Hands-on with the updated Gram, LG's light and capable laptop
LG is known more for its phones and appliances than its computers, but it did unveil some updates to its Gram laptops at CES 2017 last week. After some hands-on time, it appears that the Grams are angling for ultra portability that doesn't sacrifice performance or convenience.
Grams will be available in 13.3-inch, 14-inch and 15.6-inch versions, all with several configurations. Since LG has only made an official press release to the South Korean market, we're not sure exactly which options will become available in the US. Still, there are some characteristics they all share.
The Grams have pleasing IPS Full HD displays (1,920 x 1,080) with ample brightness that held its own in the bright, busy CES booth. The display's top and side bezels are thin, but the bottom one is quite wide, creating about an inch of border space. This approach doesn't bother us, since it's easy to overlook the gap when working on the laptop (we couldn't say the same about the Lenovo Yoga 910, which is a 2-in-1). All of the models we saw had responsive touchscreens, though an LG representative told us will be non-touchscreen versions as well.
The webcam is built into the area just below that bottom border – which is unfortunate, because it gives an unflattering below-the-face vantage point.
Their keyboards are pleasantly full-sized, though the keystrokes are rather shallow. The keyboards are backlit and the lighting can be turned on and off to save battery life. The 15-inch version manages to fit in a right-side numerical keypad, which is rare among non-gaming laptops.
Since the Grams are made from magnesium alloy, they are a touch flimsier than their ubiquitous aluminum counterparts. Still, we can hardly blame LG for departing from the norm to shave off excess weight, and we don't think the Gram's chassis felt low-quality in hand. Its tapered shape helps maintain a feeling of strength and density.
From there, further details depend on the specific configuration. In the South Korean market, LG is releasing "Alligram" models, which are heavier, have 60W-h batteries, and are available in white, silver or metallic pink, as well as "Ultra Light" models that have 34W-h batteries and are available in white or metallic pink. In the Alligram line, the 13-inch models weigh 940 g (2.07 lb), the 14-inch weighs 970 g (2.14 lb), and the 15-inch tops the scales at 1,090 g (2.4 lb). In the Ultra Light line, the Grams weigh 830 g (1.83 lb), 860 g (1.9 lb) and 980 g (2.16 lb), respectively.
In some places (the South Korean press release included) LG makes an "up to 24 hours" battery life claim for the Alligram versions, but as always, manufacturer's battery life estimates should be taken with a grain of salt. This one seems particularly suspect, considering that this estimate is based on the Mobile Mark 2007 benchmark, a 10-year old standard that doesn't consider the ways the modern consumers use their products. Heavy Wi-Fi usage and video streaming were not so prevalent a decade ago.
Technical specs vary as well, but Grams will be available with seventh-generation Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processors. RAM amounts range from 4 GB to 16 GB, and built-in storage ranges from 180-512 GB. Some models will also be equipped with a fingerprint sensor for password-bypassing biometric login, and all models will run on Windows 10 Home.