The Microsoft Kin One social-networking mobile phone 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.
Microsoft Kin One: Decent, but Unattractive Hardware
The Microsoft 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 trouser pocket. The display is a bit on the small side as is its vertically sliding keyboard.
The keyboard's keys are spacious and boldly labeled, 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 Microsoft Kin One and Two's designs). We also noticed a bit of lag between what we typed and what actually appeared on the screen. We'll need to spend more time with the Microsoft Kin One, however, to fully assess its keyboard.
We were impressed with the Microsoft Kin One's 5-megapixel camera. We 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. We 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 on the next page), 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.
We 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 Microsoft 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 we were navigating through various menus, but this might be due to the fact that our test units were preproduction devices.
NEXT: Kin Studio >>
See also: Microsoft Kin Two review