Jan 27 2012

Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Packs Power and Purpose

Lenovo’s notebook is compact, but it doesn’t skimp on features.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X220 ultraportable notebook computer is a good combination of power, weight and form factor. But it’s the little things Lenovo puts into its ThinkPad line that really make it shine.

End-User Advantages

The X220’s size — 12 inches by 8.1 ­inches, and a mere 0.75 inch thick — is perfect: big enough to support a 12.5-inch ­diagonal, 1366x768 pixel screen, yet still lightweight at 3 pounds. The notebook’s exterior is smooth, but with a solid grip. The keys are contoured so that the user’s fingers fit right onto them, which adds comfort while typing.

The X220 is true multimedia, shipping with Skype pre-installed to be used with the 720p camera and dual microphones. The microphones even dampen the keyboard’s sounds, so the user can work while on a call without worrying about drowning out the discussion with annoying key clicks.

In fact — speaking of working — this ThinkPad comes with Instant Resume, a feature that makes it easy to close the notebook’s cover, open it up again and get back to work quickly. It also has three full USB ports (including one optional USB 3.0 port for 10 times the data rate of USB 2.0), an SD card reader and Express Card slot.

Connectivity takes a real step forward with the X220. Both 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 connections are standard (as is an optional mobile broadband connection). More important, they also are integrated in Lenovo’s ThinkVantage Access Connections toolkit, which lets the user create and manage profiles that change the way the notebook is configured based on which network it is connected to. For example, at home, the browser’s home page might be MSN.com, but at work, it could be the company intranet. How’s that for ingenuity?

Under the Hood

The Lenovo ThinkPad X220 that was tested includes:

  • 2.5 gigahertz Intel Core i5-2540M quad-core processor
  • 4 gigabytes DDR3 RAM
  • 64-bit Windows 7 Professional operating system
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • 5400 rpm 320GB hard disk drive
  • One full and one half internal PCIe slots available

Why It Works for IT

Lenovo has constructed a solid notebook that will stand up to even the most challenging user. The grip is designed to reduce accidental drops. The hinges are metal, protecting the device if the user lifts it by the screen rather than underneath the keyboard. The keyboard itself has been designed to accommodate spills, with two drainage holes in the bottom, and has been tested with everything from water to wine. The hard drive has rubber rails to insulate it from shock.

The user-friendly ThinkVantage toolbox, accessible from a button next to the power button, includes software to assist the user with backups, simple troubleshooting and updating. While this is not a replacement for a good mobile-device management solution, it will work in a pinch.

The notebook’s battery power is impressive, as is its ability to wake quickly from sleep or hibernate modes. The review model was shipped with Lenovo’s six-cell battery, which provided five to six hours of normal use before needing to be recharged.


The X220’s touchpad — bumpy, buttonless and not recessed, with a left/right click function similar to a mouse — may be a turnoff for some users who find it unfriendly or simply too different. More adaptable users, however, may enjoy its benefits.

As with most ultraportable notebooks, any media drive (such as a DVD drive) must be external, and none was included for review. But as more people use thumb drives, external drives and cloud services for transferring data and multimedia, there is less need for a media drive.

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