Wired.com have managed to get their hands on some KIN One and KIN Two Usability Study videos, and it shows how Microsoftâ€™s aborted feature phones/ smartphones disappointed reviewed with slow and laggy touch performance.
Windows Phone 7 was of course released a bare 5 months later, and was exactly the opposite of laggy, earning a reputation of a fast and smooth operating system, not by co-incidence, but because it was an obsession of the development team.
See two more videos after the break.
There are times such as this that words cannot describe my puzzlement. It seems that PPCgeeks.com have obtained a leaked Q4 roadmap for Verizon which includes of all things, the return of the Kin Phones! This time around though, they are slated as feature phones. Engadget is confirming the return of these phones adding that the â€œKin Loopâ€ and automatic photo uploads are out and so is the Data plan requirement. I for one Iâ€™m still curios about these developments because the ‘â€Loopâ€ was an integral part of the interface and Iâ€™m not sure how appealing the phone will operate without it . Of note however on the leaked document, it mentions calendar functionality, something which was a glaring omission on the original software.
I really donâ€™t understand what Microsoftâ€™s strategy in timing if this story turns out to be true since they have just released WP7 unless, they are trying to use it to go after the low end Android devices. I have always thought that Microsoft should relaunch these phones at a later date but not yet. Next year would be better after WP7 receives its first major OS update. What do you guys think?
We had previously declared the Kin twins death about two weeks ago, but if you stepped into stores you could still see them being soldâ€¦ Not anymore. Today is the take down day of these Microsoft devices after awful sales and bad reviews (by myself included) it seems like its their time to go.
There is not much I can say about this except it was good to see this devices and what Microsoft’s money can do, but its even better to see the progress of Windows Phone 7.
I know I am not the first to say goodbye to these devices, but since I have had them for their whole short life span, I really feel I mustÂ eulogizeÂ them. The first day I received them I was overwhelmed with excitement. I mean the device was something that made rumor headlines for a long time, and I could finally play with them at home. I first saw Ms Kin One in her white cylinder. She looked very different in the way her body was made, a little something I have never seen before. She has a very small figure with a very nice little sliding action.
Okay enough weirdness. The phone was truly something I was excited for, and when I first took it out, the excitement left my face. The build quality seemed like something I would get from a Chinese knock off, except they look better. Turning the device on was a huge mystery, I could not find the power button. When I finally turned it on and set it up, I was already bored.
Playing with the device was the hardest thing I have ever had to do with a phone. The devices were so boring, and plainâ€¦ I could not bring myself to think Microsoft actually put any effort into it. Without games, apps, or a good camera the phone was totally like a dumb phone, and I call it a dumb phone because that OS has absolutely no smart phone features.
Since this is a memorial I have to say something nice about itâ€¦ I cannot think of anything. The nicest thing about the whole thing isâ€¦ I did not have to pay for it. The person that allowed me to review the device gave them to me without a second thought, asking me to do the best review I can. She knew the device has not received much public attention, so I was to review it, and add the things like â€œThe Studioâ€, and all.Â Now it has been about 40 days since I received the devices, and she is yet to ask for them back. She does not really want them back, and so she says she will get them when she gets the time.
Needless to say, this device was a major disappointment for me. I can say with a straight face and if you follow me @WMPerson, you will know I have always said â€œThis device is the worse I have ever used. I even think the Palm Pre and Pixi are way ahead, and my old Nokia N95 8GB is like the future compared to this phone.â€ Since you all know how I feel about the device I want to end by sayingâ€¦ This phone had all the potential Microsoft could have given to it. It could have been a great device, but with bad build quality, a terrible OS, and many moreâ€¦ Its life expectancy was not very long in a market of Droids and iPhones.
I am hoping Microsoft (A software company) does not waste their money on buying companyâ€™s like Sharp (A hardware company), and trying to follow the trend of Apple (A software, and hardware company), because as we see with these results equals crap products. Microsoft should focus on making great software so companies like HTC, LG, Samsung, Asus, and others can continue to use that on their great hardware, and we can all enjoy Windows Phone 7.
To end it all, I would like to say:
Rest in pieces my crap friendâ€¦ I wish I never had the displeasure to know thee.
Microsoftâ€™s KIN handsets have not exactly set the world on fire. Part of the reason is the limited functionality of the OS. It seems Microsoft is finally getting around to addressing that issue.
On Microsoftâ€™s Social forums a moderator responded officially to a complaint by saying:
Mike M. – KIN Support Moderator
Your feedback has been heard — there already is a KIN update (scheduled for mid-summer) in the works that covers many of your concerns.
Conflipper, who tends to know about these things, believes the update will add Twitter Replies, Retweet and the ability to to view more then 3 Facebook pictures.
Mid-summer should be some time towards the middle or end of next month.
Pity Microsoft could not slip in a calendar and calculator, but I guess we can ask for too much .
The biggest hurdle the KIN One ad Two face is price, so the news that BestBuy is now discounting the social networking handsets to free from the $50 KIN One and $50 for the previously $100 KIN Two is welcome news.
Unfortunately it does not address the main bugabear, the monthly recurring contract fee, which features a mandatory $29.99 data plan.
The KIN handsets have been on sale now for more than a week, but Microsoft has as of yet not released any early sales data.
One of the selling features of Microsoftâ€™s KIN handsets, and one Microsoft feels justifies the price, is the KIN Studio, the deviceâ€™s automatic back-up service.
Pocketnow has taken a closer look at the Silverlight-powered web-based service, and found the software has hidden multi-touch features and for a web-based service is surprisingly dynamic.
The website is a good example of how Silverlight can help cross the barrier between local applications and websites, and appears to do it rather more fluidly than flash can.
The new devices from Verizon Wireless are targeted to teens, but are they truly for teens. The new device is a great new way for â€œteensâ€ to text, browse, and stay connected on Facebook, but one feature requires something teens donâ€™t have. TO be able to use the Zune integration, you are required a Credit Card, but last I checked, most teens do not have those available to them. This makes the feature a bit of a waste, because some teens will not be able to use it. While that could be seen as a bad feature, a lot of teens could simply ask their parents to let them use their cards, since they are on their parentâ€™s network.
If a teen can get a card, they can enjoy a great new way of listening to all the music you want for one low price a month. So far I have been enjoying the Zune services on my Kin One, and Two, it is a great, low cost system for me.
Well after a great whole month with the Droid Incredible, I had to let go, and now have the Kin One and Two in my hands. The device was delivered to me today with everything intact, and so far I have some positives, and a little negatives.
The devices are very small, and are also very easy to hold. It loads very fast, and allows me to log into my Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Windows Live, and Rss feed, which makes it the most connected device ever. The menu system looks great, but mostly due to the images taken from my twitter and facebook account and placed on my background.
This device has some negatives. The most notable is the really complicated, and hard to understand menu system. The device is a bit hard to navigate, and takes quite some time to get used to. The buttons are very hard to use, and it is also very easily missed and it leads you to the camera or power off.
I will do some reviews, videos, and more with the device, but as usual I like to wait a bit before I give a review. I do that because then I have a better idea of what I am talking about, and can do it with greater details. Look out for more this week.
The KIN One and Two phones are meant to be hitting Verizon stores any time now, but if you are rearing to get one right now (and want your $100 rebate instantly) is seems Best Buy is the place to look, as Engadget reports the Microsoft branded handsets are now showing up there.
The KIN One is of course retailing for $49.99 and the KIN Two for $99.99 with the almost mandatory 2 year contract.
Are any of our readers picking up one of these handsets, either for themselves or their family? Let us know below.
Matt Miller has provided the concluding part of his review of the KIN One and Two by a 14 and 16 year old.
Unexpectedly the device did not fail in the area where we felt was its biggest weakness- the lack of games, as it appears no self-respecting teen plays games on their phones in any case.
Its appears the greatest weakness was Microsoftâ€™s high concept user interface, which remained complex even after a weak of use, and with little pay-off, due to the weak Facebook and MySpace integration, a real failing for a social networking phone.
Danika: Overall the Kin Two was an okay phone. I think they could have done much better with it and I donâ€™t think a lot of teenagers will have it due to the large data cost. I myself would not recommend it to my friends, the Kin and Loop update page is not really worth it since it just limits you to status updates.
Maloree: In conclusion, the Kin One was an overall great phone. It had some flaws, but donâ€™t all phones? The phone is really focused on friends and social networking which is great for teenagers and adults in their early 20â€™s. The camera was good quality, but not having zoom was inconvenient. I would personally not go back to this phone, but I think some people will be very interested in it. They are advertising fast in the movies and on MySpace. I enjoyed my time with it, but I didnâ€™t find it good enough to switch from my current phone.
Read the full review here.
Press Release: Mark/SpaceÂ®, creator of award-winning desktop and handheld synchronization software, announced the immediate release of KIN Media Sync for Mac computers. Mark/Space was chosen as the exclusive provider of Mac media sync software for the new KIN ONE and KIN TWO phones from Microsoft. KIN Media Sync uses Mark/Space GoGadget technology to make it easy for KIN owners to connect their phone to a Mac to sync music, video, photos and podcasts.
"We partnered with Microsoft to develop the best Mac media sync software for the new KIN phones," said Brian Scott Toney, Mark/Space Director of Sales and Business Development. "Our media sync capability has been a reliable staple of Mark/Space products for more than a decade. Leveraging our expertise, KIN Media Sync for Mac lets KIN owners fully enjoy the media features of their phones."
With KIN Media Sync, Mac users can sync individual songs or entire albums, genres, artists and playlists of music between a KIN phone and iTunes on their Mac. Photos snapped with a KIN phone can be synced with iPhoto, and albums of photos from iPhoto can be synchronized to a KIN, too. KIN Media Sync also makes it easy to transfer digital video and home movies from a Mac to a KIN. Movies are automatically converted for the best viewing experience on a KIN phone’s screen.
The KIN Media Sync project for Microsoft adds to the growing list of recent partnerships Mark/Space has had with a number of device manufacturers, including Nokia and Palm. Mark/Space media synchronization technologies and software are available for Windows and Mac OS X computers.
Availability and Pricing
KIN Media Sync is available for Mac OS X. It can be downloaded free from the Mark/Space web site, at www.markspace.com/kin. Registration is required to receive a registration code and activate the software.
This development is relatively interesting. We had known already that Microsoft will be doing a Mac client of sorts, but it is pretty unusual for the company to purchase in solutions developed by others, but in many ways it may be a better way to fill in the gaps in the platform rapidly for a company that appears to be money rich but resource poor.
Microsoft has spoken up to defend its KIN feature phones amid a flood of bad press for the newly introduced devices.
The KIN devices have been accused of being overpriced for what they offer, especially when it comes to the recurring data plan. Microsoft however claims the automatic back-up service (which it gives away free for Windows Mobile users) justify the price, as well as the data-intensive social networking applications pre-installed on the devices, including streaming Zune music.
"We’re introducing a new category that’s not exactly a smartphone and certainly more than a high-end feature phone — a social or cloud phone — with a rich browsing experience and rich multimedia social networking where everything I do on the phone is automatically backed up in the Kin Studio [in the cloud]," Greg Sullivan, senior product manager with Microsoft’s mobile communications unit, said.
"Once they realize the value of this, they’ll realize it’s a great deal," he said.
Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman for Verizon, said that the Kin phones were "designed … to be a full service device [for] the person whose life is about networking." She went on to claim that many feature phone users were already paying for smartphone data plans.
There is however no doubt the phones, which lacks the ability to install 3rd party applications, are very far from smartphones, but according to Sullivan this is set to change in the future.
"Over the longer term, we’ll be merging [Kin and Windows Phone 7] platforms and having downloadable apps," he said.
He also went on to say that future devices could also have additional features such as video chat, if the market demanded it.
"If the audience is really interested in that, we have the ability to update the platform," he said. But audience surveys showed that video chat was not a high priority for the first version, he added.
Sullivan said that the mood at Microsoft is "really excited" following the Kin launch and with workers anticipating the Windows Phone 7 launch later in the year.
"There’s a realization that this market is nascent and there’s a tremendous opportunity over the next many years in smartphones and we expect to be there," Sullivan said.
Read more at ComputerWorld here.
Matt Miller has handed a KIN One and Two to two teens and asked them to record their impressions. We have linked to the video earlier, but his blog post now also contains a more detailed write up by the girls.
In contrast to the rather negative impression we had garnered from reviews earlier, the girls, 14 and 16, appear to take quite well to the devices.
One complains of some set-up issuesâ€¦
â€œAfter putting in the battery and starting it up the set up and main operating was very confusing because it wouldnâ€™t recognize my Gmail password. My dad had to help reset my password on my Windows Live account so I could login. I think they can make it a little more user friendly.â€
and the other complained that the interface was confusing.
â€œAfter I turned it on started exploring it I was very confused at first. It was hard to navigate it and get used to, but after awhile I got the hang of it.â€
They however soon found much to like about the devices.
I do enjoy the unlock screen when you have to flip a virtual page with a welcome message reading â€œNice to meet you.â€ Under settings they have a very personalizable feature of color schemes including my favorite blue also green, red, and pink. Texting on the keyboard is very easy to text with and also I love the fact that it shows it as a conversation. I think the texting features will be very teenage friendly. But the music you have to have a Zune Pass to get music so I will need my dad to help me set that up on the computer. The volume button on the side is very handy and easy to operate. The camera seems to also be very high quality, compared to my other phones! After using the phone for a couple of hours I have started to really like this phone and have gotten used to the form factor and keyboard. The speed is quite brilliant compared to the HTC Touch Diamond since it doesnâ€™t take as long of a time to get from place to place.
I like how when you update your status, you can upload the same status to all communities at once. The keyboard is easy to use and little pressure is required. The texting is in conversation bubbles which is my favourite feature so far. On the keyboard there is a button with a on it, upon clicking it a small menu pops up with quite a few different smiley face options, which is really cool and convenient. The camera is very nice and clear. It makes me want to take pictures and upload them because its so much easier then off the computer. When texting or calling someone you can get their phone number right off Facebook, avoiding the entering of all your contacts. The Myspace and Facebook parts of the phone are mainly about status updates and such, theres no really viewing of your profile or picture of others. It has few similarities to the website itself. And lastly, when you receive a text message it pops up on your screen as a bubbles shaped sticky note that you can click on immediately or ignore and exit out of. Overall my first impressions of the Kin 2 have been mostly positive and it seems to be a very teen friendly phone.
Read more at at Matt Millerâ€™s ZDNet blog here.
Are the devices more suited to their intended demographic than we expect? Let us know your thoughts below.
PhoneArena have published their usual professional and detailed review, this time of the Microsoft KIN One and KIN Two.
Their findings are on occasion in sharp contrast with other reviews such as Engadgetâ€™s, for example they found the sound quality quite good, they keyboard on the KIN One pretty good and and report the experience largely smooth.
In other areas they pretty much agree however, complaining of the awkward position of the shutter button, poor browser experience and lack of 3rd party apps, meaning there is no way to access Youtube for example, and not even a calculator is present.
If there is anything going for KIN, it has to be its tight integration of social networking that envelops users to take notice of its keen strengths in that department. First of all, the KIN ONE is quite a compelling piece of hardware which can be attributed to its hockey puck looks, but we feel it is more suitable for sending a plethora of messages thanks to its good QWERTY keyboard. Conversely the KIN TWO is the better device for those who’d prefer some more impressive specs, but lacks a decent QWERTY to get the task of sending messages. Even though there are faint similarities between KIN and Windows Phone 7, the question that remains unanswered is why would someone go with this over the all encompassing features of Microsoft’s next platform? Sure it does a swell job in quickly getting you in contact with the people you care about the most by easily sharing a myriad of content with them, but its lack of depth in being a well balanced platform makes it stand below some of its feature phone counterparts â€“ specifically the lack of organizer functions, YouTube, IM, and some generic apps. Although it would be a nightmare for Microsoft to just stop the experience now and how it currently stands, we bet that in time there will be additional updates to the KIN platform to make it stand toe-to-toe with some of the elites out there. Moreover, it’s pricing plays a pivotal role in how it’ll become adopted by consumers. Despite the fact that both phones are priced below $100, it makes it one hard purchase to consider with the knowledge of some pretty decent smartphones encroaching on its turf. Having in mind you’ll have to pay for a monthly data package of at least $30, we believe that there are better alternatives to the KINs right now, such as the cheaper Palm Pre and Pixi, which are smartphones and have much, much greater functionality. And if you don’t mind adding some more cash to your initial purchase, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you getting the Android 2.1-powered HTC Droid Incredible or Motorola DROID, which are incomparably better devices. However, if smartphones are not your cup of tea today and you only want to access Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, the KIN ONE and TWO will do the job by providing a constant feed to your favorite accounts â€“ which is basically what they are all about.
They ultimately score the handsets a collective 7/10.
Read their full review here.
Matthew Miller from the ZDNet blog has managed to rope some teens into reviewing the youth-focussed KIN One and Kin Two Microsoft feature phones. In this first in a series they phones are merely unboxed, but squeals of delight are noticeably absent, although this may simply be explained by the situation.
Follow the series at the ZDNet blog here.