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.
- Bright screen
- Good size and weight
- True 10-hour battery life
- Good storage and memory
- Admirable performance
- 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
|Category||Lenovo Chromebook C330|
|Operating System||Chrome OS|
|Display||11.6 inches (1366 x 768)
250 nits brightness
|Expandable Storage||microSD card|
|Ports||1x USB-C USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2
1x USB-A USB 3.1 Gen 1
|Audio||2W stereo speakers
Headphone / microphone combo jack
|Battery||Li-Ion 45Wh (10 hours)
45W USB-C AC adapter
|Dimensions||292 x 215 x 19.6 mm
(11.50" x 8.46" x 0.77")
|Weight||2.64 lbs (1.2kg)|
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 and OnePlus 6T 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.
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
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.
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.
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