New Thinkpad trackpoint clickpad/mouse buttons questions

Discussion in 'Lenovo' started by pianomano8, Aug 14, 2013.

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  1. pianomano8

    pianomano8 Notebook Enthusiast

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    My trusty T400 is finally starting to show its age and I may be in the market for a new system soon. One of the main features I really like about my T400 is the trackpoint and having three physical mouse buttons. Being a Linux user, having a true middle click option in X11 is wonderful!

    However, models newer than the T430 have some sort of software/firmware clickpad only buttons-that-aren't-buttons.. and that makes me very nervous. I'm wondering what the Linux experience is with these?

    - How many buttons are they emulating when using the trackpoint? 2 or 3?
    - How quiet is the click? can one tap in an area instead of clicking when using the trackpoint?
    - Is this firmware in the trackpad or some windows-only driver that won't work at all under linux?
    - I find one of the nicest things about using the trackpoint is knowing the feel of the buttons right under my thumb.. without that, is the trackpoint a lot less useful?

    My T400 keyboard is quiet, and the mouse buttons are quiet, and the fan is quiet: which means I can work late into the night working on my thesis in the same room as my wife without disturbing her sleep. If the experience of the new touchpad/touchpoint buttonless trackpad isn't as nice, when it comes time I'll lurk at the outlet page and look for a T430 or T431s. If, on the other hand, its decent, then I may wait for the new T or X x40 series to pop up.

    Any experiences, positive or negative? especially with Linux?
     
  2. Aikimox

    Aikimox Weihenstephaner!

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    Do you really need to upgrade? I mean, can your current machine handle everything throw at it without time loss? If yes, - don't bother. If not, - I'd go for T420/30 but not the latest and greatest for a number of reasons:

    1) CPU performance difference (Sandy - Ivy - Haswell) isn't that big.
    2) Screen, weight and features are about the same. T440 may be somewhat lighter and slimmer but not but much, especially the standard version with full voltage CPU and 2 ram slots.
    3) Price. You can get a T420/30 second hand for less than half the price of the T440 and still have about 80-85% performance.
     
  3. Commander Wolf

    Commander Wolf can i haz broadwell?

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    What I have found during my experience with the Helix:

    1) It does emulate all three TrackPoint buttons

    2) The noise (for the entire clickpad; TrackPoint buttons included) is comparable to the click on an x220 or x230 clickpad. The travel is slightly longer though.

    3) This I don't know; Lenovo has traditionally been okay with Linux support?

    4) Yeah, it's not quite the same, but it's not as horrendous as the x220 clickpad at launch. The most annoying thing I've found is that you have to pick up your finger and click explicitly (again, for both the clickpad and TrackPoint buttons) in order to guarantee that the click registers, especially when clicking multiple times in a row.

    All in all, I could live with it, but I think physical buttons are better.
     
  4. pianomano8

    pianomano8 Notebook Enthusiast

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    A few reasons, but none of them pressing right now. As an everyday machine, even for a develpoer like me, its plenty fast enough (I upgraded to 8G mem and an SSD + 1TB in the HD bay 2 years ago). A year ago the fan died, so I replaced the heatsink and fan (awesome that I could do that in a laptop), and slathered the cpu with thermal paste (a problem on early T400's like mine). However, recently I've been doing some number crunching for grad school, and the other day it shut down from overheating even though it was pretty well ventilated. If that continues, I'm not sure I have the nerves or patience, or the chassis, to handle another surgery like that :).

    If the clickpad's decent, then it opens up some more options IF I need something new. If not, then, well, I'll be comparing used thinkpads against other options.
     
  5. Aikimox

    Aikimox Weihenstephaner!

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    You can easily repaste it and make sure there's a good contact and pressure between the CPU die and its heatsink. Overheating is never a reason to abandon the ship, can be remedied in no time. Make sure you clean the dust from the radiator and fan using a can of compressed air, that alone can drop temps significantly.
     
  6. pianomano8

    pianomano8 Notebook Enthusiast

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    Awesome, thank you. No reviews I've seen on line seem to mention that.

    I've never used a x220 or x230 clickpad. Noise is less of an issue though.

    Well, better than most, but I get worried when they annouce "they've spent years working on the software of the clickpad so that people will not notice a difference" (or something similar). Software often means windows only.
    Thanks for the info.

    Anyone willing to boot a linux live CD and check the trackpoint buttons for me?
     
  7. Yuxie

    Yuxie Notebook Guru

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    For better or worse, the clickpad 'click' has the same sound as the enter key. And like the keyboard, the click sound differently depending on how you click it. (sharp and loud for a quick tap, firm and quiet for 'thumb tap.'
    No, you will not be able to tap the area. This is a good thing, or else clicks would be registered everytime you touch the clickpad. In fact, the 'click' has been made so well that you won't want to tap at all.

    The answer of this question depends on how you use the trackpoint (as I have recently learned, there are 2 ways) If you only use one hand on the trackpoint buttons (right index on the nipple, right thumb for all 3 buttons), you are screwed - there are virtually no physical markers (although Lenovo did make the left click region much bigger than the right click) If you use both thumbs for the buttons, then right/left click won't be a problem. Center click, however, will still be difficult to reach without accidentally triggering something else.
     
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  8. sspiff

    sspiff Notebook Enthusiast

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    I'm looking for an answer on this as well. I'm extremely suspicious about the touch buttons, as it seems very likely they solved this in their Windows-only software. That would really be a deal-breaker for a Linux laptop.

    If someone has a ThinkPad with this new UltraNav module, even if you don't run Linux, could you have a look at the mouse settings in BIOS/EFI? If you can disable the touchpad, but still get the touch-sensitive areas to work for the TrackPoint, that would mean that it's likely a firmware feature (which would be great news for us Linux users).

    I get to order a new laptop for work, and I'm in doubt wether I should wait for the X240 (better iGPU, FullHD, better battery life) or get the X230 now (comparable CPU performance, already pretty good battery life, real trackpoint buttons).

    I'm a huge fan of the trackpoint and having a proper middle mouse button for scrolling and using the X11 clipboard. I had an HP EliteBook before and without that third button, the trackpoint isn't of any use. I'm waiting for somebody to review the X240 for Linux, so I can make a more educated comparison.
     
  9. sspiff

    sspiff Notebook Enthusiast

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    I thought I might post a link to this comment on a similar discussion about the ThinkPad Helix here. It mentions a few things:

    * You can disable the touchpad and still have the trackpoint's virtual buttons working in Xorg. The link contains the required Xorg.conf section.
    * Scrolling with the emulated buttons does not work (you might be able to work around this).
     
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