Nokia Enters Windows RT Tablet Market With Surface Look-Alike

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Nokia's devices business is going to be joining the Microsoft mothership at some point, and its first Windows tablet appears to be cut from the same cloth in some ways.

Nokia's Lumia 2520 tablet, unveiled Tuesday, features a 10.1-inch, 1,920-x-1,080 display, a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and 2 GB of RAM and either 32 or 64 GB of storage. It runs Window RT 8.1 and boasts up to 11 hours of battery life, and Nokia's optional Power Keyboard accessory adds an additional five hours.

Priced at $499, the Lumia 2520 is $50 more than Microsoft's Surface 2, which hit store shelves Tuesday and is comparable in terms of features and functionality.

[Related: Dynamite Debuts In The Desert: Nokia Reveals New Phablets, RT Tablet]

However, the Lumia 2520 has some features that Microsoft doesn’t currently offer with Surface 2 or Surface Pro, like 4G LTE connectivity. Microsoft is planning to add LTE support to Surface 2 sometime in the first half of next year.

The Lumia 2520 comes with a 6.7-megapixel camera with Zeiss optics, compared to the 5-megapixel rear camera in Surface 2. Nokia, whose Lumia 1020 smartphone has a 41-megapixel camera, sees photo-taking as a differentiator.

In a note to clients, Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst of Northborough, Mass.-based research and analytics firm J. Gold Associates, called the Lumia tablet "fairly impressive" and said its camera and optics are "much better" than Surface 2.

Yet, Gold thinks Windows RT -- which he described as a "dumbed down" version of Windows -- is going to be a deal breaker for the Lumia tablet. Microsoft partners aren't big fans of Windows RT either, mainly because it can't run traditional Windows apps.

Spencer Ferguson, president and CEO of Wasatch I.T., a Salt Lake City-based Microsoft partner, says the similarities between the Surface 2 and the Lumia 2520 suggest that they'll experience a similarly low level of demand in the marketplace.

It's not clear if Nokia plans to allow its channel partners to sell the Lumia 2520 tablet, and Nokia could not be reached for comment. Microsoft is still only letting a small number of large account resellers sell Surface, though there have been rumblings about an imminent expansion.

"Utilizing the sales engine of the channel would increase the chances that Lumia tablet could gain traction in the market, but even then, chances are slim given the established competition that is already out there," Ferguson said in an email.

Despite the similarities between the Surface 2 and the Lumia 2520, there are some partners who believe Microsoft could decide to keep selling both once it closes its Nokia devices deal.

"There are marked differences in the two offerings today, with both presenting excellent choices, but I believe the combination of technologies and expertise will result in the whole being greater than the sum of its parts," Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, a Cambridge, Ontario-based Microsoft partner, said in an email.

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst for Moor Insights and Strategy, says Nokia's Lumia tablet could fare better than the Surface 2 if Nokia takes the right aproach to distribution and marketing.

"Lumia needs assortment at key big box retailers who can communicate its differentiators in display, cases and photography," Moorhead said in an email.

Nokia plans to start shipping the Lumia 2520 in the fourth quarter, and customers will be able to choose between a red and white model with a glossy finish, and a cyan and black model with a matte finish.


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