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Questions about the x220/x230

X200, X201, X220 (including equivalent tablet models) and X300, X301 series specific matters only.
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bergje
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Questions about the x220/x230

#1 Post by bergje » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:13 pm

Hi everyone,

So it's been a long time ;-) (Last visit was: Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:29 am) but that's mainly due to the fact that my trusty x61s has never failed me yet (even though the battery is good for perhaps 20 minutes and the adapter only works if the cord is not stretched to much :D ) But it's good to be back, I was thankful to find the forum still around.

I've recently build a new desktop and with all that new shiny speed my trusty old x61s suddenly seems a bit antiquated. So I've spend the christmas holiday looking at possible replacements and got some questions for the forum.

Basically I'm looking at two options: X220/X230 or the X1 Carbon. I'm more inclined to go the X220/X230 route since those are the descendants from my trusty x61s. Unfortunately I can't test the machines real life since all the shops that sell them here are internetshops or shops that only order them on purchase.

I'm hoping someone can help me with the questions I have. The questions (in order of importance):

1.What size is the palmrest of the x220 or x230 compared to the x61s? I managed to find a side-by-side of the x220 with an x230 so i know those are the same size but unfortunately i could not locate a side-by-side with a x61s (or x60(s)/x61). If anyone could post an image of a side by side or direct me to one i'd be much obliged! I read several reviews stating that the palmrest wasn't really ergonomic so that got me a bit worried.

2. How is the keyboard of the x230 compared to the x220? I know this is a subjective matter, but i would value your opinions. The x220 has the same type of keyboard as my x61s but if the x230 keyboard isn't a serious degradation i would prefer the new hardware.

3. Should I opt for a 6 or 9 cell-battery? Does the excess bulk sticking out at the back with the 9 cell get in the way? Or is the 6 cell powerful enough. I'm actually hoping to use the new machine with a battery (unlike my current deceased 4 cell x61s :D)

4. Is the HD4000 powerful enough to play the odd game? Does not have to be on high settings or anything i'm thinking something like Starcraft II or Diablo III.

Any reactions or insights would be highly appreciated!

Thanks - Ronald
Ronald - X61s, L7300, 2*2048Mb 5300, 120 Gb SSD, Bluetooth, Intel a/b/g. Windows 8.

ZaZ
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#2 Post by ZaZ » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:11 am

I believe and it's been a while since I've seen a X6x, the palm rest on the X6x machine are a bit larger because the taller 4:3 screens allow them to be so. The X220/X220 keyboards are full sized where the X6x are smaller if I recall correctly, which I may not. I personally have no trouble typing on the X220/X230, but I have heard others say the palm rest is too small. It may be a bit of a personal preference thing.

I think both are excellent. They're both firm with excellent pitch. Lenovo switched the keyboard on the X230 to an island style keyboard and in doing so, moved around a bunch of the function keys and removed others. As I said the new keyboard is very good, but if you've got the old layout grooved into your brain, the new X230 will probably never make you happy. I didn't mind the new layout as long as the keyboard quality is good, which it is, but I was never much of keyboard shortcut user.

How much battery life do you need? Both the six and nine-cell batteries stick out the bottom and raise the rear a bit. The nine-cell sticks out the rear too. The four-cell is flush with both the back and the bottom. I got a little over six hours on the six-cell for both the X220 and X230 when the batteries were new. Like all batteries this will degrade over time. The nine-cell should do 9-10 hours, maybe more depending on how low you can stomach the screen brightness.

I'm not a gamer, but I believe games like Starcraft and Diable are more CPU based and can run on either machine, though don't quote me on that one. The HD 4000 on the X230 is about twice as good as the HD 3000 on the X220. If you want to game that's something to consider.

Other than that, the X2x0 are the best ultraportables on the market right now in my opinion. They light and durable, with a great keyboard and screen if you opt for the IPS, which you should. You'll also get long battery life and the X2x0 can do two hard drives with the mSATA + HDD. What's not to love.
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#3 Post by Jason404 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:10 pm

I'm getting less than 4.5 hours on a 6-cell battery on my X220 running Windows 8 (will Max Battery Life power option). I'm sure it was a lot better than that with Windows 7 (the laptop is only a month old and the battery's max charge level is still higher than the design capacity).

I really do not like the layout of the new keyboard when I tried it out, which is why got an X220, even though I would have preferred to have an Ivy Bridge processor with better graphics and Intel WiDi performance. The Back/Forwards buttons have gone, which I find very useful to use with my little finger while using the trackpoint. The Menu key has gone, which I use a lot more than PrtScr which replaces it. I could go on about the other keys as well (PgUp/PgDn, Home/End, et al), but those are the main problems for me.

I have the IPS screen and it does look great, although you can see a little backlight bleed at the bottom on the black screen at bootup. It is not something that makes any difference in normal use, even when using Photoshop.
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#4 Post by Nickolai » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:25 pm

ZaZ: the X2x0 can do two hard drives with the mSATA + HDD
Can you specify which model in the X series introduced it? I have an X200: it doesnt have two hard drives; does it?
Jason404: I could go on about the other keys as well (PgUp/PgDn, Home/End, et al)
I on the other hand use these four all the time. These keys in these being in these exact positions (coupled with overall keyboard quality) were a major factor why I chose Thinkpad over all possible alternatives in the first place. Can't understand why did they have to change it? Anyways, I still got some time until X220 will become inadequate to my tasks (I've got a used X200 and think of buying another one as a backup)
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#5 Post by Jason404 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:25 pm

The '20 and '30 generation ThinkPads have mSATA connectors on the second mini-PCIe slot, so if you do not use WWAN/GPS you can put an mSATA SSD in that slot. You can get them as large as 265GB so far.
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#6 Post by ZaZ » Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:44 am

Nickolai wrote:I have an X200: it doesnt have two hard drives; does it?
It does not. Only the X220 and X230 can do the mSATA SSD and HDD. You might want to look at the Seagate Momentus XT if you want speed and space.
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#7 Post by Nickolai » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:14 am

Jason404 wrote:The '20 and '30 generation ThinkPads have mSATA connectors on the second mini-PCIe slot
What is the first mini-PCIe slot for?
ZaZ wrote:You might want to look at the Seagate Momentus XT if you want speed and space.
I'm already spindle-free, and happy about that. After my first SSD died, I've thought about buying Momentus XT, but decided that I just won't be happy with HDD anymore, especially since that model specifically gets some complaints about noisiness, and there are no other hybrid drives.

I only thought about using a second hard drive to put on another operating system, rescue partition or something. I guess I don't really need that, especially if it would come at a price of WWAN.
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#8 Post by Jason404 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:22 am

Nickolai wrote: What is the first mini-PCIe slot for?
WiFi card. You most probably want to keep that.
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force
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#9 Post by force » Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:49 pm

Not sure if you've made a decision yet, but I happen to have a (bad) pic of a X60s next to a X220. They're not quite lined up with the keyboard at the same location, but ZaZ is indeed correct- the X220 palm rest is shorter. It does come to personal preference, but I can notice the difference and find the X60s more comfortable- it's a bit longer and I like how it's more rounded on the edges, but I could be biased as I still use the X60s more often.

I'll load some games onto the X220 and see how they run (been meaning to do this for a while). It'll likely be stuff like Starcraft II, Counterstrike Source (maybe GO), DOTA2, TF2.

I can't comment much about battery life as I haven't used it much (usually can plug in). I opted for the 6-cell battery since it doesn't stick out the back. This also fits nicely into a Targus pocket sleeve: album

For what it's worth, I have a SSD in my X60s running Linux Mint Debian Edition. It feels nice and snappy and works plenty well as a thin-client and as a browser.

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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#10 Post by bergje » Tue May 28, 2013 4:56 pm

Thanks force! The picture really helps! :D

I didn't check in for a while but I actually ended up putting an SSD in my x61s. This upgrade combined with Windows 8 postponed my acquisition of a new x-series ThinkPad.

I'm actually quite curious what and when a new x-series will be announced. Hopefully sometime around June 4 when Intel releases the Haswell cpu's. Although I fear for the removal of the dedicated trackpoint buttons looking at the x231s rumors... if the new series looks nice that'll be my new machine otherwise I'll probably go for the x230 since I can't locate any x220 with IPS anymore.

Thanks again all for you reactions.
Ronald - X61s, L7300, 2*2048Mb 5300, 120 Gb SSD, Bluetooth, Intel a/b/g. Windows 8.

ZeDestructor
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#11 Post by ZeDestructor » Sat Jun 01, 2013 6:56 am

bergje wrote:Hi everyone,

So it's been a long time ;-) (Last visit was: Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:29 am) but that's mainly due to the fact that my trusty x61s has never failed me yet (even though the battery is good for perhaps 20 minutes and the adapter only works if the cord is not stretched to much :D ) But it's good to be back, I was thankful to find the forum still around.

I've recently build a new desktop and with all that new shiny speed my trusty old x61s suddenly seems a bit antiquated. So I've spend the christmas holiday looking at possible replacements and got some questions for the forum.

Basically I'm looking at two options: X220/X230 or the X1 Carbon. I'm more inclined to go the X220/X230 route since those are the descendants from my trusty x61s. Unfortunately I can't test the machines real life since all the shops that sell them here are internetshops or shops that only order them on purchase.

I'm hoping someone can help me with the questions I have. The questions (in order of importance):

1.What size is the palmrest of the x220 or x230 compared to the x61s? I managed to find a side-by-side of the x220 with an x230 so i know those are the same size but unfortunately i could not locate a side-by-side with a x61s (or x60(s)/x61). If anyone could post an image of a side by side or direct me to one i'd be much obliged! I read several reviews stating that the palmrest wasn't really ergonomic so that got me a bit worried.

2. How is the keyboard of the x230 compared to the x220? I know this is a subjective matter, but i would value your opinions. The x220 has the same type of keyboard as my x61s but if the x230 keyboard isn't a serious degradation i would prefer the new hardware.

3. Should I opt for a 6 or 9 cell-battery? Does the excess bulk sticking out at the back with the 9 cell get in the way? Or is the 6 cell powerful enough. I'm actually hoping to use the new machine with a battery (unlike my current deceased 4 cell x61s :D)

4. Is the HD4000 powerful enough to play the odd game? Does not have to be on high settings or anything i'm thinking something like Starcraft II or Diablo III.

Any reactions or insights would be highly appreciated!

Thanks - Ronald
1. Already answered up (and the X220 Tablet I use is my first Thinkpad)

2. I prefer the classic (X220) keyboard over the newer one (xx3x), but the newer one is still miles ahead most other laptop brands. Basically the only chiclet keyboard I could tolerate.

3. 6/9-cell always, then add the slice :P

4. I can coax HL2/CSS out of my X220 (Intel HD3000) which is significantly worse than the Intel HD4000 parts. No doubt Diablo3, SC2 and quite a few lighter games do OK. Nothing amazing, and low quality settings, but enough to pass some time.
bergje wrote:Thanks force! The picture really helps! :D

I didn't check in for a while but I actually ended up putting an SSD in my x61s. This upgrade combined with Windows 8 postponed my acquisition of a new x-series ThinkPad.

I'm actually quite curious what and when a new x-series will be announced. Hopefully sometime around June 4 when Intel releases the Haswell cpu's. Although I fear for the removal of the dedicated trackpoint buttons looking at the x231s rumors... if the new series looks nice that'll be my new machine otherwise I'll probably go for the x230 since I can't locate any x220 with IPS anymore.

Thanks again all for you reactions.
The refresh will naturally be around the Haswell launch, and much like you, I fear the mucking around their doing with inputs. Can we have a classic layout option please? With physical trackpoint buttons and classic keyboard?

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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#12 Post by CometCKO » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:22 pm

Well, as the new owner of an X220 coming from 6 years with an X61, I think I can address the keyboard question a bit better.

I find the X220 keyboard a little more "springy" than my X61, although that could well be the effects of 6 years of nearly daily use on the latter. When I tried to do some serious typing on the X230, I found that I was making more mistakes and I did not like the sense that I was occasionally bottoming the keys and smacking my fingers into a harder surface. I spend hours a day on content creation (rather than media consumption) so the keyboard is my most critical interface. I've owned at least 4 generations of IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads. But I may be on my last one now, if the X230 is an indication of where the design team is going next. i did NOT like it very well, and I downgraded my purchase from an X230 to the older X220 as a result. As others have said, above, the X230 is not bad for a chicklet keyboard compared to most competitors, but coming from the great keyboards of the past, it is a real let-down.

Compared to the X61, all the keys on the X220 keyboard fall in the right places, whereas I'd need to retrain my fingers for a few changed locations on the X230. The combination of pointing stick and trackpad is a bit of a problem too. In principle, I like the idea of trackpads, but I've generally found it faster to keep my fingers on the home keys and use a pointing stick. Yet when it comes to scrolling, the use of the middle button with the pointing stick leads to hand fatigue over a long period of typing. So I've set up my trackpad on the X220 to do just scrolling. That seems to be a nice combination with the pointing stick. Disabling the borders and the single (left) click on the trackpad has reduced odd cursor movements and other weirdness associated with occasional unintended touches of the trackpad. So I like the combination very well now.

The two things I dislike most about the X220 compared to the X61 are the change in aspect ratio of the screen (annoying to have to scroll more on documents) and the shorter palmrest. The things I like best are the higher-rez screen and the overall speed of processing. My X220 is a Core i7-2640 with 16GB of memory (2x8 GB SO-DIMM) plus the Intel 160GB SSD. Frankly, it's not THAT much faster than my old X61 during content creation, but when I run a big statistical analysis model, it completes the analysis in half the time. I had some data imputation models that I was running which could take 15 minutes on the X61, and they are done in a minute or two on the new computer. I guess the technology has moved a bit since I bought my last Thinkpad in 2006! I only wish we had not lost some of the good ergonomics of the past at the same time.

Hope this helps!

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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#13 Post by ZaZ » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:38 pm

CometCKO wrote:if the X230 is an indication of where the design team is going next. i did NOT like it very well, and I downgraded my purchase from an X230 to the older X220 as a result.
Have you tried the new keyboard? I think it's quite good from a typing perspective. You might disregard something you very well like. Now, if you've got the old layout grooved into your brain, that's probably a better reason to dislike it.
CometCKO wrote:The two things I dislike most about the X220 compared to the X61 are the change in aspect ratio of the screen (annoying to have to scroll more on documents)
I'm curious, both the X61 and X220 have a vertical resolution of 768. I don't understand how that would cause you to scroll in documents using the X220?
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#14 Post by CometCKO » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:33 pm

First) Yes, I was not clear in my post, but my first comment was about the X230 island keyboard. I tried an X230 for a week, and returned it. I type about 3-4 hours per day and it wasn't cutting it for me. YMMV

Second) It's not a matter of resolution, it's the physical space. The Lenovo change from 4:3 to 16:9 aspect ratio means the new screen on the X220 is wider and NOT as tall. I assume this is either because they now expect business people to be watching more videos, or because makers of screens no longer produce them in quantity in the old aspect ratio. For people who actually MAKE content rather than watch it, the new aspect ratio hurts productivity.

Specifically: if your text is exactly the same size, you get fewer lines of text at the new aspect ratio. As measured with a ruler (I just did this) The new screen 6-1/8" tall by 10-7/8" wide. The X61 screen is 7-3/8" tall by 9-5/8" wide. So I've lost more than an inch of vertical display space at the same resolution. This is a HUGE difference in the number of times I need to scroll in a day! Frankly, it sucks!

HTH

Edit: of course this is because most business still revolves around paper. So I'm constricted by the use of A4 paper. I need to see where the text flows on the page, so dynamic word wrap is useless. When I display a chart on a page it needs to be WYSIWYG. Otherwise I would not care that each line of text was longer with a wider screen. I'd get roughly the same number of words on a screen, but because I'm stuck with clients who want paper, I have to rigidly live within the margins of 8-1/2" x 11" pages.

Don't know if that makes my point any clearer or not. It would be a lot easier if I were a programmer or I was writing stuff that would appear on a webpage with dynamic display. In the antediluvian world of paper, the new aspect ratio is NOT a benefit.

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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#15 Post by ZaZ » Mon Jun 03, 2013 11:34 pm

CometCKO wrote:Specifically: if your text is exactly the same size, you get fewer lines of text at the new aspect ratio.
That doesn't make sense to me. The X61 is indeed taller, but the vertical resolution is the same, which should give you the same number of lines. If anything you should get more lines on the X220 because it's more wide, it would allow text to spread out more. Not so much for word docs, but you should get another line or two on a fluid internet page or more cells in Excel.

The pixel density is much higher on the X220. If you bumped up the default DPI to make text the same size as the X61, then you would get less lines. I don't do what you do, so perhaps I'm off base.

I guess we'll have to disagree on the keyboard, which there's nothing wrong with. I reviewed the X230, T430 and X1 Carbon, and thought the keyboards were very good, though the X1C was on the thin side.
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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#16 Post by bergje » Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:14 pm

ZaZ wrote:That doesn't make sense to me. The X61 is indeed taller, but the vertical resolution is the same, which should give you the same number of lines. If anything you should get more lines on the X220 because it's more wide, it would allow text to spread out more. Not so much for word docs, but you should get another line or two on a fluid internet page or more cells in Excel.

The pixel density is much higher on the X220. If you bumped up the default DPI to make text the same size as the X61, then you would get less lines. I don't do what you do, so perhaps I'm off base.
I have to agree with ZaZ, I actually loaded this page from the forum on both my x61s (1024x768) and my Asus Vivotab Smart tablet (1366 x768). Since the tablet has the same screen size as an x230 and is running the same browser (desktop-mode) as my x61s it's a pretty straight comparison. On the 1366x768 you have the same vertical space as the x61s and you can actually get more lines than the x61s since the lines do spread out more.

So perhaps you are bumping up he default DPI to make the text identical size as the x61s? To each his own of course, but that's your own choice ;-).

Meanwhile Computex 2013 is progressing steadily and thus far not a single word from Lenovo on any new machines :-(. Fingers crossed that they announce the x240 before it ends...
Ronald - X61s, L7300, 2*2048Mb 5300, 120 Gb SSD, Bluetooth, Intel a/b/g. Windows 8.

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Re: Questions about the x220/x230

#17 Post by CometCKO » Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:27 pm

Yes, my eyes are not good enough to see smaller text. So at the same physical text size on a screen (height measured in inches/millimeters), I get fewer lines per page. I must stick to a physical representation of a page; I can't just let each line float to the edge of the screen as in normal typing, such as in the forum.

Of course, where the page layout floats, the wider screen gives me more words per line, but I cannot do that where my pages have to be perfectly laid out for printing. The smaller text of WYSIWYG is harder for me to see, so my comment is more about the compromise required to strain my eyes to see the default text size. Assuming the screen is a window on text that is physically the same size (measured in millimeters), the narrower screen reduces the number of lines I can see and increases the amount of scrolling I need to do, unless I'm willing to accept a smaller physical font -- which I find tiresome.

Hopefully that's clearer?

Of course, if you let the font size float, and you are not restricted as I am in the characters per line required for physical representation of a page to be printed in a manuscript, then your point is valid.

The net result: with today's aspect ratio's you need to accept smaller physical displays of text to see the same number of lines. I'm unhappy doing so. But resigned to it, since the whole display market has moved to the new screens.

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