By Mike Riley on Fri, 07/09/2010
Electronic engineers and enthusiasts seeking a comprehensive collection of electronics calculators and fundamental electronics reference materials will want to take a closer look at a new iPad application called Electronic Toolbox HD. Based on a previous release of the utility for the iPhone, Electronic Toolbox HD contains over 20 different categories from a resistor color code calculator to a comprehensive (though not exhaustive) list of integrated circuits (ICs) and their corresponding chip diagrams. The application covers a spectrum of electronics features:
- Ohms Law
- V Regulator
- Base Units
- V Divider
- BJT calculation
Using each of these is straightforward, and while the target audience is ideally for those who make a living as hardware engineers, electronics enthusiasts and students will also find the program to be helpful. While it doesn't cover every topic, a majority of the most frequent and basic electronics designer needs are adequately delivered. Still, it would have been a pleasant surprise to discover in this iPad-specific release a working, interactive electrical diagrams ala Paul Flastad's superb electronic circuit simulator Java applet. Alas, until a bold developer ports Paul's source code to Objective-C for the iOS, students and electronics enthusiasts will have to stare at static diagrams for now.
I do have a couple minor gripes with the application. First and foremost, the developer has opted to follow the unfriendly trend of charging more than double the cost of the existing iPhone version of the application, even though the only difference between the two versions (at least in description) is the improved screen resolution of the iPad. And even with that benefit, many of the calculators are surrounded by black void due to the fact that they were originally designed for the constraints of the original iPhone screen resolution. This also magnifies the aesthetic dissonance between each of the calculator's presentation. These variants in no way affect the functional aspects of these helpful utilities, but collectively they appear as a disconnected potpourri of disparate elements with weaker graphic cohesiveness between each calculator type. There are also rare instances of botched English translations from the original German source, but these can be easily overlooked and, like the graphic elements, do not affect the intent or validity of the useful information being presented.
In summary, Electronic Toolbox HD represents a noble attempt to collect a number of useful electronics calculators and references under a single offline application umbrella, but it has a few rough spots that need to be polished before attaining its full potential. Like many iOS developers, Electronic Toolsbox creator Marcus Roskosch appears to be genuinely open and appreciative of customer comments and requests, and I have high expectations that many of the suggestions made to improve the program will be realized in future releases.
Product: Electronic Toolbox HD
Developer: Marcus Roskosch
Price: $7.99 US
Rating: 3/5 stars