Microsoft Kin One mobile phone (preview)
Microsoft's Kin One has slick software, but unimpressive hardware
- Impressive camera, Kin OS is easy to navigate
- Looks a little dated, no expandable storage, no native calendar, no app store
The Microsoft Kin One doesn't have the most appealing design, but the slick and intuitive user interface makes up for it--almost.
The lesser of the Microsoft's newest social networking phones, the Kin One has a slick and intuitive user interface, but the hardware is mediocre and unattractive. Additionally, advanced users might be disappointed with some limitations within the operating system.
Decent, but Unattractive Hardware
The Kin One isn't the most stylish little thing: Short and squat, it looks a bit dated. That said, the Kin One does feel solid in hand and fits easily in a pants pocket. The display is a bit on the small side as is vertically-sliding keyboard. The keyboard's keys are spacious and boldly labelled, but they don't feel as comfortable as those on the Sidekick phones (the design team behind the Sidekick phones played a big part in the Kin One and Two's designs). I also noticed a bit of lag between what I typed and what actually appeared on the screen. I'll need to spend more time with the Kin One, however, to fully assess its keyboard.
I was impressed with the Kin One's 5-megapixel camera. I took a few snapshots at the launch event, which took place in a dimly lit nightclub, and was impressed with how powerful the flash was. Faces were nicely highlighted without being completely blown out. I can see the Kin One being an ideal companion for concerts as you can snap quality pictures and easily share them with your friends or social networks.
The photos are automatically geotagged and uploaded to the Kin Studio (more on that below), but there's no photo or video editing software on the phone. Additionally, video clips are automatically capped at one minute, which is a bit disappointing.
Kin OS: Pretty and Intuitive
While it's a bit overwhelming at first, Kin OS is visually-pleasing and incredibly easy to navigate. The main screen, called Loop, displays your selected friends' status updates and messages as well as your favourite RSS feeds in a colourful collage of text and images. Flick to the left, and you'll see a panel of all your applications; flick right, and you'll see your contacts.
I also liked how easy it was to share photos with your friends via the Kin "Spot." The Spot is a green circle that sits at the bottom of the user interface. If you want to share a photo, video or news story from your RSS feed, you simply drag and drop it into the Spot. You can then tap the Spot and decide whether you want to send it to your friends or upload it to one of your social networks.
Another highlight: The Kin One ships with the Zune HD media player for video and music playback. There's also an FM radio.
The OS was a bit sluggish while I was navigating through various menus, but this might be due to the fact that my test units were preproduction devices. I'll make a full assessment once I get my review unit.
Kin Studio: Useful, but Problematic
When you capture photos or videos on your Kin phone, they're automatically uploaded to the Kin server. You can then log into your Kin Studio account on your PC to view and share your media--no USB cables or microSD cards to hassle with and no tedious uploading procedures. This is an ideal feature for the non-tech-savvy audience Microsoft seems to be targeting with these phones.
But there's one disturbing problem with the Kin Studio: You can't delete photos off your phone without deleting them from the Kin Studio. In some ways, Microsoft's explanation for implementing this makes sense. If a user wants to delete, say, an incriminating photo from a bar the night before, they probably want it completely erased from existence. But if you're simply deleting photos to free up some storage on your phone, this is a big problem since the Kin One's memory is restricted to 4GB (no microSD support). Realistically, 4GB of memory really isn't enough to hold all of your photos, videos and music.
I also wish there was some sort of photo editing or video editing software built into the studio. To edit a clip or photo, you have to download it to your PC first, edit it in a third-party program, then re-upload to the Kin Studio to share with your friends.
Missing Key Features
Unfortunately, the Kin OS is missing some features that, in my opinion, are crucial for social networkers. First of all, there's no native calendar nor is there support for syncing your Outlook or Google calendars. If Kin's main goal is to connect people together, then why isn't there a way to create and share events via a social calendar? There's also no native IM client, which seems strange for a phone that's built for messaging. Lastly, Kin lacks support for uploading photos or videos to Twitter. You can upload videos to your Facebook or Myspace profiles, but forget about Twitter. Microsoft says that it might be adding these features in future over-the-air updates, but don't expect them at launch.
Also, if you're a heavy app user, you'll be disappointed to learn that there's no software development kit currently available for the Kin phones, nor is there an app store. For now, you're stuck with what's preloaded on the device.
Right now, it is hard to estimate how well the Kin One will do without a price attached to it. While it has some "smart" features, this isn't a smartphone.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Google wants to solve the Android update problem once and for all with Project Treble
- Intel concerned about name of John McAfee’s privacy phone
- Low-cost Android phones to get iPhone features with new Qualcomm chips
- Qualcomm's Quick Charge 4 is coming in phones midyear
- Apple's next iPhones may cut corners on memory due to price squeeze
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Asus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming motherboard review
- The simple RAM buying guide
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTClient Onboarding ManagerNSW
- FTEmail Marketing SpecialistVIC
- FTChange ManagerQLD
- CCSAP Deployment ConsultantNSW
- CCSolution DesignerNSW
- CCSenior Teradata Developer/Analyst ProgrammerNSW
- FTService Implementation Manager BIMNSW
- CCGraduate DeveloperQLD
- CCBusiness Process AnalystNSW
- CCNetwork Security Engineer - Finance - Contract - SydneyNSW
- TPSenior Consultant - ServiceNowNSW
- CCPHP DeveloperNSW
- TPIT Business AnalystNSW
- CCMaster Data Officer - SAPNSW
- FTWeb Developer - VR 3D WebGL - Lake MacquarieNSW
- CCSecurity Incident Analyst - Splunk - TelcoVIC
- FTSolution ArchitectSA
- FTProcurement OfficerACT
- FTSenior DeveloperNSW
- CCProject Manager - Salesforce ImplementationVIC
- FTSAP ISU Billing Consultant - FunctionalVIC
- CCMid-level Business Process Analyst (Automation) - Contract - ParramattaNSW
- FTSolution Architect - NetworksQLD
- FTSenior .NET DevelopersSA