Microsoft KIN ONE and TWO Review
Starting up the camera application is simple by just pressing down on the shutter key or launching the camera app from the Apps Panel. What we're greeted to is a simple interface that is extremely bare when it comes to icons that won't clutter the display. With above average cameras in use with the KIN ONE and KIN TWO, it's almost unusual to see few options to fine tune the photographing experience. The only options you can change are the resolutions, modes, and lighting conditions. Although having to awkwardly adjust your hand because of the placement of the shutter keys on both phones, the picture quality was surprisingly good. Slightly pressing down the shutter will allow it to focus and pressing all the way will take the shot – the same can be accomplished by pressing the camera icon on the display.
The KIN ONE was able to produce some good shots that were filled with natural colors and good detail in them to make out some fine things. Touted for its superior LED flash, it did little in illuminating our indoor shots as it was most optimal from a distance of approximately 4 feet away. Conversely, taking shots any closer than that would generally result in over-exposed images.
Seeing that the KIN TWO offers an 8-megapixel camera, we were delighted to see that images were meticulously replicated to an almost stark similarity. There is plenty of detail in the photos with colors adding the perfect balance of tones to make just about any outdoor shot in good lighting look like a work of art. Just line the KIN ONE, the KIN TWO fared the best with its LED flash from about 4 feet from the object. Otherwise, moving closer will produce overexposed images while overall image quality in indoor settings was of course darker than anything else. Still, we were impressed by how well photos came out with the KIN TWO.
By default, both devices are set to shoot videos in “email quality,” so you'll have to manually switch it to high quality in the settings. However, it's worth noting that it requires a manual sync via USB connection to get videos captured in the highest resolution, while “email quality” videos are wirelessly synced to the KIN Studio. Thanks to its inclusion of image stabilization, the KIN ONE's videos are steady when abruptly moving the device. Detail was good enough in the capture while the frame rate was smooth. For something compact as the KIN ONE, it's nice to see that it can take a decent video that'll surely be good enough for saving precious memories.
Microsoft KIN ONE sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution
Sporting the ability to shoot 720p video, the KIN TWO is considered in the upper echelon of devices in the video capturing arena. Even though image stabilization aids in the process of shooting video, it doesn't automatically focus in on objects – so things placed up close will still look out of focus. Despite having a decent quality in the captured video, it doesn't flow as smoothly as what the KIN ONE offers, but it's nonetheless more than adequate in getting the job done right the first time around.
Microsoft KIN TWO sample video at 1280x720 pixels resolution
You can actually pull up the gallery of media taken by the phone by simply swiping to the right when the camera interface is up. Displayed in a grid-style manner, images and videos can all be previewed from the interface. Although it may not be fancy, you still have the fine elements of swiping left to right for navigation, pinch gestures to zoom in/out, and the ability to upload them to specific social networking accounts.
The KIN ONE's 2.6” QVGA does little in watching videos on its relatively small screen, but fortunately there is no lag associated in its playback. In order to get videos on the device, you'll have to sync it first with the Zune Player. Unfortunately, it took an extreme amount of time as the software converted a one minute video we had shot in 1080p onto the phone. Luckily, it was still playable and more than enough in getting a decent experience in watching videos on the KIN ONE.
Thanks to the detailed screen of the KIN TWO, videos looked stellar and played back with no lag whatsoever. In addition, colors were just amazing thanks to the crisp display and we found that it didn't struggle in playing back any videos. Between the two devices, it is obvious that the KIN TWO clearly has the advantage in the video playback department.
Naturally the solid Zune integration of KIN allows for a music experience that can supplant itself as being the best out there. Selecting the “Music & More” app in the Apps Panel, you'll be greeted to the standard Zune interface that substantially differentiates itself from just about any other music players out there. Broken down into four options, navigating between any one of them is a swift experience that's accompanied with fancy transition effects to show off some of its graphical prowess. When playing a specific song, it'll display the album cover, song title, and artist – while the on-screen functions like forward and reverse can be accessed by simply touching any part of the display. We thoroughly checked out Zune Pass which allows for unlimited streaming of songs via 3G connections and were happy with its overall performance in quickly playing a tune. In the event you don't have a connection to the network or Wi-Fi coverage, you can download a song from their huge library and have it stored locally to listen to it later. Sounds from the KIN ONE's speaker and KIN TWO were just about the same – there were sharp tones when set to the loudest setting with some faint crackling sounds every now and then.
Almost sad as it may, but there is no support for YouTube videos to be found on KIN – even visiting the mobile web site in the browser yielded to no videos being supported by the handset. Strange as it may be, it's almost unfathomable nowadays to see such a key feature blatantly missing from a device.
GPS & Software:
Now here is the interesting part about both KIN devices – they have built-in GPS, but there is no native map application to be found. Although pictures can be geo-tagged to be viewed later in the KIN Studio to see where you've taken them, you can also do the same on the handset by simply hitting the “more” button when you're checking a photo in the gallery and then selecting “map.” It'll open up the web browser and show you on Bing maps where the specific photo was taken.
Aside from the integrated social networking features that KIN has to offer, it manages to extend it thanks to the KIN Studio which is an online haven for all of your content. Any media taken on the phone will automatically get synced to the KIN Studio – these include pictures, videos, text messages, call logs, RSS feeds, and contacts. You won't be too mad if you lose your phone due to the fact that pretty much all of your data will remain intact and can be accessed online. Once you get a new unit in, you can just log in with your KIN account and it'll automatically sync it up. We were able to have both the KIN ONE and KIN TWO connected to a singe account which made for some interesting things such as being able to take photos with both handsets and have them sync them to the KIN Studio. Although it might be seen as a saving grace, it's a requirement for you to go online and physically receive a hard copy of specific content. There just isn't an option to download photos taken from the phone and connect it via USB cable to your computer to save them. In addition, you can accomplish some of the tasks like share content with friends as there is a KIN Spot in the KIN Studio.
1. testman22 (Posts: 336; Member since: 03 Nov 2009)
No Calender, no youtube, no navigation, and no apps. These phones are good for social networking, but it's hard to justify paying $30 a month when you can buy an incredible. Even to get a palm pre would be less in cost (39 bucks now?), plus you get a top notch organizer, mobile hotspot and options for apps, nav, and youtube. Verizon needs to rethink the $30 data plan for this phone, or maybe work with microsoft and include a free zune pass with this phone- that would make for an appealing deal to kids, and would help parents justify that high cost of ownership
2. Sharky (Posts: 69; Member since: 24 Jun 2008)
Agreed. I think tiered plans would have been a good idea. Or just take a look at what Sprint is doing with Virgin Mobile (which is targeted at about the same demographic as these devices would be). I know Microsoft is going to be updating these devices, but as it stands, I don't think they're worth paying $30 a month for data.
6. Kiltlifter (Posts: 742; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)
Yeah 30.00/month data kills this phone and kills the market it is intended for... this phone is supposed to the Sidekick for a new generation. What parent would pay 30.00 for this phone phone's data... now 15.00 would be more reasonable
3. narley (Posts: 357; Member since: 14 May 2009)
4. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2800; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
Not bad for a start but its nothing compared to the droids. I like the layout but it still doesn't come close android software, they are heading in the right direction though.
5. DonkeyPunched (Posts: 321; Member since: 10 Jan 2010)
Agreed. I hope they can follow up with better phones later. But I think this is a pretty good start. Why would they charge the $30 plan though....it really shouldn't be that much.
7. Kinoutreach (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 May 2010)
Thanks for the great coverage of the KIN so far! I just wanted to stop by and let you and your readers know that you can go to KIN.com to learn more about the KIN and follow along with 'The Journey' on our Facebook page to see the KIN in action. Feel free to send any questions you might have about the KIN my way, I would be more than happy to help. Thanks, Todd Kin Outreach Team Todd_KinOutreach@hotmail.comhttp://www.facebook.com/KINhttp://twitter.com/KIN
9. AaronWasHere (Posts: 36; Member since: 10 Mar 2010)
Pfft... the journey of the Kin to a trashcan... because that is where this phone should go if you are older then 15 and actually need a phone with legit functionality beyond Facebook and Twitter
10. YourMumsAman (unregistered)
Failure Product, thats for sure, did't even see it in asia market. FAIL
11. raleigh (unregistered)
Worst phone I have EVER had. Counting the days til my plan runs out and I can get anything else.