For a business-focused tablet and considering they don’t carry the endorsement of a famous audio company, the X220T’s stereo speakers are surprisingly accomplished. They lack the clarity and depth of examples like those found on the far smaller Toshiba NB520, but nonetheless pack a surprising punch and are certainly adequate for the occasional movie or game. Lenovo has sensibly positioned them in the screen’s bezel, meaning they won’t lose any of their impact in tablet mode.
What really makes the new X220-series special, though, is Lenovo’s use of IPS panels for their 12.5in screens. As mentioned, this is the same screen technology found in the Apple iPad, and anyone who owns or has seen one of those will know this equates with almost flawless viewing angles and potentially excellent colour reproduction.
We’ve been waiting a long time for this panel technology to filter down into relatively affordable ultraportables, since even the RGB-LED backlit solution used in the display of the amazing ThinkPad W701ds isn’t as good. On the X220, IPS is an optional extra, while the X220T comes with it as standard – a decision we heartily applaud Lenovo for, since on a tablet vertical viewing angles are far more important than they would be on a laptop.
Indeed, the display here is as close to flawless as we’ve seen on a laptop. It’s slightly reflective thanks to its optional Gorilla Glass layer, but nowhere near as glossy as other glass-fronted displays and we’re happy with this trade-off for the extra protection Gorilla Glass provides.
Colours were somewhat muted but accurate while contrast was excellent, managing dark blacks alongside subtle whites with great detailing in both. Backlighting was even, though there was some noticeable bleed from the left bottom edge. However, this could be due to our review sample being a pre-production unit.
Sharpness was also excellent, thanks in large part to the 12.5in panel’s high 1,366 x 768 resolution (16:9 aspect ratio). We would have preferred 1,280 x 800 (16:10) here to give a little more vertical leeway, but that’s the price of the market’s unstoppable move towards ever wider screens (check out our preview of Philip’s latest Cinema telly, the super-wide Cinema 21:9 TV, to see what we mean).
Speaking of widescreen, the webcam has also received an update and is now 720p, which along with the dual microphones for advanced noise-cancelling makes for a good video conferencing experience.