If I'm going to spend more than a hundred bucks on an item or somewhere around there, I do extensive research first to know I got the best bang-for-the-buck and, consequently, dodge any potential future buyer's remorse.
I've realized that the time I spend doing my product comparisons is often time that others don't have so I may as well share what I can.
I'll start by saying that you'll see my "Verified Amazon Purchase" on the Flip HD Ultra Camcorder review because, obviously, that's the one I wound up buying and I'll share with you why. But what I like in a camcorder may not suit your own needs so I'll break it down and let you decide what's best for you via what I found out:
Here are the pocket camcorders I compared:
Flip UltraHD (will be referred to as "F")
Flip Mino HD 2nd generation (Will be referred to as "M")
Creative Labs Vado HD 8 GB 2nd generation (Will be referred to as "CL")
Kodak Zi6 Pocket HD (Will be referred to as "K")
Why HD cameras only? Brighter colors and better images, wider images
HD SHOOTING TIME:
F: 120 minutes.
M: 120 minutes
K: 25 minutes with batteries they included, 120 minutes if you buy an SD card
F: 8 GB
CL: 8 GB
K: internally only 30 MB recording space but it has 32 GB expandable SD/SDHC card slot. Because it comes with such small recording space you really need to buy an SD or SDHC card to maximize its potential, but the potential is really good and this will increase your ability to shoot longer.
All 720p which is excellent, just one step below the top 1080p format.
M: Mono **Update** They are now putting Stereo Mics in the Minos as of 2010.
F:Premier AAC audio. Best stereo sound quality but still not great in winds
M:Good sound quality. Still not good in winds.
CL:Poor sound quality; had issues with sound and picture not being in sync.
K:Poor sound quality
K: poor quality zoom on the one I tried but I still think it's 2x. It has a great macro focus for very close-up objects if, for example, you see a bumble bee and want to shoot it on a leaf a few inches away! Kinda cool.
CAMERA SIZE AND WEIGHT:
F: 4.3x2.2x1.2 4 oz
M: 3.9x2x0.6 3. 3 oz
CL: 3.9x3x0.6 3.5 oz
K: 5.5x184.108.40.206 5.6 oz
SHIPPING SIZE AND WEIGHT:
F: 6.2 x 3.1 x 3.1 inches ; 11.2 ounces
M: 2 x 0.7 x 3.9 inches ; 1 pound
CL: 3.3 x 7.9 x 6.3 inches ; 11.2 ounces
K: 4x 5x 2.5" 2.4 lbs
F: USB cable pops out of the back so you don't need to keep up with a separate cable. Comes with Flip Video rechargeable AA battery pack (recharges when connected to USB); also supported by standard AA batteries. Note: Some sets come with the HDMi mini included and others come with the rechargeable battery pack on Amazon. Looks like one or the other but of course if you need both you can buy the other.
M: USB cable pops out of the back on this one as well. Has child safe button to prevent accidental deletion of videos. Internal lithium ion battery recharges through built-in USB arm
CL: USB in camcorder. Included in box are HDMI cable (nice), USB extension cable,(nice)silicon skin (cool) & rechargeable battery.
K: Included in box are HD and AV cables and wrist strap and rechargeable batteries and battery charger. Has built in USB arm.
F: 30 frames per second.
M: 30 frames per second
CL: 30 frames per second
K: choice of 30 frames per second or 60 frames per second.
VIEWING SCREEN: All 2" except the Kodak was the largest at 2.4"
F: Best low-light performance for the mini cameras (though not perfect at all) and least amount of blurring and dropped frames in my opinion. Best color. Only one with stereo sound. You can get an underwater case for this one! Though that may sound crazy for a Texan, we use the camera non-stop on vacations and even when we aren't IN the water, we are around the water...on boats, in the sand with sea mist, etc. Then we can dive in and record the fish. Comes preloaded with flipshare software...just plug in to computer and it pops up. Only one with stereo sound.
M: Colors don't appear as good on the Mino as the other cameras. Thinnest camera. Make sure you get the one that only comes in the color aluminum or brushed metal. If it comes in any other colors it is the 1st generation MinoHD and they improved upon that one in the newer models. Great audio. Better shooting in low light than most mini cameras. Camera comes preloaded with FlipShare software. Can get still images through flipshare software.
CL: Decent filming in low light but not nearly as good as the Ultra or Mino; Software is preloaded in camcorder.
K: This is the only camera that I compared without the built in image stabilizatin which corrects for shaky images. What appears to be metal in picture is actually a chrome colored plastic. That said, this had the largest viewing screen of all of them. 2.4" Very poor in low light and seemed to have far more shaking and blurring. It also takes still pictures but they are really really poor quality...same as a lesser-quality cell phone pictures but good in a pinch if you want a still shot and have no cell or camera I s'pose. Heaviest for a pocket camera. Software is not preloaded in camcorder but a cd comes with it.
HOW CNET'S EDITORS RATED THE CAMERAS:
CL Very Good
K Very Good
And, finally, the reviews of the Flip from experts swayed me quite a bit:
Fast Company: "Flip Ultra HD is Pure Digital's "Best Pocket Camcorder Yet." 6-09
USA Today: "New Flip Ultra Video Cameras Might Flip Your Switch" 4-09
Business Week: How do you Invigorate a Recession? Look to i-phone, Flip, Kindle, and Zip Car For Answers
There were lootttts more I came across when researching the Flip Ultra HD but those are some of my favorites.
CONCLUSION: Clearest picture and sound was important to me, expert reviews that pointed to the Flip UltraHD as well and I liked the built in software and the case I can get to shoot underwater. It is the number one selling camcorder as well. So that was my personal decision-making process. However, keep in mind that if you need reading glasses none of that will matter if the 2" screen is too small for your viewing the shots easily for playback in which case you may wish to get the Kodak if that's important to you..
Also: No matter which one you get, you will probably want a mini tripod if you ever want to be in the shot yourself do don't forget those.
Also note: It's confusing because when these manufacturers make changes in the camcorders, they do not change the names on the new versions, nor do they change the names if it's an HD version or a non-HD version so be sure you look for the "HD" after the brand name and look for "2nd generation" or "newer version" on the Mino and Vado if you like one of those better so you don't get the older models.
Hope my obsessive comparing and contrasting for my own purchasing assistance helped you as well even if what you wanted in a camera was different from me. :-)
on May 7, 2009
I previously owned the Flip MinoHD so this review is based on a comparison between the Flip MinoHD and the new Flip UltraHD.
After reading about the Flip UltraHD's addition of an HDMI output, larger screen, and longer battery life I decided to sell my 4 month old Flip MinoHD and purchase the Flip UltraHD. Since the MinoHD is very sleek and diminutive in size, my first reaction to the UltraHD was that it was quite a bit larger and bulkier to hold, and has taken some time to get used to. However, unless you've used a MinoHD the larger size of the UlraHD will probably be less noticeable. I found the camera controls on the UltraHD to be slightly easier to operate vs. the touch sensitive buttons on the MinoHD. As far as video quality between the two, I compared two different videos and both are about the same, however, the colors appear to be slightly more vibrant with the UltraHD.
If you are trying to decide which one to purchase, if maximum portability is important to you than the MinoHD is the better choice. Otherwise, if you're looking compact camcorder with more features (HDMI output, replaceable batteries, longer record time) then you can't go wrong with the UltraHD.
My ultimate wish is for Pure Digital/Cisco to introduce a MinoHD with all of same functionality as the UltraHD. Until then, the UltraHD is the all-around better choice.
on May 2, 2009
So when I was 17 (and convinced that I would someday be famous) I really wanted a video camcorder to try my hand at making movies, or to film myself to see whether I had what it took to be a TV reporter, but never could justifying spending $500+ on one. Over the years I moved onto other tech cravings and ambitions. Then last year a friend showed me the Flip Mino - and I had to have one. It was super easy to use and fun, and I started getting great videos of my own kids - and captured moments that otherwise would have been fleeting, including my youngest child's first steps. I wish this had been around when I was a kid. Anyway, the Mino is great, but it's tiny tiny tiny. That's convenient when it comes to having a camcorder on you at all times, or when trying to get into events that prohibit cameras, and the screen is really small. So I just picked up this new Flip - the Ultra HD. The screen is wonderfully large. It comes with a rechargeable AA battery back, which works through the USB, but it looks like you can throw in regular AA batteries in a pinch. Sound quality is great, video seems even better than the Mino. Only drawback with both the Mino and Ultra is you have to keep your hand steady when filming - but I find that easier to do with the Ultra than the Mino. Also, it's not ideal for filming kids' concerts, because the zoom is only 2x. But for capturing otherwise fleeting moments in great quality, the Ultra HD is now my standby. The software that comes with it makes it easy to email videos to family and friends, or to upload a video to Flickr or wherever. Bottom line is I've been carrying this thing around nonstop since I got it. Hasn't made me famous yet, but I love my Ultra.
on May 2, 2009
Originally I went in to Best Buy to pick up a Mino HD so I could record studio and location "behind the scenes" photography shoots for my business. The employee I spoke to handed this to me saying "it doesn't come out for another week, but its cheaper than the Mino that is on sale". It was a no-brainer for me to pick up.
Its a nice little unit; compact, fits in my back pocket if needed, and the controls are very basic - click da big red button to record. Click da big red button again to stop. Simplicity at its finest.
I love that the unit has a USB built right in, but I still use a USB extension because I'm using an iMac, and since it ends up hanging upside down, I don't want to add stress to the USB prong.
I haven't used the built-in editing software, as I'm importing my files into iMovie and editing from that.
Quality wise, I'd say is pretty darn good considering its about the size of a box of Necco valentine sweet-hearts candy. However, I must insist that it is to be used as a stationary "fixed" lens, and not to use the digital zoom. Once that digital zoom is used, the quality, like *any* digital zoom, suffers greatly. To circumvent this, I've super-glued a step-down ring to the front of my Ultra HD so I can screw on a wide angle and a telephoto lens. If you don't mind Frankenstein-ing your Ultra HD, then go for it.
I haven't done much low-light shooting with it, but I have a feeling that it could get somewhat noisy and grainy. I'll see more results soon when I start using this inside the studio.
I'll be mainly using my Ultra HD on a tripod to record behind-the-scenes footage of my photography sessions, so I'll have a way of keeping the camcorder static and not moving around a lot.
Overall, I feel this is greatly worth the $199 I paid. You have to remember that this is a dinky little device with a tiny sensor in it, so the quality won't be as good as a larger dedicated video camera, or one of the newer DSLR's with the built in high-def. Apples to Oranges.
With a little extra cash and some super-glue, you can get more reach and wide angle out of the unit.
Great little unit. Don't come in to this expecting a goose that lays golden eggs. For what it is, it does well.
:: edit - people have been asking about the wide-angle mod you can do. I picked up a Sunpak 37mm .5x video camera lens that comes with a set of step-up/step-down rings. I glued one of the rings around the lens on the Ultra, let it dry, and it allows me to screw the wide angle lens over the existing lens. I picked the wide angle lens up at Best Buy. Can't find a link here for the item.
on June 15, 2009
Flip UltraHD Camcorder, 120 Minutes (White)
The good: I have no problems with this camcorder, great price, picture and easy to use.
The bad: I'm having problems with charging the Ultra HD and have had similar problems with the Mino HD. Basically, I was charging the Ultra HD on the optional wall charger (approx 30 mins) and the light started blinking rapidly. I thought the unit was charged and started recording my daughter with it, 30 minutes later the Ultra died. This time I started charging the unit again, but attached to an extension cord so I could see the screen. 30 minutes later the same thing happens again, light blinks and the unit makes a few rapid beeping sounds. I look on the screen and it states battery overheated, charging paused. I let it sit for about and hour and came back to notice the message was still on the screen. I exchanged the unit the next day after the errors for a new unit and wall unit, and got the same results. I even spoke with my friends and pointed out the errors and they started charging their units with the face up and noticed that ALL of their units were having the same errors as well (ALL 8 of my friends!!)
When I contacted FLIP about the issue the CSR stated that she was flooded with similar calls. Bottom line....People just don't know that these errors are happening because the unit charges with the screen down so you can't see the errors.
I'm not sure if ALL units are having this problem, but it seems like it's a lot more widespread and missed due to the fact the unit charges face down on wall charger and USB laptop port....
Hopefully FLIP will recognize this and correct this....
FYI.. Just exchanged my unit for th Mino HD and have the same problems...
on May 9, 2009
Like many reviewers here I had the MinoHD and ordered the UltraHD because I really wanted the swappable battery feature and the extra 4GB of memory on the UltraHD. The MinoHD is thinner and overall sexier, but I was surprised when I found myself fancying the Ultra much better than the Mino.
* The larger screen does make a difference and it was much easier to shoot with than the Mino. Although bulkier, the Ultra felt sturdier and more solid, but it doesn't fit really well in the packaged micofiber case. Since the Ultra also has a rubberized body it makes it that much harder to the device in and out of the pouch. I'm looking into a separate case.
* Actual buttons more clearly define your actions when using the Ultra, whereas I found myself accidentally pressing the touch buttons on the Mino. The presence of real buttons was actually better.
* I also found the on/off button much easier to use than the Mino. The Ultra button was easy to push while the Mino required a more firm push to turn it on. While it doesn't sound like much, it did impact my ability to quickly turn on each device.
* Lastly, the color on the Ultra is better. I was able to take many side-by-side clips and the Ultra exhibited better colors than the Mino. It also performed mildly better in low light; that's not saying a lot. I wish these things would come with a WB option like what they offer with DSLRs.
* Definitely look into a USB extension since the bulkiness of the Ultra raises the unit from sliding into the USB port in a flush manner. The Mino was no problem.
For me, the UltraHD is my preferred choice over the MinoHD.
on May 5, 2009
I think people that rate the Flip negatively need to realize its target audience. I mean, if you want lots of features and professional quality, you shouldn't even be looking at the Flip. Spend your $1000 and buy a nice Canon HD camcorder. Then lug the thing around.
But, if you want a simple to use, good quality HD camcorder(and yes 720p is HD...just ask ABC TV), with very easy to use software, then buy this.
I did, for my wife, and she loves it. Where as our nice Sony camcorder just sits in the closet, she will actually carry this Flip around with her.
on May 21, 2009
I was a huge Flip fan. I used the original for quite some time. I patiently waited for the new era of HD capable pocket cams to grow and progress. I waited for Flip to release theirs and then it finally happened. Sadly though, by then, the other vendors had not only caught up, but surpassed the FLIP.
I owned the Flip HD Ultra for about a week before I returned it. And here's why.
You can now get full point-and-shoot cameras from vendors like Canon that are smaller than the flip and yet also shoot HD video! So you get the joys of having high quality photos plus HD video!
The other Flip defeating feature of these new Canons...OPTICAL STABILIZER. Gone is the "shaky" jello vision you get with Flips recordings. Plus the better optics and DIGIC4 in the Canon produced a much richer looking video.
The final nail in the coffin...the Canons have ZOOM. While you can't use the optical zoom in the Canons while shooting video you can use the digital. And the Canons digital zoom is far cleaner. Also, if you know you are going to be shooting video from a far then you CAN use the optical zoom to zoom in all the way FIRST, then switch to video mode and start recording! So you take advantage of the 3x optical zoom and either use the digital to get even closer or just ignore it and go for max picture quality. Brilliant. (the Flip does have digital zoom too, but only dZoom)
The Canon does all this while being smaller, as easy to use, and only $50 more than the Flip. That $50 gets you a MUCH better media experience.
Trust me, watching your videos with the optical stabilizer is a MUCH better than the shaker/jittery look the Flip achieves. That single feature itself makes it worth the extra money. But of course you get a great photo camera too!
Flip needs to go back to it's engineers and make some serious improvements if they wish to retain customers.
on July 17, 2009
OK, so I did A LOT of research and pulled the trigger on the Ultra HD for all the good reasons: 2HRs, Removable batt, easy to use, reputation, etc. I received the camera yesterday, put the battery pack in, and just like all the reviews said, it was really cool, took video of my baby, downloaded to computer, created movie, sent to father in law across the pond, all in less than 20 min from oppening package.
So far my review would be 5 Stars Awsome product....And then I try to charge it....and the flashing red light comes on and the screen says "CHECK BATTERY PACK, CHARGING PAUSED" after quick look up, sure enough, it is a VERY COMMON problem.
It will be promptly returned. I'm thinking I will get the new Samsung comming out this fall, sounds promising, will see. So in conclussion, yes great little cammera, works like a charm, but you can't charge it. And while I suppose I could use external rechargeables, that is not the point, I paid hard earned money for this, it should work and work well, Flip needs to own up to the problem and make good on it. This is a problem of Quality Control.
Update: Rate 4 to 5 Stars
In my first review I rated this product a one based on problems charging the unit. It was like the proverbial light bulb going on in my head: I was plugging the unit to a peripheral USB port, I plugged it in to the USB in front of the tower, and it charged, no problems. I said I would return the unit based on this problem, well problem solved, so I kept the unit. I did contact Flip and they did respond within 24 hours. Their solution to the problem was very weak. I don't think they even have a clue. Try this, try that....WHAT???
Now that I have used it a bit:
Function: I have had no problems with the camcorder, works as advertized.
Yes, I wish it was smalller, yes the company probably could make it smaller, but they don't, it is not horribly bulky, it will fit in your pants pocket.
Very pleased, As easy as theese things can get. I have taken numerous clips of my kids and e-mailed them to family and friends, posted to Facebook, and even created two Flip Channels. A little slow uploading, but that may be my system, it is a bit underpowered.
Quality of video:
Not bad, could be better. You get what you pay for. Does not have Image Stabilization...Don't start whining about this, you need this feature, buy another camera. Really wish there was even a cheap light source included, forget about recording in dark environments.
Great product, works as advertized, Amazon Rocks. If you need more recording time and the option to change batteries on the fly, choose this one. If you don't think you need more than 60 minutes and the battery is not an issue, get the Mino. If you need or want Image stabilization, Lighting, Zoom, etc: Stop whinning and buy a real camcorder. If you don't like the choices given, don't buy the darn thing!!!