Nokia Lumia 2520 vs Microsoft Surface 2

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Introduction


Windows RT tablets in general are a rare bunch nowadays, so we’re humbled to know that two of the best ones bring back light to the budding platform. Unlike last year, Microsoft made sure to do itself good this time around by outfitting its Surface 2 tablet with a more modernized set of hardware to keep in good light with the competition. And with Nokia, they’ve astounded us by delivering one remarkable tablet in the Lumia 2520 – more so when it’s their first venture into the tablet market! They’re unbelievable tablets no doubt, especially for being Windows RT tablets, but which of the two can prove that it can outmuscle the other?

Design


Gorgeous! That’s what we can say about the two as we feast our eyes upon them. It’s a difficult decision, but in the end, it’s the flashy colors and sleek design of the Lumia 2520 that gets our attention more. Well, the Surface 2 is still one fantastic looking tablet, especially with its solid industrial design and angular cuts, but it’s something we’ve seen before with last year’s tablet. Sure, the VaporMg casing of the Surface 2 is sturdier than the polycarbonate plastic body of the Lumia 2520, but its angular cuts doesn’t make for the best in-the-hand feel. Mainly because it’s a refreshing take for a tablet design, we gravitate more towards Nokia’s first time offering.

Showing off its versatility, we really like how the Surface 2 is armed with a full-sized USB 3.0 port, easily accessible microSD card slot, microHDMI port, and an adjustable kickstand. Quite simply, it really mimics the stuff we’d see on laptops, which is a nice gesture. In comparison, the Lumia 2520’s skinny profile means it’s limited in what it can offer. Rather than getting a full-sized USB port, we’re instead given a microUSB 3.0 port. Yeah, it does feature a microSD slot too, but accessing it is a process in itself.

In terms of cameras, they’re stuffed with some pretty good hardware for tablets. For the Lumia 2520, it’s packing along a 6.7-megapixel camera rear camera with an f1.9 Zeiss lens, and a 2-megpixel front-facing one. Meanwhile, the Surface 2 has a 5-megapixel snapper in the rear, and a 3.5-megapixel one around the front.


Display


At first glance, it seems that they’re packing the same sized display, but in reality, the Surface 2 has a larger one. Specifically, it’s a 10.1-inch display on the Lumia 2520, and a slightly larger 10.6-incher with the Surface 2. Seeing that they both feature 1080p IPS LCD touchscreens, they deliver sharp details at every angle – so there’s not one that’s more profound than the other. However, the color reproduction on the Lumia 2520’s display is more vibrant, producing warmer colors tones to be exact, which helps to get our attention over the cooler and subdued tones seen with the Surface 2’s display. Outdoor visibility is good with both, but we do notice that the brightness output is stronger with the Lumia 2520.



Interface and Functionality


Love it or hate it, but the experience between these two tablets is identical, as they’re both running the most up-to-date version of the platform – Windows RT 8.1. Naturally, it’s an intentional thing, seeing that Microsoft prides on having consistency with its operating system. Knowing that, it doesn’t shock us that all of the core features are one-hundred percent intact between them. Therefore, things like multi-tasking, notifications, and personalization are handled in the same manner.



Heck, they’re even preloaded with the entire Microsoft Office 2013 suite, which really tones up their productivity value. As much as they’re nearly identical, there’s one specific thing featured on the Lumia 2520 that extends its worth over the Surface 2 – its preloaded Nokia branded apps. To be exact, they include Nokia Here Maps, Nokia Music, Nokia Storyteller, Nokia Video Director, and Nokia Camera. Some of them are more useful than others, but regardless of that, it’s just nice to have an experience that’s more enhanced from the get-go.


Typing is best served with the landscape option, just because of the spacious confines we’re giving – almost mimicking the consistent rate we’re accustomed to having with a normal keyboard. Sure, we have the portrait options, and even the hand writing recognition ones, but they’re just not as practical.


Frankly, we’re not surprised with the results here. Even though the Lumia 2520 has a slight advantage out of the box thanks to its useful set of Nokia branded apps, it doesn’t stop the Surface 2 from being able to download additional third party ones from the Windows Store so that it functions in the same manner.

Processor and Memory


It’s the best from NVIDIA and Qualcomm! Arriving on the scene first, the Surface 2 is powered by a quad-core 1.7GHz NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor coupled with 2GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the Lumia 2520 relies on a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC with 2GB of RAM. They’re different no doubt, but the end results are identical – they’re just snappy and fast. From basic to complex things, they exhibit the same level of performance against one another.

Two storage options are available with the Surface 2, 32GB and 64GB – whereas the Lumia 2520 is only available with 32GB of storage. Thankfully, they feature microSD card slots to supplement their capacities.

Internet and Connectivity


Okay, when you’re stuffed with impressive hardware under the hood, it’s only natural for us to expect nothing more than an outstanding web browsing experience. Right on cue, that’s exactly what we get out of these two tablets, as they feature speedy page loads, buttery smooth navigational controls, and instant page rendering on the fly. There’s nothing that they can’t handle, honestly!


You’d think that Microsoft’s tablet would be available with cellular data connectivity, but that’s sadly not the case, seeing that it’s strictly Wi-Fi only for now. On the flip side, we’re extremely surprised to find the Lumia 2520 outfitted with 4G LTE connectivity, which is included in its base price of $500. Beyond that, they pretty much carry the same set of connectivity features – like aGPS and Bluetooth 4.0. Strangely, NFC is only dished up with Nokia’s tablet.



Camera


Between them, we favor the 6.7-megapixel auto-focus camera of the Lumia 2520, mainly due to its balanced performance throughout all lighting situations. To tell you the truth, it’s more equipped at taking macro shots and performs better in conditions where lighting is minimal. Sure, they’re able to produce some sharp looking outdoor scenery photos, but under low lighting, we like how the f1.9 aperture lens of the Lumia 2520 is able to brighten up the scenery – whereas it’s just dark with the Surface 2. Indeed, we appreciate how it’s brighter with the Lumia 2520, which brings out the details in the shot, but noise becomes a distracting after effect. Regardless, we continue to like the results put out by Nokia’s pride and joy.


Moreover, we’re digging the 1080p videos captured by the Lumia 2520 just a smidgen more. Generally speaking, they exhibit the same sharp visuals, but the Surface 2 is more prone to heavier artifacting when panning. However, we like how audio recording is more natural in tone with the Surface 2 – while it’s a bit sharper with the Lumia 2520.


Multimedia


Music is handled by the XBOX Music player on both tablets, but as an alternative, Nokia Music is an additional option for the Lumia 2520. Obviously, the features set and presentation value with the stock player is identical. Both tablets are actually wielding dual-speakers, but the Nokia Lumia 2520’s pair seems to have a stronger presence at the loudest volume setting.


Kicking back and watching a high-definition video is just a tad bit more persuasive with the Surface 2, thanks in part to its useful kickstand, which provides us with an ideal hands-free experience. Well, it’s not to say that the Lumia 2520 is a bad option, but that added convenience with the Surface 2 is a pleasant touch.



Battery


Some people argue that Windows RT 8.1 as a platform is limiting, especially in the face of Windows 8.1, but it’s more battery optimized. Thankfully, we’re able to get a full day of juice out of the two of them – with heavy usage under Wi-Fi connectivity! Still, we’re also pleased to find that the 4G LTE equipped Lumia 2520 producing the same results too.

Conclusion


Oh boy is this one a tough call, harder knowing that the hardware and software are nearly identical with these two. From the surface, we really need to look at the pricing between them, as they’re separated by a mere $50. Undercutting its competition, the Surface 2 is priced reasonably at $450, which is especially attractive considering that it’s sporting a kickstand and handy full-sized USB 3.0 port to extend its worth. Conversely though, the $500 cost attached to the Lumia 2520 is justified in the way that it’s sporting one attractive design, produces better results with its camera, and that it’s preloaded with various Nokia-branded apps that deepens the experience out of the box.

At the end of the day, it’s merely a matter of personal preference. For the savings, the Surface 2 is the obvious choice, but if you prefer something that’s fresh on the scene combined with on-the-go 4G LTE connectivity, then the Lumia 2520 will be the right decision for you.

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