While the Surface 2 was a huge improvement for Microsoft, it now faces some stiff competition from one of Microsoft’s closest allies.
Nokia’s new Windows RT tablet, the Lumia 2520 ($499), is a reminder of why Microsoft wanted to ally itself with Nokia in the first place. It’s an attractive slate, one with a completely different design sensibility from the boxy Surface. It’s also a hardware powerhouse, thanks to Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 800 processor.
After spending a few days with the Lumia 2520, I found it to be a far more comfortable tablet than the Surface 2. But when it comes to actually getting work done, the Surface is still a better choice.
The 2520 basically looks like one of Nokia’s Lumia phones blown up with a 10-inch display. It sports the same polycarbonate case and rounded edges. It’s also surprisingly light, weighing in at around 1.36 pounds, about 0.2 pounds less than the Surface 2. That slight weight difference makes it far easier to hold the Lumia 2520 with one hand for extended periods, something I’ve always found essential for big tablets.
While the Surface 2 feels like a true hybrid computing device, one that sits smack dab in the middle of the spectrum between laptop and tablet, the Lumia 2520 feels more like a pure tablet. You’ll have to buy the optional keyboard case if you want a USB port or kickstand. (I didn’t get to test out the Lumia’s keyboard case, unfortunately.)
Strangely enough, you won’t be able to get the Lumia 2520 without LTE 4G capabilities. You can either buy it for $499, or get it under contract from a carrier for $400. Microsoft doesn’t yet offer a Surface 2 model with cellular data, so this is one big feature the Lumia can claim as its own (for now).
I enjoyed holding the Lumia 2520 more than the Surface 2, but I quickly realized that it was far less capable. I missed the freedom of slapping on one of the Surface’s keyboard covers to actually get work done. You can only do so much with a virtual keyboard, after all. The Lumia’s plastic case also made it hard for me hold the tablet steady on my lap for typing. The Lumia tablet comes with Microsoft Office (something Microsoft is offering to all Windows RT devices), but you’ll need the keyboard cover to get the most out of it.
I’ll need to spend a bit more time with the 2520 to truly get a feel for it. Check back later for a full review.