The Problem with Trackpads

Fellow geek Psorakis Yannis has an issue with cursor control:

I was wondering what’s your best pointing device excluding the mouse. I am totally annoyed by the fact that all laptop companies focus on trackpads. Touch surfaces are not accurate, they are very dependant on the pointing distance, they won’t work if your fingers are sweaty, and they have accidental clicks all the time, especially when you use the keyboard because you wrist often touches them.

I find IBM’s “pointing stick” (the little red dot) as the best mouse alternative. It is accurate, it is has infinite pointing distance, it minimizes the transition time between writing on the keyboard and pointing, and uses a very small portion of the laptop surface. I used it on my old Toshiba with excellent results, even to the point of playing games if I didn’t have a mouse available.

I don’t understand why the laptop manufacturers do not adopt that technology. Maybe because it appears “old fashioned”? Dunno. What’s your opinion? Which do you think is the best mouse alternative for laptops?

Honestly, I used to hate trackpads / touchpads, but quickly got used to them when I was given the choice between them on one particular notebook computer (one of the last IBM-branded ThinkPads). The nub actually caused undue strain on my inner wrist, whereas the trackpad was virtually frictionless. You can always adjust the sensitivity on ’em, too. I do carry a portable USB mouse with me when I travel, but seldom use it.

Everybody seems to have a different favorite; there is no “one size fits all” for input or output devices. The best alternative is the one that you like. I’ve taken heat for being in love with Apple’s Mighty Mouse – it fits my hand, the omnidirectional scroller is a dream come true, and I don’t need much more in a mouse than what it offers. I also love multitouch touchpads on notebooks – to the point where if I use a device that doesn’t have one, I feel limited and frustrated.

What alternative would my friends recommend?