- Solid hardware
- Integrates your social networks in one place
- Good web browser
- A glitchy, buggy interface
- Comes with a high monthly bill
- Missing standard phone functions
Quick TakeThe Kin Two couples good hardware and a competitive entry price with glitchy, poorly executed features and recurring monthly bills that are hard to justify with the current offering.
The Microsoft Kin Two is the speedier, wide-screen half of the duo that marks the release of the Kin platform, a new Microsoft platform that connects users with their social network and a streaming music while on the go.
The touchscreen phone comes with a full slide-down keyboard and a bold screen that holds up well in light, but a number of serious quirks keep it from fulfilling its promise of being the ideal social connector.
The Kin Two is currently available exclusively from Verizon for $100 with a two-year service contract that covers both a voice and data plan, which start at $39.99 and $29.99 respectively. A Zune Pass, which connects the phone with unlimited streaming music, is an additional monthly fee.
DESIGN & BUILD
The Kin Two is a sleekly built phone that sports a 3.4-inch touch screen display and a comfortable slide-down QWERTY keyboard that tucks away when not in use. It fits comfortably in the hand and the build is well-done: The surfaces are smooth and scratch resistant, the buttons sturdy and responsive to the touch.
While the phone feels sturdy overall, the keyboard does slide out very easily, giving the phone a slightly wobbly feel in hand.
The screen 320 x 480 pixel screen capacitive touch screen is vivid and holds up well at even wide angles. While the colors wash out in direct sunlight, the fonts are still legible enough for basic operation.
The screen was also responsive and accurate when it came to input: Even with a lot of buttons on the screen, precisely picking out the right point was easy, and many functions support multitouch gestures well, from zooming in on a webpage or picture to quickly rearranging icons or deleting e-mails en masse.
Alongside all the praise, I also need to note the presence of one bright red “dead” pixel that flawed the otherwise solid picture. While distracting and a poor indicator of quality control, I imagine Verizon customers could exchange similarly marred phones under warranty.
They keyboard was spacious and comfortable, with plenty of room between the individually raised keys to avoid typos and excessive button fumbling. There are also dedicated keys to make a call, perform a search and quickly insert an emoticon, the character-based smiley faces that dot youth conversations.
The keyboard sports distinct and responsive buttons, which is a good thing because the phone doesn’t support even basic autocorrect or autosuggest. The only other minor quibble with the keyboard is that more dedicated buttons could have been included with all the space; Including dedicated buttons for punctuation or digits, for example, would have eliminated some common frustrations.
There is no onscreen virtual keyboard.
Aside from the slide-down keyboard, the phone also has a few dedicated buttons, including a volume rocker that intelligently switches between media and the phone ringer; a camera button that lets you quickly capture a photo or video; and a lock screen button.