When Microsoft announced the KIN lineup there was some hype, but not a tremendous amount. There was some anticipation of what Microsoft might do with the Sidekick line after having purchased Danger back in 2008. Over two years later we get to see the fruits of their labor. Did they change the platform to attract more users? Did they stick to something similar? Or was their revamp of Danger a road they shouldn’t have gone down? Read on to find out my take on the KIN TWO.
Look/Feel: The KIN TWO is a solid device. It doesn’t feel like you can break it easily, as well as it doesn’t feel like it is unbreakable. The 4.3″ capacitive screen looks clean and clear. The hardware of the device is standard for the price range. The keyboard takes some adjustment, but is a usable keyboard. The 8MP camera with HD video capabilities looks good, the HD video looks amazing and the 8MP camera snaps great pictures. The unlock/power button is hidden in a weird spot on the top right corner that is awkward when the phone is slid open.
KIN OS: My single biggest issue with the device is the OS. There is no organization to it, by any means. The target user/audience for the KIN lineup is the tweens and teens, but I am not sure that they would even like this OS. You can integrate Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook. I don’t personally have a Myspace account so I can’t speak to the integration with that service. I can tell you the Twitter integration may as well not be included. There is no way to send a picture (Twitpic, yFrog, TweetPhoto) to your Twitter time line, as well as there is no way to reply to a mention or tweet. Facebook allows you to post comments, pictures, and your status; an improvement over the Twitter integration. There isn’t a calendar to look at your schedule, something that shouldn’t have been left out. The contact list is standard, combining your Facebook and Windows Live contact lists or separating them out if you so choose. The email app is slow, and cumbersome. I could not get mine to sync on time for an extended amount of time. I had a Google Apps account set up, maybe a Windows Live account would have fared better. The browser is nothing to look down at, it does a fair job at what you ask it to do.
The highlight of all of the KIN and its software is My Studio. Nearly every single thing you do on the device is posted to My Studio once the phone syncs again. Take a picture or a video (non HD) and it is uploaded to the site with geotag and time stamped. You can view everything you have done by month/week/day. In order to get HD videos you need to download software from KIN.com, a minor inconvenience for quality video. I really enjoyed using My Studio and wish more devices had this capability and feature. High praises to Microsoft for this service.
Overall: The KIN at the end of the day will entertain a tween or teen. The price tag for the accompanying data plan ($30) is a little steep for the parent of a 13 year old to fork over considering a true smartphones data plan will run you the same per month. Microsoft may have some plans for the KIN down the road in way of software updates which would take away a lot of my issues with the device. You can pick up a Microsoft KIN Two from your local Verizon Wireless store or order them via the website today for $99.99 after $100 mail-in rebate on a 2-year agreement. I am a 27 year old man, my opinion may be off when it comes to this device, if your kid is interested (and you are willing to dish out the $30) let them give it a try. Verizon has a 30 day return policy. I have come to expect certain features from devices and when they aren’t present it is hard for me to look past that.