Sorry Lenovo, but it's time to kill off the ThinkPad TrackPoint FOREVER

GraniteStateColin

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I agree that the benefits of the TrackPoint have been overtaken by advances in touchpad technology. Personally, I used to like the TrackPoint, not for cursor movement (always preferred touchpads for that), but for scrolling vertically or horizontally. With two finger drag to scroll offering that too from the touchpad, that one strength no longer matters to me.

However, if there are users who love it, just because that's not you or I, doesn't it make sense for Lenovo to still court their business by being the only company to offer their preferred interface? Shouldn't we encourage companies to differentiate their products rather than homogenize them, to just be another "me too" form factor? And it's not like the legacy support for a TrackPoint is inhibiting innovation: Lenovo has the Yoga and the dual screen systems.

What's the downside to the rest of us (beyond the minor cosmetic of the 3 shifted character keys)? The cost of the added hardware? I doubt Lenovo would lower prices, so that probably doesn't apply. Am I missing something? Seems that as long as Lenovo has data that some users want it, it's in their best interest to keep it, because it's a unique feature that secures customer loyalty among those users. Microsoft should learn from their example, instead of cutting and running as soon as usage drops.

Maybe the number of TrackPoint users is shrinking, and eventually supporting it won't make sense. Maybe you're even right that the time has already come, but it should be a data-driven decision based on a mix between telemetry on # of users and how much their focus group studies or surveys tell them losing the TrackPoint might cost them those customers. Brand loyalty is more strongly driven by unique features than anything else, so for any brand, if it can offer something not available anywhere else (assuming it doesn't blow up their costs) and has customers who prefer it, they should do their best to hold onto that unique strength.
 
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wal30

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Absolutely not. Just because you don't use something doesn't mean it should be removed. In skilled fingers the trackpoint is still superior to the trackpad and it one of the few reasons I have been consistently buying ThinkPads for the last two decades. Can you scroll continuously on a touchpad? Can you consistently position the pointer anywhere on the screen without needing to ever remove your finger and reposition it? Can you move the pointer a pixel at a time in any direction with complete accuracy? They tried removing the middle button a few years ago and that didn't go too well. I hope they understand where their loyal customers are on this!
 

Daniel Rubino

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Absolutely not. Just because you don't use something doesn't mean it should be removed. In skilled fingers the trackpoint is still superior to the trackpad and it one of the few reasons I have been consistently buying ThinkPads for the last two decades. Can you scroll continuously on a touchpad? Can you consistently position the pointer anywhere on the screen without needing to ever remove your finger and reposition it? Can you move the pointer a pixel at a time in any direction with complete accuracy? They tried removing the middle button a few years ago and that didn't go too well. I hope they understand where their loyal customers are on this!
If it were so great, every laptop maker would be using them. It's a legacy tech for a time when trackpads (now touchpads) were absolutely horrible. Now, with haptics, large sizes, and Precision, that is no longer the case. The only people who are still using it are grandfathered-in Lenovo users. You'll find few people below age 40 endorsing TrackPoint.

It also sucks because 1. It interferes with typing (I frequently hit it), and 2. It makes touchpads much smaller than they should be, meaning your great experience makes mine less great.

That said, I get the brand ID and "loyal customer" bit, I'm just hoping I live long enough to see that generation sail off into the sunset and TrackPoint with it.
 

mochi

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This article presents a predictable and narrow minded view on an interesting pointing device that absolutely is still relevant.

Given the site's expertise at covering notebook computers I'm surprised it even misses key details about the ThinkPad lineup. First, the ThinkPad team launched the ThinkPad Z series 18 months ago. These devices have full size trackpads and integrate the trackpoint buttons into the haptic trackpads - it works great and you can use the full area just fine. The second generation of this device will make it even better, I gather, thanks to Sensel's technology, but the first generation is extremely robust and the large TrackPad is MacBook quality.

Seems a bit odd to complain about the X1 Carbon series sticking to tradition given the audience that it's clearly positioned toward.

Second, I bought my first ThinkPad two years ago, and I fell in love with the TrackPoint due to how flexible it is. You can point the mouse cursor quickly and accurately without ever lifting your hands off the keyboard - essential given I'm a touch typer. I use the trackpad whenever I'm not typing, like when I casually browse the web.

The assertion that the TrackPoint is terrible to use is a misleading one - like touchpads there is a learning curve involved at accustomising with the physics and muscle memory required. We all complained when Apple reversed the trackpad scrolling direction when it brought "natural scrolling" to the Mac but after a few hours of adjustment it now makes perfect sense, the same is true of the TrackPoint.

When combined with the 180 degree hinge you can also use the laptop comfortably from a variety of angles. I'm now a ThinkPad convert, and I never expected to be. I think Lenovo just needs to market its use cases better rather than being ashamed it exists. The fact this article even exists suggests they could be doing more to onboard new users.

You'll find few people below age 40 endorsing TrackPoint.

I'm under 30 and I love the TrackPoint. Long may Lenovo continue to support it! The moment they drop it I will stop buying ThinkPad.

Now I only mention this because the author of this article seems to be relishing in annoying so-called "Boomers" over this piece - suggesting it was engineered to fan flames of division. Unfortunately I'm as far from that derogatory, irrelevant and unnecessary stereotype as you could get. I'm also not "nostalgic" over the TrackPoint so you can throw away that dismissive argument as well.

Honestly this is just a poor show on Windows Central's part.
 
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Cmndr_Bytes

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Absolutely not. Just because you don't use something doesn't mean it should be removed. In skilled fingers the trackpoint is still superior to the trackpad and it one of the few reasons I have been consistently buying ThinkPads for the last two decades. Can you scroll continuously on a touchpad? Can you consistently position the pointer anywhere on the screen without needing to ever remove your finger and reposition it? Can you move the pointer a pixel at a time in any direction with complete accuracy? They tried removing the middle button a few years ago and that didn't go too well. I hope they understand where their loyal customers are on this!
"Can you scroll continuously on a touchpad?"
Kind of. If you put your mouse pointer at the end of the scroll where the down or up arrow is, click and hold it will continuously scroll.

I will say the first Lenovo touchpad I used was the worst touch pad I have ever tried to work with since they started being a thing. They did re-engineer it later on, but it was the only laptop I ever felt the need to travel with an external mouse.
 

mochi

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"Can you scroll continuously on a touchpad?"
Kind of. If you put your mouse pointer at the end of the scroll where the down or up arrow is, click and hold it will continuously scroll.

I will say the first Lenovo touchpad I used was the worst touch pad I have ever tried to work with since they started being a thing. They did re-engineer it later on, but it was the only laptop I ever felt the need to travel with an external mouse.
TBF, Bad Windows touchpads have been a thing of the past since the Precision TouchPad implementation in Windows 8.1 became a thing. Honestly that made such a HUGE difference. Even the tiny Game Boy Advance cartridge sized touchpad in the Surface Pro type cover went from being an unweildy mess to being "good enough" when the type cover 2 shipped with a precision touchpad.
 

dkstrauss

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It also sucks because 1. It interferes with typing (I frequently hit it), and 2. It makes touchpads much smaller than they should be, meaning your great experience makes mine less great.

That said, I get the brand ID and "loyal customer" bit, I'm just hoping I live long enough to see that generation sail off into the sunset and TrackPoint with it.
Daniel - the last sentence is truly uncalled for and beneath your status as one of the top Windows experts online. As to the first sentence, i don't see how you manage to hit it frequently.

As for utility, it is just another input method, but consider the Yoga Book 9i. That keyboard would DEFINITELY benefit from adding the TrackPoint as an alternative to carrying another peripheral with this high quality laptop.
 

BaritoneGuy

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My first ThinkPad in 93 had this and I considered it a must have. Through several ThinkPads, Dell, Toshiba and NEC machines I used one for years.

I remember when the tips were basically gritty like sandpaper. The would ship a couple of different coarseness.

Until my first Precision trackpad I hated them with a passion.

I would not buy a machine with one, but if you like them have at it.
 
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atk

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This might be the worst take I've ever seen. I cannot use a trackpad when my hands are soaked in machine coolant. I cannot use a trackpad when I have gloves on. I cannot use a trackpad when its coated in abrasive dust. The trackpoint works in all of these situations. Thinkpads are for getting work done. I buy Thinkpad mobile workstations specifically because they are the only ones left on the market with a pointing stick. Its a necessity, and its frankly just about the only thing beyond the warranties that make Thinkpads worth buying, generally speaking.
 

taynjack

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Absolutely not. Just because you don't use something doesn't mean it should be removed. In skilled fingers the trackpoint is still superior to the trackpad and it one of the few reasons I have been consistently buying ThinkPads for the last two decades. Can you scroll continuously on a touchpad? Can you consistently position the pointer anywhere on the screen without needing to ever remove your finger and reposition it? Can you move the pointer a pixel at a time in any direction with complete accuracy? They tried removing the middle button a few years ago and that didn't go too well. I hope they understand where their loyal customers are on this!
This comment right here explains why they keep it. Like Apple's walled garden having this feature has brought people back to buy over and over again. Kind of like BlackBerry and their physical keyboard, or more recently the windows 10 start menu.
For some people it's useful and I don't fault them for that. I get that in some situations trackpoint might be better, but it's not a mainstream issue. Kind of like the Surface Studio's drafting posture.
My first laptop had one and I loved it. But for me and my workflow, I see it as old tech compared to gestures on a trackpad. That being said, trackpads are still bad and still can't do what a mouse can. If I need to work in autocad or other design software and I forgot my mouse, I can't work. Track point doesn't fix this either so there's that.
 

dimlu

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This article actually made me register to comment. The TrackPoint is not only iconic, but it serves as a very functional additional navigation method. This is one of the most myopic tech articles I've had the misfortune to read. You can still have gestures and the TrackPoint. Having the TrackPoint only increases productivity. It takes up what.. 10mm? Just looked it up, less than that. That's enough real estate on your keyboard to warrant this level of disdain? That sounds to me like "Sorry Windows, hotkeys have got to go because I don't use them" or "Sorry Roku, voice search has go to go because one of my coworkers and I feel it ruins the aesthetic of the remote. Real men use the arrow buttons and type one character at a time". Do you see how ridiculous it sounds?

I call into question your claim of previously having used the TrackPoint every day. No one who has used it on that level would ever call for it's retirement or lack this level of understanding of it. More than likely, you used a ThinkPad every day and never got the hang of it or never saw the point of it. I resisted it for about 2 years before I gave in. I'm not saying that it's better than the track pad. It's an additional tool. It supplements the track pad. It's superior for scrolling and if you select the correct travel speed (something anyone who's used the TrackPoint daily would know about rather than complaining about how it zips across the screen) it becomes the broad level navigation tool, while the track pad is used for fine adjustments.

As for the other dude complaining about not being able to type without accidentally hitting it and got super defensive and confrontational in a forum for the company for which he works (super professional my guy)... is Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing still a thing? Not sure if it's any good, but I always saw it in office supply stores; I'm sure it can only help. Don't worry, you'll get there. Keep practicing. Remember those home row keys.

I do hope the rest of this publication don't write such terrible opinion pieces. Judging by the sentiment in this thread, you may want to walk this article back before you start losing readers.
 
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dimlu

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This comment right here explains why they keep it. Like Apple's walled garden having this feature has brought people back to buy over and over again. Kind of like BlackBerry and their physical keyboard, or more recently the windows 10 start menu.
For some people it's useful and I don't fault them for that. I get that in some situations trackpoint might be better, but it's not a mainstream issue. Kind of like the Surface Studio's drafting posture.
My first laptop had one and I loved it. But for me and my workflow, I see it as old tech compared to gestures on a trackpad. That being said, trackpads are still bad and still can't do what a mouse can. If I need to work in autocad or other design software and I forgot my mouse, I can't work. Track point doesn't fix this either so there's that.
Really? I sometimes prefer it to a mouse for most CAD/Modeling software. It acts like a space mouse for manipulating a 3d object.
 
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protonot

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I had to register to comment. It is my duty to comment and protect society from irresponsible people that somehow manage to get a position that can influence and affect other people without having proper knowledge and quality of thinking.

I am surprised to see someone who does not want to use a tool to consider that he or she represents the whole group of users and suggest simply based on his personal experience and taste what a company should do. The view that one can represent others, simply because one has the power to write and publish one's opinion and broadcast it to many people, is at least unethical. There is a large number of people who use the trackpoint, and their work and efficiency depends on it. Yet, the author thinks that simply because he has the power to affect and influence the company and its decisions, he has the right to do so. I am deeply disappointed and i consider this the most irresponsible attitude for a journalist. A responsible journalist first needs to research and analyse and then present his findings. Expressing one's opinion on these matters should not be done with the cover of an expert. First, the trackpoint is a marvel of ergonomics, and the comparison with the touchpad is irrelevant. It is a different tool and for those that prefer it it is obviously better than the touchpad. For me, trackpoint is essential and it is the reason I buy Thinkpads. Are you suggesting that this company should lose me as a customer and produce laptops that are essentially the same as the ones of all other companies? Additionally, touchpad and trackpoint my supplement each other. For those who have spent time to customize it and learn how to use it, it is much more efficient than the touchpad. Second, even if the trackpoint is not useful to some, it does not cause any issue for the ones who do not choose not to use it and they can simply neglect it, or choose models which do not offer it. Third, how one works and uses a tool is a very personal thing, and since there are not many options and other companies offering the trackpoint, the author should respect the need of these people to work as they choose. Fourth, it is only because of ignorance that someone can reject the trackpoint; one can type on the keyboard and without any effort and long movement of the hand also control the mouse pointer. These small differences is what defines ergonomics. Manufacturers know and respect that they cannot make radical changes to things such as keyboards, because people build their habits over the years and their productivity depends on that. Manufacturers do not change where the keys on the keyboard are every year, can you imagine how much inconvenience this would bring to the users? The same holds for the trackpoint. Is it ethical to do that simply because one person does not use it, or because we think people using it are not worth it? What kind of racism is this? ThinkPad users have tried very hard to convince how crucial the trackpoint and the physical buttons are for them, and the company has listened, and realized this feature is one of the few features left that separate the Thinkpad line from the competitors and give a crucial advantage to the company. However, once the decision to remove it is made, there is no turning back. Some times, managers in new positions are not aware and do not have enough time to appreciate the unique features of their products. This article attempts to take advantage of any such weakness that exists now or appears in the future about the gaps in the management line. This article attempts to deceive people who lack knowledge about the trackpoint history and utility, and tries to convince them to bring a change simply because one cannot understand and somehow hates a unique feature.

"But it's just not necessary anymore. " your article is full of unsupported sentences.

"How is this experience remotely better than just using the excellent trackpad with the gestures and taps you would use on any modern laptop?" It is better in the way that you do not know how to use it. It is better in the way that you fully and perfectly control the mouse pointer without having to remove your fingers from the keys and you increase your productivity. These changes multiply productivity. The increase is the same as going from one finger typing to both hands typing.

You took the risk of not sounding unpopular (by this you recognize that popular is the desire and need of people to use the trackpoint and thus you reveal that you are trying to enforce your opinion to many other people who think and believe differently) but you sound something else, totally irresponsible and uneducated.

Why do you say "Who still uses this thing in 2023"? Since when is ergonomics and useful design a thing of the past? Have you seen the video of Rossmann? This is a guy to have as an example, a guy that offers to society in contrast to you.

People are happy to use middle button and trackpoint and scroll. Still you want to take useful features away.
 
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GraniteStateColin

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If it were so great, every laptop maker would be using them. It's a legacy tech for a time when trackpads (now touchpads) were absolutely horrible. Now, with haptics, large sizes, and Precision, that is no longer the case. The only people who are still using it are grandfathered-in Lenovo users. You'll find few people below age 40 endorsing TrackPoint.

It also sucks because 1. It interferes with typing (I frequently hit it), and 2. It makes touchpads much smaller than they should be, meaning your great experience makes mine less great.

That said, I get the brand ID and "loyal customer" bit, I'm just hoping I live long enough to see that generation sail off into the sunset and TrackPoint with it.

Dan, you make a good point on UX for NEW users who accidentally hit the TrackPoint when typing. Perhaps at some point Lenovo's data will show them that including the TrackPoint is a net negative AMONG THEIR CUSTOMERS. Given that they have other systems and some of the most innovative form factors (so you can't say they're stuck in the past), as long as THEIR DATA show it's keeping more customers than it's costing them, they should obviously keep it.

But your point that all manufacturers would offer it if it were useful is bizarre. By that logic all systems would be identical, except for chip advances every year. Differentiation is a good thing (one reason PC's can serve more people than homogeneous Macs) and the total number of users who prefer TrackPoint is probably small compared to trackpad users -- just good enough to support one manufacturer capturing all those customers.

Just look at the comments here and the passion for it as evidence for why Lenovo should keep it (assuming these aren't the only users and their data aligns, of course). 100% predictable: brand loyalty is always an important factor, and differentiation drives loyalty. It allows us in our own minds to say "I love <brand> because of <feature X>," even if the real reason is softer and really nothing more than a Coke v Pepsi preference. That's a critical component of marketing and customer psychology.

By the way, while I've used ThinkPads for work, I have never personally bought one, so my analysis here is purely on the business and product development side.
 
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