Nokia Lumia 2520: Australian Review

Last year’s Nokia World conference was a beaut. We got some Windows Phone phablets and a cool new app or two, all mixed in with the promise of the long-rumoured Lumia tablet from Nokia. It perplexed some, intrigued others and delighted us with the promise of what looked to be a bright new future for a troubled, yet beloved brand. Now that we’re through the looking glass, however, it’s clear that not everything with the aforementioned Lumia 2520 is as it seems.

What Is It?

The Lumia 2520 is Nokia’s first Windows tablet.

It’s packing a 10.1-inch 1080p panel (218 ppi) on the surface, with a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor under the hood, as well as 2GB of RAM.

You get 32GB of internal storage, as well as a microSD card slot capable of expanding up to 64GB of memory.

You’ve got a micro-SIM with 4G connectivity, and a massive 8120mAh battery to keep you going all day.

The device will set you back $840 outright, or you can get it on a plan with Telstra (exclusively) for $25 extra per month on a $35 Telstra Tablet Plan. Said plan will give you 4GB of data per month on a 24 month contract.

You can also buy a keyboard accessory for the device that will power the device, and give you an extra two USB ports. The Nokia Power Keyboard will run you an extra $240 and it comes in red and black, whereas the tablet only comes in black.

What Does It Do Well?

This is Nokia’s first attempt at a Windows tablet. Usually when a company attempts a device for the first time, it’s nigh unusable from a hardware perspective simply because engineers are looking at problems they just haven’t had to solve yet.

From a hardware perspective, the Lumia 2520 tablet is fantastic. It’s packing a massive amount of processing power under the hood thanks to the new Snapdragon chipset, and it’s packing a big and beautiful 10.1 inch screen so your work isn’t cramped and invisible like it might be on an 8-inch Windows tablet.

The Lumia 2520 isn’t just a tablet, though. It’s meant to be your portable office thanks to the pre-installed productivity suite of the same name, and the Power Keyboard: a folio-style cover that clips into the Lumia’s serial port at the base of the device, and adds an impressive 4 hours of battery life to the device and allows you to stand the device upright and type on a keyboard, like you would on a laptop. That extra four hours doubles the battery life of the Lumia 2520 based on our tests, meaning you could go just about a full work-day without your charger. That’s great for a mobile workforce.

Doubly so when you consider that the Lumia 2520 has the best outdoor readability of any tablet on the market at the moment with an impressive 600 nits of brightness. That means you can read it in direct sunlight, making it even better for a workforce that’s on the go all the time, or a user who wants to get out of the office with their device.
The Lumia 2520 is also rocking a micro-SIM port so you can be connected on the go. It runs on just about every 4G band you could ask for as well, with Category 4 speeds allowing you to pull theoretical maximum download speeds of 150Mbps.

What’s Doesn’t It Do Well?

Cracks begin to emerge in the convertible tablet proposition when you start to use it, however. The Power Cover suffers from the same usability problem that the first Microsoft Surface tablets did. There’s only one screen orientation when you open the keyboard, which means that you’re stuck with the device facing you at an awkward 80-degree angle. Unless you slouch when you work, you’re probably never going to be looking at your tablet straight-on with the Lumia 2520.

It also has a bit of an overbalancing problem thanks to the distribution of weight in the batteries. The Lumia 2520 Power Cover includes a massive battery to give you a welcome four-hour power boost. The only problem is the effect on lapability. Because the batteries and the tablet itself sit quite close towards the rear of the unit, you’re constantly saving the device from somersaulting off your lap and onto the floor.

There’s also no backlight on the Power Cover’s keyboard which is disappointing, plus the whole thing is also rather cumbersome to carry around with you, given the fact that the keyboard itself with all its batteries weighs almost as much as the Lumia 2520 itself, meaning that the two together tip the scales at more than any Ultrabook would ever be caught dead weighing.

It’s running Windows RT, so you can’t expect to get anything useful out of it until more decent apps become available, and it’s absurdly expensive for what it is.

For the Lumia 2520 and the Power Keyboard together, you’re looking at $1080. What?! That’s Surface 2 Pro money more or less. $1169 gets you a fully-fledged Surface 2 Pro with a Type Cover to boot. The extra $89 pays for itself when you consider how much more you get: it’s full Windows 8.1 Pro rather than cut-down Windows RT, it has a USB 3.0 port as standard, a better design for lap usage and (in this reviewer’s opinion) a better looking device. It’s also a device you can use full time: from the office, in a cab or at home. Nokia would have you use the Lumia 2520 just when you left your office for an hour to step into a meeting. Sure, you lose out on SIM card connectivity with the Surface 2 Pro over the Lumia 2520, but tethering to your phone is arguably less stress than the latter will cause you over the life of the product.

All of this isn’t to say that the Lumia 2520 isn’t a good device, however. Far from it. It’s bloody excellent in fact and there’s a lot to like which we’ve covered above but in my mind, it’s worth about half of what the sticker says in the store. If the Lumia 2520 cost what it did in the US — $499 that is – in Australia, they’d fly off the shelves. Asking people to pay Ultrabook prices for a consumption tablet with added productivity components is a tough position.
In defence of the product’s price point, however, if you get it on Telstra’s $35 tablet plan, the carrier will only charge you $25 extra per month over 24 months, meaning that the device will only cost you $600 over the life of the contract. If you’re deadest on the device, that’s the way to purchase it.

This Is Weird…

Nokia make great Windows products. They’re smart, powerful, (usually) cheap and come in some of the best designs we’ve seen from phones in a long time. In fact, Nokia is running an advertising campaign at the moment boasting about how colourful it is.

It seems baffling then that Australians are only allowed to buy the black Lumia 2520, when it comes in some gorgeous colours overseas. If you want a splash of colour in your life, you can only buy the red Power Cover, which is more likely to lose its shine and scuff over time because you’re touching it more. How odd that one of the Lumia’s key points of difference is kept away from the Australian market.

Should You Buy It?

It really depends on what you want it for.

It’s a lot like Microsoft’s new Surface 2 tablet, and in the same way, it isn’t meant for full-time productivity purposes. Nokia believes that it’s a portable productivity tablet designed to help you keep working when you leave your desk. Office workers deep into the Microsoft ecosystem will be able to sync their work to OneDrive, leave their desk and pick right up where they left on the Lumia 2520 thanks to its SIM capabilities enabling seamless networking, and a pre-installed Office suite. That seems like a sensible idea. The only problem with the 2520 is that it executes it rather sloppily both practically and on price.

Given the fact that you can buy either an Ultrabook or a Surface 2 Pro for around the same money as you’d buy the Lumia 2520 for, we’d say you should avoid it, unless you can get it for considerably less than the asking price in a few months.

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