The default Windows calculator is a decent program that, aside from basic math, can perform binary and hexadecimal calculations, Boolean arithmetic, handle trigonometric and logarithmic functions, and perform statistical analysis. It can also convert measurement units, calculate calendar dates, and figure out your mortgage, vehicle lease and fuel economy. It’s an all-round multipurpose calculator that should be enough for most people. You can still pick at it, if you want to. For instance, you can argue that there is no way to save history or a session. After trying out several different calculators, I rounded up three programs that in my opinion, are a tad better than the default Windows calculator.
CCCalc performs simple calculations that includes plus, minus, multiply, divide, square root and percent calculations. It displays all calculations on an infinitely long page or tape that never erases allowing you to revisit past calculations by simply scrolling up. Text on the tape is freely editable, so you can easily correct errors or reuse numbers and expressions. CCCalc automatically stores tape content so when you run it the next time you'll find everything you have entered, until you delete something yourself.
You can also add comments to calculations so that you can make sense of the numbers when you refer to it later.
To simplify complicated calculations CCCalc features a set of memory operations: store, recall, plus, minus, divide and multiply. Number of memory slots is practically unlimited and they are visible and even editable as everything else just because they are located on the same tape with all other calculations.
CalcTape is very much like CCCalc – it does simple math, no scientific calculations and displays them on a rolling scroll of virtual paper with the ability to add comments against each calculations. In fact, CalcTape is a calculator and text editor rolled into one. You can alternately do math and write prose on the same sheet. CalcTape automatically detects arithmetic operators when entered and perform the intended calculations. Unlike CCCalc though, it doesn’t automatically saves the “tape”. That function is reserved for the paid version. On the freeware you have to save the tape yourself.
The files are fully editable – simply open it, make changes and CalcTape will refresh the whole calculation automatically again and again. This allows you to use the files as templates for various scenarios such as tax calculations.
The only that puts me off is the bombastic interface. I’m all in for the ribbon when used on appropriate software, such as MS Office, but on a calculator its an overkill and adds unnecessary bulk to an application that can’t even handle trigonometry.
SpeedCrunch is an open source, cross platform scientific calculator that accepts regular expressions. One simply enters the equation like they would write down on paper using brackets to separate numbers into sub units, to perform long calculations at one go.
SpeedCrunch calculates in the background while you're entering equations, which helps in locating obvious errors as you work. It also supports syntax highlighting, so you can see immediately if you have entered the correct variable. You can look up these variables on a built-in library that also includes mathematical constants, equations and formulas for common calculations of volume and area of 3D and 2D objects, temperature unit conversion, and a few basic formulas from electronics.
You can save a session for later and export results to plain text or HTML.