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Review: Microsoft Kin One and Two

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Calls/Contacts Menus Messaging Kin Studio  


The Kin One and Kin Two are the first phones that I can think of that don't allow users to make a phone call from the home screen. The main home screen has no phone-related apps, but a social networking poster board of info instead. Want to make a phone call? You have to swipe to the left first, to get at the phone tools. Adding extra steps to get to the phone is not a good plan in my book. What happens in an emergency and someone unfamiliar with the device needs to make a phone call? They'll have no idea how to do it. That's dangerous.

Once you figure out how to swipe to the main menu, press the big picture of a phone, and you'll be taken to the software dial pad. Once there, dial numbers as normal. If you want to see recent calls, swipe to the right (from the dialer screen). Calls are listed there, and offer options such as dialing missed calls, sending text messages, checking voicemail, etc.

Enter confusion. There's a little software button in the bottom left corner of the screen. It is marked "Recent." This does not mean recent calls. It means recently used apps. It brings up an app switcher that looks very much the same as the one found in Android. It took me all day to stop pressing this button when I wanted to see my recent calls list. Renaming this button would help a lot.

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The dial pad is for dummies who don't have any real friends. The Kin One and Two are all about social networks, didn't you know? That means Microsoft expects you to have friends. Hence the contacts app, which is much better for making phone calls.

Kin can pull in all the contacts you have stored in various online accounts, including Facebook, MySpace, Gmail, Exchange, etc. That's no problem at all. A few simple steps during set-up and you're good to go. Microsoft expects you to populate the "Favorites" page (which is the third home screen) with all your, er, favorite people. The screen can hold up to 51 faves for the show-offs in the crowd. (Seriously, if 51 people are your "fave" you have problems.)

Interacting with the faves isn't half bad. Press on the little picture of the fave — and a pop-up menu appears. The menu lets you call the contact, text the contact, email the contact or jump in and see all the contact's info. Tools like this are great, especially when you want to contact the same people regularly.

Both Kins can handle a nearly unlimited number of contacts, and the data that can be deposited into each contact includes multiple phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook, Twitter, etc.


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