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printed December 21, 2014
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Review: Microsoft Kin One and Two

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Quite frankly, I haven't been this disappointed in a phone in a long time. The list of complaints and missteps far outweighs the positives this time around.

The basic concept of a phone focused on social networking is not new, and has been done better by others (Motorola, Palm, HTC). The Kin Loop and Kin Spot are neat concepts, no doubt, but the execution falls far, far short of what others have been able to accomplish. The skin-deep nature of how social networking has been implemented on Kin is so painful, I can hardly imagine applying the term "social networking" to these devices.

The cameras behave well, and take good pictures, but sharing options are limited to SMS, email and Facebook. The Zune software and media player are sure to make those who use Microsoft computers happy, but Mac users are left out in the cold, somewhat.

I like the way the Faves contacts page works, and integrates with the calling, SMS and emailing programs. The lack of IM support is surprising, though.

Kin only offer half the features of a dumbphone. Kin version 1.0 showcases Microsoft's laziness. They came up with some innovative user interface ideas, but didn't follow through and make a useful phone or device.

What's even more troubling are the costs involved with the Kin. Not including the device prices, Verizon Wireless is demanding a $40/mo voice plan and a $30/mo data plan. That's the same as any smartphone on Verizon's network. The cost of the device is nearly negligible. Verizon customers would be much better off with a Palm Pre Plus, which costs $30, (or a dozen other smartphones) and offers much more functionality.

Microsoft is a software company. That's why I am so surprised at how poor this software is. You may find the Kin offers just the right amount of features. Personally, I wouldn't recommend it to any of my friends or family members.

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