Nokia’s first tablet, the 10-inch Lumia 2520, launches this week, just in time to compete with the iPad and the Surface 2 for the holiday season.
The Lumia 2520 goes on sale in the U.S. this week for about $US400 on contract with Verizon and AT&T (though it’s only $US200 if you also buy a Nokia Lumia smartphone, like the recently released 1520 phablet).
It comes in black or white, as well as the snappier options of red or cyan.
The Lumia 2520 is a Windows tablet, just like Microsoft’s new Surface 2. That means it runs the latest version of Windows, called Windows 8.1. As a bonus, it also comes with the full version of Microsoft Office for free.
The 10-inch Lumia 2520 weighs 1.35 pounds, which is roughly the same weight as the slightly smaller iPad 2 and less than the slightly larger, 1.49 pound Surface 2. Apple’s new iPad Air weighs one pound.
As far as looks, I dug the bright red plastic backing and it felt pretty durable, though it would flex a little if you pulled at it, which its metal counterparts wouldn’t do.
One of the Nokia Lumia’s bragging points is that the display is crisp and bright with great viewing range both outdoors and indoors. Indeed, the screen looked great from every angle, even when I was looking at it almost vertically from above.
The tablet runs on Windows RT 8.1 and, like the Surface 2, comes with a free Microsoft Office bundle, meant to allow you to use your tablet either for for entertainment and productivity.
The keyboard was really accurate and easy to use — perfect for bursting out emails — but you wouldn’t want to type out long Word documents on it. Nokia is selling a Power Keyboard, which adds five extra hours of battery life, for $US150. For comparison, the Surface 2 offers two keyboard options at $US80 and $US130, but neither will provide the extra juice. I didn’t get to test the keyboard, but it seems like it would be a no-brainer accessory if you’re actually planning on getting work done on your tablet.
As a Windows 8.1 device, the Lumia 2520 has its ups and downs. You can multi-task to your hearts content and move through different apps with ease, but it’s a little rattling to jump back-and-forth between the sleek tiles menu and the classic-looking desktop mode. You don’t have as many app options and Bing and Internet Explorer are your default browsing options. In general, the reviews of Windows 8.1 have been mixed and to a certain point it’s a matter of preference. Do you like using your tablet like a PC? Do you care about having access to the latest, greatest apps? Windows still doesn’t seem to be high on an app developers’ priority lists, though, to be fair, that is starting to change as more name-brand apps finally launch their Windows equivalents.
Nokia’s Lumia tablet, like the company’s new big-screen phablet, comes with commercial-free Pandora copycat Nokia Music, which is amazing, and photo sharing app Nokia Storyteller, which is well-designed but debatably useful unless you like to brag about your vacations. It also comes with Nokia Video Director, which lets you stitch videos together and add affects and titles. It takes a while to create previews for each video (which I had to do often when trying out the different affects), but it’s a nice, free tool if you want to jazz up the footage you shoot with the 6.7 megapixel camera.
Nokia’s testing showed the battery to last more than 10 hours while streaming video over Wi-Fi. I would say that the battery lasted more than a day with light use.
Should you buy this tablet?
Let’s compare options. The 16GB iPad 2 costs $US529 for Wi-Fi plus LTE, while the 32GB Lumia 2520 costs only $US400 with Verizon or AT&T. That’s a significant price difference, especially when take into account that you’re also getting the Microsoft Office bundle for free. However, buying into Windows means you have to be prepared for slower app adoption than you’d have with an iOS or Android device.
If you’re a Windows fan who wants to be able to use Microsoft Office though, you might be torn between this tablet or the Surface 2. The Lumia is cheaper than the Surface and comes with some neat Nokia-specific add-on apps and the battery-charged keyboard accessory, so I’d go with the Lumia.
In general, it’s interesting that one of the Lumia 2520’s biggest competitors is the $US449 Microsoft Surface 2 tablet. Afterall, Microsoft bought Nokia’s smartphone and tablet business earlier this year. The deal isn’t finished yet, but once it is, Microsoft will have two tablets that perform
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