Do people actually still use Trackpoints / Pointing Sticks?

GotNoRice

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Laptops that use a Trackpoint or Pointing stick go way back. I remember having a 486 laptop that had one. Back in the era of ball-mice and 640x480 screens, it didn't seem too bad. But as time went on, it felt more like a clumsy obsolete method of pointing.

Yet for some reason these have continued to be very popular, especially in business-oriented laptops from Lenovo, Dell, and others. I'm just curious what an example use-case scenario would be where someone would prefer a trackpoint over using the track pad. Why is this feature seemingly so popular in business laptops?

220px-Mouse_pointing_stick.jpeg
 

sharknice

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I think the only reason they leave it in is because it's an iconic ThinkPad branding/aesthetic type thing. They use it as the dot above the "i" in the ThinkPad logo.

I haven't seen anyone actually use them in the past decade.
They were ok back before trackpads, or while trackpads were still garbage, but they're basically useless now unless your trackpad broke
The only real scenario I think they could be useful is if you disabled the trackpad (because you accidently hit it while typing) and lost/forgot your mouse.
 

NattyKathy

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I've noticed some "business" HPs and Dells still have them too, or did as of very recently. I imagine it's a legacy thing that they do to keep a small set of users happy... like 98% of people either never use the pointing stick or don't care, but out of the people using these machines for serious work, there's going to be a handful who have adapted their workflow to The Stick and would absolutely lose their minds and never buy <brand> again if that feature was deleted from their favorite laptop line that they've stuck with for decades, and some of those people write laptop reviews.
 

kirbyrj

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I used it on the old Thinkpads I had. But that was mostly because the Trackpad was garbage.
 

jmilcher

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Its one of those cases of... just because you do not use it, does not mean others don't. These are EXTREMELY popular among long time Thinkpad users. Spend any amount of time on a Thinkpad fanboi board or subreddit, and you will quickly see. It may not be your thing. I personally do not use them but I own multiple Thinkpads.
 

sharknice

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Its one of those cases of... just because you do not use it, does not mean others don't. These are EXTREMELY popular among long time Thinkpad users. Spend any amount of time on a Thinkpad fanboi board or subreddit, and you will quickly see. It may not be your thing. I personally do not use them but I own multiple Thinkpads.

Yeah they were big back in the day, but haven't been for a decade, because the alternatives now are objectively superior.

The people into it now would be EXTREMELY rare. Boomers that haven't learned how to use a trackpad or a mouse, and browse at a snails pace because it takes them 30 seconds to move the cursor to the next button, and likely don't even know how to touch type.
 

mnewxcv

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I have a couple ThinkPad keyboards for desktop computers. I like having a keyboard and mouse in one device without the bulk or a crappy desktop keyboard touch pad.
 

Zedicus

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trackpads are garbage. actually they may or may not be, the ends of my fingers are rough and most 'touch' activated things don't work for me. TRACKPOINT FOR LIFE YO!
 

jmilcher

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I knew some people would come out of the woodwork. I was surprised by how many people I saw on a subreddit that swore by the red dot. In fact some said it was more productive once you knew how to use it. Which I didn’t believe.
 

pendragon1

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In fact some said it was more productive once you knew how to use it. Which I didn’t believe.
it can be, less movement, more accurate than a tp and all that.

op, enough still like them so they still include them. they are not that bad to use either, with a little practice and as mentioned, several oems still offer them, usually on business models.
 

sharknice

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it can be, less movement, more accurate than a tp and all that.

op, enough still like them so they still include them. they are not that bad to use either, with a little practice and as mentioned, several oems still offer them, usually on business models.

It's absolutely not more accurate than any modern trackpad. And anyone would be more productive using a trackpad once they took the time to get used to it. It's just the "can't teach an old dog new tricks" mentality.

It's exactly like preferring a controller over a keyboard and mouse for gaming. It's objectively inferior, slower and less accurate.

If someone prefers it that's fine. But they aren't being as fast as they could be, and don't try to BS other people into thinking it's better.
 

toast0

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It's absolutely not more accurate than any modern trackpad. And anyone would be more productive using a trackpad once they took the time to get used to it. It's just the "can't teach an old dog new tricks" mentality.

It's exactly like preferring a controller over a keyboard and mouse for gaming. It's objectively inferior, slower and less accurate.

If someone prefers it that's fine. But they aren't being as fast as they could be, and don't try to BS other people into thinking it's better.
You can move from the keyboard to the touchpoint a whole lot faster because your finger is already there. If you do a lot of mixed mode clicking and typing, you could easily be a lot faster with the trackpoint, if you've taken the time to learn how to use it (which, I haven't). If you build your laptop trackpoint only, and put the keyboard at the edge, that would be great for ergonomics. Alas, that hasn't happened in a long time.
 

sharknice

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You can move from the keyboard to the touchpoint a whole lot faster because your finger is already there. If you do a lot of mixed mode clicking and typing, you could easily be a lot faster with the trackpoint, if you've taken the time to learn how to use it (which, I haven't). If you build your laptop trackpoint only, and put the keyboard at the edge, that would be great for ergonomics. Alas, that hasn't happened in a long time.

You can use the trackpad with your thumb without moving your hands off the keyboard and it will be faster than using the nub.

It's an interesting idea to have a laptop without a track pad, but the reason no one does it is because the nub isn't good enough by today's standards. It's literally just a tiny joystick. It's slow and not accurate. That's why console games have auto-aim.
 

NattyKathy

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It's exactly like preferring a controller over a keyboard and mouse for gaming. It's objectively inferior, slower and less accurate.
OT but I gotta call out what a reach that is... not all gaming is twitchy shooters where success is measured in hit ratio %. Ergonomics is important to some people too, sometimes more so than k/d ratio, and many people find using a gamepad a lot more comfortable. Not everything in life and in tech can or should be broken down to objective performance measurements.
 

pendragon1

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It's absolutely not more accurate than any modern trackpad. And anyone would be more productive using a trackpad once they took the time to get used to it. It's just the "can't teach an old dog new tricks" mentality.

It's exactly like preferring a controller over a keyboard and mouse for gaming. It's objectively inferior, slower and less accurate.

If someone prefers it that's fine. But they aren't being as fast as they could be, and don't try to BS other people into thinking it's better.
i said accurate, not functional.
some game are better with controller.
iyo...

You can use the trackpad with your thumb without moving your hands off the keyboard and it will be faster than using the nub.

It's an interesting idea to have a laptop without a track pad, but the reason no one does it is because the nub isn't good enough by today's standards. It's literally just a tiny joystick. It's slow and not accurate. That's why console games have auto-aim.
lol ok...
 

Ripskin

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I have not used one in a long time but I do recall you could mess with a fair bit of the settings so you could increase the speed it moved the harder you pressed it in a direction. This meant that with some practice you could be quite accurate and quick.

Most of us are very used to track pads and their quirks so we automatically compensate for some deficiencies without thinking about it making them seem like the obvious winner. Gestures do help on that front as well. I never understood folks who could use the ball mouse (mouse doesn't move, you roll the ball) or those vertical mice where you rest everything on the pinky finger. Those who prefer those get used to them and can be very accurate so I would not call any device more accurate than the other. The track pad fits in the space and is the most intuitive to figure out next to a touch screen.
 

nightfly

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I have three M 13 keyboards, and use them all. Unlike most, I also prefer a trackball to a mouse, and have a MS Trackball (the one that is manipulated by the thumb) next to the keyboards, as they are good for those of us with bigger hands than the logitech and other brand wireless trackballs. But when I'm doing most things, I can manipulate the track point device quite well, and the fraction of a second more that it might take using the TP easily overcomes moving my hand off of the keyboard to a mouse or the trackball. In the comparison to the trackpad, I tried them a long time ago, and found most of them coming up short, so I stuck with the trackbpoint imbedded keyboards. While they may have improved, once we get used to using a trackpoint, it's not difficult to use it at all for 99% of mouse cursor usages. Kind of like, if you lost your index finger, you'd quickly become very skilled with using another finger in place of it.
To each their own. This is the same type of argument over what oil to use in engines, or which brand car or motorcycle is 'best'. Everyone has their own preference. The only thing that I would like, would be a IBM M style keyboard (or just any branded one with those nice buckling spring keys) with the trackpoint or an embedded trackball which is also wireless. Anyone know of such a beast? I know Unicomp makes USB versions of the M, but AFAIK, no wireless versions yet.
 

cpufrost

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They were fine on custom keyboards that would pull out of a drawer when you needed local access to a server and had no room for a mouse.
I tried many in the 90s and found every one of them after being used for a while would develop a weird drift that would keep moving the pointer slowly in the direction it was pushed after you stopped pushing it.
Like a tiny troll was inside pissed because you weren't using the trackpad below!

:)

The undefeated trackpad champ is the Macbook hands down. The MS precision types that are glass are close and springboards are getting better for sure but Apple is king. Using a mouse on a Mac feels weird these days. I only do it when using the MBP on a thunderbolt dock, for example and a dedicated trackpad isn't available.

I also used a variety of trackballs on and off through the 90s and early 2000s. The Kensington expert mouse and Logitech one with the red ball with dots (optical) actually were decent.
 

Jinto

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It can definitely be more efficient if you are used to it since you don't have to move your hands off the keyboard to move the mouse.
 
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travm

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I knew some people would come out of the woodwork. I was surprised by how many people I saw on a subreddit that swore by the red dot. In fact some said it was more productive once you knew how to use it. Which I didn’t believe.
Oh hell yeah it's faster than the trackpad.
I haven't had a trackpoint in years, but it is definately more productive than a trackpad. Your hands stay on the home row..... It's just as effective, if not better than a trackpad at being a pointer as well
 
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