by Bill Snyder

LG Gram is a MacBook Air rival for PC users

Sep 30, 2015
Consumer Electronics Laptops MacBook

The MacBook Air is the gold standard of thin and light laptops, but it is aging, and LG wants to one-up Apple with its sleek new Gram PC.

If you’re a Windows guy or gal, but wish you could own a PC that’s similar to Apple’s thin and light MacBook Air, you now have a new option. LG, a company mostly known in the United States for its monitors and TVs, is now shipping a PC called the “Gram,” and it takes dead aim at the MacBook Air.

Calling its new laptop Gram is LG’s way of telling you that weight is a major selling point. The 13-inch Gram is a half-inch thick, and it weighs just 2.16 pounds; the same size MacBook Air is more than half a pound heavier, at 2.96 pounds. LG site’s says the 14-inch version also weighs 2.16 pounds, but that sounds off to me — it has to be heavier.

Amazon listed the Gram for sale this week, and it’s expected to be available on the Microsoft online store and other retail locations soon. Depending on the configuration, the Gram costs between $900 to $1,400.

LG Gram technical specifications

The Gram’s tech specs are mostly impressive. The $900, 13-inch version comes with Intel’s Core i5 processor, a 128GB solid state hard drive, and 8GB of RAM. That processor is Intel’s “Broadwell,” or fifth-generation chip, and next month other PC makers will sell systems with more efficient sixth-generation “Skylake” processors. However, the i5 Broadwell is no slouch. And the Gram comes with Windows 10, of course.

The 14-inch Gram, equipped with the faster Core i7 chip, a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, will run you $1,400. Unless you’re a gamer or some other power user, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend the extra cash on the i7. The 11-inch MacBook Air starts at $900, while the 13-inch version stars at $1,000. And like the Gram, you can choose between the Core i5 and i7 chips.

I have not yet seen, much less tested, the Gram. The Verge says “LG’s construction feels flimsy in comparison to Apple’s unibody aluminum laptops, with flex on both the keyboard and the underside of the Gram.” The 1080p IPS display on the Gram looks much better than the MacBook Air screen, according to the writer.

LG claims the Gram gets 7.5 hours of battery, though The Verge saw significantly less. Apple says the 13-inch MacBook Air gets up to 12 hours of life.

Don’t pull trigger on Gram just yet …

The Gram could be a solid purchase for Windows users looking for high-end machines. However, it’s a good idea to wait for a while. A number of PC makers will ship systems with Intel’s Skylake processors next month. (I know of one manufacturer that will launch another MacBook Air competitor. I can’t reveal specifics, but I saw the machine, and it was impressive.)

It’s also worth noting that LG generally has a good reputation in the market. In fact, I use an LG monitor, and like it a lot. Of course, building and supporting PCs is an entirely different process, and it may be several weeks, or months, before we see real-world feedback on the Gram.