I’ve been putting my new Lenovo X220 Tablet PC through my daily work grind the past several weeks, enough so that I have finally collected enough info to share for a review.
Performance and Battery Life
I judge the performance of a laptop / tablet based upon how it holds up with the apps I run on a daily basis. I don’t run CPU tests and then compare them from a library of other computers. Most of my impressions come from a mental, subjective list: am I questioning myself about how long the boot process is taking, do I find myself waiting while Dreamweaver loads or am I impressed by how quickly it just pops up, am I having problems maintaining a wireless connection, am I able to run multiple apps at the same time with no worry, am I questioning whether to bring the power cord when going out for day. Those are questions real users ask.
what apps am I running on a daily basis? MindManager, Evernote, Word, Dreamweaver, OneNote, Chrome, Visual Studio 2010From a performance and battery standpoint, my experience with the Lenovo X220 Tablet has been outstanding. Booting up on this i5 2.5ghz, 320 gb 7200 rpm hdd-equipped tablet pc takes about a minute or so from button press to log-on screen. I remember thinking on several boot-ups that the timing felt about right – not SSD good, but 7200 rpm good. Fresh from a boot, an application may take 2 to 3 seconds to launch, but subsequent launches are pretty much instantaneous. Needless to say, I’m not fiddling around while waiting for apps to load up. When I opted for the i5 2.5 ghz and 7200 rpm drive, I wanted affordable speed and my expectations have certainly been met.
While running on Energy Saver mode, battery life is around 6 – 8 hours depending on how taxing I am on the CPU. Considering I don’t need to plug in an extended battery, that is all day computing to me and fits every need I have to go cord-free. Oddly enough, the Lenovo battery indicator consistently underestimates remaining battery life when compared to the Windows 7 battery indicator. At one point, the two indicators were two hours apart.
Much has been said about the X220 Tablet’s 12.5″ screen and 1366 x 768 resolution, in particular the narrow screen real estate while browsing or writing notes while in portrait mode. I’ve been using wide resolutions on tablets for quite a while so the narrowness doesn’t necessarily bother me. The ability to pinch and zoom while on a webpage fixes the scroll bar issue for me, while collapsing side panels in OneNote helps provide more writing space. The benefit of having a wide screen while in laptop certainly makes up for any minor inconveniences of a narrower screen while in portrait mode.
What I miss from earlier Lenovo X tablet pcs is the hardware scroll wheel / d pad. If memory serves me right, the first Lenovo tablet had a scroll wheel on the side of the bezel that made scrolling up and down a webpage super easy while holding the tablet in portrait mode. Subsequent versions then had the scroll wheel / d pad on the bezel which still worked but was less convenient than the original version. At some point in the last year or two, Lenovo chose to remove the scroll / d pad altogether, which was a big mistake in my opinion.
I wasn’t quite sure about what to expect with this Wacom-based touch digitizer. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well it just works. I’m not getting any false clicks when operating between touch and pen, and the interaction between pen and touch is relatively seamless. I’ve not registered any false touches or stray ink marks while taking notes on the screen.
The digitizer only supports two touch points, while others support four or more, so keep that in mind if your software needs require more than two touch points.
Previous versions of Lenovo’s X tablets were notorious for problems with fingerprints. The matte finish on the X220T pretty much fixed that problem. I’ve not had to bring out a wiping cloth a single time in the two+ plus weeks I’ve used the X220 Tablet.
Most of my tablet usage involves using the X220T in portrait mode. I rarely use the X220T as a tablet while in landscape mode. While cradling the tablet in my left hand, I can take notes pretty easily and interact with the system using either the pen or my finger. The ergonomics and contour of the battery makes the X220T a pleasant to hold and carry around. It doesn’t feel quite as light as my Dell XT2, but it isn’t hefty either.
There are three buttons available on the bezel while in tablet mode: CTRL-ALT-DEL, Rotation, and Power. On more than one occasion, I’ve gotten the CTRL-ALT-DEL button mixed up with the rotation since they both visually say the same thing. I’d recommend Lenovo revisit the imagery on the CTRL-ALT-DEL button so it doesn’t communicate “rotate”.
After pressing the rotation button, there is about a two to three second delay before the screen is displayed again. On a few occasions, I’ve had to press the rotation button an additional one or two times to activate a rotation because I didn’t press the button hard enough.
Like I mentioned above, taking handwritten notes on the X220 Tablet is seamless and natural. The ink flows fluidly, there are no false interactions with the touch screen while taking notes, and the is no clickity-clack noise while taking notes. I love a quiet pen!
The Keyboard, Trackpad, and Track Stick
Not much to say here except that the keyboard is as awesome as ever. I could type all day long on that thing and never wish I had a full-size keyboard. If Lenovo will ever be known for one thing, it will be their keyboard.
One of the nice enhancements to typing on the X220 is the new battery: it creates just enough of a angle to put the keyboard at a better position for typing than the original flat battery.
The trackpad is now multi-touch enabled, button-less, a little bit larger than previous X tablets, and features some tiny dots spread over the trackpad to provide some nice resistance. The right / center / left buttons are still there, too.
A Few Quirks
Don’t let anyone fool you – there is not a perfect tablet experience out there. While the X220 Tablet is really, really good and has met or exceeded most of my expectations, there is definitely some room for improvement:
- Lenovo’s SimpleTap is slow to load and doesn’t offer a consistent user experience across the application. Read more about it here.
- The rubber feet on the bottom battery are already starting to come loose. The glue holding the rubber feet on the battery doesn’t feel strong at all, and I have a feeling I’m either going to have to get the battery replaced or stick some rubber cement in there to hold them in place.
- Speed up rotation. I should’t be staring at a black screen for two to three seconds while the tablet decides what to do.
- Bring back the scroll wheel / d pad. They are a needed feature while in tablet mode.
- The docking station did not come with a power cord, nor a display port adapter.
- I would have opted for the SSD, but the $280 price differential made it cost prohibitive. 7200 rpm performs really well, but superb performance will definitely be experienced with the SSD.
When the X220 Tablet first arrived, I was pretty pumped. Two weeks later, I’m just as pleased, if not more, with my decision to go Lenovo. It is an excellent Tablet PC for anyone needing a convertible solution. I’ve been using Lenovo Tablet PCs since they first arrived on the market many moons ago, and if they continue producing excellent products like the X220, I’ll continue giving them my dollar.