Review: Nokia's new 2520 tablet is one to avoid

Lumia 2520

Nokia recently released its first-ever Windows tablet, the Lumia 2520. After testing the device, I wonder why Nokia bothered.

There's just not much to recommend about the device. Its design is unremarkable. Its screen is of lower resolution than those of its competitors. Its app store lacks the breadth and depth of selection that you'll find for other tablets.

And if those weren't enough reasons to be unimpressed, there's this: It runs a version of Microsoft's Windows that seems destined for the scrap heap because it has struggled mightily to find an audience among either consumers or device manufactures.

In short, if you're shopping for a tablet this holiday season, I'd pass on the Lumia 2520.

Nokia used to be a powerhouse in the mobile device industry, and has long been known for making high-quality hardware. But nearly three years ago, the company linked its fate to Microsoft and subsequently saw its sales, profit and market share plunge.

Despite those results, Nokia has stuck with Microsoft's Windows Phone software and now has chosen to enter the tablet market with a device running an out-of-favor Windows flavor: Windows RT.

Microsoft designed Windows RT so its partners could offer Windows-based tablets that could compete with Apple's iPad in terms of price, weight and design. As an added bonus, Windows RT includes versions of Microsoft's Office applications, notably Word and Excel. And the latest version of Windows RT also has a version of Outlook.

But Windows RT has one huge flaw: It's not really Windows at all. It doesn't run any Windows applications that were written for Windows 7 or older versions of the operating system.

Likely because of that shortcomings, Windows RT devices have suffered poor sales, and manufacturers other than Microsoft have abandoned the software. Recently, Microsoft has even indicated that it might get rid of Windows RT altogether. So you'd be wise to think twice about getting any tablet running Windows RT these days.

And there are other reasons to dislike Windows RT. The Office apps it includes lack many of the more advanced features found on Windows 8. And you have to run them using Windows RT's hidden desktop interface, which wasn't designed with touch screens in mind.

And you may find yourself trying to navigate that old, difficult-to-use interface for other reasons. Some of Windows RT's more advanced settings can only be accessed through the old desktop-based Control Panel, one of three settings areas in the operating system.

The Lumia 2520 had problems beyond running Windows RT.

Like other Nokia devices, it's solid and well built. But its design is boring: It's just a flat, rectangular slab. And it's both thicker and heavier than Apple's iPad Air.

The design is more oblong than other tablets on the market, which makes the Lumia 2520 ideal for watching high-definition, widescreen videos. But it discourages you from holding the tablet vertically because it feels awkward and limits what you can see on the screen. That's unfortunate, because many of the things you might want to do on a tablet-reading books, making video calls, jotting down notes-feel more comfortable when the tablet is vertical.

Another thing about the Lumia 2520 that comes up short is its screen. Apple set the standard nearly two years ago when it put a super-high resolution "Retina" display in the iPad. While other tablets now have screens that match or exceed the iPad's resolution, the Lumia 2520 falls short. Compared side by side with the new iPad Air, the difference is subtle but noticeable; text in particular looks fuzzier on the Lumia's screen.

Nokia has included with the Lumia 2520 some of its own applications, notably its HERE map app and Video Director, an app that helps users splice together videos they've shot and add titles to them.

Those apps are fine, but they don't make up for the paucity of apps available in the Windows store, which is the only place to get programs for Windows RT devices. While the number of apps in that store has increased steadily over time, it still trails far behind what you'll find for the iPad or even for Android-based tablets. For example, none of the top 10 paid applications for the iPad are available for the Lumia 2520.

And I had another complaint about the Lumia 2520 - it was unstable. While updating its software, the device froze, and I had to reset it. Several apps crashed or didn't work properly. And I couldn't even get Outlook to connect to one of my email accounts, even though I used the same settings I use on my iPhone and other devices.

All of this might be tolerable if the Lumia 2520 was a bargain. But it's not. The device will cost you at least $400 with a two-year cellular contract with AT&T or Verizon. Without a contract, it costs $500.

That's more than you'd spend for Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, and the same as the base model of Apple's iPad Air. Either of those would be a much better buy.


Troy's rating: 5.5 out of 10

Likes: Solid feeling case; relatively speedy processor

Dislikes: Uninspired and awkwardly oblong design; lacks "Retina" quality display; poor selection and breadth of available apps; unstable; runs Windows RT

Specs: 2.2GHz quad-core processor; 10.1-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel screen; 1.2-megapixel front and 6.7-megapixel rear cameras; 32GB of storage

Price: $400 with a two-year wireless service contract; $500 with no contract

Web: .com

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User comments

Dec 24, 2013
About the new tablet...

-RT stands for Real Trash.
-Too outdated, too squarish corners.
-Too much bezel area around the screen. This makes the screen appear smaller, and cheapen the look.
-The rectangular array of menu items lack any jest whatsoever, like designed by a high school boy.
...After these initial impressions, I didn't bother to find out more about this unfortunate abortion.

Dec 24, 2013
I wonder how technology-illiterate the author of this article is. You blame Windows RT for the tablet's inability to run desktop-style applications, when in fact, it is the ARM architecture that prevents this. Do you seriously not understand that you cannot run applications like Photoshop or games like Call of Duty on computers that use ARM processors? These applications and programs were not compiled to run on them! Yeah, blame Windows RT for this. RIght, real mature. Then you might ask, why not jam an Intel or AMD-based processors in them? Well AMD would turn the tablet into a frying pan; it'd get so hot you could probably cook breakfast on it. Intel processors are costly to begin with, and would also require larger, more energy-dense batteries to accommodate. Then we'd need more memory. Then the cost goes up. Honestly how foolish are you? You talk like the iPad (which is also ARM-based) can run desktop applications. No Nvidia, Qualcomm, or Apple based CPU can do this. Get it?

Dec 24, 2013
I agree with DarthVader, I can't believe how misinformed the author of this article is. This article is more about Windows RT than it is about the Lumia 2520. I'm writing this from my 2520 and I can tell you from experience that it is all you could want in a tablet and I love it. The "design is boring", have you even seen other tablets? Compared to them the Lumia is a work of art. I did my research and compared the competition; the Surface 2, the iPad Air, and others. Like many other people who go about bashing Windows RT, they simply fail to see what the purpose of the operating system is. Its a beefed up mobile platform, much like what the iPad/iPhone run. They can't run legacy programs either, so why blame RT for that? Compared to the full Windows, Windows RT is more efficient, making it a much better choice for tablets. I wanted a tablet for mobility, efficiency, and ease of use. If you want a laptop get a laptop, don't blame a tablet for being what its meant to be.

Dec 26, 2013
This 'Author' is really, really, out of touch. IMHO the Lumia device (Like all lumia devices) is really strong. He obviously has absolutley no idea about the steady progress on Nokia and Microsoft over the past couple of years. As I understand it, the Lumia mobile devices now have over 10% (and rising) market share. Not bad considering Apple only have 15% (and falling). Why? Because they are GREAT devices. With regard to tablet, I have the Surface (1), running windows 8.1 and I LOVE it. OK so it runs RT and has Metro interface, that I also LOVE. The windows mobile app store now has over 200,000 apps, so why does the owner of this website let this guy give the impression that there are few apps available for windows 8.1? Believe me, with 200,000 apps available, i do NOT have any shortage of apps available. Quite the reverse. Having only installed about 30 apps so far, i feel that i am only scratching the surface and can't keep up with the very high rate of app delivery.

Dec 26, 2013
Crap closed source software combined with yesterday's hardware ? No thank you

Dec 26, 2013
Wow... I haven't seen a biased review like this one for a long time. It almost sounds like someone from Apple Inc. marketing department wrote it.

I have seen reviews where the author gives mostly thumbs up with a few thumbs down; or seen reviews where there are more thumbs down than up. But never seen one where the author was totally burring a product alive as in this one.
The opening statement says
"Nokia recently released its first-ever Windows tablet, the Lumia 2520. After testing the device, I wonder why Nokia bothered."
After reading this whole review, I wondered why you even bothered reviewing this product to be honest.
This review did not negatively affect my view for this product at all because I did not find it professional.

Dec 27, 2013
There are very few tablets that are windows and have sim or cdma wireless built into them.
Wireless costs about $150 more per device.
What you are getting with RT is a Windows based tablet that you can work on your office documents by default and connect to SharePoint etc.

If you are a Microsoft programmer or Admin you have the ability to remote access your servers (RDP) and with accessory keyboard program/support on the fly.

Everyone complains about apps... vast majority of apps are crap... how many different fruit slicers do you need.

1. Product has 1080p how many people have better eyesight to appreciate more quality
2. Quadcore will you ever use all that power ?
3. Apple, Samsung, Kindle tablets are only about content use.. they are meant for generic idiot proof usage

4. At this point Windows is still the only device giving you desktop functionality on the go.
perhaps that is to much functionality for the vast majority of people and they need their sandboxes(apps)

Dec 30, 2013
You complain about resolution... what about screen brightness, contrast, color accuracy, etc, all which the Lumia 2520 excels at?

Feb 03, 2014
I also agree with darthVader but not totally I have a Nokia 2520 not happy. Tell me why do simple program like Google and fire fox will not load or work on Win 8 rt? I have a google chrome device windows will not let me use it, but my Iphone and my Androd can use this device. Also USB 3.0 connector on my Nokia 2520 will not work with any of my acc. I was told by Nokia to order there special cable from Amazon and that item is only available in Europe right now and will take 30 days to ship. My Wifi drops as much as 6 times a day, streaming video stop Constantly and is out perform by my Androd almost 2:1. with half the memory. Windows RT needs a upgrade big time. Also I had a Nokia Windows phone 900 never was please with it and I have been using Windows device from early 90's when Compaq was in business and made PDA and older phone with windows I was more satisfied then. Always able to transfer my data from one device to a next but not now Windows drop the ball at 8RT.

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