LG gram Pro laptops bring AI chops to lightweight computers, still over 1kg

Some brands stick around whether the original meaning of the name no longer makes sense. Products associated with those brands still carry some expectation, whether it’s a certain flavor, a particular quality, or just some trait that’s passed like DNA from generation to generation. That’s definitely the case with the LG gram, the consumer electronics giant’s line of laptops initially boasting weights of less than a kilo. It didn’t really take long before physics and market dynamics pushed those laptops beyond the 1,000-gram mark, while still trying hard to maintain their thin and stylish bodies. Fortunately, the added weight also adds some value, as the new gram Pro laptop and 2-in-1 try to prove with a lot of power and some AI special sauce that’s quite the hot trend these days.

Designer: LG

To be fair, it’s difficult to keep a laptop impossibly slim while still packing enough power to handle everyday workloads, especially as work becomes more demanding and hardware gets stronger to keep up. Manufacturers are forced to choose between performance, which includes cooling systems, and design, and most tend to pick the former. In that context, it’s actually quite commendable that LG is able to stick to the spirit of its original gram design, even if none of the laptops today weigh less than a kilo.

The 2024 LG gram Pro line at least makes the weight worthwhile, at least for computer users who are heavily dependent on AI-powered tasks. These laptops are equipped with the latest Intel Boost, the chipmaker’s neural processing unit or NPU that can handle heavy AI workloads without depending on cloud-based services. This results in faster results and more privacy since everything happens on the device and can work without an Internet connection.

This year’s LG gram Pro generation still combines the best specs you can find in a laptop, including Intel’s Core Ultra processors and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 graphics, a combo that will be killing it when it comes to creative digital work as well as games. This will make things quite hot, which could affect performance in the long run. A dual cooling system is LG’s answer to this problem and the fact that it could squeeze that solution into a thin laptop definitely deserves some praise.

In addition to the standard 16-inch and 17-inch LG gram Pro laptops, the line welcomes a new 16-inch LG gram Pro 2-in-1 that can fold over into a tablet, complete with a touch screen and wireless pen. Both models sport minimalist aesthetics that exude a character of elegance and style that belies the power they carry inside. That same design language is also available in non-Pro gram laptops that have smaller 14-inch and 15-inch options.

LG Gram Fold offers another foldable laptop that no one has asked for yet

Foldable phones are, slowly but surely, becoming a common sight in markets, but these aren’t the only devices that are trying to change the form of computing, figuratively and literally. Their numbers are drastically fewer, but laptops that are all screen and that can fold in half also exist if you know where to look for them. Just like with foldable phones, however, there are big reasons why they aren’t flying off shelves, reasons that don’t seem to matter much to LG. Although it is better known for its TVs and appliances, the company has also dabbled with lightweight laptops under its “Gram” brand. Now it’s expanding that roster with a not-so-lightweight laptop that is pretty much a large screen that can fold in half.

Designer: LG

Just like with foldable phones, the rationale for foldable laptops is having a larger screen without actually doubling the size of the laptop itself, which is already quite a big device. The solution is to completely remove the keyboard, settling for a removable Bluetooth alternative, and getting the screen to fold in half so that it could still be stowed in the same space as a regular laptop. Unlike touch-centric phones, however, doing away with the essential keyboard isn’t as easy to do, which is one of the major design puzzles foldable laptops have yet to solve.

That hasn’t stopped major PC manufacturers from trying to launch such products, though with extremely limited success. These include the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, now in its second-gen, and the ASUS ZenBook 17 Fold, which seems to have evaporated from shelves. The basic design is similar: you have a large screen that you can fold into a laptop angle and then put a thin wireless keyboard on top of its lower half, or use it as a large monitor on its own.

The LG Gram Fold that was just announced in South Korea is now different in terms of design, but it seems that it will be setting itself apart in one critical aspect. It runs on a 13th-gen Intel processor, unlike its peers who are already years behind in processing power and technology. It also has some pretty solid specs, but in almost all other cases, the formula is still the same. It supports pen input, turning it into a viable digital art device, though the built-in graphics might be a little underwhelming. It also weighs around 1.2kg, which makes the Gram a misnomer yet again.

And like its peers, it is also quite expensive, running around $3,800, presuming it even launches globally. It’s an inaccessible piece of novelty, one whose usability in the real world is still highly in question. Along with the lack of activity from other manufacturers, LG’s unexpected dip into this nascent and niche market is anything but puzzling. Foldable laptops might still be the future of portable computing, but it’s questionable whether people will be willing to part ways with that amount of money for them at this point in time.