I would like to say that I understand computers, but they are now advancing too fast and branching out into similar devices too rapidly for me to keep track of everything. So I can no longer say that I understand everything about computers today. Fortunately for any of you who are reading this Lenovo Chromebook S330 review, I understand a Chromebook. And not because I’ve spent a lot of time burrowing into every little feature of a Chromebook, but because I know them for what they truly are: Android phones with keyboards (and usually without a touch screen).
This statement is “technically” not true, but it points to a very important fact that people often miss about Chromebooks. And it’s that a Chromebook is closer to a phone than it is to a laptop. And if you are used to laptops and PCs, even low-to-mid powered ones, you might be disappointed by a Chromebook’s limitations. But if you simply want something to surf the internet, use Google docs, learning, and watching videos on a bigger-than-mobile screen, which is reasonably priced, then a Chromebook might be just what you need.
Otherwise read on for a detailed Lenovo Chromebook S330 review.
Lenovo Chromebook S330 – A Decent Machine For The Price
The Lenovo S330 is an entry-level (budget) Chromebook with a 14-inch display, a moderately powerful processor (for a Chromebook), and four GB of RAM. Lenovo itself marketed the machine as a Chromebook for students, which is in-line with its basic build, affordable pricing, and lack of glamour.
- Simple basic build.
- It is reasonably priced.
- Good value for money.
- Long battery life.
- Limited internal memory.
- No touch-screen.
- CPU is underpowered for certain applications.
Design / Build Quality / Durability
The S330 comes in a plastic body, but it doesn’t look gaudy or cheap, but basic. Lenovo tried to improve the “look” a bit by adding rubber padding to the deck. It comes in business black and has a decent, sleek design with no sharp corners.
The body itself and overall build quality might seem a bit flimsy to those used to metallic bodies, but unless it’s mishandled (or dropped as frequently as a phone is), it will endure.
The display can be stretched all the way back (180-degrees to the keyboard), giving it a more tablet-like look, but it can’t be detached.
If your kids are taking it to school, make sure they understand not to put any weight on it or cram it in a small space. The plastic body is durable, but it’s still plastic and can only take so much.
The S330 is pretty quick to boot up and fairly speedy for browsing, even if you have quite a few tabs open. If you are simply browsing and even watching videos, the device will not lag (in most cases).
It can also run a lot of PlayStore games without a hiccup. The Chrome OS also helps with the speed, thanks to its simple, utilitarian design. Again, you need to think of it as a glorified phone, and not an overpowered laptop when you are comparing speeds.
The Chromebook comes with a standard Mediatek MT8173C chip. It’s an ARM chip, which is pretty standard use for android-based tablets. It’s the same chip that’s used in Lenovo C330 Chromebook and ASUS C202.
The Mediatek MT8173C is a 4-core, 1.7 GHz chip, and it helps the S330 Chromebook stand on par with similar Chromebooks and even laptops with underpowered Intel processors.
Portability (Size and Weight)
It’s light for a 14 inch Chromebook, weighing only 3.2 lbs. It’s just over a foot in length (12.8 inches), 9.1 inches wide, and 0.8 inches high. It’s as portable as most other Chromebooks you might have used, a tad lighter, and easy to lift using one hand. The lighter weight also helps if you need to keep it on your lap for a long time.
The battery life is one area where S330 shines. Even if it doesn’t last the whole 10 hours (on optimal setting and usage) that Lenovo promises, it lasts significantly more than most laptops do. It can be attributed to its fan-less design and the ARM chip, which consumes very low power.
People who are used to a gaming or any other heavy-duty laptop would be able to appreciate its battery timing even more. It’s also one of the most consistently praised features of the S330. Some credit can also be given to the simplicity of Chrome OS, which doesn’t overdo it with the hardware usage.
Lenovo Chromebook S330 comes with a comfortable, full keyboard, though without the numeric keypad and function keys that many windows laptop users are used to. There is also no delete key, which comes as a surprise to many first-time users of Chromebooks, but you will get used to pressing ALT+Backspace instead.
The keyboard isn’t backlit, but the keys feel nice, and the size of the whole keyboard and individual keys is roomy enough for fast typers. This is beneficial for students who need to type in assignments or people who need to write a lot of work emails.
Display Quality & Screen Size
If this Chromebook was Superman, the display quality would have been its kryptonite. This is one area where this Lenovo Chromebook doesn’t shine. The display is different in different versions: The entry-level version of the Chromebook comes with a 1366 x 768 resolution, the more expensive version comes with a full HD display, supporting resolutions up to 1920 x 1080, which is a definite step up from the 1366 x 768 version.
Both Chromebook versions come with a 14 inch, anti-glare display, but the entry-level is a low-cost TN screen. Which means as different viewing angles, you will lose colors and definition. Even the full HD version that comes with the costlier version of the Chromebook doesn’t have an ISP display, and you still get to deal with narrow-angle problems.
But we will give it to Lenovo, that for the price, the display quality is at least adequate.
The price is this Chromebook’s chief selling point (literally), and it’s not just reasonable when you compare it to a similarly basic laptop. The price is very reasonable compared to an Acer Chromebook or a Chromebook from another vendor with nearly similar specs.
And for its price, Lenovo really has made a pretty decent machine for basic functionality and everyday use.
It has four GB of RAM, which is plenty for a Chromebook. RAM is relatively less expensive, and 8 GB memory would have been an improvement, but thanks to a simple Chrome OS running things, the 4 GB offers fast response and doesn’t lag even if you have multiple Chrome tabs open.
The Chromebook comes with 64 GB of internal memory. It’s an eMMC and not an SSD, which you might find in a costlier laptop, but the difference in performance and speed would be barely perceptible.
You can expand your storage with an SD card. Though you can’t insert a card directly into the Chromebook, it has to go through an in-built SD card reader. So you may not be able to install many active apps on it.
Ports & Connectivity
The Lenovo S330 comes with five ports, a USB 3.1 (USB 3.0 for the entry-level Chromebook), a USB-C port (Which acts both as the power delivery port and DisplayPort), an SD card reader, an audio jack, and an HDMI port.
It has almost every port that you might need for a Chromebook. Some users believe that another USB 3.1 (USB 3.0 for the entry-level Chromebook) port would have been a significant improvement. The full-size SD card doesn’t go all the way in and sticks out a bit.
The graphics on the Chromebook is powered by an Integrated PowerVR GX6250, which is designed specifically for the ARM chip that the Chromebook uses. Its performance falls in the higher middle class of mobile GPUs.
This essentially means that you can stream videos in a good enough quality (but keep in mind the limitations of the display) and play quite a few Android games. Though most games are designed for a touchscreen, and might not translate well for mouse and keyboard.
Lenovo S330 User Reviews
Overall reviews of this Chromebook are genuinely positive. Most people know and understand that it’s a budget Chromebook, with a decent set of features and that certain limitations are to be expected for its price range.
Some of the complaints and negative reviews relate to:
- Its display quality
- Refurbished pieces that break down early
- Unsupported apps like Zoom, Skype, MS Office, etc.
- Lenovo customer support
It seems like people who switched to a Chromebook from a laptop for the first time had a few unrealistic expectations from the device.
But overall, the people seem happy with its speed, quality of build, easy functionality, and, most importantly, it’s a very reasonable price.
Were You Looking For Something Different?
If the 14 inch Chromebook S330 is not what you were looking for, maybe Acer Chromebook 14 or HP Chromebook 14 would be more to your liking.
Lenovo S330 vs. Acer Chromebook 14
Like S330, Acer 14 also comes in two variants based on its display quality, and even the entry Acer 14 version is a bit more costly than Lenovo’s FHD version. The Acer 14 FHD variant is significantly more expensive. The display in the Acer 14 is IPS, which is easier on the eyes. Other highlights of the ACER 14 are:
- An Intel chip (different in entry-level and costlier variant)
- Intel HD graphics
- No USB C port
If you are more interested in video performance and display, you may want to go with the Acer 14.
Lenovo S330 vs. HP Chromebook 14
HP 14 is another Chromebook with a 14 inch display. This one is a bit close to Chromebook S330 when it comes to the cost. It’s also a bit thinner and comes with an Intel Processor. The battery life is just a bit lesser than Lenovo’s. There are more similarities than the screen size i.e., Similar memory (4 GB), same Chrome OS, and literally the same five ports. The differences are:
- Intel graphics
- Lower storage (16 GB, 32 GB)
- Video quality is a shade weaker than Lenovo
We would only recommend this option if you want something with an even lower cost than Lenovo.
We hope that at this point in the review, you’d have made up your mind about the product. It’s a good machine for many everyday users whose requirements revolve around basic computing, web browsing, learning, and socializing. It has enough power, memory, and storage for most regular tasks you need to do on a computer, and it does all this at a fraction of the cost.
If you’ve made up your mind that you need a Chromebook, not a laptop or a PC, and your requirements boil down to two factors: “Affordability” and “Practicality,” then it’s the right Chromebook for you.