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TrackPoint, pointing stick, and UltraNav keyboards

Due to some requests I've been getting regarding TrackPoint and similarly-equipped pointing stick keyboards, I've decided to put together a topic listing all the major IBM and co TrackPoint, pointing stick, and UltraNav keyboards and outlining some of the unique features and specs of each. Only keyboards that have PS/2, USB or Bluetooth connectivity are listed - tablet keyboards with proprietary connections or the infrared-connecting SK-8807 are excluded.

Photo overviewing the five main types of 122-key Model Ms

Contents

Pointing devices comparison

Name
Sensing method
Description
TrackPoint II
Strain gauge
The original pointing stick TrackPoint. It operates much like the latest TrackPoints used by Lenovo although it lacks the negative inertia feature and suffers from comparatively sluggish operation. The use of third-party tools like InterAccel can boost the performance of TrackPoint II significantly. TrackPoint II hosting keyboards never come with more than two mouse keys.
TrackPoint IV
Strain gauge
TrackPoint IV is the latest implementation of TrackPoint and still presently used by Lenovo. If you've used a modern ThinkPad's TrackPoint, you know what to expect. Inherited from TrackPoint III, the IVs have the negative inertia feature that combats the sluggish feeling (inertia) of TrackPoint II. TrackPoint IV's specification also adds the possibility for a middle mouse button and press-to-select.
Unicomp pointing stick
Force-sensing (or force-sensitive) resistor
Unicomp's pointing stick is an alternative technology to TrackPoint described in the original TrackPoint patent that Unicomp currently holds. The main difference between TrackPoint and Unicomp's is that the FSR technology requires the pointing stick to move like a joystick, which creates a different user experience compared to the isometric (stationary) TrackPoints. The performance of the FSR is limited by the adjacent keys surrounding the pointing stick, which results in a less than ideal performance from Unicomp pointing sticks.
Synaptics TouchStyk
Force-sensing capacitor
The TouchStyk is a competing isometric technology against TrackPoint IV. Whilst the underpinning technology is different, the TouchStyk's features are roughly equivalent to TrackPoint IV. Keyboards using TouchStyk will have acceptable performance.
Optical TrackPoint
Optical sensor
The optical TrackPoint was short-lived and only featured on two Lenovo ThinkPad tablet keyboards. The technology is essentially like an optical mouse's sensor pointed upwards, which means you will need to swipe the surface of the stick to move your cursor. The optical TrackPoint is generally considered the worse pointing stick out of all these.

IBM Space Saver Keyboard (Model M4-1)

Photo of a Model M4-1
Own photo

Tech: TrackPoint II

The Model M4-1 was the first marketed TrackPoint-equipped keyboard from IBM. These were produced for IBM by Lexmark, Key Tronic and later Unicomp, and is an adaption of the integrated keyboard found on IBM Personal System/2 L40SX laptops. Its buckling sleeves switches are similar to what many early ThinkPads use. These entered production in 1992 and can be found with IBM, Lexmark or Unicomp branding, and in beige/white case colours. IBM-branded ones stopped appearing around 1999/2000, however, Unicomp versions were sold throughout some of the 2000s.

IBM TrackPoint II Keyboard (Model M13)

Photo of a Model M13
Own photo

Tech: TrackPoint II, Unicomp pointing stick

The Model M13 is likely the most well known TrackPoint-equipped keyboard. It's a full-travel buckling spring switches keyboard and one of the later variants of Model Ms introduced during Lexmark's tenure at the helm of the Model M family in 1994. For beige examples, IBM, Lexmark or Unicomp branded ones exist. The more iconic black variant largely produced by Maxi Switch and to less degree, Lexmark and the industrial grey variant produced by both Maxi Switch and Unicomp only exist with IBM branding. The last IBM-branded M13s from Unicomp were produced as late as 2004, however, Unicomp continued marketing their own branded ones as late as 2008.

IBM 5576-C01 TrackPoint II Japanese Keyboard (Model M)

Photo of a 5576-C01
Source: ide-research

Tech: TrackPoint II

The 5576-C01 is a very rare Model M-family offshoot produced solely for the IBM PS/55E all-in-one computer for the Japanese market. These use modified buckling spring switches that are said to feel slightly different to other Model Ms. These also feature a unique rotating stand on the back that enables you to park the keyboard upwards on its back wall. Being so rare, these are by far the most expensive TrackPoint keyboards. These were produced starting in 1994 but the end of production date is not certain.

IBM Space Saver II (RT3200)

Photo of a RT3200
Own photo

Tech: TrackPoint IV

The RT3200 is the successor to the earlier Model M4-1 Space Saver keyboard and was introduced in 1999. These were more or less completely different to its Model M-family predecessor though, instead featuring full-travel rubber dome switches, a more standard tenkeyless layout, Windows keys, and newer TrackPoint technology with a middle mouse button.

IBM TrackPoint IV Keyboard (KPD8923)

Photo of a KPD8923
Source: Mechanical Keyboard Tryout

Tech: TrackPoint IV

The KPD8923 is the only full-sized form-factor TrackPoint IV-equipped IBM keyboard presently known. These were one of the many rebranded and modified Chicony KB-5923 rubber dome keyboards IBM fielded in the latter half of the '90s (others include the non-TrackPoint KB-3923 and KB-8923). This was one of the last variants of that Chicony design IBM utilised, introduced in 1999. Unusually for a TrackPoint IV device, these for some reason didn't include a middle mouse button.

Unicomp EnduraPro (Model M)

Photo of an EnduraPro
Own photo

Tech: Unicomp pointing stick

The EnduraPro is Unicomp's successor to the IBM 5576-C01 shown before, produced with the same moulds that Unicomp acquired from IBM/Lexmark during or not long after its formation in 1996. Unicomp introduced the EnduraPro sometime around the turn of the millennium, but they made a few alterations to the design. Including; installing standard Model M buckling springs, removing the large rotating stand, installing Unicomp's own pointing stick technology, providing many different language options other than Japanese JIS, and modernising the design with USB and Windows keys support. Beige and black coloured options are available. The EnduraPro is still in production.

IBM TrackPoint USB Space Saver Keyboard (KPH0035)

Photo of a KPH0035
Source: aucfree

Tech: TrackPoint IV

The KPH0035 is an IBM NetVista-era take on the earlier RT3200 keyboard. It's largely the same format as the RT3200 but includes some design elements like the top frame shape and the ThinkPad-style page back and forward buttons flanking the arrow keys that are typical of NetVista-era keyboards. These are particularly known for having extraordinary long cables. The KPH0035 was introduced in 2001 and discontinued in 2003.

IBM USB Keyboard with UltraNav (SK-8835)

Photo of a SK-8835
Source: AliExpress

Tech: Synaptics TouchStyk

The SK-8835 is the largest, most sought after and expensive member of the LITE-ON made SK-8835/SK-884x family. Visually based on the keyboards for T30-era ThinkPads, these feature unique scissor-switches that were never used on actual ThinkPad laptop keyboard assemblies. The typing feel is generally considered not as good but close enough to T30-era ThinkPads. These connect via USB and have an integrated two-port USB hub. SK-8835s uniquely feature a dedicated numeric keypad, making the keyboard effectively a full-size in the footprint of a tenkeyless. These were introduced in 2003, and after 2005, could be branded as the Lenovo USB Keyboard with UltraNav, Lenovo ThinkPad Full-Size UltraNav USB Keyboard and Lenovo UltraNav Fullsize USB Keyboard, with production lasting into the mid-2010s.

IBM PS/2 Travel Keyboard with UltraNav (SK-8840)

Photo of a SK-8840
Own photo

Tech: Synaptics TouchStyk

The SK-8840 is the only PS/2 member of the LITE-ON made SK-8835/SK-884x family. Visually based on the keyboards for T30-era ThinkPads, these feature unique scissor-switches that were never used on actual ThinkPad laptop keyboard assemblies. The typing feel is generally considered not as good but close enough to T30-era ThinkPads. These were introduced in 2003, however, Lenovo never put their name to these after 2005.

IBM UltraNav Travel Keyboard (SK-8845/SK-8845RC)

Photo of a SK-8845RC
Own photo

Tech: Synaptics TouchStyk

The SK-8845 and SK-8845RCs are the most common members of the LITE-ON made SK-8835/SK-884x family. Visually based on the keyboards for T30-era ThinkPads, these feature unique scissor-switches that were never used on actual ThinkPad laptop keyboard assemblies. The typing feel is generally considered not as good but close enough to T30-era ThinkPads. These connect via USB and have an integrated two-port USB hub. The distinction between the non-RC and the RC models are that SK-8845RCs seem to have very short USB cables. The SK-8845 was introduced in 2004 and the SK-8845RC was introduced in 2010. Unlike the others, it seems these were usually used for IBM x86 servers and were underutilised by Lenovo. The SK-8845 was also sometimes referred to as the IBM USB Keyboard with Integrated Pointing Device in some IBM literature.

IBM Keyboard with Integrated Pointing Device USB (SK-8845CR)

Photo of a SK-8845CR
Source: eBay

Tech: Synaptics TouchStyk

The SK-8845RC was the final member of the LITE-ON made SK-8835/SK-884x family. Visually based on the keyboards for T30-era ThinkPads, these feature unique scissor-switches that were never used on actual ThinkPad laptop keyboard assemblies. The typing feel is generally considered not as good but close enough to T30-era ThinkPads. These connect via USB and have an integrated two-port USB hub. These were the only LITE-ON/ThinkPad keyboards to lack a touchpad. These were introduced in 2013 and could be IBM or Lenovo branded. For some strange reason, the Lenovo variant could be branded as the Lenovo UltraNav Keyboard USB despite not having the pointing stick and touchpad combo needed to form an UltraNav setup.

Lenovo ThinkPad USB Keyboard with TrackPoint (SK-8855)

Photo of a SK-8855
Source: Lenovo

Tech: TrackPoint IV

The SK-8855 was the last unique release of a classic ThinkPad layout based discrete keyboard. Like the SK-8835/SK-884x predecessors, these were made by LITE-ON. Visually based on the keyboards for T400s to T420 era ThinkPads, these feature the signature enlarged escape and delete keys typical for this era. These were introduced in 2009. These tend to be the most expensive ThinkPad-branded keyboards.

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 Bluetooth Keyboard with Stand (EBK-209A)

Photo of an EBK-209A
Own photo

Tech: Optical TrackPoint

The EBK-209A was the companion keyboard for the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2. It's also the earliest discrete AccuType-style keyboard but suffers from several key-size compromised necessitated by the small size. These were introduced in 2012 and are compatible with other Windows and Android devices. New in box examples can still be found as of 2021.

Lenovo ThinkPad Compact Keyboard with TrackPoint (KU-1255/KT-1255)

Photo of a KU-1255
Own photo

Tech: TrackPoint IV

The KU-1255 is the most common modern discrete TrackPoint keyboard available. Visually based on the keyboards for T430-era ThinkPads, these feel closer to actual (era-appropriate) ThinkPad keyboards than SK-8835/SK-884x era keyboards. A known weakness with these is the fragility of the micro-B USB port. The KT-1255 is simply the Bluetooth version of the KU-1255. The KU-1255 was introduced in 2013, but the KT-1255 may have been released much later. New in box examples can still be found as of 2021.

Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II (KC-1957)

Photo of a KC-1957
Source: Lenovo

Tech: TrackPoint IV

The KC-1957 is the current discrete TrackPoint keyboard being offered by Lenovo. These are visually based on the keyboards for T14-era ThinkPads. The KC-1957 is known for offering two wireless connectivity options as standard; Bluetooth (with Windows and Android officially supported) and 2.4GHz wireless connectivity via a USB dongle.