The LG gram was launched in 2016 and touted as an uber-lightweight ultrabook that weighs less than 1kg. This year, the LG gram is refreshed with more variants. There is the 13-inch, 14-inch, and 15-inch, as well as various processor configurations from Intel Core i5-7200U to the i7-7500U. This review unit I received has the following specs:
Model code: 14Z970.AA7CA3
Processor: Intel Core i5-7500U
Memory: 8GB DDR4 RAM, 512 GB mSATA SSD
Display: 14-inch 1920×1080 IPS display
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620
Audio: Cirrus Logic DAC
Speaker: 1W x 2
Connectivity: WIFi 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, USB 3.0 x2, Full HDMI
Dimensions: 32.3 x 21.2 x 1.6 cm
Battery: 60Wh (up to 17.5 hours)
While LG gram 14 seems to be just another ultrabook, some features stand out among the competition, and I would like to share them below.
The LG gram 14 feels unrealistically light, as if it is a dummy unit. It does not feel dense compared to other laptops, even tablets, even though the unit is quite sizable. The materials used might not feel premium, like the plastic bezels around the display feel loose. It does give me the impression that the laptop will fall apart if it drops from a height. But I have to put some confidence in the nano-carbon and easily formable magnesium materials. Weight is one major reason for the reluctance of lugging a laptop, but with LG gram, weight is no longer an issue.
Gone were the days of thick bezels. The LG gram 14 is only 6.7mm thin at the sides, resulting in a generous 14-inch display on a 13-inch body. The IPS display delivers good colour tone and contrast without appearing too saturated. The panel does not reflect excessively, improving viewing comfort.
I am impressed with the battery life claimed by LG. 17.5 hours! And indeed, during my review, I have never felt a hint of threat that the battery is draining excessively. I am definitely not expecting to get a full 17.5-hour usage time since it depends on the type of applications you run and how much the processor burns the fuel. Like all laptops, I use the LG gram 14 for productivity, web browsing, nothing excessive.
The LG gram 14 is fast and everything runs smoothly. There was never a moment that you felt the ultrabook has too many tasks on its plate, thanks to the mSATA SSD drive and the new-generation i7-7500U processor that achieves improved level of power management. And it comes with 512GB, very generous. No worries about running out of storage. But if you really need to upgrade later, just remove the case and replace the hardware. Same for the RAM, which comes fitted with a generous 8GB.
LG gram 14 comes pre-installed with DTS Audio that lets you personalise the audio. The DTS Audio app displays different options depending on speaker or headphones mode. Let’s start with the speakers. They sound tinny without depth and bass, with only the midrange frequency protruding. Enabling “Surround Sound” improves the higher frequencies and taming the midrange, but the bass remains absent. Watching videos on the laptop does not offer any kick, unlike the ASUS Zenbook 3 that I reviewed last.
Plugging in the headphones directly, the audio quality with DTS disabled sounds clean and neutral. With DTS enabled, it sounds slightly more forward with slight improvement in clarity without sounding too over-processed. Under line-in audio mode, there is no option to adjust EQ.
Many ultrabooks cut down on ports to keep them thin. I am glad LG gram 14 offers two full-size USB 3.0 ports, full-size HDMI port. It is also fitted with the next-generation USB Type-C port that can be used for data transfer, charging, and as an external display output. It also comes with a micro SD card slot instead of the full SD slot. If I were to nit-pick, I would wish it also comes an Ethernet port.
Useful LG Software
The LG gram 14 is pre-installed with several LG software to help manage the hardware and software. For instance, The LG Control Center is where you can adjust system settings (screen brightness, external display), power management, security. The LG Power Manager offers a simple UI to select the preferred power mode. To keep the software and hardware drivers up to date, the LG Update Center is a single UI that handles it. These features are basically reskins of existing functions in Windows Control Panel, but it saves novice consumers the hassle. LG Control Center can be started quickly via shortcut key, Fn-F1.
For more advanced controls, the LG Security Center provides system security and data security to ensure features like webcam access is managed via separate authentication.
Facial Recognition Login
Windows Hello apparently is not supported on LG gram 14, so LG came up with its own facial login, called Face-In 2. After recording a facial image, the app integrates to the sign-in screen to unlock the PC automatically. The end-result is no different from Windows Hello. Impressed again, I am. Of course, the main issue is that the webcam is located at the bottom of the screen, resulting in an unflattering angle for facial recognition.
LG gram 14 allows quick changes of display mode from standard to Reader Mode and Daylight Mode. The Reader Mode changes to a warmer tone for comfortable on-screen viewing, while the Daylight Mode turns up the brightness in an instant. Toggle via shortcut key, Fn-F9.
If you do not think backlit keyboard is useful, then you have not worked in a dark environment before. Backlit keyboard should be a de facto feature on all good laptops. LG gram 14 now has it, and can be easily toggled from the shortcut key, Fn-F8.
Keyboard Design and Feel
I am usually not pleased with laptop keyboard layouts. I find them too spaced apart. My all-time favourite is the Lenovo ThinkPad series. The LG gram 14’s key actions are good, feels solid and highly responsive to multiple taps. I can type on them quickly and do not face any input errors. I would have to get used to the key spacings as well as the left Ctrl key, which I prefer to be swapped with the Fn key on the LG gram.
I must admit I am not a fan of touchpads, but the touchpad is generously sized and has sufficient sensitivity to handle mouse actions easily without getting frustrated. Single finger for mouse navigation and dual fingers for scrolling.
The LG gram 14 is one of the better laptops I have reviewed. It is very lightweight, has long battery life, large 14-inch display in a 13-inch footprint. The hardware specs are optimised for performance, thanks to i7-7500U processor, mSATA SSD drive, and 8GB DDR4 RAM. There are full-size ports for conventional devices with the need for adapters. The pre-installed software is helpful in managing the application and driver updates. The drawbacks would be an awkwardly-positioned webcam which is very low-res, flimsy feel (though not necessarily fragile), non-touch screen, poor speakers quality.
- Long battery life
- Full-size USB ports and HDMI ports without need for adapters
- LG apps help novice users manage hardware settings and software updates in a friendly UI
- Unflattering webcam position
- Speaker quality sounds tinny with harsh mids without bass or treble