Windows 8 Tablet Review: Lenovo X220 Tablet Convertible

Today we are taking a look a the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 (429637U), a unique convertible touch-laptop that brings us the best of both worlds: touch-technology and laptop functionality.

While not the most elegant system on the block, Lenovo ThinkPads do have a reputation for good quality.

So how does the X220 tablet convertible stack up compared to tablets and convertibles I’ve reviewed in the past? Let’s take a quick peak at the specs, and we’ll go from there:

  • 12.5” LED display with a 1366×768 resolution
  • 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 Processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 320GB HDD
  • DVD Burner
  • 802.11 n WIFI
  • Dimensions: 9x12x1.23-inches
  • Weight: 3.97 pounds

Now that we’ve seen a closer look at the system’s specs, we’ll start by taking a closer look into how the unit is designed and how it feels to use it.

Look And Feel

First off, there is no denying that ThinkPads aren’t exactly beautiful. They have a functional look that has served its purpose without much change for about a decade. When compared to other thinner laptops out there, you can’t help but feel that the ThinkPads look more at home in the year 2000 than in today’s world.

Still, it does serve its purpose and distinguishes itself as a machine that is more about purpose than how pretty it is, and I can certainly appreciate that in my hardware. Like the X220 standard laptop model, this version also has a magnesium alloy frame and has been built to withstand moisture, shock, vibration, and extremes in temperature.

The X220’s touch screen even has scratch resistant Infinity glass to protect it, though this does add a bit of glare in the long run.

Weighing in at just under 4 pounds, the X220 Convertible isn’t exactly light but nor is it massive. Of course, for ultra-mobile use like the iPad 2 it just isn’t going to cut it if you frequently need it in this capacity, but if you are seated properly it really isn’t too bad to use the device as a slate for short sessions of use.

The touch screen is multitouch capable, able to register up to five fingers at a time and works rather well. Lenovo loads the device with the Windows 7 Touch Pack, providing you with an on-screen keyboard and Windows’ handwriting recognition. The on-screen keyboard is fine while in landscape orientation, but in portrait mode the keyboard is too narrow to comfortably use.

For these type of situations, you’ll instead want to use the stylus and handwriting technology. In honesty, the recognition is great and really can save you time.

Overall, it is quite functional as a tablet or a laptop, though not without a few minor concessions on the tablet-side (Such as weight).

Battery Life

The X220 tablet model pulls in about a 5 ½ hour battery life with the 6-cell 63Wh battery. This isn’t as good as the laptop X220 model that manages 8-9 hours, but it still isn’t bad when compared to other convertibles of its kind (which are often 3-5 hours in battery life.)

Hybrid Performance

Lenovo uses technology like its SimpleTap to help make the Windows 7 experience a little better. Once activated, it brings you a touch-friendly tiled interface that has on-screen controls for many different settings like speaker volume, screen settings, and using the integrated webcam.

Lenovo’s UI addition is a great combination of functionality and simplicity, and while I’d rather take Windows 8 and Metro over this solution, it works quite well until you manage to get your hands on an upgrade to Windows 8.

At 4 pounds, this isn’t going to be a great e-reader or just generic net-browser, but for gaming, drawing, and other ‘mobile’ uses it really offers quite a lot of power and functionality that leaves me at least reasonably impressed.

Hardware Performance

The ThinkPad manages to work rather well as a tablet, but in reality it is a full laptop when it comes to the power that operates it. The blazing Intel i7 processor works wonderfully and is world’s better than you’ll find on any existing slate/tablet devices out there that aren’t ‘convertibles’.

This is the device that does everything from gaming, to typing, to high-end business apps, and even most art/design programs should work without any major issue.

Still, its video graphics could be better and so you won’t be able to play the really high-end games unless you stick to low settings. Still, it is hard to beat when compared to others in its class.

Summing It All Up..

Convertibles are certainly not for everyone, and Lenovo’s business-styled ThinkPads certainly drive that home with more business-oriented styling. Still, this truly is the ‘best of both worlds’ and still manages not too be too cumbersome considering the amount of features it brings to the tablet, such as DVD burning, an i7 processor, and its own touch-UI to help supplement the Windows 7 environment.

At a very hefty price, this really is only a good sell for business professionals or power-users (or gamers) that really need this extra power and performance. There are cheaper, smaller more netbook-like convertibles out there that are at least half the cost of the X220 if power isn’t your primary concern.

Overall, I’m impressed at this unit, though at $1,588 at Amazon, it might be a hard sell for many users out there.

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