The ideal pocket calculator would be compact yet capable, taking up little space but with an easy-to-use layout that maximizes efficiency. It should have not only basic functions but also optional scientific functions. The same criteria apply to desktop calculators. Jose Falcao's Mini Calculator is a free desktop calculator for Windows that generally meets those criteria. It's compact and efficient, with an attractive layout. You can use it as a basic calculator or add a panel of scientific functions with a click. It also has an optional tally strip feature. Minicalc is also portable freeware, making it a good choice for carrying around on a USB drive.
Mini Calculator's two-tone user interface is indeed compact, about half the size of a minimized media player on the desktop. The basic key layout is also efficient and easy to manage, with an equals sign key larger than the rest. And, as a basic calculator, it's hard to fault Minicalc, though we've yet to see the desktop calculator for Windows that failed math; other things set freeware calculators apart, such as features. And Minicalc has a nice set of extras, as we learned when we right-clicked the interface to open the program's main menu. The stay-on-top feature is essential for any desktop calculator, of course, but we could also click Show Strip to open the tally tape feature in a small window to the right of the main view. From the menu, we could click Save to File, Copy All, or Clear Strip to use the tape's data. Clicking Scientific added a panel of scientific function keys such as sine, cosine, and tangent to the lower edge of the interface. Clicking Options let us check boxes to save the position of the program's window or save its current state. The only Help file is the Read Me text file, but it has basic instructions such as how to install and uninstall the program.
The only think we'd change about Mini Calculator would be to add more skins or themes, since the black-and-white graphics are a matter of taste. Otherwise, it's a great little tool.