Jun 18, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet - Pen Input

Ensure to update latest drivers/firmware/software for best accuracy.

All the Wacom tablets that I have tested reflect the classic "more accurate around the middle" and "accuracy diminished closer to the edges".  The Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet is not any different. Calibrating your screen does improve the precision.

  • The system is not great for portrait mode due to the battery side being elevated.
  • Landscape mode works well and might be a great thing for the upcoming Windows 8.
  • Sometimes there is a bit of "jittering" when the pen is close to the bottom or top edges.
  • Expect to not get calibration "right" from the beginning.

Two Button Digitizer:


Highly Recommended:

Sorry for the blurry cam



  1. Hi Jesse,

    very useful video again. Thanks. As I stated last week, I'd still be extremely interesting in your opinion on the Slice battery. If you could attach it and comment on the portability and the feel when it's on a desk. Can one still type on the machine with that big battery underneath it or is it too high then?

    kind regards

  2. I forgot....

    the slice Battery should even out the whole device so the angle you mention to be bad for portrait mode could be gone when using the slice...

    so. if you have it around in a box, just go and attach it real quick :)


  3. Andy,
    I'll check it out. It might be the last X220T video I do.

  4. Hi, first of all thanks for the info.
    I wanted to ask: Can the tablet be used only as a pen input, while using an external monitor as the only display output?
    In other words, use the x220T as a wacom tablet.

    Thanks in advance.

  5. @Anonymous regarding X220T as wacom tablet
    If you are thinking of using the X220T touch+pen version then this applies.

    I know that in extended mode you can assign touch or pen to each display. You can have touch working on the screen, and pen on the external monitor or vice versa.

    I'm not sure about having the X220T screen turned "off" and using only the external display. I might check on it later.

    For the how to:

  6. I am thinking of using the outdoor version, therefore pen only.

    Thanks for the info.

  7. Very nice. I was wondering if the edge accuracy was a universal issue or not.

    For annotating PDFs, I use a little-known, handy program called PDF Ink, which is only $5.

    The problem with the pen input, especially if you plan to do some artwork, is that almost none of the graphics art programs (e.g. Photoshop, GIMP, Corel Painter) will recognize pressure sensitivity. The problem lay with the Lenovo drivers. To remedy it, I actually just installed the Wacom Bamboo drivers on top of the Lenovo drivers and, voila, pressure sensitivity.

  8. Jeremy,

    That PDF Ink sounds like an interesting program. I wish there was more information about it on the web. $5 isn't much at all.

    I have heard the pressure sensitivity issue many times. It's interested that Lenovo continues to supply drivers with issues when there's a quick fix through the Bamboo drivers. They should just install them and make people happy.

  9. Is the pen-input problem really as bad as this?
    or is the calibration really that difficult to get right?

  10. Chris,

    I watched the whole video. I have these points:
    1. Yes it can be that bad and worse.
    2. When you calibrate keep the pen at the same angle.
    3. When you write keep the pen at the same angle.
    4. Wacom tablets seem to be more accurate in the middle and once you hit the edges they lose the accuracy. I saw the same behavior on the X201T.
    5. It will never be perfect.

    The angle xyz axis stuff matters (notice how the angle is changed every time on that video?). Download the SDK and test it yourself.

  11. 6. Hover precision isn't always the most accurate. I have noticed that when you get the pen closer the little dot on the screen gets closer to the pen's tip.

  12. Hi Jesse
    Can we disable the touch mode to use the pen mode only on x201t and x220t? Thank you!

  13. There is a way, but it's a bit of a hack.

    You will need a secondary monitor connected to the X201T and in extended mode. To make it clear you will assign finger touch to the external monitor, and pen input to the X201T's screen.

    1. Hit the Windows key and type "Table PC Settings", and open it.
    2. Click on the Setup button
    3. Select Pen Input, and then touch with the pen the X201T's screen.
    4. Click the Setup button again, and click the Touch input option this time.
    6. Instead of touching with your hand, move the cursor with the touchpad and place the cursor on the secondary monitor, click with the touchpad.

    You have now assigned pen mode only to the X201T's screen, and touch to the external monitor. If you disconnect the X201T then the hack stops working.

  14. Hi Jesse, thanks for all of your X220 tablet videos. They've been a great asset to me as I've decided to purchase one of my own and as I've been learning how to use it.

    Is there any way to customize the settings for different screen orientations independently? For example, it would be helpful to be able to calibrate the pen input for each screen orientation since the direction I angle my pen will be different when I use different orientations.

    Thanks again!

  15. @Jack
    I seriously doubt it. This would be a Wacom issue.

  16. Hi Jesse,

    I have a new X220 Tablet which gives me an error and switches back to normal landscape every time I try to use the tablet in "Secondary Landscape" orientation while the wireless is switched on. You didn't mention this in your video - is this a problem you encountered too?


  17. Edwin,

    I doubt I used it on secondary landscape much. I don't remember. I know that some systems like the Fujitsu T580 have settings for battery only, and then change behavior when plugged in to power. If I recall it may be linked to WWAN cards (it's in a data sheet PDF)

    Sometimes tweaking settings can fix it.
    - Hit Windows key and type "Tablet PC Settings"
    - Click on the link that says "Go to Orientation"
    - You can modify a few settings there.

    I don't know if that will fix it for the X220T.

  18. Hey Jesse,

    As always, an informative and entertaining video.

    You have a Fujitsu stylus on hand. Have you had the chance to try out a Fujitsu Wacom tablet? From what I hear their digitizers are more accurate than the x220's, especially at the edges.

    Actually the problem at the edges is one that's being currently tossed around in the Lenovo support forums. The general consensus is that it's a software problem and reps there say that the engineers are working on a solution. Unfortunately there have been no updates for over a week. There are some suggested fixes out there (mostly consisting of removing the standard drivers and installing an alternative driver from Wacom). Hopefully Lenovo will have a fix soon.

    btw, battery hump aside, how is the general inking experience with the x220 like in portrait mode? Some people complain that it's too narrow, especially for stuff like diagrams and equations which can run off the side of the screen. What's your take?


  19. Eric,

    I haven't tried a Fujitsu Wacom tablet yet. I tried to get a review unit T901 from Fujitsu (got shot down by Karen R. the PR Manager). The latest gen Wacom tablets should be similar performance wise. There could be differences on the way the layers are set... thus giving you different results.

    The narrower resolution does affect the note taking capabilities. For those familiar with 800 pixels going down to 768 does feel strange. It may also feel narrower because it's a wide screen display, so putting it on portrait gives you that. The X220T seems to be made for landscape mode more than portrait.

    I sure hope Lenovo can sort the edge accuracy because Windows menus are affected quite a bit. If you cannot trust the pen at the edges then it affects productivity.

    I'm wondering if I should put the over $2,000 down to get a Fujitsu T901 with Optimus. I really want to try the system out. It would be a system that I would definitely return because this $2/day (sometimes $0, sometimes up to $5!!!) blogging business is not really a business but more of a hobby.

  20. Hey Jesse,

    I'm not sure about the t901 being "similar performance wise" in terms of digitizer accuracy. Check out this post:

    It seems the Fujitsu has noticeably higher accuracy than the Lenovo (although some dispute it).

    As for the T901, it's your decision. People seem to say that it's a great machine, but the cost is definitely high (much higher than the x220). Unfortunately tablet PC's aren't available to try out at stores :(.


  21. Eric,
    It seems that the T901 gets smoother results. Those screenshots show some big differences. I would like to see someone actually drawing with it.

    I have never seen a convertible tablet at a store. Testing them requires someone to put the dollars down and give it a shot. But yes over $2,000 is a lot of money.

  22. UPDATE!!!

    Lenovo has promised a driver-based fix for the accuracy issues around the edges soon. See the thread on for more info.

  23. Anyone have any luck with installing WACOM drivers on Windows 8 on the X220? fyi I've installed windows 8 by creating a VM using VMWare... and am hoping to get pen input recognized in it. Touch is working fine as VMware recognizes the WACOM ISD V4 and allows you to connect to it.