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LG brings ultra light Gram laptops to the US as Microsoft Signature Editions

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This MacBook Air clone is better in some ways, worse in others

Coming to Microsoft Stores across the United States today is a new range of Windows 10 laptops from a familiar brand. Better known to US consumers for its TVs, home appliances, and smartphones, LG is debuting its premium LG Gram Ultra PCs to an American audience, confident that it can capitalize on the momentum of Windows 10.

The main selling points of the Gram don't actually have much to do with Microsoft's new operating system — there's no touchscreen option or RealSense camera for Windows Hello. Instead, LG is relying on classically useful laptop features like compact dimensions and an attractive display. The 14-inch LG Gram is no larger than the 13-inch MacBook Air and Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, and its 1080p IPS display is much better looking than the one on Apple's ageing Air. I have one of the Gram laptops in for review and can attest to the visual upgrade it provides.

Weighs less than a kilogram, costs less than $1,000

The name Gram is derived from the LG computer's weight, which at less than a kilogram (980 grams / 2.16 pounds) is lighter than even the 11-inch MacBook Air. LG's pricing is also closely matched to compete with Apple's range, starting at $899 for the 13-inch Gram with an Intel Core i5 processor, 128GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM. That being said, LG's construction feels flimsy in comparison to Apple's unibody aluminum laptops, with flex on both the keyboard and the underside of the Gram.

Microsoft will sell the LG Gram laptops at its retail locations and online store, designating them with its Signature Edition label to signify that they come without any superfluous bloatware. Amazon will also be selling LG's machines from today, with the two 14-inch models coming in at $999 for the base Core i5 plus 128GB spec, or $1,399 for an upgraded Core i7 and 256GB combination. Unfortunately, the processors inside LG's new laptops are Intel's 5th-generation Broadwell, not the latest and greatest Skylake chips. That makes for rather underwhelming battery life, as my initial experience with the Core i7 Gram has shown it to last for markedly less than its advertised 7.5 hours, which in itself is a comparatively low number nowadays. There are also a couple of peculiar omissions on LG's part: the Gram laptop doesn't have a keyboard backlight or an SD card reader. It does come with an HDMI port and a microSD reader, however, to offset the absence of common features with the presence of uncommon ones.

Look out for our full review of the LG Gram laptop in the coming days.