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Flip Video Ultra HD - Flip for Flip

Pros quick. incredibly easy. batteries included. did I mention - EASY!
Cons video quality
Recommended it? Yes
The Bottom Line:  Easy to use. Uses inexpensive batteries. Good for pocket or purse. Video quality not great, but ideal for lots of uses.
Our employee incentive program went away December 31 and we had to use up the "points" we had accumulated before the end of January. I had a fair number of points, but there really wasn't much I wanted in the catalog for what I had. Then I saw The Pure Digital Flip Video HD. It would nicely use up my 90 points. (That appears to translate to about $199 in real people money.) While I already had a bright pink Vado mini camcorder, I had a friend who I thought could make use of this one. What can I say, I'm a good friend.

The Flip arrived and the first response was "I'm not very good with video cameras." I encouraged him to give it a try. His issue is that he's not very tech savvy and getting videos downloaded and edited and sent where he wants has always been too much of a chore. He was ready to get two AA batteries from the shop and pop them in, but lo and behold, the Flip came with batteries already installed. Hmmm, that was easy.

The Flip is a compact camera that says it digitally captures up to two hours of video onto its built in computer memory. It will hold 8 GB of material which is quite a lot for our purposes. I don't think we've ever used more than 45 minutes in a day before downloading it...more on that later.

The Flip has a users manual that is a short fold out. Where my latest calculator had a manual larger than the machine, this one could be read in under 2 minutes. In terms of size, it feels about the size of an inexpensive digital camera. It is larger than my Vado, but packs a lot more ooomph.

The Flip has buttons to turn it on, to record video, to play it back, to pause the playback, and to delete the video. It has a 2x digital zoom. A four-direction button is used to fast forward, rewind, and controls volume. It has a 1.5" LCD screen. You can immediately playback the recording and decide to retain or trash the clip.

Heading home after playing with the Flip, my friend hooked it up to his computer. It has a USB connector built into the side. I suspect if his computer had USB access on the back he might have been less happy, but his is in front. There are no cords to lose or keep track of for him. If the USB port had been in back, he would have needed to have a cord to access it, or to have moved it around.

I had a phone call of delight from him. Immediately, the computer and the Flip started talking. Did he want to download the built in editing system from the Flip? Sure! Did he want to download the videos he had recorded? You betcha! Did he want to add titles? music? edit the clips? Yes, yes and yes. That first night I received an email with a link to a Flip video he had created.

The good news with giving a device like this to a friend like mine is that he wants to share. I've had as much fun as he has had. Shooting video is easy as pie. Having played with editing videos on his computer, I'm able to take several videos and edit them into one piece. I can save the video to a folder or send immediately via email. Want it to go to a facebook or myspace page? There's an icon to click and it's on its way.

The video quality here is not up to the larger, more expensive, more complex video cameras. This isn't what I would want for capturing the most special moments of my life. However, as something that can be carried in a pocket or pocketbook, this is a great device. We've used it for rehearsing material. There is nothing like the immediate feedback. It has been used for documenting an accident where we were on the scene and rendering assistance. It will be used so we can capture the crowd's response when we perform next week in Vegas.

He's working with a computer that has Windows XP running. I don't know how it works with other systems, but it clearly likes his.
Accessories included a wrist strap, an audio-video cable for connecting to a TV or VCR, and a carrying case. For the magicians in our shop, being able to do a trick and immediately hook up to the TV and see what we're doing has proven invaluable.

This flip has a place for a tripod. We have a mini tripod at the shop so we can get very steady shots of what is happening. I understand that previous models didn't have this...silly Flip makers! But they got smart this time.

If you're looking for quick and easy, down and dirty video capture ability, you'll get a lot of use out of a Flip. I much prefer this one to my pink Vado, though I like that, too. If you're looking for the best quality video, you'll have to look for more complicated cameras. Of course, if you're like me or my friend - those more complicated cameras won't get downloaded as readily. And something is better than nothing.

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