Hardware: Flip Camcorders

Hardware: Flip Camcorders

I was given a Flip UltraHD Camcorder camcorder to make a short video for a website, and was soon sold on my sweet little toy's charms. Could I just use the video setting on my digital camera instead? Sure, but somehow the Flip is just more fun.

There's nothing to it. Turn it on, press the red button to start recording, and hit it again to stop. You can zoom in and out a little, but it's just as easy to reframe your shot in iMovie (skip the FlipShare software that comes with the camera).

flip-ultra-hd.jpgThe Flip UltraHD Camcorder records up to two hours of soccer games and ballet recitals and uses a rechargeable battery that's included with the unit. I instantly had issues with the battery overheating when charging, and after poking around online, found a good workaround. Fortunately, you can also just chuck the finicky Flip battery and use AA's instead. But really, Flip; what's up with that battery?

Admittedly, I've never had a "real" camcorder, so I don't know how the Flip compares. I'm guessing it's good enough if you're okay with zero bells and whistles and you're mostly viewing your masterpieces on a computer screen. The Flip UltraHD Camcorder also allows you to connect directly to your HDTV with an HDMI cable (not included) or post your movies to You Tube, but most of us are not bold enough to expose our take on baby's first steps to the masses.

Here's the neat thing about the Flip--while you probably don't tote your fancy video camera around that much, you're bound to keep the Flip in your backpack. It weighs next to nothing, takes up about as much real estate as your iPhone or Blackberry, and plugs right into your computer. You'll need to invest in cables since the nifty little USB swing arm that people rave about is pretty useless unless you're plugging the unit into a laptop. Flip makes its own colorful mini USB cables, but you can do better on price with other brands.

31Qp2dFvE+L._SL500_AA280_.jpgI have to admit that I had my eye on a tasty brushed metal Flip MinoHD Camcorder camcorder (120 minutes) and may have bought that one if I was making the purchase myself. It's a little slimmer and groovier looking, but in the end, the I like the option of using AA batteries (I can't trust that I'd remember to keep the Mino's lithium ion battery charged). But I gotta tell you, the MinoHD is the sexier sibling, for sure. And of course, a month after getting my Flip, Apple released its newest Nano--and it includes video capabilities, so don't even get me started on that...  

Get a mini tripod, as you're bound to get some pretty shaky video unless you really hold the camera still, and buy a better case than the little bag that's included with the camera. Spend an afternoon with iMovie '09 to get the most out of your new career as auteur--it's not that intimidating. 

The Flip is a pretty small investment, all things considered, and it'll either really get you going on making short movies, or have people dread the sight of you and your little friend, Flip.

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  • Gail Anderson

    The new MinoHD is very, very cool. Smaller than the Ultra, though both are great. Next stop, film school...

  • Nancy Stamatopoulos

    AHA! I found another Flip fan. This sweet little camera has been highly recommended throughout our company for Art Directors to acquire. And with our smaller budgets this year, the price is modest (ok, downright cheap) for its great capabilities. We, too, are beginning our "video venture" to add some clips to our magazine websites. Great extension to our print backgrounds, if you ask me. Its exciting to add this new medium to our repertoire. Thanks for the extensive review, Gail. Think I'll go shopping now...

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