Nokia's first tablet isn't a bad device by any means. It delivers impressive gaming performance, has built-in mobile support, an incredibly bright screen and includes a suite of Nokia-only apps. However, I couldn't figure out why the 2520 is so thick. The Microsoft Surface 2 has just as much girth but earns its corpulence with a kickstand and a full USB port.
If Nokia were going to make a tablet, based on its recent phone designs, the Lumia 2520 is almost exactly how I'd imagine it to look. The Lumia is slightly thicker than the Surface 2, but the Surface 2, with its aforementioned kickstand and full-size USB port, earns its extra girth; the 2520 has no such trade-off. Additionally, its corners are pointy, and when held, they're a constant reminder that rounded corners are the way to go on tablets, especially those of the heavier ilk.
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With the 2520 held in landscape, you'll find the headphone jack and power adapter port along the left edge, a power button and volume rocker on the top-right edge and a key-accessible slot for the microSD card and SIM card on the far left of the top edge. On the right edge sits the micro-HDMI port and micro-USB 3.0 port. The 2520 also includes near-field communication (NFC). Nokia also outfits the Lumia 2520 with dual cameras: a 2-megapixel front and a 6.7-megapixel back.
If you're going to purchase the Lumia 2520, you should strongly consider buying Nokia's US$149 keyboard/cover, especially if you're planning to do lots of productivity tasks. Like Microsoft's Type Cover for the Surface 2, the Power Keyboard is a full laptop-style keyboard with all the keys and shortcuts you'd expect. However, since it's not as wide as the Type Cover, it doesn't feel as comfortable to type on. The keyboard is essential to the 2520's experience, so while I recommend it, I want to reiterate that it's not as good as Microsoft's Type Cover.
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The Nokia Lumia 2520 is one of only two Windows RT tablets released this year. The other is the Surface 2, which may explain why it's being so closely compared with Microsoft's tablet. In addition to its inclusion of Microsoft Office, the 2520 comes with a suite of Nokia apps, including its own camera app, Here Maps, Video Director and Nokia Music.
Video Director is just that simple. Just don't expect anything on the level of iMovie.
(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET)
Nokia Music lets you take your streaming choices offline.
(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET)
The Lumia 2520 features a 1920x1080-pixel-resolution screen. That's the same resolution as the Surface 2's screen, but there are a few qualitative differences worth noting. For one, the Lumia 2520 has a significantly higher brightness than, not only the Surface 2, but any recent tablet. However, the 2520's screen suffers from a yellowish tint that's most noticeable when viewing white backgrounds.
I could smoothly zip around Windows RT's interface, and apps opened just as quickly as they did on the Surface 2. Unfortunately, the active area of the Windows home button is a bit small, and I sometimes had to make several attempts to tap it.
With a Snapdragon 800 system on chip, 3D games, like Riptide GP, ran at high frame rates, and the 2520's extra-bright screen lends even more vibrancy to graphics than I'm normally used to. In 3DMark Unlimited, the 2520 posted impressive scores, but it should be noted that the tablet's lower 1920x1080 resolution gives it a performance advantage over both the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, its 2560x1600 resolution and the iPad Air's 2048x1536 screen res.
The front-facing camera captures grainy, dark and tawny images. In comparison, the Surface 2's front camera displays sharp, bright images with accurate color. The 2520's back camera isn't much of an improvement, but it at least includes autofocus, something curiously missing from the Surface 2's back camera.
The Nokia Lumia 2520 suffers from a yellowish screen, an uncomfortable keyboard accessory and a body that feels way too thick for a tablet with no kickstand or full USB port. Now, combine that with unimpressive cameras and a Windows key with too small a hitbox, and the overall superiority of the Surface 2 becomes readily apparent. The Lumia isn't a bad tablet, but with a better RT tablet available, it makes little sense to purchase it over the Surface 2.