- Attractive screen
- Very good battery life
- Verizon LTE
- Windows RT
- Some software glitches
- Pricey, even compared to high-end competition
Quick TakeThe Nokia Lumia 2520 is tablet with very nice hardware, but ultimately it's not as solid on the software side.
Nokia, a company best known for its smartphones, has produced the Lumia 2520, a full-size, high-end tablet created for the consumer market. It runs Windows RT 8.1, the version of this operating system created for ARM processors..
The Lumia 2520 comes in a choice of two versions: one equipped with AT&T Wireless, and one configured for Verizon, the latter being the model we tested. Although you may see mentions of it also having 32GB and 64GB versions, only the 32GB one is available in the U.S.
Build & Design
It’s a truism that there’s very much a “generic tablet” look these days. There’s only so much that you can really do with a device that’s more than 90% screen. And if you’ve seen one rounded black rectangle, you’ve kind of seen them all. Despite that though, the Lumia 2520 manages to look at least a little distinctive thanks to using fairly sharp right angles on its corners instead of soft curves. They’re not that sharp of course, not enough to make the device uncomfortable, but they do manage to make it look less like a “Galaxy iPad Note Air 2” or some other similar mashup.
Otherwise, Nokia’s tablet isn’t particularly remarkable design wise. The weight and balance are fairly normal; the 2520 weighs a bit more than the average tablet, by two or three ounces, but it’s not a big deal.
The build quality feels good – this device is well built all over, and has a solid feel in the hand. You won’t have to worry about it being cheaply made.
The display on the Lumia 2520 is certainly very pretty to behold. At 1920 x 1080, it boasts full HD specs and a pixel density of 218 dots per inch. Granted, that’s not quite as high as the Retina iPads or Samsung’s latest Galaxy tablets, but it’s still pretty good.
Nokia used its “ClearBlack” technology to improve the viewing experience — not exactly from improving the display itself, mind you, but by using polarized filters to minimize reflections caused by ambient light. It’s only mildly successful, but every little bit counts. Once you turn on the display though, it’s more than bright enough that you’re probably not going to care in most circumstances.
The colors are wonderfully vivid as well, and there’s no letdown of clarity, even though it’s not as pixel dense as some other high end tablets. It’s especially useful if you’re going outside a lot: the 2520’s display can be cranked up all the way to 650 “nits” of brightness, which is comparable to a desktop LCD monitor. It’ll burn through battery life faster, but outdoors it’ll make a lot of difference to visibility.
Buttons and Ports
The Lumia 2520 has the basic array of ports and connectors. On top, there’s a small door that covers the microSD and SIM slots. You need something like a paperclip or the tool included in the box to eject the SIM card though, and the frame that the SIM card fits into is so thin as to make the whole thing a real pain to handle. Best leave it in the slot.
The left side of the device holds both the power and 3.5mm headphone jacks, while the right holds USB and HDMI connectors. Rather than getting power and data through one connector like most tablets, the 2520 has a separate barrel connector for a dedicated AC adapter. This approach has both pros and cons. Using a special connector, with a rated input of 20 volts, you’re only going to be able to charge the 2520 off power supplies specifically designed for it, so you can forget about using the generic car charger that powers your phone and every other gadget. Same thing for wall power supplies. The upside is that with such a hefty power supply — 30 watts, compared to the 10 watts common with USB chargers — the 2520 can go from zero to 80% charge in one hour, drastically cutting the amount of time that you need to spend charging.
Even so, I’m not a big fan of this trade off. Yes, you can charge quickly. But it also eliminates 99% of your potential charging sources. And if you happen to run out of power somewhere that you don’t have a charger available, fast charging doesn’t do you one single milligram of good. Run out of juice in the car, at a friend’s house, on the road? I’ve done all of those, and what’s usually saved me is a universal micro-USB charger. Being able to power up anywhere is a valuable feature.
The USB and HDMI ports are simpler. The video-out port is a standard micro-HDMI connector as is seen on plenty of smartphones. The USB port is a little bit more complicated, but not in a bad way, even if it looks like something completely else at first. But if you don’t recognize the plug, don’t fret: it’s actually just the latest type of micro-USB connector for new USB 3.0 devices. It looks strange for a good reason, because it’s designed to take two kinds of plugs. It’s backwards compatible with regular micro-USB cables, so you can still use all your old connectors with it. But with the right cable, it also supports the new USB 3.0 features like transfer speeds up to 5 gigabits per second. This is, nicely enough, one of those “best of both worlds” kind of things.
Besides the USB and HDMI connectors, there’s also a large multi-pin connector on the bottom of the device. This is intended for the keyboard case accessory. Sold separately with a suggested retail price of $150, but it does add both some battery life and two USB Host ports.