Product Type: Pure digital camcorders
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Is this the world's simplest HD camcorder??
Pure Digital Flip UltraHD
Member Name: Bonnierhythm
Pure Digital Flip UltraHD
Advantages: Easy to use camcorder & software, great quality, fab videos
Disadvantages: None in my eyes
I saw an advert for the Flip Ultra HD on Facebook and really liked the idea but expected a HD video camera of that size to be way out of my price range. I had a look on eBay and found they were averaging about £100 for a brand new one which I thought was good value for money so I treated myself to one for my birthday. In the box along with my Flip I got the battery pack, a wrist strap and a soft case to keep it in along with a quick start guide. I was extremely impressed with the quick start guide as it is only short and all in English so I didn't have to hunt through the millions of other languages before I could find out how to use my new toy.
For those of you who have never seen a Flip before I thoroughly recommend you go to doyouflip.co.uk and find out what all the fuss is about. It is an amazing little gadget. The Flip Ultra HD is a handheld HD video camera that is about the size of a mobile phone (4.25" x 2.19" x 1.17") that weighs 6oz. It is called a Flip because there is a built in flip out USB arm (up to USB 2.0 speed) in the side of the camera that is released when you slide a clip down. It is boasted as the World's simplest HD camera and that is a very true statement. On the opposite side of the camera to the USB arm is the on/off button so you can't get confused and turn it off by accident. The camera takes no longer than 4 seconds to power up and it has a power saver option which automatically turns your Flip off when you have not used it for a while. On the front on the Flip is the lens and at the top of the back of the device is a 2.0" (diagonal) LCD screen which has a resolution on 320 x 240 with Transflective TFT which helps you see the screen in bright day light. Underneath the screen is a red circular button in the middle which is the record and stop recording button. This is surrounded by 4 buttons, the top one is for zooming in or turning the volume up, the bottom for zooming out or turning the volume down, the right is for fast forwarding or moving to the next video in playback mode and the left for rewinding or moving back to the previous video. On the left of these is the play button so you can switch to playback mode and on the right is the delete button (there is a function to lock this too so you don't accidently delete any videos which I think is a great idea). That is it, all there is to it. Idiot proof in my eyes, well I haven't been able to go wrong yet.
The camera has a 2hr recording time with an 8gb internal memory (not expandable) and is currently available in black and white. The video has a resolution of 1280 x 720 and the camera has a ¼.5" HD CMOS sensor (2.2 µm pixels). It has ultra low-light sensitivity (>1.4 V/lux-sec) with automatic low light detection with automatic white balance and black level calibration. The average bitrate is 9.0Mbps (auto-adaptive algorithm) and has Flip video engine 3.5 which is the most up to date. The video has automatic exposure control with dynamic exposure compensation and the videos are saved in MP4 format with H.264 video compression and AC audio compression. The lens is fixed focus (1.5m to infinity) and the aperture is f/2.4 which is apparently a fast lens for great results in low-light environments. The camera has a smooth multi-step 2x digital zoom.
The Flip comes with a AA rechargeable battery pack (1.2 Volt NiMH rechargeable) which can be charged in about 6 hours via a computer USB port or in about 3 ½ hours if you buy the separate power adapter. I bought the power adapter for about £7 on eBay and a pack of 3 USB leads (about £12 on eBay) to connect the two as I was not overly happy about my Flip being left dangling from the plug socket. The reason that I chose the Ultra HD instead of the smaller and lighter Mino HD is because the Ultra HD will also work with 2 AA batteries if your battery pack runs out while you are out and about. The battery pack will last for up to 2.5hrs though which is longer than it will take to use up the memory.
The Flip Ultra HD has a built in speaker and a built in wide range stereo microphone. I found that the sound quality was really good when I was listening to it through the camera and through my PC. You can also buy Mini HDMI cables so you can plug your Flip straight into your HD TV (if you are lucky enough to own one) and watch the videos on the big screen. There is a tripod mount in the bottom of the Flip and I bought a Gorrillapod which has bendy legs so you can attach it to things for £3 brand new on eBay. The Flipshare video software allows unlimited private video emails or video greeting cards and has a facility to directly upload to MySpace and YouTube. You can take still photos from your videos. Automatic and on-demand online software updates are available for both the Flip and the Flipshare software. Minimum computer requirements are:
PC - 3.0 GHz Intel® Pentium® 4 or faster processor, Windows® XP SP2 with 512 MB of RAM or Windows Vista®/Windows 7® with 1 GB of RAM, and USB 2.0 port
MAC®: 1.66 GHz Intel® Core DuoTM or faster processor, 1 GB of RAM, OS X Leopard® 10.5 or Snow Leopard® 10.6, and USB 2.0 port
Official Flip accessories consist of underwater case (about £40), soft pouch (black & silver), USB cables, Power adaptor, battery pack, tripod, HDMI cables and an action tripod. I have also bought a hard case (£10) and a silicon cover (£11) for added protection for my Flip.
I found the Flip USB arm clip really easy to use and the connection seems to be very secure so the arm doesn't feel like it is about to drop off. The screen may not sound very big at 2" (diagonal) but it is big enough to do what it needs to. The video on the camera is clear and easy to see and stays the same way once you have put it onto your computer. All the software, drivers etc are stored inside the Flip so there are no discs to lose. I plugged my Flip into my Vista laptop, a pop up came up, I chose I wanted to install the software and that was it. A few minutes later the software was available for use.
The Flipshare software is extremely easy to use. Along the top you get the normal windows type toolbar consisting of file, edit, view, share, create, playback and help. On the left hand side you get a bar with a list of your films separated in to the month that you uploaded them so it is easy to find the video you want in the future. You can also set up your own files to make finding the correct video even easier. Along the bottom you get a section that tells you if an action is taking place (like a video being transferred from the Flip to the laptop, a video being converted etc), a button to transfer videos from the Flip to the laptop, 3 sharing options and 3 create functions. The rest of the screen is filled up with thumb nails of your videos. There are 3 different options available depending on how big you want these thumb nails to be. I have currently used the email function and the publish videos on the web options. Both of these were really easy as you just drag and drop the video or videos you want to send as an email, type in the email address and click send or drag and drop the videos you want to convert. I have only uploaded videos to Facebook so far so I haven't used the auto upload the MySpace or YouTube options yet. When you want to upload the videos to other websites such as Facebook, Flipshare will convert the videos into .wmv format and puts them into a folder on your desktop which you can name anything you like. The take still photos from your video function is very user friendly as you can stop the video at the desired place and then move frame by frame to get the picture that you want. I did find the photos a little bit fuzzy but they were still viewable. I haven't got around to trying the create movies with titles and music option or the create a DVD of your video function yet but I would imagine that they are just as easy to use. The help section is comprehensive and easy to navigate and the flip website has a fantastic support section if you get stuck with anything. They even have a team of advisors waiting to talk to you via video to help you if you still can't resolve a problem.
When I registered my Flip, I was asked if I wanted a free 2 for 1 family fun days out card sent to me. I don't have children but thought I would say yes as it is free. This card gives 2 for 1 days out at over 200 selected venues such as Flambards, National Seal Sanctuary, paintballing, Royal Marines museum, Camelot theme park and Thomasland (full list available at www.doyouflip.co.co/familyfun). You can use the card as many times as you like until the 31st Dec 2011 and you can even use it to go to the same venue over and over again if you wanted too. The card also entitles you to 1 free lesson in golf, horse riding and football for 5-11 year olds. If you have a family, this card could help you redeem the cost of the Flip without you even realising. It is not redeemable against family tickets or booked parties and you should check with the venue first.
I love my Flip and have it in my pocket now most of the time so I never have to miss out on those golden opportunities. I can't recommend them enough so we have become a 2 Flip family as my 73 year old grandad has bought one after trying my Flip. All of my friends have been impressed with the quality of the videos and the ease of use of the camera. The facility to take still photos would have been an added bonus but I am not greedy.
Summary: I can't live without mine now
|Ease of use:|
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