Channel 5

Nokia Lumia 2520

Wednesday 15 January 2014


Rating of 3

The basics

Here comes the Nokia Lumia 2520, the largest Lumia in Nokia's arsenal, but this is no phone - this is a bright and bold full-sized tablet, that boasts similar looks to Nokia's handsets. You won't find Windows Phone 8 here either, instead, ahead of Nokia's acquisition by the global monolith, it's boasting Microsoft's Windows RT 8.1, making it a firm Microsoft Surface 2 rival. It's glossier and shinier than many of its peers, and it even has 4G capabilities, but does its lustrous looks make it any more lucrative? Can it stack up against the Surface 2 slate or even the mighty iPad Air? Let's find out.

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The good

Nokia's Lumia range of phones are known for their slick lines and curved designs, and that follows through with Nokia's take on the tablet form factor. This isn't a plain black slate like so many other tablets you've seen, the Lumia 2520 is a glossy and fresh take that simply screams boldness. Ours came in a delicious candy red flavour, and unlike Microsoft's monotone Surface, the bright hue gives it a peppier appearance that we absolutely love. Nokia's renowned build quality follows through with its tablet offering too, as it's a solid slate with practically no flex, and thanks to its polycarbonate construction, it's very light too. It can't compete with the iPad Air on the scales, or in terms of thickness, but this is one tablet you can hold in one hand comfortably for a length of time without any strain.

Contrasting with its bright and bold rear are the black bezels that hide the front-facing 1.2-Megapixel camera and speakers, and surround its ClearBlack display. It's the same screen tech that's found on its Lumia phone cousins, only it's been blown up to 10.1-inches and still looks incredible. The 1920x1200 screen is crisp and clear, with bright colours and deep blacks, plus it works great even in sunlight. On the back, you'll find its NFC tag for quick pairing with compatible gizmos, while it's also home to the 6.7-Megapixel snapper. Tablet cameras have been notoriously known for not being brilliant, but Nokia's shooter comes complete with Zeiss optics and produces some surprisingly decent images. That's also supplemented by the camera application, which is almost like a carbon-copy of the version found on Nokia's Windows Phone handsets.

As it's running Windows RT, you won't find a full-fat x86 processor here. Instead, Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU is powering the 2520, which is supplemented by 2GB of RAM, and that means you get snappy and quick performance within Windows RT 8.1. You'll also find 32GB of storage onboard, which is expandable up to 64GB with a microSD card. Multitasking is a lag-free affair, making it easy to zip from app to app. You'll have no problems using this as your main Office system, especially if you go for the keyboard cover extra too. 4G is an added bonus too, which is something Microsoft's slates lack, and the Lumia 2520 also has a superior battery life to the Surface 2, topping out at a massive 10 hours. You can get from zero to an 80 percent charge in just an hour, and it'll hit maximum juice in just three. Nokia's slate will last you the working day, and then some.

The bad

We love Nokia's hardware, and the Lumia 2520 is no exception, but it's let down by the software - or lack of it. As it's toting Windows RT, you won't be able to access all the legacy and desktop apps that you may already be used to using on regular Windows, meaning you're limited to the Windows Store for supported, fullscreen Metro-style apps. It's an ever growing digital store, but it's still lagging way, way behind its iOS and Android rivals. It's the very same problem we found with Microsoft's own Surface 2: until the Windows Store catches up with more apps and more choice, there's little point picking it over an equivalently priced iPad.

One major annoyance that plagues many Windows (and Android) tablets is the display ratio - and it's an issue here too. While the screen is top-notch, we're not a big fan of the 16:9 ratio - it works perfectly for watching movies and videos on, but once you turn it into portrait mode, things start to fall apart, or over the top of your hands. The display then becomes too narrow, and reading books becomes almost impossible thanks to how long the tablet is. Unlike Microsoft's Surface range, Nokia has not included a kickstand with the Lumia 2520, meaning you'll have to hold it up when kicking back on your desk or in bed. If you want to prop it up, you'll have to invest in the pricey power keyboard accessory that costs $149.99 (£91), but then you'll also have a set of keys to deal with too.

While the Lumia 2520 charges up fast, that comes at the expense of a proprietary small-pin charger which is fairly large to lug around. That means you can't top it up with micro USB power cable, and it does mean you'll have to go straight to Nokia to replace it if you lose it. The connector itself also looks almost exactly like the headphone jack, and they're placed on the same side of the slate too - you might confuse the two. Nokia has also included a USB 3.0 port on the side, but it has a micro USB connector instead of a full-size port, meaning you can't easily plug in any other standard accessories. That means if you want to hook up a memory stick or a mouse, you'll have to use an adapter, which is just another cable you could lose.

There's also the price to consider: it costs £399 at John Lewis, which nets you an expandable 32GB of storage and 4G capabilities, but that same amount of cash can bag you Apple's latest 16GB iPad Air. While that doesn't compete in the storage stakes, you do get access to Apple's huge App Store which makes the Windows Store look extremely tiny. The Lumia 2520 is also more expensive than Microsoft's own Surface 2 tablet, which boasts the added comfort of a kickstand, but it does lack 4G.

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The bottom line

Nokia's top-notch hardware is let down by Microsoft's lacklustre Windows 8.1, which still falls short as a tablet OS. There's still an alarming lack of dedicated apps, and the awkward touch-screen navigation of its desktop mode is begging for a mouse or stylus. We want to love the Lumia 2520, as its bright and cheerful glossy polycarbonate body is a zesty alternative to Microsoft's own drab and dreary Surface - but Windows RT 8.1 as a tablet OS still falls flat. Maybe next time?

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Nokia Lumia 2520 is tagged with Nokia, Lumia, Nokia Lumia 2520, Windows RT 8.1, Windows and tablets. Select a tag (Nokia, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

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