LG Gram 2 in 1 Review

LG's lightweight laptop can now convert into a makeshift tablet

Verdict

The LG Gram 2 in 1 is simultaneously a fantastic ultrabook and a decent tablet.

Pros

  • Fantastic versatility with touchscreen
  • Super-fast CPU performance
  • Plenty of ports
  • Long-lasting battery

Cons

  • Design awkward in tablet mode
  • Low GPU performance will scare away artists and creatives
  • Lid is easily scuffed

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £tbc
  • US price: $1499.99
  • 14-inch Full HD LCD touchscreen
  • 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8565U
  • 16GB RAM (DDR4 2400MHz)
  • 512GB SSD
  • Weight: 1150g

What is the LG Gram 2 in 1?

The LG Gram 2 in 1 (LG 14T990) is the latest addition to the brand’s lightweight laptop lineup. Following the success of the LG Gram 14Z980 ultrabook, LG has given its portable a touchscreen and 360-degree hinge to turn it into a 2-in-1 convertible.

While it’s certainly not the first of its kind, the LG Gram 2 in 1 looks to be one of the few ultra-portable convertibles that’s both significantly more powerful than a Chromebook and doesn’t have a ridiculous price. 

There’s a caveat however. LG has been forced to make a couple of sacrifices to turn its laptop into a convertible, as the introduction of a touchscreen has clearly impacted the display quality and a few design modifications has meant the Gram has put on a bit of weight. But are these alterations enough to prevent the Gram gatecrashing the 2-in-1 party?

LG Gram 2 in 1
Dimensions 325 x 211 x 17.78 mm
Weight 1150g
Display 15-inch, 1920×1080, LCD IPS
Processor Intel Core i7-8565U
RAM 16GB DDR4
Storage 512GB
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
Ports HDMI, USB 3.1 Type-C, USB 3.1 x3, MicroSD, headphone jack, Ethernet

Related: Best Laptops 2019

LG Gram 2 in 1 – Design

The LG Gram 2 in 1 looks largely the same as its non-convertible counterparts. With a dark silver nano-carbon magnesium full-metal body, this Gram looks premium but nothing out of the ordinary.

In photos, the LG Gram 2 in 1 seems to have a far chunkier bezel than the likes of the Dell XPS 13. Look closer though, and you’ll notice most of the bezel is actually behind a panel of glass, very similar to the design of the Apple iPad. This means the Gram 2 in 1 is more comfortable to hold while in tablet mode.

LG Gram 2 in 1

The LG Gram 2 in 1 has a massive gap in-between the screen and keyboard when flipped into tablet mode

The 360 degree hinge feels reassuringly sturdy. Shake the Gram 2 in 1 and there shouldn’t be much wobble. This also allows for great flexibility – you can have the screen adjusted to any angle you want including tent and stand modes. 

I found that when lying back and watching Netflix in tablet mode, the screen portion would swing forwards towards my face slightly. There’s not much resistance to keep it locked flush to the base of the laptop, so you’ll have to get used to gripping the edges tightly if you like to watch content in bed like I do. 

Because the laptop has been designed to sit on a desk, it has a few rubber bumps on the bottom. Consequently, this means when turned into a convertible, the Gram’s screen doesn’t sit flat upon the back, leaving a gap between the two. There doesn’t seem to have been much consideration about the design for tablet mode beyond whacking on a touchscreen and 360 degree hinge, although it’s admittedly hard to get both designs to co-exist in one product.

The key attribute the LG Gram 2 in 1 can claim sets it apart from other convertibles is weight. At only 1150g, it’s light enough that you don’t need to worry about accidentally flattening your face when dropping it in bed. That’s a big plus in the Gram’s favour, as weight is a legitimate issue with convertibles, as nobody wants to use a device as a tablet if it’s a pain holding up after a few minutes. 

LG Gram 2 in 1

The lid my LG Gram 2 in 1 didn’t take long to get scuff marks after carrying it around in my rucksack

The Surface Book 2 arguably offers a more elegant solution with the screen popping off the keyboard. However, the Surface Book 2’s performance and battery life suffer greatly while undocked, which isn’t an issue here with the Gram 2 in 1.

LG claims the touchscreen panel is really durable, using Gorilla Glass to avoid any scratches and cracks. I haven’t been able to put this to the test, and can’t confidently comment on the screen’s durability.

I came away pretty disappointed with the durability of the actual chassis though. After slotting it into my rucksack a number of times with other devices, the Gram quickly developed scuff marks down its lid. I don’t feel I was being reckless, so it’s disappointing to see how quickly the paint has rubbed off.

LG Gram 2 in 1

The LG Gram 2 in 1 has a large variety of ports, including HDMI, USB-A and USB-C

On the plus side, the LG Gram 2 in 1’s very generous with ports – you get two old school Type-A USB ports, a Type-C USB with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI and a microSD card slot. A lot of ultrabooks, like the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Air, skimp out on the likes of USB-A and HDMI connections, and rival convertible HP Spectre Folio gives you three USB-C ports, and nothing else. The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 gives you even less. 

With the Gram 2 in 1 spoiling us in terms of ports, there’s no need to carry around a boatload of dongles, though LG does include a USB-C-to-Ethernet dongle in the box, should you find yourself working somewhere with wired Internet access. 

Related: Best Ultrabook 2019

LG Gram 2 in 1 – Keyboard and trackpad

The chiclet keyboard has a chunky, clickety feel to it. It’s pleasingly comfortable to type on, and certainly doesn’t feel like a cheap knock off which you often find with convertible laptops. I’ve finished off a few long reviews using this keyboard, and found no issue at all.

LG Gram 2 in 1

The keyboards have enough travel for a comfortable typing experience

It’s a subtle design quirk, but having the orange labels on the top row of the keyboard makes it a lot easier to instantly see what the function key can activate. I really like this feature, as I’ve found many laptops to deviate from the function key to alter volume which can be really confusing.

The Gram model in my possession has a US keyboard layout, with the dollar symbol replacing the pound sign, and the @ and “ symbols swapped around. LG Gram models we’ve reviewed in the past feature UK keyboards though – I fully expect that to be the case with the LG Gram 2 in 1 as well.

LG Gram 2 in 1

Having the keyboard at the back when the LG Gram 2 in 1 is in tablet mode is pretty awkward

The power button also has an integrated fingerprint scanner that’s useful for speedy sign ins. It’s a lot more convenient than hammering in a password, and the sensor feels ultra responsive, taking less than a second to recognise me. 

When the screen portion is flipped all the way around and you’re holding it in tablet mode, you’ll feel the QWERTY keys depress on the other side, which makes for an odd feel. Fortunately the keys are deactivated when tablet mode is activated, but I’ve noticed the odd blip when accidental key presses are still registered.

LG Gram 2 in 1

The LG Gram 2 in 1 looks like an ordinary ultrabook. You wouldn’t guess that it has a 360 degree hinge

Meanwhile, the touchpad is efficient, but basic. It’s not quite as smooth and responsive as the glass pad found with the Dell XPS 13, but I equally can’t find any faults with it. It’s a good size too, as LG doesn’t adhere to the trend of squashing it down to save space.

LG Gram 2 in 1 – Screen

You’d think the LG Gram 2 in 1 would have the same quality display as its non-convertible twin, just with added touchscreen. That’s not the case. In fact, it’s immediately obvious the display here is a lot warmer than the non-touch Gram. The 5905K visual colour temperature backs up this observation, which is a fair way off the 6500K ideal target.

The warmish hue isn’t significant enough to affect the image quality of films and TV content though. This is a perfectly fine Full HD IPS screen – no more, no less. The colour accuracy is at least very high with an sRGB rating of 97.7% which is near-on perfect. This means the Gram 2 in 1 will be great for digital artwork and web comics.

LG Gram 2 in 1

The LG Gram 2 in 1 struggles to show fine detail during dark scenes

While a lot of laptops boast impressive sRGB scores, most fall short of the ideal accuracy for Adobe RGB and DCI P3. The Gram here, though, posts surprisingly good figures – nowhere near the standard creative-centric devices such as the MacBook Pro and the Asus ZenBook Pro 15, but noticeably better than most ultrabooks.

Elsewhere results for the display are underwhelming. With a peak brightness of 324 nits, the display is just about brighter than the average laptop. However, with a particularly glossy screen, I’ve still found it difficult to see what’s on display in sung glare or particularly bright rooms. 

LG Gram 2 in 1

The LG Gram 2 in 1 may have a large spectrum of colours, but a sub-par contrast means you don’t get a punchy picture

Black levels aren’t quite low enough to give justice to dark scenes, so you might want to use an external monitor for the likes of Daredevil and Dark Knight. The 915:1 contrast falls just short of the 1000:1 average standard too, so don’t expect colours to stand out as if they’re in a pop-up book.

Overall, this is a decent display. I wish detail was a little sharper and it’s slightly disappointing you’re limited to a Full HD resolution, but for casual web browsing and the odd Netflix binge, it should serve you fine.

Related: Best Monitors 2019

LG Gram 2 in 1 – Performance

Thanks to the Intel Core i7-8565U processor and 16GB RAM, the LG Gram 2 in 1 packs a lot of power – you don’t get the option of this much memory with the standard 14-inch Gram. This results in impressive CPU benchmark results. It even has superior results to the Surface Book 2 by quire a margin.

There’s only one configuration currently available for the LG Gram 2 in-1, which is really restrictive. But at $1499.99, you’re getting great value considering the high-spec components, so I can’t see many people complaining they’d rather a cheaper i5 model.

LG has said UK pricing hasn’t been determined yet, but we’re hoping it to be around the US price point and so are using that estimate to score the Gram 2 in 1. We’ll update the review, and possibly the rating, once UK pricing is confirmed. 

Geekbench single-core Geekbench multi-core 3DMark Fire Strike 3DMark Ice Storm Crystalmark read Crystalmark write
LG Gram 2-in-1 (Core i7-8565U, 16GB RAM) 5233 15,633 1107 46,144 538.7 MB/s 502 MB/s
Surface Book 2 (Core i7-8650U, 16GB RAM) 4488 13,724 5124 2946 MB/s 1252 MB/s
LG Gram 14Z980 (Core i5-8250U, 8GB RAM) 4085 11,888 67,216 550.6 MB/s 504 MB/s

The LG Gram 2 in 1 offers a slick performance, flitting through basic browsing and blasting through documents. You’ll struggle to find a 14-inch 2-in-1 laptop that flaunts more power than the LG Gram here.

The GPU performance isn’t so impressive though. With a 3DMark Ice Storm benchmark result of 46,144, the convertible actually has a worse GPU result than the standard 14-inch LG Gram, despite both devices sharing the same Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated graphics card. The Surface Book 2 also proves to have a significantly better GPU performance.

This means if you intend to do serious photography and video editing, the LG Gram 2 in 1 probably isn’t the right device for you. And don’t even think about playing AAA games on the thing. Only the likes of Minecraft and low-demanding indie titles will be playable here.

Read and write speeds are some of the greatest flaws in the Gram series, and the 2 in 1 option is no different. The CrystalDiskMark 538.7 MB/s read score and 502 MB/s write score found with the 2 in 1 Gram are dismal. It’s going to take longer than the average laptop to store or load data from the drive.

Related: Best Graphics Card 2019

LG Gram 2 in 1 – Tablet mode

Making a fantastic convertible isn’t as simple as slapping on a touchscreen. There’s a lot of factors to consider including the software, design and stylus performance.

For software, the Gram shows mixed results. It will intelligently switch to tablet mode when you’ve folded the device. The Gram’s software and layout will then look and behave almost identical to a Windows tablet, with apps displayed in a grid format. This is a simple, but great feature, with plain Windows 10 being a pain to navigate via touchscreen.

LG Gram 2 in 1

The LG Gram 2 in 1 is so light you can easily use it as a makeshift tablet

The downside though, is the software switch from laptop to tablet mode is sluggish. I counted it to be four seconds of waiting before I could start tapping and swiping. The auto-rotate function to turn the device vertical takes just as long. These wait times may not be deal breakers, but they do prevent the Gram feeling like a premium tablet. 

I have also occasionally had the issue when the device gets stuck on tablet mode, even when flipping it back into laptop mode. This is frustrating and a sign the software is a little buggy, but a meddle with the settings or a quick reboot usually sorts it. 

The Gram has an awkward design when turned into a tablet. The screen doesn’t sit flat against the back when folded, and having the keys where your fingers rest isn’t comfortable.

There’s also no volume button on the side, which you’d usually find with a dedicated tablet. If you’ve opened up Netflix and forgot you turned down the system’s volume to a whisper, you’ll have to exit full screen and then press the volume shortcut at the bottom to tweak the decibels. That’s a really cumbersome process.

LG Gram 2 in 1

The Wacom AES 2.0 stylus comes bundled with the LG Gram 2 in 1 at no extra cost. You even get a battery

On the bright side, LG bundles in a Wacom AES 2.0 pen, which is really generous considering the price (US price at least). The stylus supposedly has 4096 levels of pressure, tilt detection and an 18-month battery life – you won’t be surprised to know I haven’t had time to back the latter’s claim up.

I enjoyed using the stylus for scribbling on the likes of Paint, with a side button allowing me to easily right-click. There is a noticeable latency issue though. When I dragged the stylus across the screen, the pen marker lagged behind by a significant margin. I wouldn’t recommend the LG Gram 2 in 1 for creatives and artists for this reason. The inclusion of the stylus is a welcome one, but I’d still stick to casual browsing and games with this device.

Related: Microsoft Surface Book 2 Review

LG Gram 2 in 1 – Battery life

With the display’s brightness adjusted to 150 nits and the Powermark benchmark software set to simulate 5 minutes of video and 10 minutes of web browsing on a loop, the LG Gram 2 in 1 achieved an impressive 12 hours of battery life.

How does this figure compare to other devices? Unsurprisingly, this was approximately the same figure the standard 14-inch Gram achieved. The Surface Book 2 does however boast a longer battery life with a frankly astonishing 16.5-hour stamina.

That said, when the Surface Book 2 is undocked battery life falls faster than the pound during a Brexit crisis. The LG Gram 2 in 1’s battery life isn’t affected when flipped into tablet mode, which gives it a huge advantage over the Surface Book 2.

Why buy the LG Gram 2 in 1?

Editor’s Note: When discussing the cost, I’m referencing the US $1499.99 launch price. LG has yet to announce UK pricing, but once I get more information, I’ll update the review and potentially the final score.

The LG Gram 2 in 1 is one of the very few convertible laptops that hit the sweet spot between performance and price. At an ultrabook price, you’re getting an incredibly versatile machine that is not only good for churning through office work, but also for tablet duties if you fancy reading comics or playing mobile games.

LG Gram 2 in 1

The LG Gram 2 in 1 is great for viewing Netflix when in tent mode

It’s not going to replace your iPad anytime soon though, as an awkward design in tablet mode and sometimes sluggish Windows software means the Gram feels like a hybrid with plenty of compromises. A dedicated tablet will give you a far better experience, but then you wouldn’t get the cost-effective benefit of a double-duty laptop.

As a laptop, the Gram takes all the fantastic features of the standard 14-inch model. You get a cracking keyboard, super-powered CPU performance and a solid display, even if it is a little warmer than I’d like this time around. The underwhelming GPU performance will scare away creatives and gamers, but if you want a device for simple day-to-day tasks the Gram is easily capable enough for the job.

Verdict

Few convertibles can match the value and versatility of the LG Gram 2 in 1. Just bear in mind, this is a far better ultrabook than it is a tablet

Trusted Score


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