Slim LG Gram laptop is light and capable
By Jim Bray
LG's new Gram line of laptop computers is very light, very easy on the eyes, and offers good battery life.
Laptop computers have certainly come a long way since the days of Kaypro and Osborn, PC's that were slightly more portable than the desktops of their time but still were a pain to pack around and had tiny little monitors I remember squinting at back in the day. That may be why I need reading glasses now!
That was a long time ago, of course – I'm talking 1980's tech – and since then laptops have increased in sophistication and capabilities, while shrinking so much in size they can now rival tablets for their footprint. Heck, my primary computer for the past few years has been a laptop, even though I've only used it as a portable once in about six years. Most of the time it sits on my desk, plugged into a reasonably large LG monitor and a separate wireless keyboard and mouse.
Now, the South Korean tech giant LG, which has come a really, really long way from when I first got to know "Lucky Goldstar" as a maker of cheap audio systems you'd find in places such as Canadian Tire, has a line of laptops they call Grams and the company offered me one of their 16 inch 2-in-1's to try out.
It's pretty neat, too, though if I were buying, I'd probably eschew the 2-in-1 aspect and just keep my tablet for the times I don't need a full PC on my lap. And that's what the 2-in-1 means: you can fold the monitor around the back of the keyboard/base and use it as a tablet. Or you can split the difference and use the keyboard/base as merely a base for the screen, which you can use as a touch screen. Or you can "tent it", using the CPU part as a stand to support the screen in front of you.
It's really quite flexible.
The touch screen aspect works well, and LG even throws in a little stylus you can use if you don't want to keep wiping fingermarks off the monitor screen.
I didn't really like the stylus – of course, your mileage may vary – but there's nothing wrong with it. I just didn't like having to carry around (and keep track of) the stylus when I could just poke at the screen as needed. I can see the stylus being really handy, however, if you're creating illustrations and the like; you can just draw right onto the screen. It would be like having a built-in graphics tablet.
If you don't need the 2-in-1 flexibility, LG also makes more conventional Grams that function like a traditional laptop.
LG's $1799.99 16T90R-KAAA75A9 sample (and how's that for a mouthful of a model number?) has a lot going for it. Its brain is a 13th Gen Intel Core Processor i7-1360P (according to LG: 12 Cores: 4P + 8E, P: 2.2 up to 5.0 GHz / E: 1.6 up to 3.7 GHz), with 18 mB of Intel Smart Cache. It runs Windows 11 Home, which I hate, but it isn't as if no one else offers this OS so I can't really fault LG. Sure would like to see Linux put on it, though!
The 16-inch 16x10 aspect ratio monitor uses Intel Iris Xe Graphics and offers WQXGA (2560 x 1600) resolution. It looks great, too. Alas, I couldn't get it to run the 4K test video files I keep on my network because I needed to download a driver for the 4K and Microsoft wanted money for it. Screw them, the greedy bastards – especially since I wasn't keeping the PC anyway!
But I bet they'd look great!
The onboard memory includes 16 gig of LPDDR5 (Dual Channel, 5200MHz), and the solid state hard drive you use to store your stuff is a reasonable 512GB NVMe Gen 4 M.2(2280). There are dual SSD slots, too, so you theoretically could add another if required.
This is nice because my six-year-old laptop came with only 256 gig of SSD and I ran out a couple of months ago and had to keep deleting or moving stuff to cope. Fortunately, my son is very capable and he installed a new, two terabyte unit that should keep me going for the duration. But if I'd had dual slots, I wouldn't have had to clone, and then throw away, the original drive.
Connectivity is pretty standard: Intel Wireless-AX211 (802.11ax, 2x2, Dual Band, BT Combo) for Wi-Fi, BT 5.1 for Bluetooth, and the webcam is set up for face recognition and features dual microphones.
The LG also features HD Audio with Dolby Atmos, though of course you won't get the full effect unless you patch it into your Dolby Atmos home theatre with its multitude of channels and speakers. But it's there if you want it.
The keyboard is full sized, backlit, and is pretty good on which to type. As a writer, keyboard feel and operation is very important to me and I find the LG to be just fine. As is common on many laptops from a multitude of brands, however, the trackpad sits in front of the keyboard and that's just where my lazy keyboarding style sees my wrists falling, causing periodic angst and cussing as my inadvertent trackpad antics interfere with my keyboarding. This is nothing new; nearly every laptop ever made does it this way. It just bugs me.
Again, this isn't an LG thing, just a pet peeve of mine. I'd like to see some daring PC maker mount the trackpad behind the keyboard, closer to the monitor or – since this particular beast offers a touch screen anyway – gotten rid of entirely. I have a feeling I'm a voice barking in the wilderness here, though.
LG claims 13 hours of battery life and I had no reason to disbelieve it.
LG also claims the screen is very anti-reflective, but I found just the opposite. It wasn't horrible, and it was no worse than my iPad, but it was typical of most laptops I've used.
Outputs include a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, two USB 4 Gen 3 Type-C ports with USB power delivery, display port, and Thunderbolt 4. You also get an adapter for plugging in an HDMI monitor and a headphone jack for your ear buds.
All of this goodness and flexibility comes in a sleek case that only weighs 3.26 pounds! Yep, it's so light you could pack it under your arm all day. Heck, it's so sleek you could skip it across a river or lake the way you'd skip stones. I have a feeling the LG wouldn't really like that, though…
I didn't have a chance to use the Gram as much as I'd liked – it happened to arrive just when my life was in a bit of a tizzy – but on the other hand I used it enough to find that Windows 11 is extremely annoying. Oh, it works fine, but Microsoft has made the operating system very obtrusive and it seems as if nearly every time you look at it it's either trying to sell you something, trying to steer your attention to where it thinks you should be looking (places like the fake news media, etc.) or just trying to get you to sign up for something.
I just want it to run my computer and leave me alone otherwise. Does that make me a Luddite?
Again, to be clear, this is an issue with Windows, not LG. Maybe Bill Gates should be concentrating on his products more and spend a little less time trying to rule the world.
But I digress.
LG's Gram is a very nice laptop PC. I love the flexibility of the 2-in-1 structure (even though I probably wouldn't use it myself) and the tiny size and light weight, coupled with a generous footprint, makes it a very compelling unit.
Now, how about a Linux version?
Copyright 2023 Jim Bray