Artist Review: LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2021) convertible laptop

Review unit on loan from LG.

My review is from the perspective of a visual content creator, someone who does graphic design, digital art, edits photos and videos on a daily basis.

The LG Gram laptops are some of the lightest laptops in the market currently. I reviewed the LG Gram 17 a few months ago and liked it so much I bought one for myself.

The current lineup of LG Gram laptops are the LG Gram 14, 15, 16, 17 and LG Gram 14 2-in-1 convertible.

Below's the table comparing the LG Gram 14 (2021) and LG Gram 14 2-in-1 convertible (2021).

Model LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2021) LG Gram 14 (2021)
Processor Intel 11th gen i5-1135G7 or i7-1165G7 Intel 11th gen i5-1135G7 or i7-1165G7
RAM 16GB LPDDR4X 4266Mhz 16GB LPDDR4X 4266Mhz
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Graphics Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Display 14-inch IPS LCD, touchscreen with pen support 14-inch IPS LCD
Resolution 1920 x 1200 1920 x 1200
Ports 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB 3.2, microSD card, 3.5mm audio jack 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB 3.2, microSD card, HDMI v2, 3.5mm audio jack
Battery Lithium Ion (72W) Lithium Ion (72W)
Dimensions (mm) 314 x 219.5 x 16.75 313.4 x 215.2 x 16.8
Weight 1.25kg 999g
Warranty 2 years 2 years
Price (in Singapore) From SGD 2199 From SGD 1899

And below's the table comparing all the LG Grams 2021 models. Click for a larger picture.


Note that LG Gram 15 is missing from the table above.

Bottom line


LG Gram laptops are lighter compared to laptops from other brands at the same screen size. The LG Gram 14, 15, 16 and 17 weigh 999g, 1.12kg, 1.19kg, 1.35kg respectively. It feels unreal holding a laptop that's just slightly heavier than the cardboard box it ships in. These LG Gram laptops are light because they use some Magnesium alloy material (and has some flex).

LG Gram laptops come with Intel Iris Xe Graphics. There's no dedicated graphics card so these are not gaming laptops. These also come with the 11th gen Intel processors which have good performance and surprisingly good battery life. So if you're looking for a laptop for work purposes, the LG Grams are good laptops to consider.

The only LG Gram laptop I won't recommend to content creators is the LG Gram 15 which uses a 16:9 aspect ratio. All the other LG Grams use 16:10 aspect ratio which is just better for productivity.

Only the LG Gram 14 is available in convertible format.

If you just want the best portable laptop for productivity, consider the LG Gram 16 and 17 instead because they have 2560 x 1600 (16:10 aspect ratio) resolution which is terrific for productivity.


Here's the LG Gram 14 2-in-1 convertible beside by LG Gram 16.

Things included


That's a 60W charger, a LG Stylus Pen (Wacom AES 2.0), two replacement nibs and a nib remover.

Design


This 2-in-1 convertible has an inconspicuous dark LG logo compared to the shiny silver one on the laptop.


The back has four rubber feet and hidden screws. Three edges are beveled so that the device can be lifted easily.


Both LG Gram 14 models are 1.68cm thick.

Overall build quality is more solid compared to the LG Gram laptops because the display lid is made of metal, while the rest of the body is made of the lightweight magnesium alloy.


Ports on the left are 3.5mm audio jack USB-C Thunderbolt 4. What's missing is the HDMI port which you can find on the laptop version LG Grams.


On the right side there's USB 3.2 type A, a sleep button and microSD card slot.

That USB-A port has a cover designed to flush to the side of the exterior body. To connect a device, you actually have to lift up the device to push down the cover. You have to "open" the port first before you can use it so it's not that convenient.

I'm not sure if people really use microSD more than full-size SD cards? That microSD card slot's utility to me is just for expanding storage. A 512GB microSD card sells for less than US $70 nowadays.


The main selling point of the LG Gram 14 is you can fold the display all the way to the back and use it as a tablet. Whether you need this feature will depend on the work you do. This can be useful for people who take notes and draw.


Keyboard and touchpad are disabled in tablet mode.


For drawing comfortably, you'll need to put it on a stand (I use the Parblo PR100 stand). And to use keyboard shortcuts you'll need another keyboard (extra cost).


Colour accuracy is good. I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 100% DCI P3, 89% AdobeRGB and 87% NTSC.

Intel Iris Xe Graphics is supposed to support 10-bit colour support, but I wasn't able to get the display to show 10-bit colours. That could be a limitation of the display. When I opened a 16-bit gradient file, there was banding and that's to be expected with sRGB displays. In other words, this is a sRGB display and is good for creating content for presentation online.

I measured a maximum brightness of 258 nits which is quite good. Not as high compared to the 300 nits I measured on the LG Gram laptops though.


The LG Stylus Pen included uses Wacom AES 2.0 technology. The pen supports palm rejection, tilt and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

The pen is powered by one AAAA battery which is said to have 18 months of battery life. It's an active stylus where a cursor will appear when the pen tip is near the display.


The button nearer to the pen tip is configured to be an eraser and the other button is a right click. I'm not sure if the two side buttons can be customised. I've tested the Microsoft Surface Pen which unsurprisingly doesn't work on this LG Gram.

The pen tip has a matte texture designed to provide some resistance on the glass display. There's no paper-like feeling when drawing, but it does make the pen tip glide slower, which is good for drawing.

General performance


General performance is good. The system is able to bootup fast, apps launch fast. huge files load and save fast. Multi-tasking is smooth with 16GB of RAM.

Fans are barely audible most of the time due to the LG software opting for medium performance mode (you can change that).

Drawing performance

Performance of the pen is quite similar to the Samsung S Pen than the Apple Pencil, Wacom stylus or any pens from pen displays or pen tablets.

In other words, there are limitations to the LG Stylus Pen performance. Line quality will also depend on the app you use.


The lines above were from Clip Studio Paint.

1. Initial activation force is good. You can get very thin lines by applying little pressure.

2. Slow diagonal lines have slight jitter.

3. Lines are not able to taper as smoothly by default. You can tweak the settings to make lines taper more smoothly but you have to do that for each brush you use.

4. When lines transition from extremely thin (almost no pressure) to thick, the lines can't go back to be extremely thin again easily. In other words, the pen may have low initial activation force, but the sensitivity with minimal pressure isn't as good compared to an actual Wacom stylus.

5. You can draw dots easily by tapping.

6. Lines can maintain consistent thickness when consistent pressure is applied.


These are lines from Medibang Paint Pro, an app where there's no pressure curve for you to adjust. This app has limited pen adjustments so this app is great at showing off the actual performance of the pen.

1 & 2. There's more diagonal line jitter compared to Clip Studio Paint. CSP actually has slight stablisation applied to the lines to make them smoother.

3. The main issue is lines are unable to taper smoothly. This means drawing things like hair, grass, hatching lines is challenging if you want to get the tapered sharp stroke.

5. Drawing dots by tapping works maybe 4 out of 5 times whereas on CSP it works all the time.

Drawing performance with the LG pen and Medibang Paint Pro isn't as good.


This was drawn with Concepts.

Concepts is an app designed to be used on a tablet and it works quite well.


This was also drawn with Concepts.

The the LG stylus supports tilt, but tilt performance is not consistent. When I tilt the pen to shade, e.g. to get broad strokes, sometimes the lines will still be thin. This inconsistent performances makes it almost impossible to use the tilt feature. The pen has to be tiled in a certain way to get the broad strokes and that will take some time to get used to.

Finger gestures and palm rejection work fine mostly.

Windows isn't that great with palm rejection. If you have the taskbar at the bottom and your palm is there, you could sometimes press an icon there, or swipe out the notification panel from the right.


Clip Studio Paint works really well because you can customise behaviour of individual brushes such as how they taper.


Writing performance is quite good. It was able capture my handwriting quite well. However once in a while, the pen does not register the stroke so you have to write the same stroke/letter again.

Photo and video editing

Here's how much time it took to export a hundred 16MP RAWs with Adobe Lightroom Classic:

  • M1 Macbook Air (2020) - 1 min 20s
  • ASUS PA90 with Intel i9-9900K (8 x 3.6Ghz): 1m 27s
  • ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15 UX582 2021 (Intel Core i9-10980HK (2.4 GHz x 8) - 1 min 40s
  • Dell Latitude 9520 (2021) 11th gen Intel Core i5-1145G7 (4 core 2.6Ghz) - 2 min 1s
  • LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2021) Intel i5-1135G7 (quad 2.40GHz) - 3 min 2s
  • LG Gram 16 (2021) Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz) - 3 min 11s
  • Surface Book 3 Intel i7-1065G7 (Quad 1.3 - 3.9Ghz): 3 min 50s to 4min 41s

Here are timings to export a ten minute 4K video with H.265 using Adobe Premiere Pro CC:

  • ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15 UX582 (Intel Core i9-10980HK (2.4 GaHz x 8) - 1 min 40s
  • LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (2021) Intel i5-1135G7 (quad 2.40GHz) - 4min 16s
  • Apple M1 Macbook Air - 4 min 54s
  • Apple M1 Macbook Air with FCPX - 5 min 1s
  • LG Gram 16 (2021) Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz) - 6 min 11s
  • Huawei MateBook X Pro (2021) Intel i7-1165G7 (quad 2.8Ghz) - 5 min 10s

This LG Gram is powerful enough for simple cut-and-join 4K video editing. Video editing is smooth and fast.

Conclusion

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 convertible looks great and has good overall performance for anything that doesn't require a dedicated graphics card.

Even though the pen uses Wacom AES 2 technology, its performance isn't at the same level of precision as the pens used by Wacom pen tablets and pen displays. The LG Stylus Pen performance is similar to normal pen and tablet performance. Just for comparison purposes, if you have used the Samsung S Pen or Xiaomi Smart Pen, the performance is quite similar. Apple Pencil still performs better.

Having said that, this LG Gram 14 convertible does have decent pen performance and can be useful for people who need a stylus but don't want to have a separate computer and laptop. It can be great for students or anyone who take notes or draws casually.

Battery life is around 8 - 10 hours, or more depending on what you're doing and the brightness. Overall battery life is considered good.

Here are the pros and cons at a glance
+ Design looks good
+ Compact, portable, 1.25kg
+ Solid build quality
+ Bright and vibrant touchscreen display
+ Laminated display for drawing or writing
+ Pen is included
+ 11th gen Intel processors are powerful for laptops
+ Fast boot, quick app launches
+ Minimal fan noise
+ 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-A 3.2
+ Decent audio quality for downward facing speakers
+ 10hr battery life
+ Decent pen performance for drawing and note taking
- MicroSD card slot instead of full-size SD card
- USB-A port needs to be "opened" before you can use it
- Pen performance not as good as actual Wacom pens

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