After years circling the rumour mill, Nokia finally took the wraps off its 10.1-inch Lumia 2520 tablet. It has a Full HD display, a powerful quad-core processor and, like other Lumias, has a brightly coloured plastic body. Although that all sounds great, there is a catch.
The 2520 runs Windows RT, the stripped down, tablet-specific version of Windows, which has received little love from other manufacturers or indeed the buying public. With RT, you can only install software from the app store, which still isn't brilliantly stocked.
Still, the tablet comes with 32GB of storage and has 4G connectivity for super-speedy data. It'll set you back £400, which is considerably less than the £579 iPad Air, so does this reasonable price make up for its software?
Design and build quality
Although the 2520 is much bigger than anything we've seen from Nokia before, there's no denying its heritage. It has the same one-piece polycarbonate design seen on phones like the Lumia 920 and 1520, with rounded edges and an all-glass front. You can pick it up in a bright, letterbox-red colour, blue, or a more subdued black version.
I'm rather fond of the red version as it stands out well from the usual black and grey slates out there. The high-gloss coating can be slippery to hold however and it's a total fingerprint magnet -- keep a cleaning cloth handy. Although plastic, it doesn't feel like a cheap device. It's not overly large at 267mm wide and 168mm tall, but its 615g weight puts it very much on the hefty side. Holding it in one hand for any length of time isn't as easy as the 416g iPad Air.
Around the sides you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, a micro-USB port, a micro-HDMI port for connecting it to a bigger display and a microSD card tray for expanding the 32GB of internal storage. Rather than charging over USB, the tablet uses a chunky proprietary charger -- I don't like this, as it means you'll need to take it with you and can't borrow a much more common USB plug from your friend when you're running low on power.
On the bottom you'll find a series of dots that act as a connector for the optional keyboard. As well as providing physical keys for more comfortable typing, the keyboard acts as a case and apparently gives an extra five hours of battery. It will set you back an extra £150 though, which is pretty steep. I haven't tested it yet, so I'll reserve my judgement of whether it's a worthy purchase until I've had a go.
The 10.1-inch display has a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. While Full HD is certainly welcome, it's going up against the iPad Air, which packs a much more impressive 2,048x1,500-pixel resolution, making small text that little bit more crisp.
The 2520's screen is still perfectly sharp though and displays ebooks in the Kindle app well. It's very bright too and satisfyingly bold, thanks to the deep black levels. It does have a slight yellowish colour cast though that makes photos look warm, but a little unnatural, especially when compared to the same photos displayed on the more accurate iPad.
The 2520 runs Windows RT -- the tablet-specific version of Microsoft's latest operating system. Unlike its full-fat Windows 8 counterpart, you can't install regular desktop software that you download from websites, such as Steam, Spotify or iTunes. Instead, you'll be getting your software from the Windows 8 app store.
The app store wasn't particularly well stocked in its early days, but it's come on since then. Titles like Netflix, Skype, Dropbox and Asphalt 8 are available, as well as the essential Twitter and Facebook, but it's still nowhere near as well stocked as the iOS app store. If you're keen on getting the latest apps and games, Windows RT is not for you.
It's not all bad news though -- Office 2013 Home and Student Edition is on board as standard, allowing you to get on with your busy work. Nokia has also bundled a few extras including Nokia Music (for free streaming music playlists), Here Maps (which shows a wealth of information about local businesses) and new addition Nokia Storyteller, which groups sets of your photos on a map, to show where you've been.
Visually, RT looks much the same as regular Windows 8, with its colourful, large app tiles and heavy reliance on gestures to get around. It's not without its annoyances -- Google calendars and push email aren't supported, for example -- but it's quite fun to use and doesn't take long to get to grips with.
Power and performance
Powering the slate is the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor found in the Lumia 1520. It's a meaty 2.2GHz quad-core affair, which I found to be very nippy indeed. Swiping around the RT homescreen was swift, while flicking between open apps, opening menus or diving into the desktop was free of any lag or delay.
High-definition video played smoothly too, while tweaks to photos in Adobe Photoshop Express were applied with minimal delay. It has plenty of power to make the everyday email and social networking essentials an enjoyably swift experience.
You can't install any PC games to really tax the processor, but you can find games like Riptide GP 2 and Asphalt 8 in the store. Riptide played well, with high frame rates, but Asphalt 8 seemed to have compatibility issues, causing extremely distorted graphics and rendering the game unplayable.
There's a 6.7-megapixel camera on the back of the slate, which, considering you're not going to want to use the tablet as your main camera on holiday, gave perfectly adequate results. Images were bright, had decent colours and enough clarity for Facebook and Instagram.
There's an 8,120mAh battery inside the 2520, which Nokia reckons will give an impressive 25 days of standby time. It put up a good fight in general use too. I was easily able to get a day of mixed use from the slate and if you're more cautious, you can eke it out over a few days.
If you're keen to save power, keep the screen brightness down and avoid anything too demanding. Streaming videos and playing glossy games are both sure fire ways to drain the battery quickly. It does, however, recharge very quickly -- around 80 per cent in an hour, Nokia claims -- so you at least won't have to wait around for ages if it does run out of juice.
The Nokia Lumia 2520 looks smart, has a good screen, plenty of power and good battery life. It doesn't cost the Earth either. It's a good first attempt at a proper tablet from Nokia, but it's seriously impaired by its Windows RT software, which limits the tablet's usefulness.
If you want a 4G-enabled tablet only for Netflix and social networking, it'll suit fine, but if a wide selection of apps is your thing -- or if you use Google's services regularly -- an Android or iOS tablet would be a better choice.