The idea looks pretty solid. The first phones that Microsoft developed from their Danger acquisition (Danger was the company that developed the Sidekick). It was to be the first phones that integrated Zune software. Cloud storage of contacts, and pictures makes for great buzzwords these days (though Sidekick owners might disagree after loss of data for better than a week recently).
Not a full blown SmartPhone the Kin phones were meant to straddle the line between messaging phone and SmartPhone. It almost made it. Almost.
Problem one, and this really is in my opinion a deal breaker from the very start, is that this phone requires a full data plan from Verizon Wireless. A data plan that is going to set you back $29.99 per month. Now, Verizon Wireless and Microsoft both feel that this is justified because of the amount of data that will be required to move your contacts, pictures and other information to and from “the cloud.”
This may be true, but that doesn’t make it a good value. As I alluded to earlier, the snafu that occurred recently with Sidekick, make me less that thrilled with data being stored out of my control. But even if I got past that issue, every contact has to be synchronized back to the device, and pictures are slow to load because they are not stored on the phone they are stored ” in the cloud” and thus must be retrieved back to the phone each time you want to view it. that makes for one poky feeling device.
The Kin 1 is very similar in look and feel to the Verizon Wireless Blitz, a popular little messaging phone from a couple of years back. The Blitz did not have all the “social” aspects that has been built into the Kin1, but you also didn’t need a data plan to go with it.
This small form factor also is not very conducive for the “social” display which, like that on some smart phones attempts to show you what all your friends are up to. But with its tiny screen, showing all that information leads to a lot of scrolling.
Microsoft says that this phone will eventually be rolled into the same eco system as Windows Phone 7 devices due out later this year. Eventually. What that means, is right now, there is NO ecosystem to speak of. No games, no additional apps, no way to improve on the little quirks, like the fact that this “social” device has no Instant Messaging client.
The Kin 2, has the same software, so the same problems apply. It does have a bigger screen, so unlike the Kin 1, you could actually view some web content on it without having to scrool. Unfortunately however, the browser is nothing to be thrilled about in the first place, and is deadly slow, so you “could” view some web content… provided you have the time to spare.
Microsoft it seems spent all its time trying to be hip, which only added to the obnoxiousness of the phone to me. The keys are all done in a very odd phone, and offset, so that they letter are actually hanging off of the edge of the key. I guess that is supposed to look hip, to me, it just looks sloppy for sloppy sake.
The other big allure of this phone is supposed to be the “kin spot” and little green dot at the bottom of the screen you can drag pictures to share, contact to… um… contact and other such nonsense. This is one of those things that sounds sort of cool, until you try to use it (did I mention these phones are slow and poky??) and it comes off kind of pointless. If I want to share a picture, do I really have to drag it to “the spot” in order to send it to somebody?
If this is what Microsoft gets out of its $500 Million dollar purchase of Danger and 2 years worth of development, then I would have to say, that Microsoft flushed half a billion dollars down the drain, because these phones are just plain behind the curve, and require too expensive a plan to be interesting to anybody. If you are going to spend $30 a month on a data plan, you might as well get a real SmartPhone. The Droid Eris is around the same price if not a few dollars less than the Kin 2, but is a much more powerful and useful device. The Palm Pre Plus (review coming soon), is another device that is far superior to the Kin 1, but yet costs around the same.
These aren’t the worst devices ever made, far from it, they feel pretty good, and look nice. But even for a Zune owner like me (or even my daughter), with all the drawbacks and expensive data plan attached, I’d say at this point, short of being a Microsoft or Verizon Wireless stockholder, I see no valid reason to actually want either of these devices.