ThinkPad x220 Review

My Decision

Throughout this spring I've been eagerly waiting for the announcement and arrival of the new X-series laptops from Lenovo. I've been incredibly happy with every Thinkpad I've ever had, and while my existing laptop--a very swell T510--has been great, it was time:

  • I needed a system with a bit more power. The power of my existing system was being to frustrate me. Things took too long to compile, I was having some annoying networking processing issues, and to make matters worse...

  • The thing was huge. I think 15 inch laptops are a great size for doing actual work, and I'm not getting rid of this one, but it's not the kind of thing I want to lug on my back. Which I was doing a lot.

  • I needed more redundancy. Most of my work in the world--writing, hacking, communicating--happens with a computer. While my data is backed up (never well enough, of course, but it's there,) I worry more about the case where I'm stranded for a period of time without a working system.

    This facilitates not only piece of mind, but also makes it possible to do things like: upgrade the T510 from 32 to 64 bits. (Don't ask.)

  • In the long run, the older laptop might need to go to R. who's personal system bit the dust a few months ago.

What Happened

But, when the new x230s came out and I found myself unimpressed. The revision got a different keyboard and I adore the old keyboard. To make matters worse the screen on the new model wasn't any better than the one on the old: the pixel density is somewhat crappy.

In light of this, and mostly for the older keyboard, I decided to buy the older model. In short: it's great.

I bought the RAM and hard drive aftermarket, and replaced them before booting the first time. Having 16 gigs of RAM is pretty much amazing, and I'm sold on the notion that SSDs are now a must for most common personal computing work.

Incidentally I discovered that this computer is about the same weight as the 13 inch Macbook Air (and I have the larger battery), for those of you keeping score at home. And way beefier. Thicker obviously, but still...

Point by Point

Pros:

  • The keyboard is the same great Thinkpad keyboard we've always had. I'm sure eventually I'll give in and learn to enjoy the new keyboard, but for now, I'm going to stick with the old.
  • It's way fast. Because, the speed of my old computer defined "the speed of computers," in my mind, it was kind of nifty to learn that computers had actually gotten faster.
  • It's way small. Turns out, if I'm lugging a sub-3 pound laptop around, I can totally use my awesome shoulder bag. I also don't feel like my wrist is going to give out if I need to walk 30 feet holding the laptop in one hand.

Cons:

  • The screen could be so much better than it is, and there's really no excuse. It's not enough of a deal breaker for me, but...
  • That's really it. I think 12 inch wide screen laptops don't have quite enough wrist-rest area on them, but that's really an unavoidable problem: if you have a wide secreen (and thus a full keyboard,) the wrist area is short and narrow. If you have a more square screen and a squished keyboard, then you have enough wrist area. One adjusts.
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