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Lenovo Chromebook C330 review: My favorite run-and-gun Chromebook

Lenovo Chromebook C330
(Image: © Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

If you had asked me four months ago to pick my top-rated Chromebook out of the blue, I'd have given you something expensive and delicate, two traits that don't really speak to what Chromebooks are and more to what a very particular type of enthusiast wants Chromebooks to be. Enthusiasts tend to want the latest and greatest cutting-edge devices, but for Chromebooks, the cutting edge doesn't always make the best Chromebook.

The best Chromebook is one that's dependable, reliable, long-lasting, and affordable, and while powerful is always a perk, it is not the end-all, be-all for a computer that comes with an expiration date. The best Chromebook is one that is powerful enough and cunning enough to surpass the value of its components.

Lenovo manages this miraculous feat with the C330, and it's given me a daily driver Chromebook that embodies not the cutting edge of Chrome but the spirit and heart of an OS we still tend to underestimate.

The Good

  • Bright screen
  • Good size and weight
  • True 10-hour battery life
  • Good storage and memory
  • Admirable performance

The Bad

  • White shows scratches and grime
  • Closer auto-update expiration date than most new models

About this review

I was given a 64 GB Lenovo C330 on February 1 by our resident Chromebook guru Jerry Hildenbrand and have used it as my daily drive Chromebook ever since, both at home in my apartment but even more regularly out at Walt Disney World, hauling it around my gear bag and writing my articles while waiting for rides, concerts, or fireworks.

I have used this Chromebook on the stable channel, through 3-4 system updates, and is currently running Version 73.0.3683.88.

My lovely run-and-gun Chromebook

Lenovo Chromebook C330 What I love

CategoryLenovo Chromebook C330
Operating SystemChrome OS
Display11.6 inches (1366 x 768)
250 nits brightness
IPS touchscreen
ProcessorMediaTek MT8173C
Memory4GB LPDDR3
Storage64GB eMMc
Expandable StoragemicroSD card
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 4.1
Ports1x USB-C USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2
1x USB-A USB 3.1 Gen 1
HDMI 1.4
Audio2W stereo speakers
Headphone / microphone combo jack
BatteryLi-Ion 45Wh (10 hours)
45W USB-C AC adapter
Dimensions292 x 215 x 19.6 mm
(11.50" x 8.46" x 0.77")
Weight2.64 lbs (1.2kg)
ColorsBlizzard White

After two months of carting this Chromebook around theme parks, airports, and one awesome company conference, the C330 has more than earned its keep as my daily driver, helping me average more than one article a day. It's not the smallest laptop around, but it's still more than compact enough to throw in my backpack — or even a large purse or satchel — and head out the door, which is exactly what I do with mine every day.

Speaking of days, seldom do I find myself hunting for a charger before my day has come to an end. Even with two to three hours of max-brightness writing in the afternoon Florida sun, the C330 always lasts me over 9 hours per charge — almost 12 hours some days — allowing me to edit long after the evening's fireworks have gone off.

The only performance struggles I ever see from the C330 and its MediaTek processor are when bouncing between weak-signal nodes around Walt Disney World, which admittedly my Galaxy S10 (opens in new tab) and OnePlus 6T (opens in new tab) don't handle much better. As I said in my first love letter to the C330, be it two tabs or 12, this Chromebook just cranks out the content.

The 11.6-inch touchscreen has enough room for my Google Drive tabs, Slack, research, and Twitter, and the bezels give me plenty of room to hold on in tent or tablet mode. The keyboard is the perfect size for me, apart from me wishing it was backlit — a pipedream for a sub-$300 Chromebook, but a pipedream I still cling to. I don't have any qualms with the travel distance or the clickiness of the keys. The keys are a nice charcoal grey to contrast the sparkling Blizzard White case on the C330. That white's already starting to pick up a few scratches here and there, but it beats having another boring black Chromebook.

Lenovo Chromebook C330 Where the cracks show through

No Chromebook is perfect, especially for $250. While the 11.6-inch screen can feel a bit cramped for split-screen work, that size is more portable and I'd rather have those wide bezels for holding the screen in tablet mode than a bigger screen. I wish it was 1080p, but the way Chrome OS and its Display Zoom was built for low-res screens, you won't notice the C330's 1366x768 pixel resolution much, if at all.

Split screen is cramped

Honestly, the only real strike against the C330 is that it's got a shorter shelf life than most new Chromebooks. Since Google is responsible for all Chrome OS updates, they come with an Auto-Update Expiration date to help Google drop older chipsets and their driver support. The Lenovo Chromebook C330's AUE date is June 2022, a little less than 3.25 years from now and less than 4 years after its launch date.

Confused as to why it's so short? Google's promise for Chromebook auto-updates is that:

"New software updates may be received later than the AUE date published, but will never be stopped sooner than listed. This will be at least 6.5 years from launch of the hardware platform. (Multiple devices can share the same hardware platform; AUE date is calculated from the first device on the platform.)"

The C330 uses the same hardware platform as five other (older) Lenovo Chromebooks — reusing the same platform makes it easier to sell this device for less and easier to update — and since the AUE is calculated from the first Chromebook to use that platform, the C330 gets a shorter guaranteed update window. There's always a chance the C330 gets updated longer, but there's no promises.

At $250 for the 64GB model — double the space and on sale far more often than the 32GB one — you'll more than get your money's worth out of this Chromebook in 3.25 years. Like the Android phone you probably paid well over $400 for, this Chromebook will serve you well for a good few years and then you'll be ready to upgrade devices — or root and ROM it with a Linux distro like the Chromium-based CloudReady.

Lenovo Chromebook C330

Grab and go

The Lenovo Chromebook C330 has been my one and only Chromebook for the last 75 days, but even when I finally free my Pixelbook from the RMA purgatory it's been stuck in the last three months, the C330 is my daily driver going forward. While there are shiner, more expensive Chromebooks out there — and I want to test them all — the C330 is my white knight Chromebook, there through long days and lazy days, through 7-mile hikes around the Magic Kingdom and 5,000 word dissertations.

4.5 out of 5

Since there's a shorter update lifespan here, if you've ever thought about grabbing a Chromebook to see what it can do, grab the C330 right now and try it out. I know it will surprise you. If nothing else, at these prices, it makes a great backup laptop for the house in case your kid spills milk all over your primary machine or theirs.

Lenovo Chromebook C330

This bright little Chromebook can handle direct sun, long days with no charger in sight, and despite not having any fancy ruggedness ratings, the C330 handles the wear and tear of me dragging it around Walt Disney World every day with style and grace.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

11 Comments
  • I just got the Lenovo C330 with the 64 GB and Meko Precision stylus set and all I can say is WOW, I had the Acer R11 16 GB for my daily driver for the last 4 years but this new Chromebook is great for my online courses, plus not to mention all the great free apps I get and the extra 100 GB of free storage from Google for 2 years just sweetens the pot. I have tried the Stylus on it and they work great as well. This is a really sweet ride to invest in, you won't be sorry.
  • Hey, perfect, that you write another article on it, which gives me the chance to say thank you! 😀 I imported this Chromebook to Germany based on your recommendation. Cost me 300 bucks but man, I am blown away. It is my first Chromebook and yes, I have to get used to it (as well as to the us keyboard) on the other hand I am amazed how it started to change my life and how I use a laptop. My main machine so far is a Lenovo X1 Yoga. Pretty good laptop. But I am very cautious with it and I don't want to leave 2.3k Euros unattended in a co-working space, e.g. With this Chromebook, no worries. And it is so cool that I have such a similar experience on my phone and my laptop now. For example, I am using an app to exercise, before the Chromebook I was fiddling around with the small phone screen. And now, I load up the app on the Chromebook and can easily follow along. I wish the screen would have a better resolution and yes, in the long run, I need a backlight keyboard. But for now, it is the perfect machine to test if I can run my company from a it and who knows eventually move away from my Windows machine. mH
  • Actually, there is one thing with Chrome OS that drives me crazy, so far. The round thingz, the launcher sits on the left of the shelf, right (if you keep the bottom position) If I click on it all the relevant content is in the middle of the screen, though, so I have to drag my mouse all the way from the edge of the display to the middle?! Why? Why isn't that launcher thing in the middle of the shelf? Am I missing something? mH
  • I recently recommended the S330 which is the 14" version of the C330. One can find it on sale on Amazon for about $210. It's a nice little unit -- good track pad, keyboard, and appears to be well built. Screen is decent, even though not an IPS display. No backlit keyboard, but other than it's worth a little more than $200.
  • I recently picked one of these up and have no complaints for the price paid. I was surprised at how nice the display was at only 1366x768, and how well the Mediatek processor did with the OS. While I still need some MS Windows capabilities for the desktop, Chrome OS, so far, has been perfect for portable use for me. The last comparable devices that I've purchased in this price range were "true" netbooks (i.e. Atom processor, 10.1", 800 x 600 TN panel, a GB or two of RAM, Windows), so I wan't expecting the user experience to be nearly as nice as it is. Like everybody else I'd love smaller bezels, 1080p, and a back-lit keyboard, maybe shave a few mm on thickness, but at this time, at this price point, I think a very good balance was struck.
  • LeNOvo customer service is hideous for ALL their products! They've screwed over all the Motorola owners left us with buggy useless phones! Their PC notebooks are junk and the Chromebooks are worse. LeNOvo is majority owned by the Chinese Communist Party and you should never buy anything they make! Google LeNOvo owned by.
  • I ended up picking up a Chromebook after reading your first post on the C330. I am blown away with how capable these machines are nowadays! One less barrier to get my blog going! Great write-up!
  • Really, complaining about 4 year update cycle? U should be applauding that kind of commitment now a days. Congratulations to whoever has this 4 years down the road and it's not laggy as hell 👍
  • i know right...i dont have any device (mobile or desktop) that is more than 3 yrs old...its either less or more than two, but not more than 3
  • I'm typing this on a Mid-2012 Core i5 MacBook Pro which is > 3 year old. I upgraded the RAM and swapped the HDD for an SSD. I would have gone through 2 or 3 PC's and/or Android Tablets by now. I know this because I've had AT LEAST two Chromebooks, a Dell XPS Ultrabook, a Samsung Ultrabook, a Dell Latitude 64xx, several Dell Optiplex Desktops...
    Meanwhile my MacBook keeps chugging along although I do did update my iPad Mini once and iPhone several times.
    Just ordered a Lenono c330 on Lenovo's site for $209. Two days ago they were $279. I'm anxious to try it out!
  • Before upgrading to the Lenovo C330 I had my Acer Chromebook for 4 years but I just needed more storage and more power so I plan on using this new Chromebook for at least 4 years or maybe longer