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Touchpad vs. Trackpoint


Touchpad vs. Trackpoint is a matter of who got used to what.
I would pay up to $300 if I could upgrade a touchpad on MacBook to trackpoint.
But here’s some things that make trackpoint better:

  1. you do not have to move you hands away from keyboard to move a mouse
  2. trackpoint is a lot more precise
  3. no incidental pointer moving and jumping because you hand touched the pad and there is no worrying about it (which causing me to stress my hand more, thus pain as a result)
  4. it can be integrated in a small keyboards and save space

I use trackpoint all the time, I even got IBM server keyboards with trackpoint to use with my PowerMacs. And I use it to do all sorts of tasks. I use it to draw pretty complex images too.
I do have a regular mouse, but primary use for it is to help my visitors who are not that good with trackpoint.

Third button can be programmed for scrolling.
There are different tips.

What I think is that cost of adding both trackpoint and touchpad is relatively low, so all laptops (maybe except for the super value budget models) should have both


I hate touchpads, I am using an IBM R 40 that has both touchpad and pointing stick. The touchpad gives me problems such as the wandering pointer. The mouse moves slightly off the target. And the wrongful selection problem, the pad sometimes selects words unexpected while on the web.


What I want to know is why noone has made made my dream keyboard for a stationary PC:

  • in stead of the numeric keyboard, a fairly large touchpad (not in the way of your wrists, always there just within reach, and never moves)

  • on the left hand end of the keyboard, a separate set of mouse-buttons, so that right-clicking and dragging witht the touchpad is not such a pain.

As soon as I get my compact keyboard and adesso standalone touchpad I’ll be halfway there, but I’m still loking for a solution with the buttons on the left. Maybe I’ll just glue a mouse to to the desk. But it would be nicer to have it all in one piece. I have found exactly one keyboard model with builtin touchpad on the right, but it also has the buttons there, which is even more useless than the laptop layout, since over there you have to use it with one hand.


Any one use left hand, instead right hand, to control the trackpoint?


its sad that most laptops don’t come with a trackpoint (i have no idea why??). im stuck with a laptop that doesnt have a trackpoint and its hell.


To answer “learner’s” question, I use both left and right index fingers to operate the trackpoint when browsing. But I always draw with my right even though I am left handed (I work in a number of CAD programs). Since the keyboard is set up with the Ctrl and Alt buttons on the left, it would be awkward to switch from point to putting in keystrokes with the same hand.

I feel like a prisoner of the Thinkpad world because the trackpoint and scroll functions are so much faster than the other methods.

If I could design my own laptop, I would use the space given to the touch pad as a slider control of how sensitive the trackpoint responded to pressure. CAD heaven.


You’re nuts. Just about everyone I know (including myself, of course) who has spent a great deal of time with both a trackpoint and Synaptics touchpad with the latest Synaptics drivers still thinks trackpoint blows touchpads away. The reason most laptops have touchpads? It’s cheaper, and it’s what most people are used to. It’s like the English vs. Metric (in the USA), Beta vs. VHS, QWERTY vs. Dvorak. The inferior format won, because people like what they’re used to and are apprehensive to try things that are unfamiliar.

I agree most laptop users DO use a USB mouse - it’s because touchpads are so tedious and inefficient. Very few people who are proficient with Trackpoints bother with a USB mouse. I personally don’t know any former Thinkpad users who felt the need to use USB mice with their Thinkpads. Unfortunately for most of them, they have been forced by IBM/Lenovo’s high prices to buy run-of-the-mill laptops of other brands that only come with touchpads… and most of them now DO use USB mice and every one of them says they miss the trackpoint. I am the last holdout, unable to bring myself to buy a new laptop and give up the trackpoint. Instead, I have bought a 2-year old used, off-lease Thinkpad for $150 more than the cost of a brand new non-IBM just to get the trackpoint.


I had a Trackpoint for four years on two laptops. I had to give it up because I wanted a very specific configuration for my new laptop and at the time having a Trackpoint on the new laptop would have added $4000 to the price of a $2000 laptop (or perhaps more accurately, I saved the difference by choosing a configuration that happened to use a Touchpad instead of a Trackpoint).

The key to understanding trackpoint is that it is pressure sensitive. Once you figure out that your finger is supposed to touch the thing and stay stationary (the opposite of the touchpad behavior), then it just becomes a matter of learning to dole out pressure relative to where the mouse should go. Combine this with an exponential acceleration curve and Missile Command is easy with the trackpoint. Using a bunch of ordinary desktop applications is trivial. There’s a large range of usable input pressure levels but no motion of the finger in space, so it’s about as close to directly connecting a mouse pointer to my brain as it is possible to achieve without electrodes. It’s better than a mouse for anything except for Quake (although I did finish Quake III Arena in the second-easiest mode with the Trackpoint, just to prove the concept).

One thing that I found quite helpful is to replace the standard pencil-eraser-shaped rubber tip on the trackpoint with a concave version that the finger fits into. There are also flat-topped variants but the concave “cup” shape gives the largest degree of control.

I am able to use the Touchpad, but only after replacing its default configuration. I have to turn off touch-clicking, since it would otherwise randomly drag or click on things while I’m trying to move the mouse (or often when I’m not trying to move the mouse). Drag is a two-finger operation (actually finger on touchpad and thumb on button) for me. I turned on the horizonal and vertical scroll areas on the bottom and right sides–somewhat unreliable but mostly harmless, it’s more useful to have scroll than it is annoying to have scroll randomly become mouse movement and vice versa. Other settings are less important, like changing the button mappings and fingertip size.

The Touchpad cannot win the contest because it needs huge finger motions due to its low input resolution. It is tracking the physical motion of an object the size of my fingertip, so increasing its sensitivity just adds noise to the cursor position.

It occurs to me that there is probably enough raw data present in the Touchpad device (internally it produces a 2D map of physical pressure values) that it could be programmed to behave almost the same way a Trackpoint does. That would be sweet…


Hello. I surfed here from googling trackpoint.

I just found schematic’s for a ps2 microcontroller trackpoint.

Mouses suck vacum. Touchpads are so lame, come on humans wise up.

What really does it for me is the the trackpoint is in the middle of the keyboard. you don’t have to reconfigure your posture to type.

Also the track point is an extension of your finger, after a while you just point to what you want to click, on move etc this rocks.

I sequence music on my 600e, yes it still goes fine. My trackpoint “died” a few months back, I use a usb mouse now. It’s really sucks so much that I have allmost stopped using it. I had to disabled the track pont in the bios , it was like cutting off my trigger finger. sob sob :frowning:

one day I will fix my trackpoint and throw the darn mouse away!

be gone stupid human interface device!!!



I have to agree with Bob here. The TrackPoint nipple is amazing simply because it’s right there with your fingers already. You can literally even type while moving the mouse around. Well, not really, but you can switch from mousing to keyboard really quickly.

The other great thing about the TrackPoint is that you don’t have to keep resetting to the other side when you want to scroll a very large distance (say 3 virtual desktops). You just keep some pressure on the nipple. Wonderful.


I just love touchpads! They are far better than the trackpoints. The Cirque/Alps pads are my favorite. They work really well. Be gone trackpoint!


First off, touchpad is useless to me. My brain doesn’t work that way. Second, the beauty of a Trackpoint is you move the cursor to the exact pixel you want, take your hand off, and click. When you’re seeking one and only one particular pixel in a graphics program, I can’t reliably keep one finger perfectly steady while the other finger clicks. If you can do thqat, you are very talented, congratulations, maybe you should have been a brain surgeon. For the same reason, I also prefer trackball to mouse on a desktop computer: take finger off ball, click with other finger. Finally, I like how the Trackpoint adds zero footprint to a computer. Wish I had it on desktop. Mouse takes too much room to fit on one of those keyboard trays that slide under a desk, which for many of us has better ergonomics than keyboard at desk level. Mouse also takes up too much room for music when you have music keyboard or drum machine on same workstation. Again, Trackpoint would be ideal for music workstation, not just for notebook. But trackball will do for now.

Bottom line, touchpad two thumbs down, mouse one thumb down, trackball one thumb up, Trackpoint two thumbs up.


How do you turn off the double ckicl/automatic drag feature with the touch pad at a T42? I like to navigate with it, but not the automatic function that a hovering finger gives you clicks,…???


No doubt about it, the track point wins hands down. I have been reading all these comments and am so pleased that intelligent people like me go for the track point. I am wedded to the Thinkpad, mainly because of the track point. I have had a number of machines in the last 10 years, and I keep on coming back to them because of the track point. It’s amazing how the inferior product wins. Like in the case of Word, which is a profoundly inferior word processor. I still us Wordperfect 5.2 and convert my docs when I have to interchange. Aluta track point, down with the touch pad!!!


I just ordered a t61 and am very excited about all the features including the trackpoint. I am upgrading from a sony vgn fs-630. I love the touchpad on the sony. It is very precise and never have wandering. I just wish the touchpad was slightly larger and farther from the edge on the t61. I like to hook my thumb on the edge and use my middle finger which I won’t be able to do on the t61. Anyone else use that configuration?


Someone commented that they have not seen any external TOUCHPADS. there are external touchpads galore just google it. the following website has one of the more efficient ones in that it has a velcro attachment and no buttons attached to it.


I use both a thinkpad the thinkpad is used for office administration and a qosimo and the qosimo is good for everyday stuff but hard for gaming. for gaming the optical mice and keyboard combo is alot more natural to personal movement it also depends on which games you are playing. I have gotten repetive stress from singleclicking on a mouse. I had the following symptoms swelling on my index finger I had to switch to using a mouse left handed or find an alternative to using my index fingers to click. this was while working at a call centre with only click interface with not keyboard shortcuts.


IMO, touchpads and mice are just geared to the short learning curve. You can be productive sooner than with a touchpoint or trackball.

I’m a thinkpad trackpoint convert. Once I got over the practice curve, the trackpoint allowed me to be more productive. I like that it’s in the center of the keyboard and doesn’t pull my fingers away from the home row.

For at my desk, the trackball help me beat carpel tunnel. Of course, for graphics work, a mouse is hard to beat.


I have a few refurbed laptops and I can you touchpads only have so much life on them before they do dodgy.


I most agree with David’s comments in September 2006. And there is a clear difference between trackpoint and any other pointing device that really does impact in a measurable way: You never have to move your hand from the keyboard, saving time and preventing needless distraction while working. Every time you move your hand to a mouse or touchpad, you have to refocus. With a trackpoint, you’re always in the same place ready to type 80 wpm, and a wee nudge of the finger can put your pointer wherever you want it. I read about a study on programmers using trackpoint, done several years ago, and it saved them 10% of their time.

In addition, in applications that require precise movements like the “scary maze” game that’s been on YouTube lately, it’s much easier to control with a finger applying pressure to trackpoint than one sliding on a touchpad or a hand moving a mouse. The reason is that sometimes in movement you slip, whether due to inconsistent friction on the surface, not applying pressure consistently while moving (it’s hard to do both at the same time, but it’s necessary for steady movement on a touchpad), or just overestimating. But with a trackpoint, you’re always just applying pressure to the same rough spot, so you can’t slip, and what controls the movement is how much pressure you apply and how sensitive your settings are in the software.

Until I discovered trackpoint, my favorite pointing device was a trackball. That was after plenty of using mouses. Later I used touchpads on laptops of friends, until I got one of my own with trackpoint. In the end, trackpoint wins out.


Has anyone had trouble using the touchpad on the MacBook because of cold fingertips? Are the touchpads particularly sensitive to cold hands? My wife recently switch from PC to Mac and has trouble getting the touchpad to register. I, on the other hand with warmer hands, have no trouble at all. We’ll get an external mouse for her to use when she’s at home. But are there suggestions for solutions to this issue? Thanks.