a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Touchpad vs. Trackpoint


The comparison really depends on the type of user. Users who have
strong typing skills prefer the Trackpoint, users who must
look at the keyboard to type prefer the trackPad. Users who have never used a TrackPoint-type device prefer the trackpad as their limited experience with a trackPoint has not allowed them to tackle the learning curve of the device.

The TrackPoint has a much steeper learning curve than a TrackPad, it
takes several hours of continuous usage to learn accuracy with a trackPoint. That being said, after accuracy is acquired, the two are not comparable, the trackpoint wins hands down for any user who knows how to type and offers still offers some advantages for non typists, though these may find the learning curve less worthwhile. There are two distinct advantages to the trackpoint:

  1. The TrackPoint allows the user to shift seemlessly from typing to pointer control without moving the hands. The speed improvement that this allows is stupendous, no need to re-register the fingers when going from pointer to keyboard, the hands are always ready to either type or point. That being said, this is not a great advantage to those who do not have strong typing skills. For those who can type without looking at the keyboard, there is no comparison between the trackpoint and trackpad: the trackpoint wins hands down. For those who must look at the keyboard to type, they may opt for the trackpoint as they will regardless have to look at the keyboard for finger registration.

  2. Movements can be performed with one action, no need to reset the finger position when performing actions like moving across a larger portion of the screen. This can be offset in the trackpad by setting the pointer speed to max, allowing you to traverse the screen with a single stroke.

If you can type w/o looking at the keyboard, get a TrackPoint-type device, you’ll never ever go back to a touchpad device.
If you must look at the keyboard to type, stick with a TrackPad.


My old computer was a Thinkpad, and although I could use the trackpoint fairly well, it never came close to a mouse. Also, it had a tendancy to wander into a corner, which I really hated. It wasn’t sensitive enough to use for games.

My newer computer has a trackpad (touchpad), and I find it a lot easier to use, more sensitive, although occasionally I will wander into the scroll area. I cannot use it for 3D gaming, though. But, at least with the palm setting on high, I rarely accidentally move the pointer.

For 3D games, nothing beats a mouse. I like a really high sensitivity on my mouse. And that’s something that you can get used to. You just can’t get that kind of accuracy with a mousepad or trackpoint. And if you have to hold down a modifier key while moving the pointer, it’s very difficult with a touchpad. I prefer to use a mouse, and have my touchpad disabled. Fortunately, I can turn off my touchpad with just a couple of keys. There is enough room to use a mouse to the right or left of my touchpad, on the desktop replacement, although it may scratch the surface. Although my hands do get cramped sometimes from the mouse, there is just nothing I’ve found that I can use to move the pointer as accurately from point to point, or at a precise accelleration. And I’m a die-hard scroll-wheel fan. And as far as removing my right hand off homerow to move the mouse, well, that just isn’t that big an issue. I’ve gotten used to it to the point where it doesn’t even take a second to find homerow again.

But, I also use some keyboard shortcuts. Like the tab key to move from one field to the next, or switch between applications. I’ll also use the arrow keys to move around in text. And shift key to select text. But selection of text is not nearly as fast as it is with the mouse. Except in rare situtations where it might actually be faster. But then, I also use the right mouse button to copy, paste, select, and delete. Whatever is easiest at the time.


I hate the touchpad. I want it gone. Not just disabled- it’s uncomfortable to a touch typist- but gone.

I use an old T30 because it doesn’t have a touchpad. I need the wrist-rest to reach 100wpm on a laptop.

I don’t use an external mouse either. Ever.


I also hate the touchpad.

If i want the cursor to move in one direction, i don’t think i should have to move my finger, pick it up, move it back to its original position, and repeat this process multiple times.

Simple as that. This is also why i hate the trackball.

The TrackPoint is precise, compact, motion efficient, generally fantastic, and I very much miss my TrackPoint empowered Thinkpad.


As others in this thread, I find a Touchpad coupled with a sensitive driver a delight to use. But would never try to use one with the wrong driver though they do work, however sluggishly.

Two questions:

  1. I find the Macbook touchpad very sluggish, very insensitive (in comparison to the Dell C600 touchpad I was using with a Synaptics driver. Does anyone know of a better driver than one bundled with the latest Mac OS?
  2. I am also using a Dell Latitude D610 and its touchpad is quite ‘sticky’ causing jerky movements at low speed (in comparison to the C600). I mean, is there a powder or a gell I need to know about to make it glide the way the C600 does?


Hey guys, I am also one among who like the Track point more than the Track Pad…and I hate using external USB mouse in Laptop’s … (the use of external mouse looks sooo odd in laptop… let’s keep it only for desktop’s)
well… I uses IBM T43 and as all IBM’s laptop it has got Track pad and track point… i hardly remember that i ever touch the track pad ever since i got it. I find it a lot easier … everything is possible by using track point… you can scroll a lot easier than the traditional way of using track pad.

Track point won… :slight_smile:


I love trackpoint on my R61i

But I use my microsoft bluetooth laser mouse namally.


It’s almost impossible to use Pro/Engineer with anything but a mouse. If I have no mouse I prefer the trackpoint; I can’t work precisely enough with a touchpad …


Hello out there,
I am a bed bound parapolige and fell lost without my TrackPoint “almost like I lost a member” And have been researching this subject of adding a TrackPoint not much luck yet! 'but a lot of Folk’s would like this “After Market Add on” I know some type of interface is needed, but why
not go for the PS/2 port area on the M/B - IBM makes a external USB
keyboard with a Touch pad and A TRACKPOINT and these go into the USB
but I bet if I were to use a addaptor and plug into the PS/2 port “For Mice” would work also, Hence why is everyone that want and or really misses can’t do without (Found a simple answer, as the driver’s are out there, I understand these are small pressure transducer’s =x?.


Hello! Anybody in here to get used to the trackpoint’s feature “press to select”. I find this very convinient in theory, but i cant achieve even 50% efficiency in clicking that way no matter how long i practice and whatever the settings i choose.
I intend to us it in drafting.
The trackpad is fine for everything else, but not for drafting.


I carry around a bluetooth mouse with my laptop…It’s the better than the trackpoint or the touchpad; and no wires to boot.

However, if I was forced to choose, I would pick the trackpoint every time.



My wife recently returned her laptop to the office (she resigned). It was a ThinkPad T series with both the trackpoint and the touchpad. We bought one of the cheaper ThinkPad R61i’s to replace it for surfing the web at the house.

To my horror (I didn’t read the fine print) when I opened the box I found the R61i has no trackpad (only a trackpoint). I seriously have buyer’s remorse now. I’m thinking about sucking up the $100 restocking fee and returning the thing.

I’ve used the new R series a couple of times and I keep feeling the blank space looking for the trackpad subconsciously. This has ruined everything … I’ve had the new laptop for one day and I already hate it.


Trackpoint always trackpoint. Here is why:

  1. Never have to carry and connect an external mouse device to my Laptop - witch is the main argument for the touchpad freaks

  2. Don’t stress you hand and wrest to avoid accidental touching of the touchpad.

  3. I can use my laptop on the road as passenger in the car or on the train or airplane. Come again touchpad freaks – you can pick your nose in stead.

Buy an IBM or Lenovo UltraNAV keyboard for your home stationary or the port replicator at work and then you don’t have to have the same mouse everywhere you don’t even have to have a mouse - I haven’t. At home I sit leaned back in my executive leather Office Chairs with my UltraNAV keyboard on my knees and here I can control the whole computer world of mine.


i think i’d probably enjoy the trackpoint if I had one. In fact, I plan on buying an older thinkpad (x31 or T40) as my next laptop. but in my experiences with touchpads, I usually dislike the ones that dell laptops have. they’re always sticky and laggy, and if you move your finger all the way across it, it doesn’t go all the way across the screen, which is really annoying to me. To me it makes physical sense for the touchpad to represent the dimensions of the screen (so if you move your finger across the touchpad, it’ll move the arrow across the screen). My currently laptop is an old Compaq, which has a very nice touchpad that does represent the dimensions of the screen. being old, however, it doesn’t have scrolling, which makes me kind of sad. but i’m used to it. My only other laptop was a really old AST, and it had a trackball. I wish they still made laptops with trackballs these days.


Ooooh, touchpads… my buddy’s dad had a touchpad hooked up for a few weeks when I was a kid, and I remember it driving me up the friggin’ wall, and I’ve never had much fun using other people’s laptops either. My thinkpad, on the other hand, is a joy to work with, and I’ve never plugged in an external mouse because I find the trackpoint provides 90% of the accuracy without requiring a mousepad or ever bumping into the other junk on my desk.


Why are the fonts so awful on this page?


Add me to the camp that strongly prefers trackpoints to touchpads :wink:

As many others who have had the chance to use a Thinkpad in the past, once you have gotten used to a Trackpoint, you’ve adopted it for life.

As a matter of fact, I found using a mouse quite awkward for the first few months when I switched to using a desktop and, until I discovered the Logitech mouseman 2, IMO the best mouse ever made, (I still use one on my old desktop), I preferred the trackpoint in that circa 1994 machine!

Unfortunately, as my needs grew and I found myself requiring a laptop again, after several years without one (my last laptop before my present one was the venerable, indestructible Toshiba 110CS with Trackpoint), I was very disappointed when I found that Toshiba dropped the trackpoint from all but it most expensive models, so I found myself with a nice widescreen Toshiba again, but with a horrible touchpad.

Believe me, I WANTED to like the touchpad. I worked a lot setting the synaptics driver correctly. But no matter what I did, this thing drove me nuts, to the point that for the first three months, I used my laptop very little and only, to make quick presentations. I’ve started using it again only when I discoveresd a nice wireless IR laptop mouse that is as accurate as my old mouseman, in a package that fits between my fingers :), but that’s a work-around. I would much rather have a Trackpoint and if I could get a replacement keyboard with a trackpoint, I’d get one and frankly, I wouldn’t mind if it cost me an extra $200 and the installtion.

In any case, the heart of the matter is, in reality, what works for you. Some touchpads may be better than others, and some trackpoints may be worse that those I’ve had the privilege to work with, but all comes down to how you like to work.

Moral of the story? If you intend to grab a bargain this black friday, make sure it’s for a model you have actually tried in the store. Useability and ergonomics are very, very important when you spend most of the day in front of a computer, and pointing devices and keyboards are paramount to making your experinece enjoyable and productive rather than unpleasant and stressful.


I’ve been mystified for years watching people in Starbucks, libraries and other places frantically rubbing away at their touch-pads.

Stroking, cajoling ice-skating their way sloppily from one part of the screen to another. Their lovely new laptops soon had that worn-out, shiny look on the hand rest - ruining its appearance forever.

It never made sense - until now.

As an electronics manufacturing engineer - and long-time TrackPoint user - here are some points to consider.

1: Touchpads were cheaper to manufacture than TrackPoints and so quickly became the standard.

The thinking was - they could be schlepped out the door by the boatload – and if anyone complained how they worked – well too bad – they’d be a standard soon and tough noogies.

They even had to create special software to “teach” it some table-manners (burp!).

And so touch-pads became like the Internet Explorer - people thought they “preferred” it only because they were never allowed to try anything else.

2: The few remaining TrackPoint manufacturers are not created equal. Earlier models (and those from non-IBM suppliers) can’t compare to later model Thinkpad TrackPoints. There is simply no comparing their performance.

So take a minute to set the sensitivity speed to your taste and stop suffering.

3: If you’re not a touch-typist - but a hunt pecker - then you’d never appreciate the TrackPoint anymore than you’d appreciate the benefits of proper typing.

You’re already ice-skating anyway, so what’s a little more work - rubbing that magic lantern at the bottom of your keyboard ?

And who knows ? Someday a genie might appear - and grant you three wishes !

4: How could anyone not like a late-model TrackPoint that can repeatedly visit any spot on the screen on the first attempt - without overshooting, backing down the turnpike, asking the wife for directions and double parking near the fire-hydrant - before arriving at your destination ?

A TrackPoint drops you right on the street corner in one shot. Its like a Bic pen – writes first time – every time. (For those old enough to remember the TV commercial).

Besides - normal people wouldn’t dream of ice-skating on the freeway.
Its just too damn dangerous.



Some good arguments in favour of the trackpoint, Cat, but touchpads are easier on the finger? I’m surprised by that.

While I haven’t used trackpoints for anything more than a few minutes at a time, I’d already say I’m firmly in their camp because of my issues with touchpads. While they’re technically fine, with modern laptops offering multi-touch gestures and scrolling, my fingers just can’t cope with them. The constant rubbing of my fingertips against the pad’s surface is horrible. It only takes a short browsing session before the sensation of numbness sets in, followed by a slight pain. Maybe it’s partly a psychological thing, but I simply can’t stand it.

I know I’m not the only one. I have a friend who often complains of suffering from touchpad finger after extended usage.

The question is… if trackpads aren’t even finger-friendly, what benefits do they have?



  • is more accurate
  • requires less action/movement
  • allows the user to keep palms and fingers on over the same place where they are. This is a big deal for touch typists and coders like me.


  • easier on the finger

I use both: trackpoint for mouse movement, and touchpad for scrolling (all area of touchpad, not just the side).

A trackpoint is a must or me though.