Keyboard and Touchpad
The E220s features the newer “Chiclet” or island-style keyboard with extra spacing between the keys. This is the one area that continues to divide many ThinkPad owners; some of whom continue to think Lenovo should use the same keyboard used on the ThinkPad T60 five years ago. This new keyboard has a fantastic feel with excellent key travel (the distance between pressed and un-pressed positions) and each key has a slightly concave surface to help improve typing accuracy.
I think it’s unfortunate that the keyboard is not backlit. The E220s has the old “ThinkLight” which is essentially a LED flashlight built into the screen bezel next to the webcam that shines down on the keyboard. Some people argue that the ThinkLight offers better visibility in the dark compared to a backlit keyboard but since the light is built into the screen lid you have to tilt the screen forward to get just the right amount of light on the keyboard … which isn’t always ideal for viewing the screen.
The E220s has the traditional TrackPoint pointing stick in the center of the keyboard with three buttons below the spacebar. This continues to be a great way to control your mouse cursor and gives you a three-button mouse at the same time. The touchpad is one of the new extra-large “buttonless clickpad” with a matte surface. This works by you pressing down on the bottom left or right corners to click. Lenovo did a reasonable job here, but it isn’t perfect. We found the clickpad requires varying levels of pressure to register a click and it won’t always register a click depending on where your fingers are touching the clickpad surface.
Screen and Speakers
The E220s has a 12.5-inch display with a “glass” surface and a 720p (1366×768) resolution. This appears to be the same 12.5-inch panel used on the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 with a 16:9 aspect ratio and LED backlighting. The E220, however, has a reflection-prone glossy layer over the screen instead of the plane matte surface on the U260. Our test lab results show the display has a peak brightness of 228 nit with an average contrast ratio of roughly 175:1.
Horizontal Viewing angles are relatively good and vertical viewing angles are pretty narrow. There is significant color inversion after 20 degrees off-center vertically. This shouldn’t be a problem as long as you don’t try to view the screen from above or below.
The E220s has a speaker bar below the screen that holds two very small speakers. They deliver a surprising level of sound clarity and decent volume despite their diminutive size. There is just the slightest hint of bass so if you plan to listen to your entire music library on this laptop then you’ll want to buy a set of hood headphones or external speakers.
Audio out options include HDMI and a headphone jack. Note the headphone jack doubles as a microphone jack; therefore when buying a headset, make sure you get one that supports the combo port (i.e. also has a combo microphone/headphone jack as well).