Microsoft KIN SmartPhone

Category: Mobile

Microsoft Corp. recently announced two versions of a new Windows smartphone. Dubbed the KIN, this phone targets your kin -- family and friends with whom you want to share. Is the KIN really a smart phone, or a dumb idea? Read on...

Microsoft KIN SmartPhone

What is the Microsoft KIN?

The KIN's features are designed to make social networking, photo sharing, and communicating with your social circle easy and fun. By combining your Facebook, MySpace and Twitter feeds all in one place, the KIN can simplify your social networking interactions.

The KIN One is a rather retro-looking phone designed by the team that put together the successful Sidekick. The KIN One's square, round-cornered design looks vaguely like a half-melted bar of soap. But it's small and slips into a pocket easily.

The KIN One's screen is small by today's standards. The vertically-sliding keypad's buttons are amply large and well-spaced, but their tactile response is sluggish. There's a bit of lag between pressing a key and seeing a character on the screen.

The camera is an impressive 5 mega-pixel job with a surprisingly powerful flash. It will certainly be good for taking photos at concerts and instantly sending them to your friends… except your parents, who think you're in the dorm studying.

Photos are automatically geo-tagged and uploaded to the KIN Studio, a Microsoft photo gallery. Unfortunately, there's no photo editing software on the KIN One itself; you have to edit on the Web site.

The Spot is a green spot on the KIN's screen that lets you instantly share a photo, Web page, or audio file. Just drag-and-drop an item on the Spot and zip, there it goes to everyone on your A-list.

The KIN Two has a larger screen and keypad, giving it a rectangular shape compared to the KIN One's rounded square. The video specs are impressive: an 8-megapixel camera and HD video.

Is the KIN Smart Enough?

The KIN family will be available on Verizon service. Pricing has not been announced, but it's likely to be in the middle range for Verizon phones.

Bizarrely, the KIN (both versions) won't let you delete items from your phone without also deleting them from the KIN Studio Web site. Microsoft says this "feature" eliminates the need to delete incriminating photos from two different places, the oversight of which has caused many an embarrassment if not employment termination. But sometimes, you just want to free up memory on your phone; the KIN One supports only 4 GB of internal memory and doesn't accept any add-in memory cards!

Also missing from the KIN are basic apps such as a calendar. There are no third-party apps for the KIN OS as yet, and there isn't even a software development kit. So the pickings are very slim indeed, and likely to remain so for some time to come.

Overall, both versions of the KIN seem to fall short of the classic Sidekick in ease of use, versatility, and apps choices. Microsoft may have a huge app store hidden in its back room, waiting to unleash upon the world when the KIN hits retail stores. But at this time, the KIN is just another phone, and none too smart at that.

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