1) Image retention/persistence (sometimes called "ghosting", which is not entirely accurate)
2) White spots (possible wear/pressure marks) developing under normal use
My personal X220 4291-4BG has had noticeable image retention since I got it (some time late 2013). Nonetheless, as it was only observable in certain scenarios (over relatively dark backgrounds), which was not common in my workflow, and as I knew that there is no guarantee that an exchange will be free of this issue, I did not bother getting it replaced for a while.
However, a few months ago, towards the end of the warranty (expired last December) I also noticed it began developing the infamous white spots. That tipped the balance towards replacement.
For various reasons, the replacement experience was long, although far from unpleasant. The service representatives were always courteous, helpful and professional. However it took a while to get a good panel. In the process I've received:
- A TN panel (FRU 04W3920, panel LG LP125WH2-SLT2), which was either ordered by mistake or shipped by mistake.
- The correct IPS panel (FRU 04W3462, LG LP125WH2-SLB1), marked as "Certified used part". Manufacturing date was 2012-01, whereas my original screen was 2011-09. The observed image persistence was much lower on the new panel (although still noticeable in some cases). However, it had a couple of even more noticeable white spots, which is not surprising giving its age and the fact that it's been used.
- Another 04W3462, also refurbished, but an even older one (dated 2011-05). It did not have any white spots, but had more image persistence than the 2012-01 panel. Furthermore, it would randomly flicker / cut out and display vertical bands instead of an image. This could be a sign of pressure due to improper installation, or permanent damage to the panel.
- Finally, the new X230 IPS screen (FRU 04W3919, panel LG LP125WH2-SLB3), which is fully compatible and has in fact been used on late X220 machines, or as warranty replacements. This panel has also been marked as "certified used", but according to the sticker, the manufacturing date is 2014-07. Strangely, AIDA64 shows the manufacturing date as "2010", which almost certainly is wrong, since I do not think they were making the original revision of these IPS panels back then, much less the new one. The screen itself appeared flawless - no white spots, and the image persistence is far far lower than on any of the previous ones. It is still possible to sometimes see a trace of it (as always, on dark backgrounds), but you have to specifically look for it, and often it will only be observable in very static areas (like the system tray), which suggests it takes it longer to set.
My experience led me to the following conclusions, which, although limited and inherently subjective, are supported, in part, by reports of others:
- All LG IPS panels used on these laptops experience the image persistence phenomenon. However, the severity varies greatly. On panels where the effect is less pronounced, it may be unnoticeable unless explicitly searched for.
- It has been suggested that LP125WH2-SLB1 LCDs manufactured after a certain date in August 2011 generally experience less persistence. This does not always appear to be the case. My original one was manufactured in 09-2011 and had a good deal of persistence. On the other hand, ZaZ, who is a member here, has a very early X220 IPS LCD with no visible persistence.
- The newer revision (FRU 04W3919, LG LP125WH2-SLB3) tends to have the effect far less pronounced. Granted, I only witnessed one (good) sample of this panel, but the same conclusion was reached in a long discussion on iXBT.com (Russian) forums, and the fact that less threads are opened complaining about ghosting/persistence on the X230 (where the SLB3 became the default panel) seems to support that as well.
- With regards to the white spot issue, my experience is insufficient to determine whether this is in fact more common on these panels than on your average laptop LCD. 2/4 IPS panels I witnessed had this problem, but so did most of the IPS LCDs on older laptops I owned (and a few TN LCDs as well). It is said that it tends to develop faster on the X220/X230 LCDs, but on my unit it only became evident towards the end of the 3-year warranty, which is not unheard of. Then again, my laptop LCD may have been relatively lightly used.
- Finally, based on the fact that 3/3 of the replacement IPS LCDs I received were marked as "certified used" suggests that Lenovo will freely reuse LCDs returned to them during warranty exchanges for light defects such as ghosting/white spots. It makes sense to do so, since not everyone notices / cares about these defects, and they may still be used as good replacements for screens that are completely busted/unusable.
- After the first exchange was the wrong panel type, my original LCD was put back in the machine for a couple of days while the second replacement shipped. It seemed to me that during that period, the image persistence was far worse than what I could remember before, although it was the exact same LCD unit. This leads to a theory that the phenomenon may not be caused just by the panel, but also by installation (how firmly the connector is attached or how much pressure is applied to the panel or whatever). This is a wild theory, and is probably wrong, especially since I am not 100% sure the difference in persistence was there. I could have just imagine it. Then again, it has been reported that the amount of persistence varies with time, even on the same panel. It may be that I was just seeing "normal" fluctuations.