Reviews: PC

Gram: Super light ultrabook with all-day battery life

The bezel around the LG Gram's display is ultra thin, a design that helps the screen to stand out and reduces the footprint of the laptop.
The bezel around the LG Gram's display is ultra thin, a design that helps the screen to stand out and reduces the footprint of the laptop.PHOTO: LG

The LG laptop has a magnesium alloy chassis instead of the standard aluminium build

In all my years testing laptops, I have seen them becoming lighter and more portable. But the LG Gram still managed to astound this jaded reviewer with its svelteness when I saw it last year.

Despite its 15-inch display, the Gram weighed less than 1kg. To put this in perspective: the 12-inch Apple MacBook weighs 920g.

This year's Gram ultrabook is just as svelte, with the 14-inch model weighing in at around 970g. It is light because it has a magnesium alloy chassis instead of the standard aluminium build.

However, it feels flimsier than an aluminium unibody ultrabook. The lid depresses alarmingly when you press it down while closed. The keyboard, too, flexes slightly in the middle under pressure.

Like many new laptops, the bezel around the Gram's display is ultra thin. This design helps the screen stand out and reduces the footprint of the laptop.But the narrow bezel forces LG to relocate the Web camera from above the screen to below it at the hinge. As a result, the camera points right up at your nostrils and makes jowly chins even more prominent.

Unfortunately, PC makers currently do not have a better solution - other laptops, such as the Dell XPS 13, place the Web camera in a similar position.

I was pleasantly surprised to be able to open the lid using just one hand, without the laptop lifting off the desk.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $2,499

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7500U (2.7GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 620

    RAM: 8GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 14 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, microSD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 60 watt-hour


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

I could do this on an Apple MacBook Air, but it is rare where Windows laptops are concerned.

It has a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel IPS screen that offers excellent viewing angles from the sides.

This glossy display is reflective, though, especially with a black background. LG has a Reader Mode that gives the screen a yellowish tint that is less glaring for reading documents.

Daylight Mode adjusts the screen brightness to the maximum to make it easier to view the contents of the screen in bright sunlight.

LG has fixed my grouseabout last year's model - it now has a keyboard backlight, which even has two levels of brightness, adjustable via a keyboard shortcut. The touchpad gives a satisfying click when pressed and tracks smoothly when I scrolled with two fingers.

The Gram has a diverse selection of ports and connectors. For display output, it has an HDMI port, as well as a USB Type-C port. The Type-C port can also be used to charge the device and for data transfer. LG also includes a standard power adapter with a power plug. In addition, there are two full-size USB ports and a microSD card slot.

LG somehow managed to fit a sizeable 60 watt-hour battery in this lightweight laptop.

The result is impressive - the Gram lasted 8hr in our video-loop battery test. This is a whole hour longer than top ultrabooks like the Asus ZenBook 3.

• Verdict: The Gram's magnesium alloy chassis feels less premium and not as solid as an aluminium ultrabook like the Dell XPS 13. But the Gram is much lighter and has outstanding battery stamina too.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2017, with the headline 'Gram: Super light ultrabook with all-day battery life'. Print Edition | Subscribe