Laptops

Lenovo Thinkpad X220 Laptop Review

The Lenovo Thinkpad X220 is machine built for the working person. It's all business and no play.

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Introduction

The X220 Thinkpad is compact, but very clean. Everything in its designs lends itself to getting down to business.

Front

Front Photo

Side

Side Open Photo
Side Closed Photo

Keyboard & Touchpad

Keyboard Overview Photo

Ports & Sockets

Ports & Sockets Photo 1
Ports & Sockets Photo 2

Controls

Controls Photo

Travel Kit

Travel Kit Photo

Overall Performance

The scored a 2376 on our PCMark test. That's fairly low score. It scored over a thousand points lower than its brethren, the U300.

PC-Mark.jpg

Application Performance

For laptop that's suppose to be all about business, the X220 didn't do so well in our applications testing. Most surprisingly, it scored the lowest of any laptop we've tested thus far in the Excel testing. However, it did very well compressing HD video in our Handbrake test. We're not entirely sure what to make of these results. The data is there, it's up to you decide what you want out of your laptop.

Number-Crunching.jpg

Gaming Performance

Even on the lowest settings, the X220 struggled to render Portal 2. On the highest settings, it was like watching a slide show.

Overall Battery Life

The X220 can come with an extra large battery and a slice. We opted for the cheapest and most bare bones model. The results were not impressive. Depending on your settings, you can probably get about 3 hours of work out of your X220.

Maximum Battery Life

At 3 hours and 19 minutes, the X220 is one of the shortest lived laptops we've tested.

Balanced Battery Life

Balancing performance and battery life, the X220 worked for 2 hours and 51 minutes.

High Performance Battery Life

Kicking the X220 into high gear without an outlet available is not recommended. We managed to coax only 2 hours and fourteen minutes out this machine.

Display

Front Photo

The X220 has a 12.5inch screen. The display boasts an IPS panel for wider viewing angle of the 1366 by 768 pixel screen.

Keyboard

Keyboard Overview Photo

Lenovo has decided to stick with its time tested seven-tier keyboard system with the X220. Since the X220 is marketed as an ultra portable, the keyboard is compact with many of the keys serving two or three functions. The tight keys also plays into the Thinkpad series’ clean dynamic. The close keys keep crumbs and dirt from underneath.

Mouse / Touchpad Features

Lenovo X220 has two pointer control inputs: the pointing stick and the touchpad. The pointing stick is used in conjunction with three clicking buttons located under the space bar. The middle clicker button is used to easy access the control stick’s scroll feature. The touchpad is located in the standard position at the base of the keyboard. It has rough surface that aids in keeping it clean and smudge-free. In addition, it supports multitouch gestures for zoom, scrolling, and rotate

Other Controls

Controls Photo

The Lenovo X220 has dedicated controls for the volume, microphone and access to the Thinkvantage control panel. All other controls are accessed via the function and some other key. These range from brightness to connecting to a projector.

Processor, Memory & Storage

The model that we tested carried an i3-2350M Intel processor. However, for 105, 155, and 295 dollars respectively, an i5-2520M, i5-2540M, or i7-2640M Processor (2.80GHz, 4M Cache with Turbo Boost up to 3.50GHz) can be installed. All models come with a 320 GB hard drive that run on 4 GB of memory. The also comes with an Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor graphics with dynamic frequency.

Ports

Ports & Sockets Photo 1
Ports & Sockets Photo 2

The X220 has a flexible section of ports. It has three USB ports, one of which is powered which can charge devices even when the laptop is off. This Thinkpad also has an SD and Express card slot. Finally, to connect to other devices and the Internet there is a VGA, display port, and an Ethernet port.

Screen

Front Photo

The Lenovo X220 boasts a clear and aesthetically pleasing screen. Colors came through clear and images were sharp. The jet-black boarder of the screen gave off a workhorse demeanor. Those same boarders aided a little in fending off glare while in direct sunlight. The backlit LED lights shined through creating a screen that was bright without being harsh.

Keyboard

Keyboard Overview Photo

The keyboard on the Lenovo X220 felt cramped. On occasion, this led to frustration when working quickly. Lenovo has stuck with its classic seven-tier layout. Veterans of the ThinkPad will have no problem using this keyboard, but there will be a slight learning curve for new comers. We took a little solace in that the tight key layout was designed to prevent crumbs and dust from getting under the keys.

The majority of the keys have a secondary, sometimes even a tertiary function. All the secondary functions are labeled clearly in blue, however as to what the labels mean is another matter. Though most of the symbols are intuitive, a few required experimentation or a gander into the manual to decipher their purpose. After taking into consideration this laptop is marketed as an ultraportable, the X220’s keyboard is efficient. The fact that it’s cramped is compensated by how in-reach everything is. At the touch of two buttons the user can connect to a projector, change the power settings, and much more.

Mouse / Touchpad

The Lenovo X220’s touchpad offers many customizability options to suit whatever task is at hand. One useful feature included ClickLock, which allowed us to highlight or drag without holding down the mouse button. That being said, the touchpad did have some faults.

The X220 has multitouch gestures. Some were temperamental at the best of times. For example, spreading your index and middle finger will cause the display to zoom in. However, to do this we had to angle our hand so that the spreading motion was parallel with the touchpad. When we had our hands at a natural angle, the gesture’s success was sporadic. The scroll gesture, placing two fingers on the pad and moving up or down, moved the screen too quickly. The touchpad is so compact that a small movement covers a large portion of the pad. When scrolling, this causes the screen to jerk to the beginning or end of the page. Though it should be noted that the touchpad’s short falls are partially made up for by the pointing stick. It can be set to take over the scrolling with buttons to facilitate clicking.

Heat & Noise

The X220 Thinkpad was one of the coolest laptops we've tested. By coolest we mean it never reached temperatures greater than 85.5 degrees.

Comparison Overview

Though the X220 is cleaner and more compact than its brother, the U300. It could also probably be used as a bat longer. However, the U300 was better at being a laptop. It bested the Thinkpad in almost every test and it had a longer battery life. The only thing that the X220 managed to do better was compress HD video and photo editing. Unless you're planning to do that all the time, it might be better if you steered yourself towards the U300.

Comparison Overview

Curves don't lie, and the Samsung Series 9 has plenty of them while the X220 gives the airs that it's a brick. The X220 was better at editing photos, compressing video, gaming, number crunching. The Samsung Series 9 had a more impressive showing at the Excel test and PC Mark test, as well as being significantly lighter. From our point of view, it's a wash between which one is better. It's a matter of taste.

Comparison Overview

If there's one word that comes to mind when thinking of the Thinkpad, it's clean. From the keys to the casing, the X220 is built to keep dirt off itself. Our fingerprints got on the Dell XPS 13 after carrying it around for a while. The X220 is cleaner and more compact. We found that the X220 is more aligned with someone who is always on the move while the XPS is a better workstation.

Conclusion

The Thinkpad we tested housed an Intel Core i3-2350M processor with 4 GB of RAM and 320 GB of storage. It's one of the smallest laptops we've tested; it's travel weight is only 63.3 ounces.

Everything on the X220 lends itself to efficiency. It takes up no more space than is needed. The exterior design screams portability from the textured casing, to how the battery forms a little handle. The engineers at Lenovo wanted the Thinkpad to be compact, but not miss any of the features its larger counterparts carry. There in lie its faults.

The has a tiny touchpad. In fact, it's so small that an additional pointing device had to be added to help handle the scrolling and navigating burden. The touchpad accepted multitouch gestures, none of which worked reliably. Also, this laptop totes around a 320 GB of storage. That's much bigger than the 128 GB of other laptops in its weight class. Why all the space? Maybe more is better, or maybe it's to drive up the price. We'll let you decide.

While using the we felt very astute. We felt like we were getting things done. Then we looked in the mirror and thought we needed to get out of the office. If you stare past the veneer and the business clout, the X220 is expensive. It was originally priced at $1,499, though the price has come down in recent months. It's a solid machine in the same way an igneous rock is solid. If we had to recommend this laptop, it'd be as a supplement computer. It's average battery life doesn't allow it to go on really long trips. Small but with large storage capacity, it'd be good as a courier going to off site locations and gathering data to return to a home base.

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