We test out Nokia’s Power Keyboard for the Lumia 2520 Windows 8.1 RT tablet. It boasts a hardware QWERTY keyboard, touchpad and full-sized USB ports too.
For all its strengths, the on-screen typing experience on Windows RT is for lack of a better word, naff. Microsoft has gotten around this problem with the offering of the Touch and Type covers for its Surface tablets, but Nokia needed its own solution for the company’s debut tablet, the Lumia 2520. They created this: the Power Keyboard.
Nokia Power Keyboard Design: Big, bulky, but bright
The Lumia 2520 is a great looking tablet, not least because it’s fairly slim. Stick it in the Power Keyboard however and it becomes a bit of a beefcake. At 30mm thick and 571 grams heavy, this thing isn’t sylphlike in the slightest, but it arguably doesn’t matter when you weigh up what it does bring to the table(t).
First and foremost, it’s a great looking accessory, understated with clean lines and a considered layout. When closed it resembles a binder that any discerning business user could hold files in, particularly in soft-touch black (there’s also a red version).
Flipping the magnetised fold over design out has a satisfying feel, with the first fold revealing a touch pad and two marked areas for the left and right mouse buttons, followed by the second, larger fold revealing both the QWERTY hardware keyboard, and the tablet itself, which slides into position and again locks with a satisfying click using magnets.
When fully opened out, this things feels really sturdy, much more so than the Surface family of tablets, and you should feel confident typing on a table or on your lap. That is, of course, save for the viewing angle trouble.
A problem that Microsoft addressed with their first tablet’s kickstand, the Power Keyboard holds your Lumia 2520 at a 110 degree angle, so unless you’re typing on a particularly high work surface, the screen isn’t angled far enough back for comfortable viewing over prolonged periods.
Spin the Power Keyboard around and you’ll find a cut-out in the corner for the Lumia’s 6.7-megapixel rear camera to poke through and down the bottom, two full-sized USB ports. The ability to so easily slot in flash storage, peripherals like USB mice, external hard drives and even optical drives is arguably one the Power Keyboard’s biggest selling points.
Nokia Power Keyboard Typing: Speed demon
The 10.1-inch tablet that you’re writing onto restricts the size of the actual keyboard, with overall width of this accessory only being a fraction wider than the slate it serves. As such the keys are scaled down, but it doesn’t really cause too much trouble.
Once you’ve gotten used to it, the typing experience is pretty enjoyable. It’s noticeably faster and you’re far less prone to errors when compared to using Windows RT’s on-screen alternative and so jumping between typing and swiping looks to be the best means of interacting with the 2520.
The feels of the keys is good; they offer plenty of travel and recognisable feedback, meaning you can keep your eyes on the screen and not your fingers. Build quality seems alright, but we did notice a rattling noise coming from the mechanisms underneath as we plonked away, this doesn’t affect the experience, just something we were aware of.
The toggles along the tops for the F keys are very useful for jumping to the settings menu, changing volume and so on, but the lack of backlighting is a surprising omission, especially when Microsoft’s own detachable keyboards manage it in a fraction of the thickness.
The spacebar is unusual as it has a raised, sloped design; it looks subtle, but feels significantly different under finger, compared to the flat design employed by every other key. Some might not find it as comfortable to use, not least because tapping on one side more than the other may result in the mechanism jamming unless you use more force. Now, this could be down to our typing style, but it’s worth trying before you buy, missing spaces can become a major inconvenience.
Nokia Power Keyboard Battery Life: Power ranger
Who are we to complain about 5 hours additional battery life? The majority of the weight that comes with the Power Keyboard is as a result of its 2027mAh-integrated battery and it does a fantastic job of keeping you going, even if you’re having a particularly productive day.
Even with heavy use, we could get through a day using both the Power Keyboard’s and the 2520’s batteries back to back. For the majority of cases it’ll likely last you even longer and it also means movie watching on the Full HD is possible, even if you want to carry on working afterwards.
The setup means that Power Keyboard’s battery is drained first, before switching to the tablet’s in-built cell. This means you can pop your 2520 out of the Power Keyboard at any time and it’ll still have 100 per cent of its own juice, unharmed.
Nokia Power Keyboard Conclusion: The one and only
Business users will love the Nokia Power Keyboard. It’s the ideal companion for those who want to do more with their Lumia 2520 than just casual web browsing and emails.
It’s certainly not perfect; the viewing angle issue, lack of backlighting on the keys and the price will make you think twice; this thing is a snip under £100. The company should have taken a few more cues from Microsoft’s second attempt at the Surface, and its resultant accessories.
But, if you’re serious about replacing your laptop with a tablet, the productivity powerhouse created by pairing the Nokia Power Keyboard with the Lumia 2520 is a smart choice.