Nokia has tossed its hat into the tablet ring alongside its soon-to-be corporate partner, Microsoft, by introducing its 2520 tablet based on Windows RT 8.1. But despite being nearly the same size, the 2520 is different from Microsoft's Surface—enough so to make it a strong alternative in the small world of Windows tablets.
The most obvious difference is that Nokia makes their tablet with cellular communications—something you can't get from the Surface. In the United States, you can buy the Lumia 2520 from the Verizon and AT&T stores. This fact alone should help Nokia sell more tablets than Microsoft was able to since the Surface was initially available in a few Microsoft-owned stores.
Nokia also included its Zeiss optics with the camera in the tablet, which doesn't break any resolution records, with only 6.7 megapixels, but its f/1.9 aperture capability made taking low-light snapshots a breeze. This is especially useful since there's no flash on this tablet. Of course, Nokia includes its well-regarded photo-editing software, Nokia Camera, and its video-editing suite, Nokia Video Director.
The screen on the 2520 is the same size as the screen on the Surface RT, and both tablets are the same thickness, but the 2520 weighs slightly less, and the frame is slightly smaller. Using the 2520 is like using any other Windows 8.1 tablet, although the touch-screen is more responsive than some.
The inclusion of cellular radios on the 2520 is a significant improvement. By nature, a tablet computer is intended to be mobile, and constraining to WiFi limits its usefulness. With the ability to work with LTE regardless of the availability of WiFi, the tablet becomes much more useful.
Nokia brought a couple of other firsts to the world of tablets. One that's notable is a pair of front-mounted stereo speakers. If you look at the screen of the device, you'll see two tiny slots on the lower corners that emit the sound. As you might expect, these aren't world-class high-fidelity speakers, but they are quite loud, which is a benefit in itself.
Another is a truly massive 8000 mAh battery, which far exceeds the capacity of the competition. While estimates of stand-by time haven't been made available, AT&T claims that the 2520 will play video for 11 hours. That's longer than I'm willing to watch any video. While not a scientific measurement, I did note that the battery capacity seemed unaffected by steady use during this review. The 2520 can get an 80 percent recharge in an hour.