Screen and Speakers
The 12.5-inch screen on our review unit of the ThinkPad X220 is an optional IPS panel with LED backlighting. The screen features the same 1366 x 768 resolution as the standard display, but the IPS panel provides greater screen brightness, more contrast and wider viewing angles. Our lab test results show this screen has a 743:1 contrast ratio and a peak brightness of 263 nit. Horizontal and vertical viewing angles are quite simply superb; we barely noticed any color distortion even out to extreme viewing angles.
Speaker quality is average as the maximum volume output is loud enough to fill a large meeting room with clear sound. The audio performance is good enough for a basic video conference or webcast, but there is a little distortion at the maximum volume setting and bass output is almost nonexistent. As with most modern ultraportable notebooks, the speakers are located on the bottom front edge of the X220. This means sound is directed down and away from you rather than up toward your ears. If you use the X220 like a “laptop”, then the sound is often muffled against your clothing or your legs.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the new ThinkPad X220 features a few subtle changes from the previous generation of X200/X201 series keyboards. The X220 delivers everything we have come to expect from the typing experience on a ThinkPad. The main key sizes are still 100% of normal and Lenovo hasn’t switched to the Chiclet-style keyboards on the X220 yet. The typing surface has excellent support with barely any flex under heavy pressure. The tactile feel from each key is great with soft clicks emitting very little noise when fully pressed. You can type for hours at a time without much discomfort.
The classic red TrackPoint and buttonless touchpad are Synaptics models that provide an excellent sensitivity and responsiveness as you move your cursor in various applications. The new buttonless touchpad provides a 45 percent larger surface area than the touchpad on previous generation of X Series notebooks.
If you’ve read other reviews here on NotebookReview.com, then you know most touchpads with integrated buttons have problems. Specifically, if you rest one of your fingers or thumbs on a touchpad button while you move the cursor with another finger, it’s possible that the touchpad will interpret the two fingers on the touchpad surface as a two-finger gesture or quickly move the cursor between the two fingers when you lift one finger off the touchpad surface.
This is still an issue with the touchpad on the X220, but the diver that Lenovo uses result in fewer “jumping cursor” problems than what we’ve seen on many other buttonless touchpads.