Saturday, 27 July 2019

Lenovo C330 Chromebook: The best budget convertible Chromebook?

The key to serviceable budget technology is cutting the right corners. Expectedly, devices priced lower will make compromises, but the critical issue is if any of these compromises dramatically affect usability. For example, a 2GB RAM Windows 10 laptop or Chromebook is not an option.

The Lenovo C330 is an example of a Chromebook that makes the right compromises. I’ve recently been using the C330, and my impressions are positive. The 4GB RAM and 32GB storage, considering this is a Chromebook, are both enough (there is a 64GB version of the C330). It is also possible to expand storage via a full-size SD Card slot. The screen isn’t full HD, but it is an IPS one with good colour reproduction and viewing angles. Again, Lenovo made the right compromise as a non-IPS screen would be unusable on a convertible Chromebook. Importantly performance from the quad-core Mediatek MT8173 processor is adequate. Performance is closer to a quad-core Intel Celeron Apollo Lake N3450 than the slower Celeron N3350. The laptop weighs 1.2 KG – it is not the lightest in this category but still portable to be easily carried.

There is no stylus input control, but the C330 is a convertible with a touch screen. Many popular Android applications are not supported on non-touch Chromebooks, and this makes a touch screen an essential hardware feature. Further, the touch interface vastly enhances the user experience on Android applications. From an e-reading perspective, it is possible, for example, to install Xodo Reader, Moon+ Reader, Kindle, Kobo, Libby and One Note. The possibility to install One Drive, Google Drive and Dropbox also mean it is possible to sync page location and annotations between e-books and PDF documents.

Lenovo, like most vendors, over-estimates the battery life to be ‘up to 10 hours’. In real use, the C330 gets a full day of mixed-use. With extra care, for example, turning down brightness closer to 25% and turning off WiFi when not needed, battery life can be extended closer to the 10 hours mark. The C330 charges via USB-C; the charger provided is on the larger side, but I found smaller high-powered third-party USB-C chargers work too.

Overall, the Lenovo C330 is a budget convertible Chromebook that makes the right compromises and gets the basics right. It has a nice screen, enough power, ample storage, USB-C charging, good battery life and a touch screen that provides access to most Android applications. The Lenovo C330 is an excellent all-rounder Chromebook.

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