Lenovo L220X 22″ Widescreen LCD Monitor

by Matt Serrano on June 4, 2008 in Graphics & Displays

Lenovo tests the waters in the LCD market with a product that we’ve been waiting quite some time for — a 22" LCD monitor that offers a 1920 x 1200 native resolution. But is its resolution alone enough reason for you to give it the nod?

Usage Report

First off, I’ll say that the DPI is probably the biggest concern for most people contemplating the monitor for purchase, but I’ll denounce the concern right now. I sit roughly two feet away from this display at my desk, and wear glasses because I’m nearsighted. I had absolutely no problem using the monitor for simple tasks such as web browsing and emailing. Obviously things were smaller (especially text), but it posed no issue for me, and I never thought about the issue at all.

I am clearly only a small slice of the population, but I have little doubt that others will have measurable success as well. If anything, I have had trouble going back to a regular display after using the L220X for an extended period of time.

Computer Use

Using the monitor is nothing but a joy if you’re looking for usability while saving desk space. Being able to transition windows side-by-side or have four or five open in the background without getting confused or out of track is a multitasker’s dream. I had no problems organizing my windows and navigating using Explorer’s shell, and I actually used Expose on OS X as a tool to find what I was looking for for, rather than as a way to uncover previously hidden windows on smaller screens like I was accustomed to.

The monitor demonstrated to be very legible, even with smaller text. Similarly, web pages were crisp and easy to read, without the trouble of hunting for links that blended in with regular text on certain sites or dithering issues that appear when scrolling on some poorer displays (the background may flash).

You could say the monitor demonstrates the strengths of a CRT, without its weaknesses. It’s clarity and color representation is unlike any LCD I’ve seen, making it idea for photo manipulation or production work, and it doesn’t take up a fraction of the space a huge cathode-ray-tube monitor would.

Cinematic Use

To test out the the L220X’s image quality with movies, I watched the widescreen DVD release of Saving Private Ryan, 720p TV show content, as well as the 1080p trailers of Speed Racer and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Though it was somewhat expected, Saving Private Ryan did not manage to fare well. Unfortunately, scaling up the DVD resolution to the monitor’s native resolution will simply not look good without some amount of post processing involved. The screen’s size makes matters worse, since it’s smaller presentation encourages viewers to sit up closer to the display. So unless you plan on keeping the movie windowed or sitting far away from your desk, I cannot recommend the monitor for DVD playback.

The high definition material did much better in every regard. Even though I did notice small imperfections, my complaints are still limited to the source material alone and not the monitor in any way. In this case, artifacts in the H.264-encoded 1080p trailers were obviously apparent, but the content looked amazing nonetheless. I’m sure the monitor would be able to shine with Blu-Ray content, which makes the absence of extra HDMI and component ports even more of a crime.

Gaming Use

Team Fortress 2, Track Mania United Forever, and Company of Heroes: United Offensive were used to test the monitor’s gaming capabilities. All of the games were tested with an 8800 GT and v-sync enabled.

Gaming in general was an absolute joy. Team Fortress was smooth and detailed down to the smallest features, and no ghosting was visible whatsoever. Track Mania was vivid, and the monitor managed to keep up with the chaos happening on screen during every moment. Company of Heroes, despite being relatively tame with visuals on that would push the monitor to its limits, was gorgeous, and had no problems.

Since games scale so well (as long as you have the horsepower, of course), they can be viewed comfortably up close while retaining readability. The end result is most likely the most detailed and rich gaming experience I’ve ever held on a PC. Some gamers would rather play on a smaller or larger display, which they cannot be fairly compared, but it’s a safe bet to say the image quality you’ll find here is worlds better than any other 22" display on the market.

With everything considered, I think the display offered a nice compromise between an awesome gaming experience and size. The amount of detail is on a much larger scale than a comparable 20" or 22" display, and it’s more compact and affordable than any 30" you could possibly buy. Serious PC gamers would have a blast with it, but console gamers looking to take advantage of its higher resolution will have to jump through hoops with only two connections available.