Welcome everyone to our follow up to the Kin Two review, albeit in reverse order, here we go…
The very first thing you notice about the Kin ONE is its very unique shape. The screen doesn’t quite cover the entire body of the phone leaving the white frame visible, and it gives you a little room to move the screen. After using it for a while, I decided that they just cut the Palm Pre in half, added a little width and there you had your Kin ONE. Holding it in one hand with the screen closed is a very comfortable experience. Navigation of the hardware buttons and the OS were a breeze with one hand. With my bigger hands, the experience trying to use the phone with two hands was a much more delicate experience. When trying to type with two hands, i had to interlock my fingers to get a good grip on it which was less than ideal.
For a lower end phone, the build quality on the Kin is very sturdy. For a phone like this, the hinge is usually the weak point and is generally flimsy but on the Kin its very sturdy and smooth. As for hardware buttons, the left side of the device is graced with the microusb port and the rest of the buttons, volume rocker, power button, and dedicated camera button, sit on the top rounded corners. So many buttons in one spot may seem like overkill but with the way the device generally sits in the palm of your hand, that’s usually where your thumb and index finger are. Now the most important part of every touchscreen phone is… the screen. In my use the Kin screen was generally very responsive and accurate to taps and gestures. The visibility suffered in the sun as the screen is perfect at reflecting the sun right back into your face, but indoors its a pleasant viewing experience and you shouldn’t have any trouble using it. The Tegra processor powers this phone along nicely and I never really had an experience of lag navigating around through the OS. We haven’t been told the speed its running at but its plenty to keep up with what the OS is trying to do, now if there was multitasking or apps we may see differently but as it is now it works just great.
Now on to what is for many, like Jason, the sticking and failing point of the Kin series. I’m more in the middle with the OS than most people I think, it has major faults that can’t be explained but for a lot of it, I think it does what it set out to go very well. Your home screen is an aggregation of all of your feeds, Twitter, Windows Live, Facebook, MySpace and RSS. I like the implementation of the tiles look, and you are presented with a lot of information quickly. This may be overwhelming for some and I can definitely see how it could be. The same sort of interface is implemented with the contacts where you can place favorites in a tile like view for quick access to your contacts from the different services. I won’t go into much detail here since you may have already read Jason’s review of the Kin TWO, but there are somethings I want to reiterate from it. Twitter integration… is awful. Yes you can see your timeline, but you can’t reply or do anything of value that you should be able to do with Twitter. That plus the fact that it maybe updates your homescreen a few times a day, make it pretty pointless. I didn’t have the email trouble that Jason had, and it worked pretty well for me if you are ok with 15 minute updates.
One last thing about the main software (Zune and Studio get their own section), the web browser is pretty bad, and I mean worse than BlackBerry bad. Its slow, doesn’t zoom well, has limited functionality and doesn’t render well. I don’t understand why they didn’t use the browser from the Zune HD. From my use that browser blows this one out of the water. Ok enough bad mouthing, on to some positives.
Zune and Studio
The one stand out feature to me was the tight Zune integration. I am a proud Zune HD owner and heavy user, and the inclusion of a very good replication was great to see. The music and video support is second to none, and in my opinion the best audio/video implementation on a mobile device, even at this small screen size. The streaming Zune Pass over 3G feature makes this an even more valuable tool. I’m sure you know what the Zune Pass is, but if you don’t… basically instead of paying per download, you pay $15 a month for unlimited downloads from the Marketplace, and at the end of the month you get to keep 10 songs. So if you are a law abiding citizen, this is a great deal. On you phone you can generate playlists that the “Smart DJ” will fill with songs from the marketplace based on your library… VERY cool.
The Studio is the other key selling feature for the Kin in my opinion. It takes everything you do on your phone and sync’s it to the cloud, or in this case the “Studio”. All of your pictures, video, texts, MMS, contacts and feeds are synced with the Studio so you can access them any where you are. The presentation on the Studio site is also great. Everything is timeline based so you will look at your content through a slider along a timeline and it will update based on the day/week/month. Like Jason, I wish this kind of thing was available on way more devices, and I hope Microsoft tries to bring some version of this to Windows Phone 7 because I think this could be a huge product when offered to millions of people. Add Office suite docs along with all of that and bam, you’ve got the perfect cloud client.
After all of that, my opinion on the Kin ONE is a mixed bag. Its a platform with a lot of potential, with messaging, cloud support, music/video and feeds, but the misses in other sections are inexcusable. I didn’t touch on the things that Jason did like no apps, no instant messaging, or no calendar which all make this device much less desirable. The data plan required for this phone also makes it a little harder to recommend. While yes its justified for the Studio function and streaming Zune, the lack of ability to do anything else worth any amount of data doesn’t make it worth $30 a month, $15-$20 sure but not $30 like the BlackBerry or Android phones. So I’ll leave that decision up to you.
For your best deal the Kin ONE is available through Best Buy for free on a new 2 year contract. Best Buy