We’ve all accepted the use of an external mouse as a necessary inconvenience to use a computer. But there are still those of us who always ask why, always look to optimize and always look for the most efficient ways to do things. You’re probably one of those people and that’s why you’re tired of moving your hand back and forth between the home row and the mouse.
What if I told you that in the past 5 years, I’ve never had to lift my hands of off the keyboard. I used my computer, browsed and navigated entirely without a mouse…
No, I’m not a Linux commandline uber geek and I don’t memorize more keyboard shortcuts than an average user. I’m a normal Windows user and if Firefox wasn’t way too cool, I’d use Internet Explorer. But I refuse to use a computer or work with a dirty mouse in my palm all day long.
How desperate are people to exterminate mice?
Hardware companies are trying every day to invent new ways for users to navigate, browse and use the computer. Microsoft created a fancy all screen PC, Apple put a navigation pad on top of a mouse, and countless other companies have invented and reinvented the mouse in almost all imaginable ways.
This dude was too fed up with having to move his hand back and forth that he decided to saw off the numeric pad to reduce hand travel distance between the keyboard and mouse. Then you have popular geek blogs trying to speculate the future of the mouse, browsing, and computer navigation.
The problem with all these attempted solutions is that they don’t resolve the real inconvenience of computer navigation: unnecessary physical movement.
Unlike with these inventions, the solution that I’m talking about
- doesn’t require you to move your hand away from the keyboard home row
- it doesn’t require you to bend your wrist in awkward positions
- and in fact it doesn’t require you to move any part of your arm as you switch from typing to browsing, or even to using Photoshop.
It’s almost like you’re controlling the computer pointer telekinetically!
So, what is this great mouseless computer navigation solution?
Open your mind and shed your prejudice. This is the resurrection of an old promise that was tried and failed but was then perfected by one company.
It is the best kept secret in mouseless computer usage. It’s the IBM TrackPoint.
The TrackPoint is a tricky device that’s surrounded by a lot of confusion:
- people don’t know what to call it
- early, first generation pointing sticks were not nearly as great as they are now
- the usability and the quality of the device vary greatly depending on the manufacturer
- the default settings that the device ships with are usually not the best
- it requires some getting used to
- people think to use this device, you must buy an IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad laptop
Let me clarify some of these points and show you how this device can free you from ever needing to touch a mouse again!
Not all pointing sticks are created equal
The standard name for the device is pointing stick. It’s not TrackPoint. TrackPoint is the trade-marked name that IBM gave to their version of the pointing stick.
The earliest models of laptops featured pointing sticks as their navigation device. It was the intuitive navigation solution for laptops.
Today, HP, Dell, Toshiba, and other laptop manufacturers all make laptops with pointing sticks. However, there’s one important thing to keep in mind. These pointing sticks don’t compare to IBM’s TrackPoint. IBM’s version is far superior. If you want to browse, navigate and use your computer without a mouse, forget about those other pointing sticks. Get an IBM/Lenovo one. And remember, you don’t have to buy a ThinkPad laptop for that. I’ll show you how in a sec.
The default settings for the TrackPoint usually suck
The concept of the modern pointing stick is that you control the computer pointer with minuscule physical movement. But there is one important setting for the TrackPoint that is not usually set optimally.
It’s the lightness of the stick.
When set to heavy more pressure on the TrackPoint is required to move the pointer, and light has the opposite effect. It’s best to have this set to lightest setting possible. To further decrease the required pressure, in the mouse settings for Windows OS, you can adjust the pointer speed under Motion settings of the mouse. Set the selector to the fastest setting possible.
Both the TrackPoint and the operating system’s mouse settings can be found in the Mouse dialog of the Control Panel of Windows OS.
Get used to the speed
When the proper settings are applied, the TrackPoint will respond to the slightest pressure. It becomes very sensitive. Some people with heavy fingers aren’t comfortable with this setting, but train yourself for a couple of minutes and you’ll get used to it.
You can use the TrackPoint to browse any computer mouselessly
I’m writing this post on a Sony VAIO, but I’m using the TrackPoint. How? This external keyboard.
This newly released ThinkPad keyboard is based on ThinkPad’s latest and greatest laptop, the T400s. It’s very slim, yet sturdy.
This is an all in one computer browsing solution. It solves all the inconveniences of using an external mouse. Believe me, if you start using the TrackPoint, you’ll become a fan for life.
You can read more about the features and benefits of this device on Lenovo.com’s product page.