In the week that has seen the US launch of the Flip Video Mino HD, I look at the original Flip Mino. Pure Digital has given me their ultra portable Flip Video Mino, YouTube friendly, camcorder to review and I have to say I’m not sure I want to return it as I really do like it a lot.
Flip Video Mino – The Good
- The initial feeling with this camcorder is that it is very simple as there are no video tweaking options and it is literally out the box and you are recording straight away, which is great unless you are a control freak.
- The controls have touch screen feel to them and are very responsive.
- Cold turn on and start-up speed is one of the best I’ve seen.
- The video is recorded at 640 x 480 (see example videos below) at 30 frames per second as MPEG-4 AVI files.
- The build quality of the device is also pretty stylish for such an affordable product, I got the piano black 2GB version and it feels very solid in the hand and I’m sure it will take a good few knocks.
- It has a very small form factor and only weighs 3.3oz. It is about the same size as my Nokia N95 just thinner and this is a perfect size to pop in your pocket.
- The device holds 2GB of video which works out to about 60mins.
- The reason it is called the Flip Video is because of the ingenious idea of including the USB plug within the device, push a button and out it flips. You can then simply plug it in to any USB port and can browse straight to the folder with the videos in as if it was an external storage device.
- Software included is as simple as the device, making it a breeze to upload your videos to YouTube, MySpace or AOL to share will all.
- The battery last for a good 3-4 hours and can be charged via USB.
- There is a composite A/V lead included so you can play it back on any TV.
- Tripod mountable – works great with the Joby Gorrilapod.
Flip Video Mino – The Bad
- The screen is only 1.5″ and doesn’t really work well for playback but is fine to work out what you are recording.
- 2GB unfortunately can’t be extended as it has no additional card slot.
- It has a fixed focus of 1m to infinity – which is going to be fine for most things but don’t expect to put it within a few centimetres of something and get any kind of detail.
- The zoom is digital and I found it to be rather jerky.
- The battery takes 3 hours to charge via USB and the power adaptor is optional.
- The built in speaker isn’t great and a headphone jack would of been a nice touch.
- No function to take pictures – however the software does allow you to extract images from the videos.
- No optional underwater case.
- As with all the affordable devices like this the video did suffer in poor and low light. In normal lighting or bright light is it fine.
- No image stabilisation.
- Average microphone.
Example Video 1
This is a very large pixel poster from Eboy and shows that the camcorder can deal with colours well and the compression doesn’t smooth the image.
Example Video 2
Here is a real test for any video compression and considering the price I think it has managed to bring out Dillon’s fur colour with minimal block like effects.
Example Video 3
This is a video of the new Hi-Tec Ion-Mask boots you can see it struggles a bit on detail when the boot is close – otherwise no issues (and yes the boot is completely water repellent).
The Flip Mino Images
I really like the original Flip Mino as it is a pleasure to use and provides much better video than any mobile phone I have seen – which is it’s main competition. Featured on my top gadgets of 2008 this conveniently size camcorder is great for capturing moments when you are out and you don’t want to have to carry a larger device around. The software is a breeze to use and if you like posting clips on YouTube you probably already have one. It isn’t the best quality small camcorder you can get but it is certainly the most affordable and easy to use. For anyone wanting to spend more and get a more full featured 1080 HD ultra portable camcorder check out the Sony HDR-TG3 that I reviewed.
Next year in the UK they will be releasing the Flip Mino HD version (already available in the US) with 4GB of storage but still offering pretty much the same components. The downside is that the minimal focus has been reduced to 1.5m and battery life halved but it will be more Mac compatible recording in H.264 compressed MP4 files with a resolution of 1280 x 720. I don’t think this is going to have quite the same impact as the Flip Mino, however, they are going to start to offer designable covers – a way to completely customise the backs with an image or pattern that you can upload or design with their online gallery generator.