Lenovo IdeaPad 330 detailed review
My feelings for the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 are similar to those of someone who has tested the feature-packed top-end variant of a Japanese hatchback but is now testing the exterior of the base variant they bought. Where they remember seeing fancy chrome inserts they now see inspired black rubber beads. Where they remembered seeing a neat white LED light they now see a black plastic cap.
I should better explain myself: IdeaPad 330 Before getting into my lap I was using more sophisticated IdeaPad 530S and IdeaPad 330S. Its increased thickness and the weight of the other two became immediately apparent to me. That’s not all. Inside, it wore an AMD sticker while the other two had an eighth-generation Intel Core series sticker. On the right was a blank plastic cap for a DVD drive. Panicked at one touch, I removed the IdeaPad 330 to grab the rest of the laptop.
The model I got for review was powered by a seventh-generation AMD E2 processor, with an integrated AMD GPU, 4GB RAM and 1TB hard drive-based storage. The display was a 14-inch LCD panel with HD resolution.
Construction and design
In my review of the IdeaPad 330S, I wrote that the laptop is similar to the more sophisticated IdeaPad 530S. I believe that while it is a more watery-down model with more plastic parts than the IdeaPad 530S, it shares the same premium and exquisite design. The same is true of the IdeaPad 330S and the newly joined IdeaPad 330, with the latter being much more waterlogged than the IdeaPad 330S.
The body is made entirely of plastic, but the finish, like the lid mat, tries its best to look metallic. The surface and base of the lid are flexible enough at the pressure of a finger when it is lifted firmly. At 2.1 kilograms, the laptop feels heavy to lift, carry and hold, but this is not a big deal once you get used to it. Key tapping on keys releases some unnecessary flex on the keyboard. The surface around the keyboard is the same color as the lid but has a brushed texture that easily removes its plastic nature. The touchpad more or less matches the color of the surface around it.
A thick plastic hinge covers almost the entire width of the display. There is a thick black bezel around the display. The display hinge bends the whole 180 degrees. This is a useful feature when working with cross legs on a bed or sofa. The Lenovo branding, on the whole, is louder on this model and not as subtle as the other two models.
In short, the build and design on the IdeaPad 330 is passable. The small holes and flakes in the plastic body are a constant reminder of what is lacking, but does not hinder computing. I just want the laptop to be thin for fourteen-inches.
Display, audio and IoT
The Lenovo IdeaPad 330 comes with two display options: a 14-inch non-IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 1366 x 768 and a 14-inch IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The model I got is only the previous one, but its performance is quite decent. At 71 LUX, the maximum screen brightness is sufficient for home and office, but not for outdoor areas such as parks. To reproduce only 63 percent of the colors on the sRGB scale, all colors are usually washed out. In general, the text on the IdeaPad 330’s display shows granularity, whether it’s black text in contrast to a light background or vice versa. Pushing the display back even up to 95 degrees distorts the colors to a point where they look unfamiliar. Fortunately, the text remains mostly readable until the display is pushed back up to 130 degrees.
Audio clear but weak through built-in down-firing speakers. The speakers are good for plain vocals inside a quiet conference room of 15 x 25 feet. I was able to follow the voice of an audiobook narrator from one corner of the conference room while the laptop was kept at full volume in the other. Speakers are ideal for mid to high frequencies. Frequencies below 250 Hz or above 9000 Hz are too high for small speakers to reproduce.
The IoT ports are a bit confusing on the IdeaPad 330 because all of its ports are on one side only. To the left of this particular model are the power port, a LAN port, an HDMI port, two full-size USB ports (a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0), a 3.5mm audio jack for the headset and a regular size card-reader slot. All other aspects of the laptop are empty. On the right (excluding Kensington Lock Port) there is only one optional DVD drive. This particular unit was not in the review. So in its place was a gray plastic hat.
All ports to the left; Only two USB ports
This model has no optional DVD drive, so it gets a gray plastic cap.
I not only had to work with two USB ports, but also wired the devices used on the left side of the laptop, especially on the right (like my mouse). Most laptops have at least one USB port on each side. This awkward placement can be small or lack of space when connecting large dongles and devices with any extension wire.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard of the IdeaPad 330 is similar to that of the IdeaPad 330S, but the keys show more signs of flex. The keyboard does not have dedicated keys for Home, End, Page Up and Page Down functions. The keys on the keyboard look flat and shallow, but suitable for everyday typing. That said, I still wouldn’t recommend it if your initial activity on this laptop involved a lot of typing. In the dark, this keyboard has no backlighting so you can strain your eyes to understand the keys.
The keyboard keys on the IdeaPad 330 have decent navigation
My personal experience with this particular IdeaPad 330 keyboard was nothing short of boring. The power button on this model sits right next to the delete key and looks exactly like it. This means that when I type, I keep pressing the power button instead of deleting. Luckily for me, nothing happened to the computer when I accidentally pressed the power button. This was weird because I set the power button function to hibernate in Windows Power Options. Although it wasn’t the worst for me; Which really tested my patience is the key to the letter A, because it worked only 50 percent of the time. Popping the keycap and cleaning it didn’t help either. However, this may be an isolated incident for the review unit I received, but I would strongly recommend checking the keyboard thoroughly before pulling the trigger on this machine.
The power button sits right next to the delete key, inviting an accident
To add to my frustration, the touchpad of the IdeaPad 330 was not a perfect unit and the Lenovo website only offered a driver for the ELAN touchpad. Since there is no additional utility to tweak the touchpad settings for tap and swipe, I could not use double-tap. The triple-tap was set to enable Cortana by default and I see no way to change it. In addition to these barriers, the touchpad has worked well. The click buttons on the bottom half of the touchpad were easy enough to press and activate.
The performance of the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 can only be described as slow. With its seventh generation AMD E2-9000 APU, 4GB RAM, 1TB hard drive and integrated AMD R2 graphics, the laptop booted on the desktop in a disappointing 2 minutes, 5 seconds. Chrome takes more than 28 seconds to launch the first time after booting and about 6 seconds later. There was a time lag of 2.5 seconds between pressing the Start button on the keyboard and the Start menu appearing almost every time.
Browsing the IdeaPad 330 was a frustrating experience. Almost every tab in a Chrome window of six tabs is reloaded when reopened even if I just move away from one. When more than six tabs were open and one music was played, there was a considerable gap in audio playback. I was able to manage five open applications across two virtual desktops before seeing the big signs of lag. Window animation, fortunately, didn’t seem so boring. But I did not dare to push 80MB video memory in this AMD setup while playing any game on laptop. Full HD video playback on YouTube handled better than I expected; I didn’t see any unexpected lag or shaking during playback.
In benchmark tests, such as PCMark 8’s Accelerated Creative and Conventional Home and Work, the IdeaPad received half of what the Intel Core i3-powered IdeaPad 330S managed. Its scores on PCMark 10, Cinebench, and other benchmark tests on 3DMark were also extremely low.
To summarize the performance on the IdeaPad 330, let me tell you what its speed compares to. I use a six year old Lenovo B480 as my work machine. With its third-generation Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB RAM, integrated graphics, and 500GB of hard drive space, it manages to run as fast as the IdeaPad 330 if not faster in some cases.
In PCMark 8’s Creative Battery Life test, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 lasts 153 minutes on a single full charge, which is 7 minutes longer than the IdeaPad 330S. The battery lasts 3.3 hours while performing daily tasks like writing and browsing with the opening of six Chrome tabs. During the test, Wi-Fi was turned on, Bluetooth was turned off, and the screen brightness was set to 60 percent. At this point, I installed a couple of applications.
About three hours of battery life on a laptop in this price bracket is still low, but not the worst. I think if less applications are run and screen brightness is further reduced, battery life can be extended to around four hours.
The last row
There is nothing to escape from this: the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 is a frustrating machine with AMD E2-9000 APU and 4GB RAM. Its completion is believable but the build is dubious. Only two USB ports are available and they are even mounted on one side of the laptop. Awkward keyboard and non-configurable touchpad passable, but performance, without question, is disappointing.
All things considered, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 looks like a potential enough budget hatchback to offer when viewed in a showroom with all the features. But when you buy the base variant and see the low-end AMD APU struggle, a simple HD display, and a large hollow gray cap instead of a functional DVD drive, you’ll be looking straight ahead.