At first glance, the exterior of the ThinkPad X220 has only a few minor changes from the X201. The location of several ports has been shuffled around, but you've still got the same tried and true boxy design combined with durable magnesium alloy and plastic construction covered in matte black rubberized paint. Lenovo continues to provide essentially a full-size keyboard on a 12-inch ultraportable notebook, but that larger keyboard comes at the expense of space for the palm rests. Although typing is very comfortable on the X220, your wrists don't have abundant space with your fingers in the traditional typing position.
Regardless of the compact design, the X220 continues Lenovo's trend of "business rugged" laptops. This ThinkPad is Milspec tested (physical shock, thermal shock, altitude, dust, vibration, humidity, heat and cold) for proven durability. Translation: mobile professionals don't need to treat this laptop with kid gloves. Toss the X220 in your car or let the flight attendant jam it into an overhead compartment. The X220 will take the beating and keep working.
The majority of Lenovo's business clients order their notebooks pre-configured exactly the way they want them. However, Lenovo still makes it reasonably easy for those customers who want to upgrade the X220 on their own. The hard drive is easily replaced by removing the single screw on the side access panel. As far as RAM is concerned, there are two slots located under the main access plate on the bottom of the notebook. Our review unit came with a single 4GB memory module installed, so it would be quite easy to upgrade to the maximum 8GB memory capacity by installing a second 4GB stick of RAM.
The ThinkPad X220 has what can only be described as the most robust port layout we've seen on any current-gneration 12-inch notebook. You get two standard USB 2.0 ports and your choice of either one "always on" USB 2.0 port (for charging USB devices when the notebook is powered off) or one USB 3.0 port for high-speed data transfers. The X220 also comes with a VGA port, Display Port connection, Gigabit Ethernet and a SDHC card reader. Oh, and the engineers at Lenovo also managed to squeeze in a full size 54mm ExpressCard slot for accessories and port expansion. If that isn't enough ports, there is a docking station connection on the bottom of the notebook so you can turn this 12-inch laptop into a desktop replacement.
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