A Brief Comparison – The Nokia Lumia 2520 vs the Microsoft Surface 2

WP_20131120_12_11_21_ProThe Lumia 2520 tablet launches today!

And while I’ve already named it the Windows Tablet of the year, and we’ve put it on video, I thought I’d do a brief rundown comparison between it and Microsoft’s own solution for Windows RT the Surface 2. What follows are my personal experiences handling both tablets, and if you disagree with me, it’s most likely because you’re wrong.

Build Quality and Construction

I have to give a subtle edge to the Lumia here with the matte finish Lumias. I don’t like glossy gadgets, and the matte black 2520 has an excellent feel in the hand. There’s a grippiness to the back plate which feels great in the hand without feeling like cheap rubber or tacky plastic. You could almost describe it as satiny or velvety. The red Lumia is striking, we don’t see tablets in colors, but I don’t like fingerprint smudges. 

WP_20131120_17_53_54_ProThe Surface 2 has a fantastic kickstand which is great for propping it up, and the magnesium shell certainly feels durable. Where I have to knock a few points is in the top bar where the camera (and likely antennas) are housed. We run into this problem a lot on metal bodied devices. You need to build in seams where antennas live and plastic is a lot easier for WiFi, BT, and GPS to communicate through. While I like it better than similar solutions I’ve seen on other tablets (Asus Transformers spring to mind), this metal to plastic transition on the Surface is a bit rough. Even HTC found a more elegant way to piece different build materials together.

Performance

I know in my brain that the Qualcomm processor in the Lumia is probably scientifically faster than the NVIDA Tegra in the Surface 2, but in real world app usage I can’t see much difference. Navigating the ModernUI, both of these tablets feel faster than my Ivy Bridge Windows 8 laptop (and both run higher res screens).

Screens

WP_20131120_18_25_28_ProResolution is a wash, both are great 1080p displays with good color. At 10 inches diagonal, you get very good clarity and detail. The Lumia wins another small victory in having a noticeably brighter screen. I have not gotten to play with one outside yet, but I’m fairly confident the Nokia will be easier to read outdoors than Microsoft’s tablet.

Audio

WP_20131120_12_13_13_ProThis was almost a wash, but the front firing speakers on the Lumia 2520 narrowly beat out the side firing speakers on the Surface 2. I don’t think the Lumia is actually louder, but just like HTC’s Boomsound, audio feels better when it’s hitting you right in the face.

Additional Features / Accessories

One glaring omission for me on the Surface is the lack of NFC. There’s a label on the back of the 2520 showing exactly where someone can tap for functions.

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I don’t know if there will be support Nokia’s great Bluetooth speakers and headphones which pair through NFC, but we’ve already seen apps starting to use NFC. Dreamwork’s Dragon’s Adventure uses NFC to pair parent’s phones with kid’s tablets for gameplay control and participation. I would expect photo sharing to work similarly to tap+send on Windows Phones as well. None of this available to the Surface 2.

Also, Nokia’s Camera and app combo are head and shoulders above the stock photo/video experience on Windows 8. No small surprise as that was the exact same situation on Windows Phones. The Nokia solution isn’t “arguably” better, it’s startling better.

WP_20131120_17_55_23_ProMicrosoft has more input accessories for Surface. Touch and Type covers, a new Power Cover, and a Music Kit blade really show off the versatility of a slate computing solution which can mate with various input hardware solutions. Nokia has a Power Keyboard cover, which looks nicer than the various Microsoft solutions, but they don’t have the same breadth of accessories.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t reiterate again that for only $50 more than the Surface 2, the Lumia 2520 will include LTE connectivity. That’s a pretty fantastic price point for any 4G equipped tablet.

The Wrap Up

WP_20131120_12_26_31_ProSo folks, I’ve been playing with the Surface 2 for a couple days, and it’s fun. I like it a lot better than I thought I would, and I think Windows RT is getting to place where it has real benefits to offer certain consumers over Android and iOS slates. I no longer have to play the “potential” game when recommending one.

“Maybe someday soon it will live up to some of its potential.”

Pitting the two tablets against each other however, while Surface 2 is very good, it hasn’t changed my mind. If you’re shopping a Windows tablet this year, the Nokia Lumia 2520 is still the way to go.

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Share your thoughts?