LG stumbled a bit with its Gram series of ultraportable laptops when it entered the US market in late 2015. The initial offerings weren’t necessarily bad, but they didn’t offer much beyond an ultralightweight body to compete in an already crowded category.
Less than two years later, though, and the electronics giant has corrected course some with the line. The 2017 models — available in 13.3-, 14- and 15.6-inch sizes — are still remarkably light, but add in a lot of what was lacking on the earlier systems. Prices start at $1,000 for a non-touchscreen 13.3-inch Gram, but climb up to $1,700 for the 15.6-inch version with a touchscreen and an Intel Core i7-7500U processor, 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD.
Reviewed here is the 13.3-inch model with a full HD (1,920×1,080 pixels) IPS touchscreen that comes in at $1,100 (approximately AU$1,500 or £885 in Australia and the UK, respectively). It’s a fair price for what you’re getting, especially when you consider its two biggest advantages: Its slim, lightweight design and a very long battery life.
Light as a feather, not stiff as a board
At just a touch more than 2 pounds (0.94 kg) and 0.6-inch thickness (15.5 mm), you can slip the 13.3-inch Gram into your bag and not even really feel it. However, while all the editors at CNET I showed it to were equally impressed with its size and weight, they also said it felt flimsy: The Gram’s magnesium alloy body just doesn’t have the same sturdy feel as a premium aluminum-chassis ultraportable. The lid in particular has a lot of flex to it.
Also, if standout looks matter to you, the Gram isn’t going to wow you. The chassis is dark silver inside and out with the exception of the chrome LG logo on the lid and below the display. Politely put, it is unassuming and will blend into any environment, be it boardroom, classroom or cafe.
One positive for the design beyond its weight is the slim bezel around the screen, which means you’re looking at nothing but display when you open the lid. A side effect of this, however, is LG moved the webcam to the screen’s hinge so it shoots straight up your nose while also placing the camera so low that the screen has to be at a 90-degree angle to keep you entirely in the shot.
The keyboard and touchpad are also nice. Although the keys don’t have a lot of travel, there’s more than you might expect given the shallow keyboard deck. The keys are comfortably large, too, with two levels of backlighting available.
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