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    Default Two x220t x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

    A quick preface to this thread: I made the jump to the x220t late last year, when the warranty on the x200t came close to expiring. Tsunade then acquired my x200t*, subsequently convincing him to upgrade to the x220t. This was the first time that the two of us had had the same laptop at the same time, so we decided to write this joint/dual review. Not a formal job by any means, but hopefully representative of similar/dissimilar experiences with the machine.



    The First Review

    by Derek Lim (Commander Wolf)

    Background

    I've been a tablet PC user for a good number of years now. In early 2008, following the conventional ultraportable + desktop replacement model, I bought a used HP Compaq TC4200 convertible tablet to compliment the relatively immobile Latitude D830 I ran at the time. Initially I had only intended to use the tablet functionality for digital drawing, but I've come to consider it more of a general-purpose, paper-saving (in theory) scratchpad. After running it into the ground for several years, I eventually replaced the TC4200 with a x61t. Shortly after, I replaced the x61t with a x200t.

    But this review is about the x220 Tablet. Having had a relatively pleasant experience with both of my ThinkPad tablets (and not such a good experience with the Latitude XT or HP 2730p), I decided early this year that my next convertible would be the x220t; this is actually the first up-to-date laptop I've bought since the now relatively old Latitude E6400. The price on Lenovo's website for a similar setup is still around $1200, but I managed to get a brand new unit for $850 shipped after camping eBay for a few weeks. Quite frankly even $1000 is a very good price for a top-of-the-line convertible; just a few years ago, Dell was selling the Latitude XT starting at almost $2000!

    My configuration, as purchased, was as follows.

    - Intel Core i3 2310M
    - 12 inch IPS 1366 x 768
    - 4.0GB, DDR3-1333 SDRAM, 1 DIMM
    - Intel HD graphics
    - 7mm 320GB, 7200RPM Hitachi z7k
    - 65W AC Adapter
    - ThinkPad WIFI
    - 6-Cell, 62-WHr Primary Battery
    - Windows 7 Home Premium
    - Integrated Webcam
    - 1 year standard warranty



    The first thing I did when I received the x220t was burn the recovery disks (you should do it even if you never use them; I'm sure it increases resale value). Then I installed an SSD (classic x25-m g2) and did a clean install of Windows. I do not believe the Lenovo image (at least for ThinkPads) is particularly bloated, but I don't need the recovery partition taking up space on an 80GB primary drive, and I just happen to like knowing exactly what's on my Windows image. Once I had that image exactly the way I wanted, I ran some tests.



    Quantitative Testing

    Since mobile processors and graphics have been more than sufficient for anything I need to do since Yonah/Merom and the 945/965 chipsets, my primary concern with new laptops has been power consumption and noise levels. I bought the Latitude XT and sold it due to its excessive idle wattage. I bought the HP 2370p and sold it due to what I considered an obnoxious fan profile. I still use an E6400 fanless/ULV as a file server. In fact, the existence of TPFanControl is a big part of the reason I'm on the ThinkPad ship, as i8kfangui does not work properly on Dell laptops after Merom/965.

    The following table summarizes the approximate power and noise profile of my x220t configuration.



    All of these tests were done with the screen brightness at 1. The light browsing test was done with FireFox 9 with AdBlock**, though it is unfortunately somewhat subjective, since it is based on my personal browsing habit. The 480p playback test was done with the latest CCCP and a typical 480p anime sample. The full CPU load test was done with Prime95; GPU load in this case should still close to idle. On the 62WHr battery, the approximate idle runtime is thus more than 10 hours, and the approximate light browsing runtime is an equally impressive 8 hours.



    For comparison, my x200t idled at about 6W and browsed at about 8W under similar circumstances, though the full load power and overall average temperature were considerably lower. I also had the chance to use Tsunade's x201 vanilla*, which I found to have somewhat higher idle power and temperature, but more or less equivalent full load power and temperature. Finally, idle power and temperature between the 2310M in my the x220 tablet and the 2410M in my x220 standard are essentially identical if turbo is disabled. If enabled, the 2410M will pick up a few watts and degrees only at full load***.

    With TPFanControl (my table is shown above; I am using the same one in both of my x220s), I can run the x220t passively almost all the time. Even with light browsing, I rarely get up to the 55C needed to trigger fan speed 1. On the flip side, fan speed 1 is inaudible during just about all video playback. Cooling the x220t passively under light loads requires slightly higher trigger temps compared to cooling the x200t passively under the same conditions. As such the overall thermal experience on the x220t is somewhat warmer, but the beauty of TPFC is that you can balance noise and temperature to your preference.

    I'm not going to get into performance benchmarks as figures for 2310M and HD 3000 systems are widely available, but in general they are about 20% and 100% faster than the P8700 and HD3470 I had in my switchable T400. The HD 3000 is certainly sufficient to run TF2 and SC2 at low settings, which is really all I'd expect (and need) from integrated graphics. I was initially concerned about lackluster performance from the ThinkPad wifi card, but having used it for a while, I don't think it's all that bad. I get full signal strength and about 3MB/s out of my WRT160N even with a wall directly between the laptop and the router.



    Qualitative Thoughts

    Moving along, the overall build quality of the x220t is comparable, if not slightly better than that of the x200t, though this is completely and utterly subjective. I'm very happy with the size and feedback of the currently standard ThinkPad keyboard, though; the keyboard on my x200t was somewhat loose and rattled a bit (Tsunade can attest to this), and I really didn't like it much, though I admit that it may have simply been a dud or made by a "lesser" ODM. They've added a "clickpad" as a standard feature (optional on x201 series), too, but I don't find the tracking to be very good and the small size doesn't help; luckily the TrackPoint is of standard ThinkPad quality. The pad is a nice gesture nonetheless.

    The x220t comes standard with a lovely IPS screen. I believe it is the same panel as that found in the x220 vanilla. Getting an IPS display or a display of similar technological merit is another reason I've continued to buy convertible tablets despite their relative rarity and cost. The LED screen is thinner and brighter (NotebookCheck rated the screen at about 250 nits, despite the official 300 nit spec) than the CCFL display I had in my "E2E" x200t, but I have found the color reproduction to be a little bit worse; I do not have the tools or expertise to give a quantitative assessment, though.

    Just to beat a possibly dead horse, here is yet another IPS and TN comparison:


    x220 LED IPS (right) vs E6400 LED TN (left)

    Between the x200t and the x220t, Lenovo actually did a good job slimming down the chassis of the latter, but someone or some team decided to throw all of that hard work out the window when he/she/they designed the awful, awful 6-Cell battery, which increases the net thickness of the laptop by almost a centimeter. It's even more ridiculous given that the battery is larger physically but smaller in energy capacity - it feels like it's primarily air. Furthermore, while the body is indeed thinner, Lenovo moved the speakers into the display, increasing the width of the lower bezel to an egregious 1.5 inches, so the overall footprint of the x220t is a bit larger with respect to overall area. Furthermore, they also decided to scrap the bi-directional hinge, a minor, but unexpected downgrade.


    x220t (right) versus x200t (left)


    x220t (left) vs x200t (right) right thickness, no batteries


    x220t 6-Cell (fore) vs x200t 8-Cell (back) thickness

    Also, there is still no ThinkLight. Even the 2730p had one.

    Between the x220 tablet and the x220 vanilla, the x220 vanilla is much, much smaller. The front of the two chassis are remarkably similar, and the port selection is basically identical. The rear of the x220t needs to accommodate the pivoting hinge and subsequently extends out backward - a lot. Even with the 9-Cell battery, the x220 vanilla is probably between 1 to 1.5 inches shallower; with the 6-Cell the difference is definitely more than 2 inches. As with the battery, a lot of that space seems to be wasted; there is about a cubic inch of simply empty space between the rear of the x220t and the back of the CPU heatsink!


    x220 tablet (right) vs x220 vanilla (left), note the enormous x220 tablet bezel


    x220 tablet (bottom) vs x220 vanilla (top)

    Actual weights, as measured with my digital kitchen scale:

    x220 vanilla with 6-Cell and SSD: 3lb, 4oz.
    x220 tablet with 6-Cell and SSD: 4lb, 2oz.

    And finally, a battery size comparison, just to drive the point home:


    Left to right: x220t (6-Cell, 62WHr), E6x20/E5x20 (6-Cell, 60WHr), E6x00 (9-Cell, 90WHr), T6x (6-Cell)



    Overall Impression

    I would say that if you are a happy x200t or x201t user, there isn't any huge reason to upgrade to the x220t unless you need a specific feature or the extra CPU/GPU performance. The standard voltage Sandy Bridge series in the x220t is miles head of the SL9x00 series in the x200t and is still significantly faster than the Arrandale LM series in the x201t with regard to CPU/GPU performance. If you have dubious need for tablet functionality and are debating between an x220 tablet and x220 vanilla, I would honestly suggest the standard x220.

    In the end, there are some nice incremental upgrades including, but not limited to the updated internals and the IPS, E2E, and MT screen (x200t had either E2E or MT), but the facepalms between the battery and the screen bezel really make me cringe. It really just feels somewhat rough and unpolished, and given their track record, I doubt Lenovo will make significant changes to the chassis of the coming x230t. This is quite unfortunate because I think the standard x220 is indeedthe best 12 inch ultraportable on the market at the moment; it is literally better than the x201 vanilla in every way, and I can't see the regular x230 being any worse. The x220t is much more a case of two steps forward, one step back.



    Footnotes

    *As the last link in a series of somewhat convoluted transactions, I traded my x200t for Tsunade's x201 for the express purpose of testing an Arrandale system. I had had the chance to play with a T410 over the summer, but the larger size of the notebook and the non-Optimus Nvidia GPU didn't really let me get a feel for the power/thermal/noise envelope.

    **Tested with FireFox 9, but I've since found that Google Chrome actually saves me about half a watt. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

    ***One thing to note is that the power consumption of the entire x220t with 2310M is 35W at full CPU load. With turbo enabled, the x220 with 2410M will hit about 40W under the same conditions. Given that Intel says both chips have a 35W TDP and assuming a constant load marginal TDP for the HD 3000 in both processors, I am inclined to believe that either the 2310M is overrated or the 2410M is underrated with regard to nominal TDP, which may or may not be interesting or unexpected.
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    Default re: Two x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

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    Default re: Two x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

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    Default re: Two x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

    The OTHER Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet Review

    by Mike Wu (Tsunade_Hime)

    Specifications

    My X220 Tablet is configured as such:

    - Intel Core i5-2520M, 2.5 GHz
    - 12.5" IPS HD Multi-Touch, 1368x768
    - 4.0GB, DDR3-1333 SDRAM, 1 DIMM (upgraded to 8 GB 2 DIMMs)
    - Intel HD 3000 Graphics
    - Intel 320 series 160 GB SSD
    - 65 watt AC adapter
    - Windows 7 Professional 64 bit
    - Intel WiFi Link 6205
    - 6 Cell 63 WHr battery
    - Bluetooth 3.0
    - Integrated 720p webcam
    - Fingerprint Reader
    - 3 year depot warranty
    - Type 4296-2W5

    Reason for Buying

    I was looking to replace my X200 Tablet. I knew I wanted the X220 Tablet for that IPS screen. I wanted something light to carry around and preferable a convertible tablet too so I wouldn't have to buy a separate tablet, I could have the best of both worlds.

    Shopping

    I spent a good 4 weeks looking for something that fit my specifications; i3 or i5, preferably Outdoor screen, Intel Wifi (TP wifi is awful), 720p camera, and fingerprint reader. I had searched through all the authorized resellers and found Provantage had something that fit all my requirements and budget. My configuration was 1251 + 25 for 2 day shipping which I hurried and ordered on Monday, February 6th and I received it on Wednesday, February 8th.

    First Impression

    The computer was in a sealed Lenovo box and inside a large cardboard box with packaging paper inside. It was divided into one section for the notebook, the others for the battery, pen, and manuals. I knew the 6 cell was a rather fat battery, but when I pulled it out it was when I realized how wide it was. When I first opened up the tablet, it was instantly familiar coming from my X200 Tablet and now gone X201.

    Construction



    When I first opened up the machine, the hinge opened up quite smoothly but not too stiff. The shell still has that rubberized finish. The chassis for me did not have flex, and I could pick it up by the corner like all my other ThinkPad machines. I was quite disappointed that Lenovo removed the lid latch on the new X series. My previous X200 Tablet one wasn't that great, but I feel it is less secure. Also when you close it, my old Vostro 1500 I could just slam the lid down and not be afraid. Like my Alienware M17x R2, I have to be careful when closing the lid.

    Right



    The right side has the card reader, 1 x USB 2.0 port, 1 x Gigabit LAN port, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack, pen storage, as well as the hole to lock in the pen

    Back



    The back has the 6 cell battery and the DC jack (which used to be on the side on X200/X201 Tablet)

    Left



    The left side has the exhaust, 2 x USB 2.0, VGA port, Display port, Expresscard 34mm and the Wifi switch.

    Front

    Nothing here to see!

    Bottom



    Has your RAM access door, COA underneath the battery, and the docking connector.

    Input Devices

    The keyboard feels like all the new FRU keyboards. It is completely different than the _60/61 generation keyboards. The click isn't as loud, the travel not as long.

    There is also an unnatural shine on the keyboard. Overall I don't like the "feel" of the new keyboards, but it is a good keyboard. This was better than the one on my T410s, which I did not like at all.

    There is a new clickpad touchpad with the touchpad buttons integrated into the touchpad. I am going to be as forthcoming as I can, it is not good at all. I can click in the middle and it will right click on me. The beads ontop of the touchpad feel like they are going to wear away. There isn't a disconnected feel like on Latitudes as they use Alps, but this touchpad is not good at all.

    The trackpoint, is excellent as usual. It takes some learning and time to get used to it but it is good.

    Display

    Comparative pictures horizontal and vertical

    Spoiler :


    Lights on vs off
















    Coming from other LED screens now, the display on the X220 Tablet is excellent. The viewing angles are good, courtesy of the IPS panel. The color reproduction is also good for the price point. It is less vivid than my RGBLED WUXGA panel on my M17xR2, but also it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Much better than your average TN WLED panel for sure.

    The pictures when the lights are on vs off are the same. The viewing angles excellent.

    Sound

    Sound isn't bad for this machine. It is clear at loud volume, but the bass is bad. I don't expect top notch speakers from a business convertible tablet.

    Processor and Graphics

    Coming from my Alienware with an i7-920XM and my old X200 Tablet, SL9400, the i5 in this laptop is far overkill for my needs for an ultraportable laptop. The on board graphics on this machine is pretty good, considering it can play alot of modern 3D games at low/medium resolution vs the watts drawns compared to a discreet card. Again for the Youtube and web surfing, the HD3000 is more than sufficient.

    Okay so for now I have only tested Team Fortress 2, which runs on Valve's HL2 engine. I'll also post up a SC2 benchmark later, don't fancy a 12 GB download right now.

    On 1280x768 resolution and medium/high settings, I was able to achieve very fluid 50 fps, definitely playable and on par with many X220 reviews for gaming performance. 2 things I noticed, was the CPU runs INCREDIBLY hot, hitting almost 90C and with tpfancontrol I could not manually control the fan, it kept going back to Smart mode. I'm very surprised that the Intel graphics have gotten this advanced. Alot of older Intel GMA would completely error out upon starting any 3D game. I am definitely impressed with the gaming prowess of the latest Intel GPU's. Comparison, my old Vostro 1500 with a T7500 @ 2.2 GHz, 8600M GT 256 MB @ 1280x800 resolution on medium scores about the same framerates. So interesting a new Sandy Bridge laptop with IGP can compare to a mid range gaming laptop from 2007, in a much smaller idle/thermal package.

    Operating System and Software

    My machine came with the stock Lenovo Windows 7 Professional 64 bit software with the tablet software installed. Even with startup items @ 114, with the SSD from the factory I can get a usable desktop in under 20 seconds. I did disable some startup stuff and installed Microsoft Security Essentials and tpfancontrol and still boots up fast. No I do not bother with a fresh install on most business machines as they don't come loaded with junk software.

    Heat and Noise

    When the laptop is idle, it is very quiet. I also run 0-2 on manual fan control with tpfancontrol. On normal usage, the fan noise again isn't really audible. But when running WEI or Prime95, the fan sounds like my Alienware fans, like a jet engine.

    Overall in normal use the laptop is quite cool. Again on benchmarks, the i5 CPU will get toasty, but all CPUs are like that these days.

    Battery Life

    I turned down the brightness to 2 and I casually surfed the internet (avoiding Youtube or flash with No script) and Lenovo Power Manager said about 9.5 hours. Lenovo's PM software is usually very accurate. When playing a movie, the wattage went up to 7.5-8 watts, so PM estimated about a little under 8 hours. Under extreme load, I only get 2-3 hours, which isn't so bad for a 63 WHr 6 cell battery. I don't plan on really gaming or running CAD on this laptop, so 7-9ish hours battery life is good.

    Conclusion

    Overall this is one of the best ultraportables I have used (X201, X200 Tablet, Latitude 13, X61 Tablet). The IPS screen is a hands down winner. Along with the newest Intel architecture, which allows for the excellent battery life, and the price, we have a clear winner.

    People who hate on Lenovo ThinkPads or diehard IBM ThinkPadders should seriously reconsider and purchase a Lenovo ThinkPad, they are far better built than the IBM ones and cost 1/3 less.

    Pros

    - Solid construction
    - Visually appealing
    - Excellent battery life
    - Excellent performance

    Cons

    - Not that thin
    - The battery is quite bulky
    - Port selection
    - Bad clickpad design
    - No ThinkLight on Tablet X220, even though the keyboard has the symbol for it (competitor HP Elitebook Tablet has one).
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    Default re: Two x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

    **Reserve post**
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    Default re: Two x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsunade_Hime View Post
    There is a new clickpad touchpad with the touchpad buttons integrated into the touchpad. I am going to be as forthcoming as I can, it is not good at all. I can click in the middle and it will right click on me. The beads ontop of the touchpad feel like they are going to wear away. There isn't a disconnected feel like on Latitudes as they use Alps, but this touchpad is not good at all.
    I'm very sensitive to the touchpad. I can tell when it's an Alps pad (which I've always hated) and a Synpatics (which I always thought is as good as it gets for a PC laptop) just by touching it. The funny thing here is the X220/X220T's Synaptics touchpad is HORRIBLE, while the touchpad on the Latitude E6220 is not too bad being an Alps. I don't know if it's because of the touchpad's tiny size on the X220. I'm constantly highlighting stuff just moving the mouse pointer around, it drives me nuts. Scrolling is either too slow or too fast. Forget about gestures, the pad is simply too small for gestures. Good thing the touchscreen works reasonably well for scrolling and back/forward gestures, and I do love the dedicated back/forward button on the keyboard.

    Believe it or not, one of the big reasons I still have my Macbook Air is its beautiful touchpad, even though I don't use the Mac much. It is totally connected and does exactly what I want it to do. In fact on my Mac Mini I use the external magic trackpad more than the mouse. I hate the touchpad on the X220 so much I'm not sure how long I'll keep it for

    PS thanks for the great writeup guys. It was a great read even though I already have an X220T
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    Default re: Two x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

    Agreed on the touchpad. The X220's touchpad is abysmal. I would have much preferred a smaller touchpad with distinct mouse buttons (as in the X201) than the X220's clickpad. Whenever I use my dad's X220, I always use the TrackPoint... I can't understand how he stands using that touchpad all the time

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    Default re: Two x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

    Well my main beefs with the laptop is the clickpad, and the fat 6 cell battery. I'm becoming more accustomed to the Trackpoint, but sometimes I just want to use a touchpad. The one on my Z61t is perfect, same with my T60. Latitude ones have always been crappy as they use Alps.

    The 6 cell if you see Commander Wolf's picture is HUGE, my god. It should have 2 area codes. But I think I am still going to get that 6 cell slice, the idea of 20+ hours battery with an i5 is great, and the price isn't awful. Plus considering the battery is already that fat, might as well go for that slice eh?
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    Default re: Two x220t x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

    Could someone please try this to see if it works? It appears to do wonders for the HP tm2 which also should have an synaptics touchpad.

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    Default re: Two x220t x220 Tablet Reviews for the Price of One! (Tsunade Hime & Commander Wolf)

    For a while I was contemplating a portable machine to go along with my loaded T520. I was thinking of the Macbook Air because I kind of missed my old Macbook pro. The X220 is the other contender.

    I'm only after the highest spec machines and comparing a loaded X220 vanilla to a Macbook Air 13 256gb, the X220 comes out on top in price and screen quality. This review has tipped me over the edge and convinced me to get the X220 vanilla model.

 

 
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