At Nokia World, in Abu Dhabi Oct. 22—just hours before an event at which Apple is expected to refresh its iPad line—Nokia jumped back into the tablet market with the introduction of the Lumia 2520, its first Windows-running tablet. It's a device that all crossed fingers in Helsinki will be hoping can dramatically outperform Microsoft's failed Surface tablet effort.
The Lumia 2520 is wider and longer than the current (fourth-generation) 9.7-inch Apple iPad with Retina display, but it's thinner, at 8.9mm, than the iPad's 9.4mm.
The 2520 features a 10-1 inch, 1080p full HD (1920 by 1080) capacitive multi-touch display with Gorilla Glass 2, has Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and WiFi connectivity, a 6.7-megapixel camera with Zeiss optics—a first for any tablet—and will come in choices of red, white, cyan and black.
The battery can charge 80 percent of the way in one hour and last for 10 hours of video playing.
Nokia calls the 2520 a "true child of Nokia's mobile heritage," and that seems right. It resembles Nokia's earlier Lumia efforts, but it's the kid that made it to the big time—a thin and light true competitor. (It weighs 615 grams to the fourth-generation iPad's 652 grams.)
Nokia also introduced a Power Keyboard that enables the 2520 to stand up in the way the world has come to know as "Surface style." Yet it's more than a keyboard; it has a shell that wraps all the way around the tablet, eliminating the need for—or perhaps rather acting as—a case. It's envelope-like and attractive.
The Keyboard also adds two USB ports to the user experience and five additional hours of battery life.
Finally, Nokia also introduced several key new apps on the tablet, including Nokia Storyteller, which offers a new way to share videos and photos, Nokia Video Director, which makes editing videos easier, an exclusive version of Nokia Music, with Mix Radio preinstalled, and "Dragon's Adventure," an exclusive game developed in partnership with DreamWorks Animation.
Analyst Jack Gold, with J. Gold Associates, calls the 2520's hardware impressive, but worries that Nokia's—or rather Microsoft's, as the software maker is in the process of buying Nokia's devices business—fatal flaw is the OS. The 2520 runs Windows RT.
"It is a 'dumbed down' version of Windows, which does not run all the apps Windows users expect. Most users have not been thrilled with the user experience," Gold wrote in an Oct. 22 research note.
"I don't expect Nokia to do well with this product for that very reason. (I don't expect any Windows RT devices to do well in the market, which is why most of the vendors who offered RT devices ... have pulled them.)"
The question, Gold continued, is which tablet Microsoft will back, once the acquisition is complete.
"The features and pricing on the Nokia and Surface are too close together for both to stay in market (unless Microsoft dramatically cuts the price of one or the other)," he wrote.
Gartner Research Vice President Carolina Milanesi told eWEEK that Nokia had no real choice with the OS.
"For me, the more interesting question that the 2520 raises is what Microsoft can do with it. You can see how they could lower the price [of the 2520] and really it push it for consumers, while keeping the Surface Pro [with its full version of Windows 8] for professional users."
Overall, she added, "Nokia demonstrated that they get design—with the cover—and apps, with the DreamWorks app."
The 2520, which Nokia will start shipping in time for the holidays, will be priced at an estimated $499. (Initial rollout will be in the U.S., the U.K. and Finland, with additional markets to follow.) The Power Keyboard will be priced at $149.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, in a statement from Abu Dhabi, announced, "Today, we're inviting people around the world to switch to Nokia."