One of the ways I wanted to make this blog useful was by focusing on how the gadget I am writing about can be used to fill a need.
I don’t think I am going to be able to do that with my current gadget.
A couple weeks ago I was browsing AliExpress when I found this thing (see the above product photo).
This was one of many hybrid gadgets which combined a calculator with a cholesteric LCD screen, and I am really puzzled why it exists. On the one hand they are cheap enough ($5 to $10, including shipping) that it can be bought on impulse, but I have yet to find a reason to justify the purchase.
Yes, a scientific calculator could be useful if I were doing a lot of calculations, but the attached screen serves little purpose, IMO.
A cholesteric LCD is essentially a piece of digital paper. You write on it with a stylus, and the pressure of the stylus on the screen changes the color from black to green (or green, red, etc, depending on how the screen was made). There’s no way to store what you write on the screen, but you can erase it by pressing a button.
Or at least that is the way it is supposed to work; the unit I bought has a broken cLCD screen. Is it poor production quality or just bad luck? I do not know.
While larger and more expensive devices with cholesteric LCD do have the option of saving the contents of a screen, this model does not and is this only as useful as a notepad. Actually, I would say it is less useful than a notepad, because with that you can tear off a sheet of paper and hand it to someone, stick it in a pocket, etc.
In any case, I would not buy one of these. But if you do get one, you should go for a model with a solar panel and/or a larger screen. I don’t think it would be more useful, but it would be cooler.
Because TBH, the only reason I can see to get one of these (instead of using a calculator app on your phone) is because it looks weird, and you’d get nerd points for having the oddest gadget.