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LG Gram 14 vs HP Spectre Folio: Which 2-in-1 is Better?

It seems like every year we see the same few laptops rise to the top of our rankings. While I appreciate these mainstays, it's always nice to see something come out of left field to challenge top competitors like Dell and Apple. The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 and HP Spectre Folio are two newly released machines that put up a serious challenge to the cream of the laptop crop.

LG released a few intriguing laptops over the last few years, but we weren't expecting the new Gram 14 2-in-1 to be such a well-rounded machine. This featherweight hits all the right notes, with fast performance, a vibrant display and long battery life. It goes up against the visually striking Spectre Folio, a 2-in-1 with a leather-bonded chassis and a  versatile design. Using head-to-head comparisons and copious benchmarking, we put these notebooks through the ringer. So which one of these convertible laptops should you buy? Let's find out.

LG Gram 14 vs. HP Spectre Folio: Specs Compared

LG Gram 14 2-in-1HP Spectre Folio
Starting Price (as configured)$1,499$1,299 ($1,608)
ColorsDark SilverCognac Brown & Ash, Burgundy & Luminous Gold
Display14-inch, 1080p touch screen13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel
CPUIntel Core i7-8565UIntel Core i7-8500Y
RAM16GB16GB
SSD512GB256GB
Key Travel1.2mm1.3mm
Ports2 USB 3.1 (Type-A), USB-C, HDMI, microSD card, Lock slot, HeadphoneUSB-C, 2 Thunderbolt 3, headphone
Webcam720p1080p
Size 12.8 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches12.6 x 9.2 x 0.6 inches
Geekbench 415,9437,647
Battery Life (hrs:mins)11:2810:18
Weight3.4 pounds3.4 pounds

 

Design

The Spectre Folio is the more stylish of these two laptops, while the Gram 14 2-in-1 will suit those who want something more subtle.

The Spectre Folio has an aesthetic appeal you won't find on any other laptop because its lid, underside and palm rest are bonded not just wrapped in 100-percent genuine leather. This gives the Spectre Folio a luxurious appearance as if it had been crafted by a fashion designer. Accentuating the leather chassis is some stitching and a subtle HP logo stamped on the lid. The keyboard on this slim laptop is made of a sophisticated ash-gray aluminum, and a loop on the right side of the laptop holds an included stylus. The Spectre Folio is available in Cognac Brown and Bordeaux Burgundy.

As gorgeous as it looks, I'm equally impressed by the mechanism the Spectre Folio uses to transform from a laptop into a tablet. Unlike bendback or detachable 2-in-1s, the bottom of the Spectre Folio's display pops out from the base and slides over the keyboard. This clever technique ensures the Spectre Folio doesn't leave its keys exposed to the elements when in tablet mode.

Much like its forebears, the standout feature of the Gram 14 2-in-1 is its absurdly lightweight chassis. At just 2.5 pounds, this 14-inch laptop weighs almost an entire pound lighter than the 13.3-inch Spectre Folio (3.4 pounds). LG kept the weight of the Gram 14 2-in-1 to a minimum by using a magnesium alloy. The Gram's chassis is slightly thicker (12.8 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches) but not as long as the Spectre Folio's (12.6 x 9.2 x 0.6 inches).

Buy on HP

Aside from its lightness, the Gram 14 2-in-1 has a fairly conventional design. A chrome Gram logo is centered on a dark-silver metal lid. The same metal finish extends onto the deck where another Gram logo and the touchpad sit below a black keyboard. While the Gram 14 2-in-1 won't turn any heads, there isn't anything wrong about its buttoned-up appearance.

Unlike the Spectre Folio, the Gram 14 2-in-1 is a traditional bendback 2-in-1; That is, its hinge rotates 360-degrees to transform the laptop into a tablet.    

Winner: HP Spectre Folio

 Ports

The Gram 14 2-in-1 offers a wider variety of ports than the Spectre Folio, but only HP's 2-in-1 comes with future-proof Thunderbolt 3 ports.

On the right side of the Gram 14 is a USB 3.1 (Type-A) port next to a headphone/mic jack, a microSD card slot, a lock slot and a secondary power button (for when you're in tablet mode). Another USB 3.1 can be found on the left side, flanked by a USB-C port, an HDMI input and a power jack.

Because the Spectre Folio is so thin, there isn't a lot of room for ports.

You do, however, get two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the right side and a USB Type-C and headphone/mic jack on the left. The Spectre Folio also supports a mobile LTE connection via an optional SIM card slot.

Winner: Gram 14 2-in-1

Display

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 has a larger and more vivid display than the Spectre Folio, but it doesn't get quite as bright. Both systems have 1080p resolution, so content looks crisp and clear.

The 14-inch, 1080p panel on the Gram 14 2-in-1 produces a vibrant, color-saturated image. The panel is capable of reproducing 128 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which makes it more colorful than the Spectre Folio's display (119 percent) and the premium laptop category average (117 percent).

Unfortunately, the Gram 14 2-in-1's display doesn't get very bright, peaking at just 256 nits. That's much dimmer than the 13-inch, 1080p display on the Spectre Folio, which tops out at 313 nits. Both displays fall short of the premium laptop category average of 321 nits.

Buy on Best Buy

Watching the John Wick: Parabellum trailer on both notebooks side-to-side, our eyes were immediately drawn to the Gram. Despite its relatively dim panel, the vibrancy of the colors, particularly the reds, greens and purples, shone through. It's truly a sight to behold.

HP also sells the Spectre Folio with a 4K display. We'll update this face-off if we get a chance to test that panel.

Winner: Gram 14 2-in-1

 Keyboard and Touchpad

Both laptops have relatively shallow keyboards, but they still offer a relatively comfortable typing experience.

The keys on the LG Gram's island-style keyboard travel only 1.2 millimeters, which wasn't enough to prevent us from bottoming out. However, the key's 69 grams of actuation force kept our fingers moving comfortably during our typing test. Apart from its shallow keys, the Gram's keyboard could be improved with brighter backlighting and larger Backspace and Enter keys.

With 1.3mm of key travel, the keyboard on the Spectre Folio did just enough to keep us from bottoming out. Also, the 71 grams of force required to actuate the keys provided weighty but not overly stiff feedback. The Folio prevailed in a head-to-head typing test against the Gram. Not only did we achieve a higher score on the 10fastfingers typing test (70 words per minute versus 65 wpm), it also proved to be the more comfortable experience.

MORE: Keyboards - Articles and Forums on Tom's Guide

We had no problems using either laptop's touchpad to execute Windows 10 gestures, but our fingers had more room on the Gram 14 2-in-1's (4.1 x 2.5 inches) surface than on the Spectre Folio's small touchpad (3.7 x 2.1 inches).  

Winner: Spectre Folio

Performance

The Y-series CPU inside the Spectre Folio is simply no match for the quad-core U-series chip employed by the Gram 14 2-in-1.

Equipped with an Intel Core i7-8656U CPU and 16GB of RAM, the Gram 14 2-in-1 scored a 15,943 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test. That strong result tops the premium laptop average (12,899) and nearly doubles the Spectre Folio's (Intel Core i7-8500Y, 16GB of RAM) score of 8,090.

The Gram 14 2-in-1 similarly crushed the Spectre Folio in our Excel Macro Test, which involves matching 65,000 names with their corresponding addresses. The Gram 14 2-in-1 needed only 1 minute and 25 seconds to finish the task, while the Spectre Folio lagged behind at 3 minutes and 37 seconds. The premium laptop average is slightly slower than the Gram 14 2-in-1 (1:31).

The 512GB M.2 SATA SSD inside the Gram 14 2-in-1 also outperforms the Spectre Folio's 256GB SSD. The LG laptop took 13 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media files for a rate of 391 megabytes per second. While that's well short of the premium laptop average (525.4 MBps), it still outdid the Spectre Folio (318 MBps) by a slim margin.

MORE: Best 2-in-1s - Laptop/Tablet Hybrids - Laptop Mag

The Gram 14 2-in-1 completed its clean sweep of the Spectre Folio on our Handbrake test by converting a 4K video into 1080p resolution in 21 minutes and 17 seconds. That's less than half the time it took the Spectre Folio (49:45) and it even edged out the premium laptop average (21:51).

Winner: Gram 14 2-in-1

Battery Life

You'll easily get through a full day of use with either laptop, but the Gram 14 2-in-1 has a slight endurance edge over the Spectre Folio. The Gram 14 2-in-1 lasted an outstanding 11 hours and 28 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of display brightness. The Spectre Folio also achieved an excellent runtime of 10 hours and 18 minutes, but that falls just short of the Gram 14 2-in-1.

 Winner: Gram 14 2-in-1

Value and Price

LG keeps things simple by offering a single high-end configuration of the Gram 14 2-in-1. For $1,499, the Gram 2-in-1 comes with an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a UHD 620 Graphics GPU.

The base model of the Spectre Folio costs $1,299 and gets you an Intel Core i5-8200Y CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Intel UHD 615 GPU. You can spend another $100 for a Core i7-8500Y CPU and another $100 on top of that for LTE connectivity. If you want to match the Gram 14 2-in-1's components, you'll need to spend $1,640 for a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Winner: Draw

Overall Winner: LG Gram 14 2-in-1

LG Gram 14 2-in-1HP Spectre Folio
Design (10)89
Ports (10)76
Display (15)1210
Keyboard/Touchpad (15)1112
Performance (20)1712
Battery Life (20)1817
Value (10)55
Overall (100)7871

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 and HP Spectre Folio are two excellent 2-in-1s that can ably compete with some of our favorite laptops. But if we had to choose one of them, we'd go with the Gram 14 2-in-1.

The U-series CPU inside LG's laptop offers significantly better performance than the Spectre Folio, and it does so without sacrificing battery life or portability. Speaking of which, the Gram 14 2-in-1 comes in at 2.5 pounds, making it one of the most portable 14-inch laptops we've ever tested. That being said, if you're a fan of leather or frequently use your laptop in tablet mode, then we still strongly recommend the Spectre Folio.

Credit: Laptop Mag

Phillip Tracy is a senior writer at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he reviews laptops and covers the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News and NewBay Media. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, listening to indie music or watching soccer.