Lenovo Chromebook S330 review

From the first day they came into existence, Chromebooks were a low-cost alternative to traditional laptops. Why spend $500 on a netbook, or $1,200 on a Windows device when you could go the Google route and keep a few hundred in your pocket?

A Chromebook was all we needed to get online and live in the browser; this is where we spend most of our day. For many, a Chromebook is still often all we need even in 2019.

Over time we’ve watched manufacturers design increasingly more powerful and beautiful products. Moreover, they’ve become more versatile, too. Today’s Chromebook devices are capable of running Android apps and many of them can open on a (2-in-1) hinge that turns the unit into a tablet of sorts.

It’s not uncommon for OEMs to offer a full product line of Chromebooks with something at different price points and use cases. The Lenovo Chromebook S330 finds itself somewhere along the lower end of the spectrum with a price tag that starts below $200. Here’s our review.

About

The Chromebook S330 weighs a shade over three pounds (3.3 lbs) and features a 14-inch display. Clad in a plastic shell it travels extremely well and stands up to moderate physical wear. Given its cost, size, and build, this makes an excellent option for consumers who are looking to outfit a student or two with something for the school year.

Design

The Chromebook S330 won’t win any beauty awards but that likely matters little to its target demographic. This is the sort of experience where you just want to get online and do your thing. That thing can be social media, school work, email, blogging, and consuming content.

There’s a fair amount of bezel around the sides of the display and even more so at the top and bottom. Lenovo could have gotten away with a slightly smaller frame but it’s not unsightly stuff.

The Chromebook S330 comes in “Business Black” which is a shade or two lighter than we expected. It’s more of a slate color but skews toward black as opposed to gray. There’s a dimpled, or pattern, texture on both the top and bottom of the laptop which makes it easy to grip.

On the right side edge we locate an audio jack and Kensington lock while the left has a USB 3.0 port, HDMI, USB-C (Power Delivery & DisplayPort), and a card reader. Sound comes from the bottom-firing stereo speakers and a 720 pixel camera sits above the display.

The screen will be tilted at 180 degrees but this is not a 2-in-1 device. Feel free to adjust it to whatever reading angle you want but you won’t be able to flip it completely over. This is also not a touch screen experience. If you want or need that 2-in-1 and/or touch display, you might consider the Chromebook 300e.

Specifications

  • 14-inch Full HD display
  • MediaTek MT8173C processor (1.7GHz)
  • 4GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • 64GB storage
  • SD card slot for up to 64GB storage
  • 720p HD camera with integrated microphone
  • 10 hours battery life
  • 802.11 AC (2 X 2)
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB 3.0, USB C, HDMI

Performance

This Chromebook doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. By all outward appearances we expected something that’s good enough to get the job done – if the job means reading and writing, watching the occasional video, and taking in some social media.

We found that we were able to open plenty of tabs with a range of different websites on the Chromebook S330. In fact, in order for us to really notice any sort of sluggishness or lag we had to get creative in what was open and how many tabs and windows were running. Suffice it to say, you’d likely not run into any issues with school and light business usage.


While we appreciate that the screen is anti-glare and offers a sharp HD image, the viewing angles from the side leave some to be desired. We’ve certainly seen worse in other models, but we would have liked a bit wider field to work with.

Audio here is similar to that of the Yoga Chromebook C630 in that it’s clear and crisp but not very powerful. To that end, we’re often happy to throw in headphones or pair to Bluetooth if we’re interested in extended bouts of music. We were content with audiobooks, podcasts, and short bursts of video, but anything longer requires a better solution.

We were pleased with the number of ports and layout of the laptop. The keyboard was responsive enough, and the overall weight and design were in line with expectations of a Chromebook in this price.

Conclusion

It’s difficult to ever really say that a Chromebook is not worth the money. That is, of course, provided you buy the one that suits your needs. It’s not a simple case of “any old one will do” but if you shop within range of whats suitable, most Chromebooks will fit the bill.

The Chromebook S330 isn’t exactly a stunning piece of artwork or a sleek piece of machinery, but that’s not why we buy these types of devices. This has a utilitarian design and somewhat uninspired aesthetic but it gets the job done.

When it comes to throwing your Chromebook into a bag, toting it to and from work or school, and pulling it out on the couch, this is what you want. Not something that’s prone to breaking your heart over a scratch or scuff.

We’ve had Chromebooks last us years – even those from the first generation. While they don’t necessarily get better with each update of the OS, they certainly don’t get worse. Along those lines, we found the Chromebook S330 to be snappy enough for daily usage in both office and work scenarios.

Availability

The Chromebook S330 is available at Lenovo’s website for as low as $250. For that money you get the 32GB storage capacity and 1366 x 768 resolution display. For an additional thirty bucks ($280) you double storage to 64GB and up the screen to 1920 x 1080 pixels. Amazon, for its part, has the higher-end model for just $220 right now.

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