New LG Gram laptop is the spiritual successor to the discontinued 17 inch MacBook Pro

Featuring a 16:10 aspect ratio and weighing under 3 pounds, the 17-inch LG Gram is the notebook PC for content creators.

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LG unveiled the first 17-inch model of their Gram line of ultraportable notebook PCs on Wednesday, in advance of CES 2019 in January.

The LG Gram 17 features a WQXGA (2560x1600) IPS display panel with 96% sRGB coverage, paired with an 8th generation Intel Core processor, and configured from the factory with either 8 or 16 GB RAM, and 256 or 512 GB M.2 SSD. LG's press release indicates that the system ships with one M.2 slot empty, allowing users to add their own SSD. The Gram 17 is outfitted with a 72W battery, for which LG claims "up to 19.5 hours of operation on a single charge."

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LG also touts the touchpad as offering four-point touch recognition, two-level backlit keyboard, fingerprint reader, and Thunderbolt 3 support, as well as compliance with "MIL-STD-810G durability criteria covering seven resilience factors including shock, dust and extreme temperatures," according to the release. The laptop measures 15.0 x 10.5 x 0.7 inches (380.6 x 265.7 x 17.4 mm) and weighs in at 2.95 pounds (1340g).

LG's position as a major manufacturer of LCD panels gives the company the ability to create custom panels for their notebooks, giving the company an advantage outside the reach of Lenovo, HP, and other brands. Professionals have mourned the lack of non-Apple laptops with 16:10 panels for years, as a glut of cheap 16:9 panels forced the market to adopt that aspect ratio roughly a decade ago.

As it stands, there are no other modern 17-inch laptops with a 16:10 display panel. The only potential alternatives are refurbished models of the Dell Latitude M6500, powered by a 1st generation Intel Core (Clarksfield) processor, or a Late 2011 MacBook Pro, powered by a 2nd generation Intel Core (Sandy Bridge) processor. Those systems offered only a 1920x1200 display.

While there are 17-inch 4K notebook PCs, and Apple's own 13.3-inch MacBook Pro packs in a WQXGA display in a much smaller physical footprint, the LG Gram 17 is the only product which comes close to the Late 2011 MacBook Pro. LG touts it as being "ideal for image- and video-editing, viewing multiple documents simultaneously and a host of other applications. The new model is a great choice for media prosumers and business professionals who require an extremely portable large-screen laptop that provides strong performance," in the press release.

LG's US website lists the Gram 17 as coming soon, at a starting price of $1699. Likewise, manuals and teardown information are not yet available, though the LG Gram 15 received a 9/10 repairability score from iFixit. LG's press materials imply only one RAM slot available, though it has been years since Apple permitted RAM upgrades on any MacBook.

LG is a relative newcomer to the PC market in the US, as the Gram brand launched in 2015, though the company has sold PCs in South Korea for over a decade.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • The LG Gram 17 features a2560x1600 IPS display, paired with an 8th generation Intel Core processor, and either 8 or 16 GB RAM, and a 256 or 512 GB SSD, with an additional M.2 slot for user upgrades.
  • This is the first 17-inch laptop with a 16:10 display since the Late 2011 MacBook Pro.

Also see

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Image: LG

By James Sanders

James Sanders is a technology writer for TechRepublic. He covers future technology, including quantum computing, AI, and 5G, as well as cloud, security, open source, mobility, and the impact of globalization on the industry, with a focus on Asia.