Of course Kies is a loada crap......I tried official fw upgrade to 2.3.6, but failed.
Used ODIN, no probs at all, except you need to know which boxes to tick, and have the correct ops file, ancora.ops.
There are full instructions on XDA, which has gone DARK
to-day, where there is now an official forum for this phone:
There are custom ROM's, custom recoveries[RzRecovery and CWR], and loadsa other stuff and talk.
Flashing your official f/w with ODIN is preferable to Kies, which sucks, but using the Custom Recovery, now ClockworkMod Recovery version by dev arco
, is so much better.
When XDA comes back on air, check it out......
In the meantime, peeps in the US should contact your local Representative and also Sign the Pledge