Inside, the minimalist interior tray houses only a large island-style keyboard and a glass-topped touch pad. Typing is smooth, although the center of the keyboard tray has a lot of flex under the fingers. We occasionally had a missed keystroke or two, which may be because of the shallow keys. Also missing is a backlight for the keyboard, a feature that used to be rare, but is now found in many laptops, including less-expensive models. The generous touch pad, however, was a high point and excelled at multi-touch gestures such as two-finger scrolling.
The display on each of the three LG Gram models is a 1,920x1,080 IPS screen, without touch. Eliminating touch can save on weight, thickness and cost, but it's also an expected feature in higher-end non-Mac laptops today. Fortunately, Windows 10 works better than Windows 8 ever did when it comes to systems without touchscreens.
The display on our test unit was very bright and looked great from off-axis angles, but is also very glossy and reflected a good amount of screen glare. Note that while 1,920x1,080 is still the HD standard for video, better-than-HD resolutions, even up to 4K, are becoming much more common in laptops over the $1,000 mark.
Ports and connections
|Audio||Combo headphone/microphone jack|
|Data||2 USB 3.0, 1 Micro-USB, SD card reader|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
Connections, performance and battery
With such a slim body, there is not a lot of room for ports and connections. Still, the basic assortment here should suffice for most needs, with a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, an SD card slot and a Micro-USB port intended for use with an external Ethernet dongle. Differences among the three fixed configurations come down to processor (Core i5 vs. Core i7) screen size (13-inch vs. 14-inch) and SSD storage (128GB vs. 256GB).
We tested the highest-end configuration of the LG Gram, and single-app performance was very strong, although other premium laptops with Core i5 processors were as fast or faster in multitasking tests. For the type of mainstream tasks -- Web browsing, HD video playback, spreadsheets and office docs or basic photo and video editing, any of these will work great, and the Core i7 used here offers plenty of performance headroom. In anecdotal hands-on use, the only speedbumps we ran into were the occasional ergonomic ones, not anything performance-related.
Being so light and portable, it would be great if the LG Gram had excellent battery life to compliment it. Unfortunately, in our video playback battery drain test, the system ran for just 5:48. That's not a terrible score, and a few years ago it would have been considered excellent, but the Dell XPS 13 beats it by more than an hour and the MacBook Air nearly triples it.
It's always exciting to see a new player enter the competitive US laptop market., and has gone on to become one of our favorite brands.
Despite some omitted features I'd like to see in this price range, and battery life on the low end of acceptable, the LG Gram 14 slowly worked its way into my regular rotation of laptops, mostly because it offered a bigger screen in a very totable package. The LG Gram feels like a sketchpad for the next generation of LG laptops, and if the company can take those strengths and fill in some of the blanks, it could become a popular alternative to some of the more familiar ultra-light laptop families.
|LG Gram 14||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 5500; 256GB SSD|
|Microsoft Surface Book||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM ; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 520; 512GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 13 (2015)||Microsoft Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.2GHZ Intel Core i5-5200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 3839MB (shared) Intel HD 5500 Graphics; 256GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2015)||Apple OSX 10.10.2 Yosemite; 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-5250U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1866MHz; 1536MB Intel Iris Graphics 6000; 128GB SSD|