Hands-on: Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet review

It's finally here, the beautiful build quality of a Lumia smartphone transposed into a tablet. We go hands-on with the Lumia 2520 to see if the Lumia tablet has legs or if it's doomed to go the way of the PlayBook.

Design

That just looks like a big Lumia, we hear you say. Yup, it really does but that's a good thing. The second you pick up the 2520 its reassuring 615g weight and beautifully tapered edges welcome you to a comfortable tablet experience. Even the buttons are placed on the top side like a phone, but again this works for both portrait and landscape modes and the Windows button is right in your face so you can hop back to the Start screen easily. 

The bezel is a little on the large side for our tastes. While that's nice to have the area for holding it's undoubtedly less pretty than the iPad Mini form. The lack of front-facing speakers does make the slate look great but the sound is never going to be quite as good as a result - it's very tinny.

Ports are plentiful which is a great surprise, you get: micro-HDMI, USB 3.0, a bottom connector for dock connection charging (yes, the dock adds power), and sadly a proprietary charger. So close to perfection Nokia, so close.

Screen

From the pretty black slate you're launched into Windows RT 8.1 with well-defined tiles thanks to that 1920 x 1080 resolution display which, at 10.1 inches is perfect for the new Windows OS. But this is a custom display that's focused on outdoor readability. The highest brightness for a tablet (650 nits, most others are 300) with lowest reflectiveness (under 6 per cent) looks great - but we are indoors and glare is still noticeable - as you can see from the photos. But in fairness to Nokia, the lighting in here is harsh.

The software behind the brightness control was a big factor in designing for long battery life and that achieves an 11-hour life, it's claimed.

Power

The Qualcomm 8974 chipset running at 2.3GHz means responsive use and 4G LTE connectivity. From our time with it everything was seamless, flitting in and out of big apps like Outlook didn't even cause a glitch - not bad considering these aren't even the finished models.

There's also a full modem integrated which is a first for Windows. This means the device intelligently jumps between connections available to offer the most affordable option - a great real-world extra we could see getting a lot of use.

Camera

Nokia PureView offers pretty decent shots for a tablet. We don't really agree with using a tablet for a camera, but it's nice to have as a back-up. And the Zeiss optics combined with 6.7-megapixel camera seems to be up to par, in here anyway. The 2-megapixel camera is also useful for Skype chats.

Also the Storyteller app looks great on the large screen, going from worldwide shots right down to a local area is easy using this display. Looking at a pic also comes up with nearby restaurants which could be nice if you've forgotten where you had that great steak you'd snapped and want to go again. The ability to sync Storyteller with your Facebook is ingenious as you've probably got most of those snaps geotagged too. Nokia Video Director lets you cut together clips with music to edit a video directly on the tablet. It feels straightforward but doesn't offer much depth, as expected.

OS

HERE Maps is included on the tablet which means offline tracking wherever you go thanks to the GPS which, of course, we can't test here indoors.

Windows RT 8.1 means you get Outlook built in and SkyDrive to back-up all your docs. It is also built for minimalism so that can be seen with the 11-hour claimed battery life, it also helps explain the speed at which you can jump in and out of apps.

Tap and pair using NFC with your mobile - it will then use Wi-Fi direct to get your photos. Great, as you don't need to connect to the internet to share. This applies to Music and Maps also as your favourites and points of interest are automatically transferred.

Power keyboard

As a protective cover this remains small and looks good. When it comes to typing we were surprised by how natural it feels - seriously this is the best we've used. Real keys mean you get a laptop-like experience, touchpad included. The dual USB ports are a great touch too. Apparently you can charge 50 per cent battery in 40 minutes - but obviously we can't test that here. And a magnet in the folio holds it upright at a stand angle ideal for working on the lap or table. Plus it'll add 5 hours battery to your device giving you 16 hours on the go. Not bad for $150 (£99).

Initial conclusion

This $450 tablet is a success for Nokia. It might be late to the party but it's come packing some powerful equipment. A great build quality, stunning screen, plenty of power, useful apps, a good camera, amazing keyboard case, and selection of ports should make this a great vehicle for Microsoft to get Windows tablets to a level of popularity not seen before. In true Nokia style this is the most mobile tablet Micrsofot has ever had and, apart from Windows 8.1, it doesn't scrimp on power.



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