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Why I can’t recommend buying the prettiest laptop of the year

Looks matter. When it comes to product design, that’s just unavoidable.

It’s the first thing a buyer notices when searching for a laptop. It’s why so much attention is paid to aesthetics, be it to draw in a gamer’s eye with fighter-jet venting or attract a businessperson with a sleek machine that’s attractive but won’t stand out in a conference room. Creators want a machine that looks modern but beefy, and productivity workers who hang out in Starbucks might want something with a little panache.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

And the LG Gram Style is the prettiest laptop I’ve seen in quite a long time. It truly stands out, featuring sleek, modern lines, small display bezels, and an iridescent coating on the lid and palm rest that changes color in different lighting. Then there’s the hidden haptic touchpad and glass palm rest with useful LEDs that light up to frame the touchpad for easier use.

But there’s more to a laptop than just looks — and unfortunately, that ends up being a problem for the LG Gram Style.

A truly delicious machine

LG Gram Style top down view showing purple color shift.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Let’s dig into the LG Gram Style’s look and feel because LG really hit a home run when it comes to aesthetics, making a laptop that, although familiar, still manages to look spectacular.

I’ve seen different coatings and coverings added to a laptop to make it look better, and they’ve all offered their charms. HP used real leather on the Spectre Folio and fake leather on the Elite Folio to give the machines a unique look and warm feel, and both were effective. And Lenovo used a glass covering on the Slim 9i to add some panache. That looked and felt great as well.

But the way the Gram Style’s surface shifts colors as you move it around is something special. It’s hard to capture on camera, but it really gives this laptop a unique vibe. The laptop looks different from every angle, and it’s truly striking. That’s made all the more effective on the palm rest, which is all glass and shares the same chameleon-like colors. The hidden haptic touchpad enhances the effect, with LEDs that light up to highlight the touchpad edges, sealing the deal.

The Gram Style is a real looker, and it would be easy to get drawn in by its charms.

It’s what’s inside that counts

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

As with so many things, though, it’s not what’s on the outside that counts the most. It’s what’s on the inside, and LG left a lot to be desired in that respect.

Most damning is the haptic touchpad, which is a centerpiece of the whole design and needed to excel in bringing everything together. Instead, it’s the worst version I’ve tried. The best is Apple’s Force Touch touchpad, which responds instantly to the right amount of pressure and returns a “click” that feels and sounds just right. Push down a little harder, and you activate the Force click, which extends its functionality. The other hidden haptic touchpad currently available, the one on the Dell XPS 13 Plus, isn’t perfect, but it works well enough to be fully functional and an improvement over mechanical touchpads.

But the Gram Style’s haptic touchpad required too much force to engage during my testing, and its haptic response put out more noise than tactile feedback. I avoided the haptic click and used tap instead wherever possible. When I was forced to use the haptics, such as pressing and holding to move a window around, I found the experience unnatural and jarring. It looked great, but it didn’t work well, detracting from the experience of actually using the laptop.

Performance was another issue. While the Gram Style is quick enough for demanding productivity work, it couldn’t keep up with its competition. It was the slowest laptop we’ve tested using the Intel Core i7-1360P CPU. If its battery life had been more impressive, maybe that wouldn’t have mattered as much. But, the Gram Style didn’t provide the impressive battery life typical of the brand but was below average here, as well.

Finally, the Gram Style is very thin and light, which is a plus. But it also lacks rigidity, with the chassis and lid giving in to light pressure. That detracts from the laptop’s overall quality feel.

Style over substance

LG Gram Style laptop lifestyle image with colored background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

That’s how I described the Gram Style in my review: style over substance. Another way of putting it would be form over function. Neither is what you want in a laptop, which needs to provide an overall package that’s both effective and comfortable to use. The Gram Style looks great but fails to provide a cohesive experience.

Toss in its high price, and while you might not find a better-looking laptop, plenty will satisfy you in more ways than just sitting there on your desk.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Coppock
Mark has been a geek since MS-DOS gave way to Windows and the PalmPilot was a thing. He’s translated his love for…
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