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Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet (X220T) review

Ardjuna Seghers

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  • Recommended by TR
Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet (X220T)

Summary

Our Score

8/10

Pros

  • Amazing IPS screen
  • Superb ergonomics
  • All-day battery life
  • Excellent build quality
  • Sandy Bridge internals

Cons

  • No USB 3.0
  • Expensive

Review Price £1,027.86

Key Features: Convertible tablet laptop; 12.5in, 1,366x768 IPS swivel screen; Capacitive touch and Wacom digitizer input; Nearly seven hours battery life, 13 hours with slice; Core i5-2520M Sandy Bridge CPU

Manufacturer: Lenovo

To bring you this world-exclusive review we're using a pre-production sample, but it should reflect the quality of the final product.

As you may have noticed, there has been a surge in the popularity of tablets recently. Thanks largely to the original Apple iPad, the tablet market is seeing innumerable entrants, a few of which we covered in our recent iPad2 VS the world article. However, for those who are serious about work as well as play, and who want something that can be a 'proper' computer when necessary, the rarer convertible tablet laptop is still the way to go, offering a swivel screen which can fold down across the keyboard to morph into a slate. With a glorious 12.5in capacitive IPS screen (the same panel type found in professional monitors like the HP DreamColor LP2480zx and, for that matter, the iPad) and Wacom digitizer, rugged exterior, all-day battery life and Intel's Sandy Bridge processors inside, Lenovo's new ThinkPad X220 Tablet may well be the one to rule them all.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of choice in the convertible laptop field. We've looked at quite a few of the available entries: the Packard Bell Butterfly Touch and Acer Aspire 1825P TZ are both decent choices if you're on a budget and must have a tablet, but their Core 2-based CPUs felt slow even last year and they don't offer pen input. The HP TouchSmart tm2 also suffers from dated graphics and processing power, and though it has a Wacom digitizer built-in, its screen's dreadful viewing angles let it down badly.

With the X220T, all these shortcomings are not applicable. Lenovo has fixed our issues with the original X200t to make for easily one of the best convertible tablet laptops available – in fact, it wouldn't be far wrong to say it's one of the best laptops in general.

Design-wise, the first word that may spring to mind is utilitarian. If you think the traditional ThinkPad angular black lines look good, this latest model isn't likely to change your mind, but it may be a little too industrial for some people's tastes. Though its protruding battery (at least if you go for the larger eight-cell option) does add an unsightly bulge, it's also moulded to be a comfortable handgrip for holding the X220T in tablet mode.

It sports the ThinkPad trademark soft-touch finish on its lid, which lends it a premium feel that's both ergonomic and very rugged. The inside is entirely finished in lightly textured matt black plastic, except for an inner bezel around the screen which is soft-touch like the lid, making it more comfortable for tablet use. Two soft but sturdy protrusions that slot into matching slots in the bezel ensure the screen will never rotate accidentally, while a protruding lip at the screen's top makes it easier to open.

ThinkPad build quality is legendary, and for good reason. We're glad to say that the X220T is no exception: plastics are as solid as they come, there's not even a hint of unwanted flex or creak, and the rotating screen hinge is strong and sure. The only exception is the extra button strip above the keyboard, but that could be due to the pre-production nature of our sample.

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Andy Vandervell

March 24, 2011, 2:15 pm

A UK exclusive surely, not a worldwide one. ;)

Andy Vandervell

March 24, 2011, 2:16 pm

Ah, of the tablet version. My mistake.

NorthernSands

March 24, 2011, 2:38 pm

I really, really wish manufacturers would listen and provide more appropriate screen ratios. 16x9 isn't easy to work with and 16x10 isn't _that_ much better. This is a BUSINESS laptop after all, not some cheap, consumer 'media machine'.

I'm dreading having to replace my aged Thinkpad T60p with it's 14.1", 4x3, 1400x1050 screen. It's an almost perfect combination of size, ratio and resolution! And it's an IPS panel...

With panel makers dictating the ratio it's like the tail wagging the dog. :-(

Chris Hamer

March 24, 2011, 4:19 pm

I wish my Thinkpad T410s had an IPS panel, better battery life and a 54mm Express Card slot :/

KultiVator

March 24, 2011, 4:22 pm

I've tested a couple of older laptop/tablet hybrids at work - nice concept and great for short-term novelty factor, but I've always found them too heavy and clunky (mainly due to Windows poor pen/finger control integration) for serious use as a tablet.

Ultimately, we found it hard to justify the extra cost to kit our engineers with tablets, when few ofmour test subjects were able to tolerate the weight and goofy input method - instead preferring to use the device in it's laptop guise sat down at a desk!

This does look nicer - but weight and Window's clunky touch support are likely to still cause issues for many users.

ffrankmccaffery

March 24, 2011, 4:57 pm

@NorthernSands: Amen brother. I recently bought a refurbished X61s as a future replacement for my X32. Although I have to argue with you over whether 14.1" is an ideal screen size.

ChillinR

March 24, 2011, 5:46 pm

Very informative review! The one thing I missed was availability: do you have any information about release dates in the UK and continental Europe?

Arctic Fox

March 25, 2011, 7:04 am

Nice try but I am still going to wait until Win 8 is launched before I get a tablet. The Asus eee (the qwerty slider tab running Android) is also another example of things moving in the right direction. However, I am still going to keep my legs crossed for a year of so! When I see the right combination of os and hardware I will be willing to part with some serious wonga - but it is still to early in the development of these devices IMHO.

Michael G

March 25, 2011, 3:01 pm

You're going to wait for Windows 8? The rumours are for a 2012 release, which we all know means it probably won't be released until late 2013. You might as well just forget about tablets altogether.

TechVegan

March 25, 2011, 3:43 pm

@NorthernSands:
Amen, but unfortunately that's the way it's going.

@ChillinR:
Glad you liked it! Regarding availability, we should be seeing the X220 series here in the UK from April on.

@Arctic Fox:
I'm with Michael G on that one - still, can't hurt to wait :)

Arctic Fox

March 25, 2011, 4:34 pm

@Ardjuna

Basically what I am interested in is a tablet that is a replacement for my lappie rather than a supplement. Ie a genuine workhorse tab rather than primarily a content consumption device. As I said in my posting I think that Asus' qwerty slider tab looks promising and indicates that what *I* am looking for will, eventually (!), become available.

-:)

AF

autosapien

March 29, 2011, 3:18 am

Still enjoying my X61 Tablet three and a half years after I bought it.. This looks awesome though.

findbuddha

March 29, 2011, 11:50 am

Ardjuna,

Can you please clarify the battery situation? Lenovo's datasheets and system references list only a 3 cell, 6 cell, and 6 cell slice. Which battery did your system ship with?

Also, are you able to check the DPC latency? Preferably with http://www.resplendence.com/la...

Thanks!

Yang

March 30, 2011, 11:10 am

Hi, Ardjuna:

I love your review!

Would you please clarify for me the meaning of "5 finger gesture" written in the official X220 Tablet Specification document.

Also, can you please review the new X220 tablet sleeve as well? Thank you in advance!

Best regards,
Yang

NorthernSands

April 11, 2011, 3:56 pm

@UnderClock

The problem I have with 16:9 or 16:10 on a tablet, is that they aren't very good for viewing websites, or using a lot of software, in portrait. Very few websites are now easily accessible at 800 pixels across, never mind 768 (take this very site)!

The perfect package for a tablet, IMHO, would be the high resolution Thinkpad X61T, with a faster platform inside. It has a 12.1" 4:3, IPS, 1400 x 1050 screen. OK, text might be a tad small, and Windows is hopeless at handling DPI changes, but you tend to hold tablets closer to you, and the 1050 pixel width in portrait is perfect for reading websites and using Word or whatever.

Manufacturers are NOT seeing the light; they are accepting what the panel makers insist on making, not what we, the end user, actually want! Bring back 4:3 on business machines!

nandi

March 6, 2012, 10:00 pm

great review, thanks a lot. one thing i'd like to add is that "ThinkLight" is mysteriously missing on this device

TechVegan

March 16, 2012, 7:58 pm

@nandi:
Thanks for commenting, glad you like it!
Also cheers for the input.

pallavi

December 31, 2013, 4:54 pm

i bought this laptop now i need to register it.... how to find its model no n serial no... how to find it

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