Nokia Lumia 2520
Nokia's first tablet isn't a bad device by any means. It delivers impressive gaming performance, has built-in cellular 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.
The Lumia 2520's screen also has a distracting yellow tint, and the $149 keyboard/cover accessory isn't nearly as comfortable to type on as Surface 2's Type Cover.
It's great that it comes with a full version of Microsoft Office -- as all Windows RT tablets do -- but because it's running RT, that also means it's incompatible with legacy Windows programs and lacks app support compared with Android and iOS.
At $499, the 2520 is about $50 more expensive -- for the off-contract version -- than the Surface 2, placing it squarely in the shadow of Microsoft's RT tablet.
Design 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 Verizon version we got for review has a striking red chassis and a thick jet-black bezel on the front. There's also an unmistakable plastic feel to its body, but it doesn't necessarily give off a cheap tablet vibe. The back is slightly sloped so that the edges of the tablet are a couple centimeters off your desk when laid down flat.
In light of recent tablet releases like the Apple iPad Air and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, the Lumia 2520 feels a bit heavy. To be sure, it's not quite as heavy as the Microsoft Surface 2, but with the lack of a kickstand, I found myself holding the 2520 in my hands a lot more than I did the Surface 2. So its heft was probably more noticeable to me.
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.
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 NFC. Nokia also outfits the Lumia 2520 with dual cameras: a 2-megapixel front and a 6.7-megapixel back.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET)
The Power Keyboard If you're going to purchase the Lumia 2520, you should strongly consider buying Nokia's $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.
It doesn't cramp up my hands like the Asus Transformer Pad TF701T's smaller keyboard does, but the experience isn't as pleasant as it is on the Surface 2. Also, the Power Keyboard's keys are small, hard, and lack backlighting. The polar opposite of the Type Cover. The keyboard does include two full USB ports in the back, an extra battery, and can fold up like a Trapper Keeper when you're on the move.
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.
(Credit: Andrew Hoyle/CNET)
Software features 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 -- an advantage all Windows RT devices share -- the 2520 comes with a suite of Nokia apps, including its own camera app, Here Maps, Video Director, and Nokia Music.
Video Director allows you to very quickly and easily edit short video clips. You choose the video, select one of four different transition styles, and add intro and outro text. The app then spends a couple of seconds compiling the video before it starts playing.
(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET)
Don't expect anything on the level of iMovie, but it's an easy way to jazz up your pics and video a bit. Here Maps is Nokia's own map software with an emphasis on personalization and easily finding restaurants, entertainment, and shopping options in your area.
Nokia Music follows the model of pretty much every streaming-music service, including Xbox Music -- which is also included -- but goes one step further by allowing you to cache some songs for offline playback.
(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET)