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Nokia Lumia 2520: Meet Microsoft's new candy-coated, anti-Surface tablet

Jon Phillips | Nov. 22, 2013
What happens if the new Nokia Lumia 2520 is a better tablet than the Surface 2? Which hardware becomes Microsoft's flagship low-end tablet?

The 2520 also includes an HDMI port, a Micro-USB 3.0 port (no full-size port, sorry), a proprietary power socket, and a connector strip for Nokia's Power Keyboard. Yes, just like the Surface 2, the Lumia tablet has a fancy, bespoke keyboard accessory. More about that later.

Dazzling screen, speedy performance
One of Nokia's key selling points is "best-in-class outdoor readability." Sadly, during my brief testing sprint, I wasn't able to bathe the display in direct sunlight (see: San Francisco, seasons, unpredictability). But, yeah, sure. The screen is dazzling when set at full strength, and it renders slightly brighter, more saturated colors than the display of the Surface 2.

Nokia's screen is also a bit smaller than Microsoft's. Both hit the 1920-by-1080-pixel standard that we expect of all Windows tablets, but the Lumia rocks a 10.1-inch display, whereas the Surface 2 comes in at 10.6 inches. Nokia's screen doesn't feel particularly small in practice, and you'll notice the size difference only if you compare the two tablets side by side.

The 2520 also introduces a Qualcomm processor to Microsoft's tablet mix. Whereas the Surface 2 runs a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 clocked at 1.7GHz, the Lumia sports a quad-core Snapdragon chip clocked at 2.2GHz. On clock speed alone, the Nokia-branded tablet appears to have the upper hand, but we all know that clock speed is just one portion of the performance equation.

Real-world experience trumps all, and I found the Lumia 2520 to be every bit as fluid and zippy as the Surface 2, if not also various iOS and Android tablets. The user interface reacts with Johnny-on-the-spot urgency. Webpages load, scroll, and redraw like rapid-response teams. And all of the tablet's built-in Office apps open and churn through documents with a palpable quickness.

Without a doubt, a Windows RT 8.1 tablet may leave you wanting a lot more—a vibrant mobile-apps ecosystem is the first thing that comes to mind. But there's no disputing that the Lumia 2520 is one speedy machine.

Can't anyone make a perfect keyboard cover?
Nokia says that the Lumia 2520's 800mAh battery, combined with the efficiency of Qualcomm's processor, is good for a generous 11 hours of video playback. That's a great number, but it falls one hour short of what the Surface 2 managed in our video-rundown lab test. During my three days of hands-on testing, I didn't have enough time to perform our rundown test on the Lumia, but I'll update this review with our results when they're ready. We'll also look into whether the 2520 charges from its minimum level to 80 percent in a single hour, as Nokia claims.

If you purchase the Power Keyboard, the accessory will reportedly add an extra five hours of battery life to your 2520. We'll test the keyboard's battery life as well, and add those numbers to this article. But I did get a chance to spend some quality typing time with the keyboard, and I was struck by how dramatically different it is from the Surface's Type Cover.


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