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August 22, 2011

I put the Lenovo ThinkPad X220’s 24-hour battery claim to the test

A few weeks ago I got a brand-new Lenovo ThinkPad X220. It’s a 12.5” PC loaded with a second-gen Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 160GB Intel SSD. It also comes with a big 9-cell battery, as well as an additional 9-cell “battery slice” that clips to the PC’s underside. Together, Lenovo claims that the X220 will run for 24 hours. That’s a full day of always-on computing, at least in theory. But what about in practice? Could it really be possible?


To find out I subjected my X220 to a real-use test to see just how long it could run fully laden with 18-cells of battery power. My plan was to use the PC for my daily activities only when I needed a laptop (i.e., when I was away from my desktop PC), under the following conditions:

  • Both batteries started out at 100% charge
  • Wi-Fi was always on
  • Screen brightness was turned down as far as I could stand it, which was usually between 30-50% brightness
  • My PC was set to sleep upon closing the lid, and would hibernate after 30 minutes of sleep

Here’s how it went. And went. And went. And went….

Monday, July 25th

  • 12:11 – 1:01pm: Meeting with the commercial PR team. Email, PowerPoint presentation via projector
  • 8:01 – 8:39pm: Evening work catch up. Catching up on the day’s email, working on a Holiday planning deck, general web surfing

Tuesday, July 26th

  • 12:00 – 1:05pm: Tech Tuesday Twitter Chat. Every Tuesday at 12pm PT we host a “Tech Tuesday” Twitter chat, which you can join by using the hashtag #win7tech. For this hour I was typing furiously in TweetDeck, running a Lync chat with my colleagues who couldn’t be in the room with us, and using the web to pull facts and check on PC specs.
  • 4:12 – 4:36pm: Meeting with Regional PR Team.  Spent most of the time note taking in OneNote and sharing the Holiday deck that I was working on the previous night.

Wednesday, July 27th

  • 12:55 – 2:01pm: Meeting with the Windows Social Media Team. Note taking in OneNote, blog & social media calendar building in Excel
  • 8:15 – 8:30pm: Evening email catch-up. At this point my total remaining battery life was 74%. That accounts for 4.3 hours of use time, and 3 hours of sleep time.

Thursday, July 28th

  • 8:46am – 9:05am: Morning email sync, using Mesh to sync documents from last night, web browsing
  • 11:02am – 12:00pm: Weekly consumer PR team meeting.  Email, note taking in OneNote, TweetDeck
  • 1:35pm – 3:19 : Microsoft Signature Lab.  I was working in the Microsoft Signature lab to get a few brand new PCs loaded with Microsoft Signature in preparation for some upcoming loans and events. I spent this hour doing web work, checking mail, and working on blog posts in Windows Live Writer.

It was right at the end of my blogging bender that my slice battery died. Total use time on slice battery was about 7.3 hours of use time, 4.5 hours of sleep time. At this rate, I won’t make it to 24 hours, but I’ll still be using the X220 on a single charge well into next week.

Friday, July 29th

  • 1:56pm – 2:17pm: Not a lot of time on the laptop today; just a quick email check and some web work to pull PC specs for an event that another group is hosting.

Monday, August 1st

Today I came in and found that hard-line internet connectivity was temporarily down, which meant I’d be working on my laptop full-time.

  • 9:15am – 12:10pm, 12:54 – 1:45pm.  I spent most of my day doing email and on the web, using TweetDeck, working on a planning deck and organizing my blog calendar in excel. I also spent about 30 minutes reviewing rough cuts of upcoming blog videos.
  • 2:00 – 3:00: Meeting with Field PR Team.This was an hour-long Lync video chat with colleagues from around the world. Pretty processor and graphics intensive.
  • 8:35 – 9:47: Nighttime check-in, mainly email check, web browsing

It’s been a full week since I charged my X220. So far my total use time was about 11.5 hours, with a total sleep time of 6.5 hours.

Tuesday, August 2nd

  • 11:30 -1:02 Weekly Tech Tuesday Twitter chat. Like last week, I spent my hour tweeting my brains out using TweetDeck, Lync chatting with colleagues off-campus, and fact-checking on the web.
  • 3:00 – 3:30: Video Lync meeting with my video crew in preparation for tomorrow’s shoot

Wednesday, August 3rd

  • 10:30 – 11:06: Video review with commercial team.  Heavy use of Windows Media Player with brightness turned to 100%
  • 1:00 – 4:26: Video shoot.  I had my laptop on for our entire shoot, using the X220 as a test PC for some of the SkyDrive + Photo Gallery scenarios we were getting on film. In addition I was using the PC to keep an eye on Email

At 4:26pm on Wednesday, August 3rd – 9 full days after I unplugged and started my experiment – my PC hit 5% battery and went into auto-hibernation. Here are the final results from the test:

  • Days unplugged: 9
  • Total active use time: Approximately 17.5 hours
  • Total sleep time: 8 hours
  • Types of apps used: Internet Explorer 9, Outlook 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Lync 2010, TweetDeck, Windows Media Player, Calculator, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Writer

As you can see, my X220 didn’t quite make it to 24 hours of up-time, but I did get close to 18 hours of work done, and that’s seriously impressive stuff, especially given the X220 diminutive size and weight (even with the battery slice on). If you need a PC that’ll keep you running on a monster flight – like the world’s longest flight from Newark to Singapore – or are in an industry where you’ll need to stay productive somewhere where power outlets are in short supply, the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 is hard to beat.