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Microsoft Debuts Kin Phones

Wash. – Microsoft took the wraps off the Kins today, two mobile phones the
company said are designed for social-network users.

The Kin
phones — the 4GB Kin One and 8GB Kin Two — are the result of a partnership
with Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and Sharp, and they will be exclusively
available from Verizon Wireless in the U.S. beginning in May, Microsoft said.
Vodaphone will carry the device in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom
in the fall.

While both
Kins come with touchscreens and slide-out keyboards, Kin One is more compact
and meant for one-handed use while Kin Two comes with more advanced features,
including the ability to record high-definition video in 1,280 by 720
resolution. Both phones’ cameras (5 megapixels for Kin One and 8 megapixels for
Kin Two) come with image stabilization and LumiLED flash. The Kin One has a 2.6-inch screen and the Two has a 3.4-inch screen. Further specs, including size and weight, were not being provided at this time, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.  

They will
be the first phones with the Zune media player on them, Microsoft said, and
buyers can use a Zune Pass subscription to download music and video content. Kin
One has a mono speaker while Kin Two comes with stereo speakers.

Meant for
social-network enthusiasts, the Kin’s interface is said to bring together feeds
from Microsoft, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter into one location. Users will be
able to choose their “favorite” people and the phone will prioritize their
status updates, messages, feeds and photos.

One part
of the phone, known as The Spot, allows users to drag videos, photos, texts,
Web pages and status updates and then decide how to share them. Content is
stored in the cloud for easier sharing, Microsoft said, and a “digital
journal”  of photos, videos, contacts,
and call and text histories is automatically backed up at the Kin Studio. 

 “Working closely with our partners, we saw an
opportunity to design a mobile experience just for this social generation – a
phone that makes it easy to share your life moment to moment,” Robbie Bach,
president of the entertainment and devices division at Microsoft, said in a
statement. “We built Kin for people who live to be connected, share, express
and relate to their friends and family. This social generation wants and needs
more from their phone. Kin is the one place to get the stuff you care about to
the people you care about most.”