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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?

Nokia's Power Keyboard (a $150 option) assumes the form of a journal cover—or, if you're old enough to remember them, a Trapper Keeper. When you're not typing, it can completely ensconce the 2520, wrapping the tablet in a significant amount of padding that's confidence-inspiring but bulky in a backpack. In addition to its built-in battery, the cover features two full-size USB ports.

Almost everything about the key layout, the key travel, and the overall key experience of the Power Keyboard felt more natural and familiar to me than Microsoft's Type Cover. That said, the Power Keyboard puts too much physical separation between the key layout and the touchpad for my tastes, and when you're deep in the throes of text entry, the touchpad flops around too much. For this we can blame the inch of flappy, nonfunctional material that wraps around the tablet to form the "cover" of Nokia's journal analogue.

Nokia emphasized that my Power Keyboard sample was a prototype, and could suffer some performance issues. I didn't discover any hiccups with the keyboard itself, but the touchpad consistently failed to register mouse-button taps. I'll take Nokia on its word that problems such as this will be fixed before the accessory hits the market, but consumers will still have to cope with the keyboard's floppy, appendage-like design.

So which keyboard is better, Nokia's or Microsoft's? That's a personal call, and I'm not your nanny. Both the Lumia 2520 and the Surface 2 make big promises about how much work you can get done in Office and other productivity apps, and all that activity is predicated on keyboard comfort. So before you purchase either tablet, try both keyboard covers in person. They're dramatically different, and what you discover could be the deciding factor in which tablet you purchase. Also be aware that Microsoft is planning to release a battery-packed Power Cover for the Surface in 2014 for $200.

Nice camera! (Please don't use it)
I'm borderline offended that in this day and age, my duties as a product reviewer compel me to discuss the quality of a tablet's rear-facing camera. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: You should never use a 10-inch tablet as an image-capture device unless a criminal is pointing a gun at you and ordering you to do so. The phone in your pocket almost certainly boasts a better camera, and is small enough to prevent you from looking like a moron-jerkwad in public. Phones are also easier to aim. So put down the tablet, Dad. Seriously, put it down.

Nonetheless, Nokia is a bit obsessed with its mobile-camera tech (and why wouldn't it be, considering its successful deployment on Lumia phones), and it has married Carl Zeiss optics with the 2520's 6.7-megapixel rear-facing sensor. Does the scheme make a difference? I think the images look fantastic, and I've included two samples below. So take a gander. Stare at them. And then never bother me with your rear-facing tablet camera again.

 

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