Review Roundup: LG Gram 15

One of the trends out of this year’s CES that I was excited about is the new fad for 15-inch laptops that are ridiculously light. One of the machines mentioned was the LG Gram 15, which has been out a couple of months and has several reviews. The idea behind the LG Gram series is laptops that weigh about a gram, or around 2.2 pounds. They did it with a 14-inch laptop previously, and this year they wowed everyone with a 15.6-inch display notebook that weighs the same.

Writers who want to take their laptops everywhere always appreciate a lightweight machine, and not too long ago just getting under 3 pounds was notable. This thing weighs less than the 13-inch MacBook Air. But is it a good laptop for writers? The reviews tell the story.

Let’s start with one of the most important aspects for writers: the keyboard. Most of the reviews agree that it’s not so hot.

PCMag sums it up: “…the keys are flat with shallow travel and no backlighting.”

The PCWorld reviewer was a little less blunt: “The keyboard is tolerable, with adequate travel and decently sized keys, but it feels mushy and stiff. …On a laptop that seems designed for frequent travel, it’s a shame that LG didn’t provide a keyboard that would be enjoyable to use.”

The TechRadar reviewer also wasn’t as down on the keys, but I think LaptopMag puts it best: “When we test a laptop this thin, we’re not surprised to find a shallow keyboard. …Even though the keys require an acceptable 60 grams of force to actuate, I still “bottomed out” (pressed against the base with too much force), making typing uncomfortable.”

So this is not going to be a great laptop for marathon writing sessions.

The Gram 15 is impressively, mind-blowingly light at 2.16 pounds. Getting it to that weight required some sacrifice. The keyboard deck and lid flex noticeably. And the PCWorld reviewer didn’t have much hope for durability:

“Picking up the LG Gram 15 for the first time can be as unnerving as it is astonishing. The same materials that make its body so amazingly weightless — LG skipped aluminum in favor of magnesium alloys — also give it a hollow feel. While my review unit survived a multi-day, cross-country trip without incident, those who are harder on their gear might not be able to shake the sensation that you’ll break this laptop if you look at it the wrong way.”

Battery life assessments vary; in general, this laptop isn’t going to win awards for it.

  • TechRadar Movie Test: 4 hours and 19 minutes
  • PCMag Rundown Test: 7 hours 55 minutes
  • Laptop Mag Battery Test: 6 hours and 2 minutes
  • PCWorld Rundown Test: just over 5 hours

On the positive side, all the reviewers praised the full HD display, the number of ports on offer, and the performance.

It looks like the idea of a superlight laptop with a big screen is a good one, but some aspects make the idea unworkable for some users. I’m not bummed about it, because this only means that the laptops will get better from here, and it seems the Gram 15 at least is starting from a decent foundation. Some of the problems may never get solved, such as the issue with the shallow keyboard. Then again, computer makers might still find a way.

We’ll see what they come up with at the next CES.

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