Lenovo boosts battery in convertible tablet/laptop

The X220 convertible machine will join the X220 notebook in featuring Intel's Sandy Bridge chip--and sharp increases in battery life.

Lenovo's new X220 convertible tablet
Lenovo's new X220 convertible tablet/notebook Lenovo

Lenovo's newest tablet/notebook features Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture and longer battery life.

Announced today, the Thinkpad X220 convertible tablet/notebook will join Lenovo's upcoming X220 notebook . Both products are the latest additions to the company's X series of ultraportable notebooks and tablet/notebooks with 12.5-inch screens, and both are slated to reach store shelves next month.

The X220 convertible starts at $1,199, while the notebook's starting price is $899. Though Lenovo is targeting both computers to individuals as well as companies, they are designed primarily for business users.

Outfitted with Sandy Bridge, the X220 convertible offers a choice of an i3, i5, or i7 processor. Buyers can opt for either a solid state drive with up to 160GB of storage or a conventional hard drive with up to 320GB. Memory can go as high as 8GB. It weighs in at 3.88 pounds.

Like the notebook, the X220 convertible includes three USB ports, with one designed as an always-on port so people can charge a phone or other device without powering up the computer. A 720p HD Webcam, digital microphone, and an Intel Wi-Fi/WiMax adapter are included as well.

Notable to both the convertible and the notebook are sharp boosts in battery life. The X220 notebook offers 15 hours of battery life with a 9-cell battery--and up to 23 hours when a 6-cell external battery pack is added. The battery life on the convertible is lower, but it still offers 9 hours of life with a 6-cell battery--and 16 hours by adding on the 6-cell external pack.

The convertible's predecessor, the X201, offers 3.5 hours of battery life with a four-cell battery and 7.9 hours with an eight-cell battery.

Preston Taylor, worldwide product marketing manager for Lenovo's ThinkPad brand, said in an interview that Lenovo relied on both Intel and its own team to coax the boost in battery life over previous models. The enhanced power management found in Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture accounted for about 50 percent of the increase in battery life. But the other 50 percent came directly from Lenovo.

Lenovo designed both the convertible and the notebook to dial down or completely turn off unused components to focus on the energy required by the components in use. One example cited by Taylor: if people are streaming videos or music over the Web, they're not using the computer for much else, so there's no need for the hard drive to keep spinning or for some of the ports to keep drawing juice.

Lenovo also outfitted both machines with certain power management features that can extend the life of the battery when it's left with around 90 minutes of power. Even further, people shouldn't see any significant difference in battery usage among the three core processors--the i3, i5, and i7. The battery life itself was tested using the MobileMark 2007 benchmark, according to Taylor, and was done on units with solid state drives and with the power management features turned on.

Consumers eyeing the convertible have a choice of two types of displays. A multitouch screen allows input through both fingers and digital pen, while a special outdoor panel is designed for mobile workers who need to use the tablet outside. The outdoor panel doesn't offer the finger touch option but instead is optimized to reflect light so the screen is visible even in bright sunlight. It also uses Corning's Gorilla glass, which is more durable and scratch-resistant than other types of glass panels. Both panels also offer in-plane switching, which provides a better view of the screen from wider angles.

Like other convertibles, the X220 transforms from a notebook into a tablet by rotating the display and pushing it onto the keyboard. Lenovo wanted to give both the tablet and the notebook a cleaner look and feel, Taylor said. So the old-style latches that lock the lid onto the base have been jettisoned in favor of a latchless design. Using a new pinching mechanism, the lid automatically closes shut when it comes close to the keyboard. This new design also helped Lenovo bump up the size of the touch pad by 45 percent.

The touch pad itself now offers a buttonless design. Instead of clicking on the older-style bottom buttons, users can tap on the touch pad to trigger the left and right button actions. And using a multitouch design, the touch pad accepts various gestures, such as two-finger swipes to scroll up and down the screen.

Surprisingly, though, the tablet and the notebook offer VGA and DisplayPort ports, but no DVI or HDMI connections.

Spec sheets for both the tablet/notebook and the notebook are available online.

 

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