LG gram 15 scores big on battery

The minimalist LG gram 15's screen has fashionably narrow bezels that are all the rage among smartphones and laptops now.
The minimalist LG gram 15's screen has fashionably narrow bezels that are all the rage among smartphones and laptops now.

Last year's LG gram 14 was our pick for the best ultrabook of 2017, largely because of an incredibly lightweight chassis that was just under 1kg.

Equally impressive, if not more so, is the LG gram 15, which, thanks to a similar magnesium alloy body, weighs about 1.09kg with a 15-inch screen. For comparison, the Apple MacBook Pro weighs 1.8kg with an identical-sized display.

The LG gram 15 was recently upgraded with the latest Intel eighth-generation chip that offers more multitasking performance, as it has four cores instead of two.

The laptop has a similar design as its 14-inch sibling. Some may find it overly plain, but its simplicity appeals to me.

You can flip open its lid with one hand, without having to grip the base with the other hand. It is handy for when you have only one free hand because you are holding a drink in the other. LG actually touts this as a feature on its website which, to be fair, is quite uncommon among laptops nowadays.

Its 15-inch screen has fashionably narrow bezels that are all the rage among smartphones and laptops now. They are not as slim as the ones on the new XPS 13, but I am splitting hairs (or millimetres) here.

However, its Web camera is located below the screen at the hinge, so you can expect unflattering shots that show your chin and nostrils. PC-makers have yet to find a solution to this.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $2,499

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8550U (1.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel UHD Graphics 620

    RAM: 8GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, microSD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 60 watt-hour


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

As expected of a premium laptop, the display has wide viewing angles and offers accurate colours. It is an IPS (in-plane switching) panel after all. The resolution is adequate at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, though, given its 15-inch size, I would like to have seen a 4K display option.

Like some laptops, LG gram has a Reader mode that reduces eye fatigue by mimicking the appearance of paper.

The screen turns yellowish - blue light is minimised - and becomes less glaring and more comfortable. It is a must-have feature if you often browse the Internet or read documents in relative darkness.

Its touchpad could be larger, especially given the ample palm rest. It is responsive with a satisfying clicking sound when pressed. The keyboard feels shallow, but it does have a numeric keypad.

But LG should keep up with the times and change the behaviour of the Function keys to make the multimedia options, such as the volume and screen brightness controls, the default, instead of requiring users to hold down the Fn key.

Another thing is - and I am nitpicking here - I cannot understand the presence of a USB 2.0 port on the gram 15. This slow connector has no place on a newly released laptop, even though the gram has two other USB 3.0 ports. And while it also has a USB Type-C port, LG could have gone the extra mile by swopping the USB 2.0 port with a Thunderbolt 3 port.

The gram 15 could also do with the addition of a biometric authentication method, be it a fingerprint sensor or a facial-recognition Web camera. It would be much more convenient for users if either options were available.

Its 60 watt-hour battery offers plenty of battery stamina. The laptop clocked around 91/2 hours in our video-loop battery test.

In comparison, the 14-inch LG gram managed only eight hours.

• Verdict: The LG gram 15 sticks with last year's slim and lightweight design, but has a newer processor.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2018, with the headline 'LG gram 15 scores big on battery'. Print Edition | Subscribe