I got to play with the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge e220s a while ago, when it was first launched in my country during this Spring and now I also got to test it in these last weeks.
My review is rather late, others published reviews for this portable laptop a while ago, but I got to test the most powerful version, equipped with a latest generation Core i7 mobile processor and a bunch of other interesting features.
Lenovo targets small to medium business owners with their e220s, part of the ThinkPad Edge line, and promises to offer solid performances, a light and sturdy body and good battery life, all for a price tag that won’t hurt your wallet “as much” as standard business ultra-portables do. This post is going to tell you if this portable laptop lives to its promises or not.
Before actually jumping to the review, see the list of specs below:
- 12.5 inch display, LED backlit, 1366 x 768 px display with an Infinity Glass coating
- Intel Core i7-2617M CPU clocked at 1.5 GHz and integrated Intel HD Graphics
- 4 GB DDR3 of memory
- hybrid storage, with a 80 GB SSD and a 320 GB 7200 rpm HDD
- Wireless N, Bluetooth, Gigabit LAN, optional 3G
- 2 x USB 2.0 and 1 x eSata/USB combo, VGA, HDMI, card-reader, fingerprint reader
- 8 Cell 40.7 Wh battery
- Windows 7 Professional OS 64bit
- measures 12.3 x 8.4 x 0.87 inch (313 x 213.5 x 21.9 mm)
- weighs 3.2 pounds (1.47 kg)
In stores, the Lenovo e220s will be available in a bunch of different options. The top version will be almost identical to this one, the only thing missing being the hybrid storage option we got here, as I couldn’t find it on Lenovo’s official store.
Exterior and design
Despite having a plastic exterior, the e220s feels solid and looks really professional. It might seem like it’s black, but the case is actually dark green and is made from some smooth matte plastic like I said, which should be quite reliable in time and also deal fine with scratches and dust. Smudges though will be quite visible on this dark finish, but of course, not nearly as visible as on glossy coatings.
Being a ThinkPad Edge, this mini laptop is not as sober as the more exclusive business lines, thus some chromed edges were added around the screen and they do offer a hint of style.
The back is pretty smooth as well, and you can notice there’s no access to the memory or the battery, but you can easily change the storage drive if you want to. Ports are properly placed on the sides and there’s pretty much all you’ll need on this mini laptop, except for an USB 3.0 slot though. See the clip below for more details on the exterior.
Opening the lid, you notice the same matte finish used for the palm rest, while the area around the keys in made from some glossy black plastic. The design is rather simple and you only get a fingerprint reader and the Power Button, with no extra gimmicks except for a Logo in the lower right corner, and I for one really enjoy this spartan design employed by ThinkPads.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is actually excellent on this one and is spill resistant as well. Comes with Lenovo’s special design which uses Full-Size keys with just enough space between them. However, they are not square and flat like on most laptops, but slightly rounded on their 6 o’clock and also slightly deepened on their middle, thus it will be quite impossible for you to miss the key you’re hitting for.
It also comes with the standard Lenovo layout and that’s something I for one resent. First, on the left side, CTRL and FN keys are interchanged and this is a bummer when you’re used to a standard layout. Also, the F keys default as function keys, thus in order to get an F5 for instance, you’ll have to press FN + F5. Last but not least, arrow keys are kind of cramped by those PgUp/PgDn keys most of us don’t even use that much.
Typing on this keyboard was comfortable, but the overall experience was affected by a deficient and lagging Space key I got on this test unit, that had a delay before the time I hit it and the time it actually recorded my command. Lenovo assured me this was a problem only with my test unit though…
The e220s brings the classic Lenovo pointing system, with a Trackpad and a Trackpoint, plus dedicated click buttons above the touchpad. I’m not a big fan of the TrackPoint myself, but those using it for a while claim they couldn’t live without it, so I’ll trust their word on this matter.
I can however say that I don’t necessarily like the trackpad included on this 12 incher either. It is proper sized, nicely separated from the palm rest area and feels right when using it, but it also integrates click buttons (its lower right and left corners can be pressed and will act as buttons) and that’s not a design I’m comfortable with. Plus, on this test unit, sometimes the trackpad was completely dead for fractions of a second, thus causing mouse movement delays, especially when trying to use multitouch gestures.
Once again Lenovo ensured me this as well was a problem only with this particular model I got. I did go ahead and checked some other reviews for this unit and none mentioned problems with the trackpad, so they are probably right. Still, I had to be fair with you guys and report on all the things I found after using this laptop for a while.
This mini laptop boosts a 12.5 inch display with 1366 x 768 px resolution and it is covered by what Lenovo calls an Infinity Glass coating, which is actually a layer of Gorilla glass covering the screen and the bezel around it. It looks good, but if you saw Gorilla Glass on tablets, you know how glossy it is.
The good part is that this screen comes with very good brightness levels and this will compensate somewhat the shinny screen when using it outside. Of course, when used inside, the screen is bright and colors look quite nice. Viewing angles aren’t impressive, but I still feel they are a little better than most laptops in the 12 and 13.3 inch segment offer.
Lenovo also claims this screen is treated with an anti-reflective coating, but I for one have failed to see its effect in strong light conditions.
Hardware and performances
Like I said in the beginning of this review, this Lenovo e220s unit is equipped with a Core i7-2617M CPU clocked at 1.5 GHz, which can go to up to 2.4 GHz when TurboBoost kicks on, plus 4 GB of RAM and a hybrid storage solution, with an 80 GB SSD drive and a 320 GB 7200 rpm HDD.
This way, you get to install the OS and the everyday software on the SSD and keep your other content on the HDD, thus getting a big speed boost during daily use. However, I couldn’t find this option in stores and that’s a bummer. Also, Lenovo does not offer an option for more than 4 GB of memory on this notebook and as you saw, upgrading it yourself means that you’ll have to get underneath that entire back body, which can be a bit complicated.
All in all, this ThinkPad Edge e220s will be able to run pretty much all the things you will throw at it, including your everyday apps and even some CPU intensive software like a video or photo editor. It will also deal fine with content, including Full HD clips, self stored or streamed. However, the integrated Intel HD graphics aren’t actually made for games, so this mini laptop will only be able to run some older titles. But I doubt you’ll get an e220s business mini laptop for gaming, right?
Anyway, see the clip below for more details on performances.
We also ran a couple of synthetic tests and you can see the results below.
Remember though that the SSD has a huge impact on many of those scores and you won’t get such results with a standard HDD in there. The CPU is fast and powerful, but it’s still a low-power edition with a 17W TDP, while Sandy Bridge processors found in bigger 13.3 inch laptops and above are faster, but also more energy-hungry.
This Lenovo e220s offers Wireless N, Bluetooth and Gigabit Lan connectivity options. On the back, there’s also a slot for a SIM card, thus some versions will get a 3G modem included, although this one lacked it.
You also get a charge while you sleep yellow USB slot, but unfortunately there’s no fast USB 3.0 slot included as well.
Heat, noise, speakers and others
All the other Sandy Bridge compact laptops we’ve tried had one problem: heat, and the e220s is no stranger to it either. During light everyday use, the bottom of this laptop will get a bit warm, but nothing bothering. If watching HD content or running some resources hungry apps though, it will actually get hot, both on the bottom but also on the top, mainly around the W and D keys.
On the other hand, the little Lenovo remains quiet even when running that kind of apps, which is a good thing, but perhaps Lenovo will update drivers in order to make those fans a bit more active and cool better the hardware inside. Also, you can expect the Core i5 and especially the Core i3 versions of this laptop to run cooler, so if heat is a problem, you might consider those as well.
Speakers are quite powerful and as they get Dolby Home Theater support, sound quality is definitely above the average of this class.
Lenovo also bundles a bunch of security features on this compact notebook, starting with a finger-print reader and continuing with a bunch of programs that allows you to quickly backup and later restore if needed certain information from your computer, but also protect hard-drive from damage caused by potential shocks, automatically cutting its power when moving the laptop.
There’s an 8 Cell battery on this mini laptop and this might sound impressive. However, don’t get fooled, we’re only taking about a 40.7 Wh battery, which is what other producers offer on 4 Cell batteries. That’s why battery life ain’t that great: you will get around 4 hours of life during daily use, while performing various everyday tasks and running a browser, watching some clips, listening to some music, editing some texts and photos, all with screen set at 60%, Balanced mode selected and Wireless ON.
Of course, this means that autonomy will range from 3 to 5+ hours and that might not seem much for a 12 inch laptop. However, remember there’s a Core i7 CPU inside this one and not a pesky Atom or AMD APU. So we can’t really ask for power and great battery life from a light computer with only a
4 8 Cell battery, can we?
Of course, the really pesky problem is the lack of a slice extended battery you could clip beneath the laptop, like you can on the more expensive ThinkPad x220 for instance. That would have been a popular option for sure…
Prices and availability
Prices start at $699 for the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge e220s. For that kind of money you’ll get a Core i3-2357M CPU and 2 GB of memory, plus all the other things mentioned above.
The version we tested will get you to around 1000 bucks, but with only a 320 GB 7200 rpm hard-drive and no SSD. Like I also said in the beginning of this post, there’s no option for the hybrid storage we got on this one. You can however replace the 320 GB HDD with a 128 GB SSD for 250 bucks, but since you can easily upgrade the HDD after you get the laptop, there’s no reasons to pay extra for it in Lenovo’s shop.
Still, $1000 bucks for a 12 incher is a lot…
Wrap-up and conclusions
With that in mind, you might ask whether the ThinkPad e220s is a good buy or not. Well, it depends, cause it is after all a niche product. If you need a small portable computer for everyday use, that comes with an ergonomic keyboard, a nice screen and a stylish, yet sober, design, this can be the one. But like every premium tiny notebook, it’s expensive. It will however make an impression for sure when you’ll get it on the table during your business meeting, so it’s up to you if that’s worth 700 to 1000 bucks or not.
- solid body and high quality materials used for the exterior
- very nice design, sober and yet stylish
- powerful hardware for a 12.5 incher, despite lacking a dedicated graphic chip
- good spill-proof keyboard, despite some of its layout problems
- classic Lenovo TrackPad and TrackPoint
- bright screen
- runs pretty silent
- speakers are quite good
- display is glossy
- not a big fan of the TrackPad with integrated click buttons
- can get quite hot under stress
- battery life is only average and there’s no way to get a bigger battery for this one
Of course, for everyday use, most of us won’t really need a Core i7 CPU, thus the Core i3 version sounds like the better choice. Still, there’s a lot of competition in this 11.6 -13.3 inch class right now so picking something ain’t an easy task.
To make your job easier, there are some situations when the e220s won’t fit: you want to run games, you want to use the laptop most of the time outside or you need a budget ultra-portable. Otherwise though, you should at least consider it when shopping for a tiny portable laptop.
And of course, if you have any feedback or question on the Lenovo ThinkPad e220s we reviewed in this post, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.