given the features and the high-quality craftsmanship means this calculator will last a lifetime in the business world.