Attempting to Replace My Thinkpad’s Touchpad

Written By: Jake Bauer | Posted: 2020-05-19 | Last Updated: 2020-05-19

Note: Apologies for the awful quality of the photos in this post, it seems my cellphone’s camera is either failing or the number of microscratches on the glass covering the lens is resulting in poor quality.

I have a Thinkpad T440s which has a “buttonless” touchpad. Essentially, the entire touchpad clicks downward to make clicks and there are no separate touchpad keys. Although I don’t mind how it works and feels (the clunk is quite satisfying), it doesn’t feel good to use in conjunction with the trackpoint for which Thinkpads are famous.

The T450s supposedly has a compatible touchpad which can be swapped with the T440s’s to give the T440s the separate buttons in addition to a clickable touchpad. Ordering one of these cost me ~$20 CAD on eBay and it shipped from what appears to be a local warehouse. It arrived yesterday so I spent some time today fitting it into my Thinkpad:

My T440s with internals exposed and the new touchpad laying next to it.

Unfortunately, when I replaced the touchpad and put everything together, the touchpad was not behaving properly. Touching it would cause multiple touch events to fire off, phantom clicks would happen, and clicking the touchpad buttons would actually move the mouse instead of clicking. In an attempt to diagnose the problem, I set up the laptop in a way that I could swap the two touchpads out and see what happened in a live-booted Linux distribution:

Live testing the new touchpad with a Linux distro booted off of a USB stick.

It seemed that the touchpad was being correctly recognized in Ubuntu; it was recognized as an Alps touchpad. However, no matter what I tried, the new touchpad wouldn’t behave properly where the original one worked just fine. I’m assuming that it’s something to do with an incompatibility between the touchpad and the existing ribbon cable. I was only able to find one forum thread online with people experiencing similar problems, with no solutions proposed. So, unfortunately, I think I’ll be returning this touchpad in a few days if I can’t find a solution. It’s a shame I couldn’t get it to work, but ultimately I don’t really mind the existing touchpad so it’s not a big deal.

This is my twenty-fourth post for the #100DaysToOffload challenge. You can learn more about this challenge over at https://100daystooffload.com.