796 of 885 people found the following review helpful
A Simple Pocket Camcorder Which May Appeal to Some,
This review is from: Flip MinoHD Video Camera - Black, 8 GB, 2 Hours (3rd Generation) (Camera)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)===============================================================================================================================================
===> Please read important updates at the end of this report (the main part is as I wrote it on October 28, 2010) and CONSIDER VERY CAREFULLY before paying more than $20.00 for this 'ORPHAN' (manufacturer no longer in business, product no longer made) camcorder <===
This Flip MinoHD Video Camera - Black, 8 GB, 2 Hours (3rd Generation) NEWEST MODEL is well-constructed and takes decent video and sound. It was offered to me by Amazon Vine and I wanted to obtain it to see why it has been stated that Flip Video 'rules' the pocket camcorder field.
Unfortunately I am very disappointed with this model for the following reasons:
1. It offers only one level of picture quality: 720P [1280 x 720 60fps H.264/AVC with an MP4 file extension]; while this is good, the files obtained are quite large - I took just 143 seconds of video and the total file size is 169.9 MB. A person could convert this to something smaller if desired but that is, at the very least, time-consuming and I think that many persons for whom this camcorder is intended might be intimidated by the necessity of doing this. A choice should be offered as it is on other similarly-priced pocket camcorders.
2. It does not take still pictures. If you have a Microsoft Windows or Mac-equipped computer, you can extract stills from your videos using the free included software - but, again, this is an extra and time-consuming step and may also be intimidating for some.
3. Its USB connector is very badly designed; unless you have one laying about, you MUST purchase an AmazonBasics USB 2.0 A-Male to A-Female Extension Cable (9.8 Feet / 3.0 Meters) or similar. If you attach the camcorder directly to your computer, you will find that the weight of the camcorder puts an inordinate strain on the USB port as well as the USB connector on the camcorder.
4. I appreciate that the camcorder comes with a cloth bag as standard but this bag offers no real protection to the camcorder nor any means of attaching it to a belt or other connection point. The bag could have been much better designed and I'm sure that many, if not most, people will want to buy an after-market case.
---> The following is the most important design defect, in my opinion, and would be a 'deal-breaker' for me:
5. This camcorder uses a built-in rechargeable battery instead of a user-replaceable one. Not only that, its battery life appears to be somewhat short and the camcorder CANNOT be operated when connected to either AC or a USB port (these can be used only for recharging the battery).
I did not know that it came with such a battery prior to ordering it and, had I known, I would NEVER have ordered it!
What does this mean to the user? It means that, if you want to take video for an extended period of time and your battery goes flat, you will have to wait while you recharge it, possibly missing some situations you would have liked to capture.
Just imagine having that happen during the middle of recording a wedding ceremony and reception, or your daughter's first dance recital, or your son's first school play, or your children opening their Christmas presents ...
And don't think "it can't happen to me" - oh yes it can!
I can't stress enough that this is a MAJOR disadvantage and is the main reason for my disappointment with this unit.
In addition, these built-in rechargeable batteries have a finite and relatively short service life, generally about three or four years. After that, you will either have to send the camcorder back to the manufacturer (at a high cost including shipping) for battery replacement or, more likely, you will just discard it.
In other words, after only a few years, you will probably have just an expensive paperweight.
If this were some twenty-dollar 'wonder' the defects I list above might be acceptable (even the short battery life in use; at twenty dollars you could afford to buy two, using one while the other is recharging).
But this camcorder costs TEN TIMES that! And at that price it does not offer good value for money, again in my opinion.
So for whom is this camcorder intended? As it is extremely easy to set up (with few choices to have to consider in its menu) and very easy-to-use when 'filming,' it may be fine for someone's great-grandmother (no offense intended) or for someone who is completely technophobic. A wealthy person could buy one for a small child as a first camcorder. After all, as I stated, it does produce decent video and sound (stereo, by the way).
But at its price it faces formidable competition, two of which I own (both courtesy of Amazon Vine): the Creative Labs Vado HD Pocket Video Camcorder 3rd Generation,120 Minutes (Black) - NEWEST MODEL and the Kodak PlaySport (Zx3) HD Waterproof Pocket Video Camera (Black) NEWEST MODEL. both of which I consider to be five-star products.
Neither of those two have any of the functional shortcomings of the Flip MinoHD; they both feature relatively inexpensive user-replaceable batteries (I have bought spares for both) and you can buy an external charger for them. Thus you can recharge one battery while using the camcorder with the other, something you CANNOT do with this Flip model. (If you are interested in further details about either or both of these two, I refer you to my and others' reviews on Amazon's product detail pages.)
In addition they offer the user a choice of multiple levels of video quality (three levels in the case of the Creative, four with the Kodak). Plus both can take still pictures. And the Creative's low-light performance is exemplary, mostly due, I think, to its very fast f2.0 lens.
The Flip does not use a media card; it holds about two hours of video. The Creative also does not use a media card; via its three quality options, it holds from one to four hours of video (at the Flip's quality level, the Creative also holds about two hours - but with HALF the file size!). The Kodak does use a media card and it is an absolutely necessary option; at the same video quality level as the Flip, a 16 GB SD card holds over four hours and twenty minutes of video. Transferring the video to a computer is easy with all of them; some may find removing an SD card and inserting it into your computer's card reader to be somewhat more convenient than needing to physically attach the entire unit to a USB port, but that's a matter of personal preference and would not affect my own choice in any way (though the necessity of buying an SD card is indeed an extra expense).
At the same level of video quality, the images produced by all three are similar. But, if you wish, you can take full 1080P video with the Kodak. And you can take VGA-format [640 x 480] video with the Creative (this size is appropriate for placing videos on YouTube).
While this Flip Video camcorder has an image stabilization circuit, it appears to do little; the images produced by all three, when taken at the same quality level the Flip offers, are practically the same (except under those low-light situations where the Creative REALLY shines; if low-light performance is important to you, I believe that the Creative Vado is the best one to buy).
You will see a number of videos taken with the Flip MinoHD contained in reviews here; I do not say that this camcorder cannot produce fine videos - it certainly can, but it won't do so for long! Once the battery goes, goodbye Flip! (In the reviews for the other two camcorders you can also see some of their video examples and you will see that there are no real differences in overall picture quality.)
I do like the fact that the controls light up on the Flip when the camcorder is in use - but I wish there were some way to turn off the lights when they're not necessary; they do drain the battery unnecessarily. They would be helpful only at night or in a dark room.
All in all, I find the Flip MinoHD to be an unsatisfactory product, at least for me. In order to make it 'easy to use,' Cisco (Flip) has left off too many features. Since the other two cost no more (when tricked out with recommended accessories), I suggest that anyone interested in such a pocket camcorder investigate them. They are just as easy to use as this Flip but they offer more operational choices for the user should s/he desire to take advantage of them.
While I have purchased many accessories for the Creative and the Kodak (thus bringing their overall price to the same level as the Flip MinoHD with no accessories), I have no intentions of buying anything extra for this Flip as it will become useless in just a few years. (Of course, as I own it and did not pay for it, I'll use it from time to time until it does 'die' completely.)
In conclusion, let me state that, as I said, this camcorder DOES produce excellent quality video with very good sound quality and it IS very easy to use. I think that some people will be completely satisfied with it. HOWEVER for all the functional reasons I mentioned above (especially in comparison with the two lower-priced competitors I own) but primarily because of the fact that a user will NEVER know on any given day whether s/he will have enough power to be able to record all that s/he would want, I am sorry to say that I CANNOT give this Flip camcorder my recommendation. I wish it were otherwise.
Thank you for reading my opinions and I hope they have been of some interest to you.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Tuesday, April 12, 2011
CISCO TO RESTRUCTURE, FLIP SHUTTERED
By Greg Tarr -- TWICE [This Week in Consumer Electronics] Magazine, 4/12/2011
San Francisco - Cisco said Tuesday it will shut down its Flip pocket camcorder operation, just two years after acquiring the one-time disruptive camcorder trendsetter, then called Pure Digital Technology.
In a statement, Cisco said it will exit aspects of its consumer businesses, including the Flip unit.
Cisco CEO John Chambers recently disclosed problems with the company related to slow decisions, among other factors.
Cisco acquired Flip maker Pure Digital Technology in 2009 in a stock deal valued at around $590 million. Since its market entry in 2007, the company had achieved huge market share gains in the competitive digital camcorder category, offering an easy-to-use pocket-sized model that sold at a fraction of the price of competitive offerings.
Though most camcorder makers responded with similar pocket-sized models of their own, the popularity of the diminutive point-and-shoots shaved even more margin from a category that was already compressed by price competition.
As part of the restructuring, Cisco said it will cut about 550 jobs.
===> I recommend that even those who are still interested in this model do NOT pay any amount near full price. It and its manufacturer are now "orphans" and service, if any is available after a year or two, will be increasingly difficult to find and it will be expensive; this is my opinion.
Frankly, also in my opinion, this camcorder is now worth about twenty dollars and, at that price, purchasing two of them would not be imprudent. But I myself wouldn't pay even one cent more.
As I state in my review, I think that most people would be better served by the Kodak or Creative models I mention.
I again thank everyone who has read and considered my remarks.
A SECOND IMPORTANT UPDATE: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
===> Here is the latest press release from Cisco (Flip):
FLIP TRANSITION PLANS EMERGE
By Greg Tarr -- TWICE [This Week in Consumer Electronics], 4/25/2011
San Francisco - Cisco issued a statement Friday outlining its transition plans supporting its Flip camcorder business, which is being shut down.
A company spokesman told TWICE that "account teams are meeting with our channel partners to discuss the transition plan and selling inventory."
According to a statement posted on the company's website, "Cisco will continue its focus and commitment to deliver best in class solutions that extend the network as a platform, from businesses into the home through its Linksys products and consumer TelePresence solutions."
As for Flip, the company "will continue to provide technical support for Flip video cameras until Dec. 31, 2013 and Flip cameras will be available through our online and in-store retail partners as well as our Flip store while supplies last."
The company said it will continue to support consumers who purchased a Flip camera within the terms of its 1-year warranty. Issues not covered by the warranty or that are beyond the warranty period will continue to supported "for a nominal fee" until Dec 31, 2013.
E-support will also continue to be complimentary and available until that date.
Details and updates about support, service and the warranty policy are posted on the company web site.
The FlipShare software service will continue to be fully functional and will be supported until Dec. 31, 2013.
After that time Cisco will no longer support the application online though it may remain functional as software for offloading videos, editing, organizing and archiving.
Additionally, video sharing will no longer be supported past Dec. 31, 2013.
The company said it will continue selling Flip cameras through online and in-store retailers as well as through the Flip store, while supplies last.
Orders for customized Flip models will also remain available for a limited time on the Flip website.
===> Now isn't that 'nice' of them? December 31, 2013. They'll support a one hundred fifty plus dollar item for two and one-half years. After that, you're on your own.
Twenty dollars: that would be my firm target price for this camcorder. Twenty dollars and one cent? Nuts! Twenty dollars and not a cent more should be the firm close-out price. To me that would be all it would be worth. (I'm sorry for Amazon and other retail dealers who have paid full wholesale price for this unit. I should HOPE that Cisco will compensate them fully - but I'll bet they won't!)
If you buy it at that close-out price and it breaks (after the warranty period), you could afford to just throw it away; I certainly would not pay Cisco's 'nominal fee' for any repairs.
You may feel differently about this model and this brand and it is your right to do so. But I suggest that ANYONE considering ANY Flip model camcorder think long and hard about buying an 'orphan.' If you can get it 'cheap,' well, if that's what you want, go ahead. But I recommend that NO ONE should pay 'serious' money for these products.
Other manufacturers make better (in my opinion) camcorders and, especially in the case of Creative and (hopefully) Kodak, they will be around for quite some time to support their products.
Thanks again for reading this and for considering my opinions.
Update: March 2, 2013
If you buy one of these now, you are taking a big chance. This camcorder, indeed all Flip items, has not been manufactured for almost two years now. This means that if you buy one "new," the battery will have been sitting there uncharged for almost two years.
It's pot-luck as to whether or not the camcorder will even power on, much less function for any reasonable length of time.
Tracked by 6 customers
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Showing 1-10 of 67 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 15, 2010 1:13:43 PM PST
Comments 4 and 5 are right on. Comment 4: There should be some type of built in cover over the lens for protection. A pocket camera is easy to have smudges from things in pants pocket or purse. Comment 5: The built in rechargeable battery is annoying. My original Flip took 4 aa batteries. It was easy to keep 4 spares in purse or car so there is NO STRESS wondering if the battery was still charged to get important family moments.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2010 8:29:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2010 8:34:57 PM PST
Thank you for your comment. Obviously I feel the same way and am very disappointed in the design of this product.
You're quite right about the lens protection; while the soft cloth case may offer some protection, it is a bit difficult to remove the camcorder (or any other product) from such tight-fitting soft cloth cases (I dislike them in general) and it is even more difficult to replace the camcorder back into its case.
It is quite easy, however, to put your finger on the lens while trying to do either.
For those who do buy this camcorder, I recommend an extra-cost case which would offer much better protection (Amazon offers many choices), but I myself have no intention of buying one because of the 'battery' reason I mentioned in my review.
Thank you again for writing.
Posted on Nov 16, 2010 9:49:44 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 16, 2010 9:52:39 AM PST]
Posted on Nov 24, 2010 8:40:17 AM PST
I think 4 and 5 are important to note, but re:
4) Cameras don't come with cases generally, and the sock can be viewed as a giant "lens cover" and nothing more. I wouldn't hold it against the company for not providing something more substantive.
5) Considering the intended audience is probably of the iPod set, a non-removable battery might not be that big a deal. I think many in that set see electronics as disposable - again proper to note in a review but I am not sure others will see it as a deal killer.
After getting and reviewing my unit, I don't really see the hype. I personaly think the money is better spent on a pocketable camera (e.g. Canon SD1400IS) as they do so much much at roughly the same size and cost. But as many other reviewers have noted with the Flip your are intentionally "paying for less".
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2010 2:36:21 PM PST
I don't hold it against Cisco/Flip for providing the cloth lens case; I did say that, in my opinion, it should have been better designed. That is what I am criticizing. You cannot attach it to your belt, belt-hook, or pocketbook strap. and it offers no real protection for the camcorder. What are you supposed to do with it? Furthermore, when trying to remove the camcorder from this case, it is much too easy to put your finger on the lens. Some people reading that the Flip comes with a case may think that's a good thing. I think most, if not all, purchasers will be disappointed with this one. I certainly am.
It is also my opinion that a non-removable battery in a $200.00 item is very poor design. I won't buy products designed that way unless there is nothing else comparable. GPS units are notable examples of such products with non-replaceable batteries; there are none of which I'm aware which have user-replaceable batteries. But nowadays you can buy a good GPS for less than $150.00 - during some sales for less than $100.00 - so that it is not too onerous to just discard them after their battery dies. (While I did buy a "lifetime" map update for my Garmin nuvi 255W, I'll never buy that sort of thing again. As maps change slowly, it is much better to discard an older GPS after several years especially in view of the fact that you would have to pay almost as much to have the battery replaced as it costs to buy a new unit!) To have to send an item such as this camcorder back to the manufacturer (or a third-party service station) just to have the battery replaced is, to me, a deal-breaker. After all, such battery-replacement costs are not insignificant.
But if you read the title of my review, you will see that it says that this camcorder "may appeal to some." I'm sure there will be people who do not mind (or do not think about) battery replacement down the road.
But I do.
I do thank you for writing and I appreciate your comments very much. They are, of course, as valid as mine. And you're right when you say a small pocketable camera is a much better buy. If I were actually buying something of this sort (remember, I got all of mine free from Amazon Vine), that's what I would buy.
Posted on Nov 26, 2010 9:08:32 PM PST
K. Snyder says:
I seriously think you will want to upgrade before the fours years it takes for the battery to fail. If this camcorder lasts me two years I feel it's a good deal. Did you know TMZ gives these to their staff to use with their pro Sony cameras? yes they do.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2010 8:27:56 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2010 8:19:02 AM PST
Dear K. Snyder,
Regarding your comment: On this we're going to have to agree to disagree. Perhaps I am from the old school but when I buy a product I expect it to LAST, not to have to be 'upgraded' in just a few years. Certainly for a product like this one - all it does is take 'home movies' - the desire for 'upgrading' is not a good option, in my opinion. If you 'upgraded' after two years, this camcorder would have cost you $100.00 per year and, if you 'upgraded' (for perhaps another $200.00), what would your money have bought? 'Better' home movies? Frankly, I doubt that.
We seem to live in a throwaway society in which value for money (and that includes longevity of a product) does not seem to matter to many people.
But it does to me.
When I buy something, I buy it in the hope that it is a quality product, one which will perform well not only today but also well into the future.
I want my money's worth.
To have to send a product to the manufacturer just to replace the battery (at an inordinately high cost) is at best a major inconvenience and is also a downright nuisance. Other manufacturers make replacement (spare) batteries available at reasonable costs; so should Cisco/Flip.
I wonder how long it will be before Flip states that they no longer have the battery in stock and that your otherwise operational camcorder will be only a paperweight? This possibility alone makes it impossible for me to like or recommend this product.
I do thank you for reading my opinions and for commenting on them. I hope that, at least, I have given you some food for thought.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2010 9:25:21 PM PST
K. Peter Kahuda says:
So Lawrence, how long do you keep your cell phones or other "leading edge" techno gizmos? Or maybe you are still using your rotary dial phone because you can't kill it? How about reviewing a product for it's intended purpose? In less time than you expect the battery to last on this thing, and incidently, you are wrong about the short time, since LIION batteries are very robust (they are guaranteed for 10 years by car manufacturers in their Hybrid cars) this thing will be obsoleted about 6 times over.
Sorry, while I understand you are trying to be fair, and give your opinion on this product, you need to be fair to the manufacturer, and look at typical life cycles of these types of things, and make the review fit the intended use. After all, you are not reviewing a cast iron stove. BTW, before you think that I am some kid from the "throw away generation", let me tell you that I am 62 years old. Oh, and btw, my Garmin was bought in 2003, has had two map upgrades, but still runs the original internal batteries.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2010 5:54:43 AM PST
Mark Bartee says:
My Garmin gps's battery died when it was exactly 2 years old. I never subjected it to extreme heat or cold and always gave it proper care meaning, never letting the battery go dead. It died anyway--in 2 years!
None-replaceable battery products create needless polution. They fill up land fills and additional polution is created replacing them--Not to mention the additional monetary costs, time and aggravation.
Just because the technology advances quickly does not mean that a 2 - 4 year old camera is of no value. Old cameras can be sold or donated. Just because the camera is a little outdated doesn't mean it would not make someone else very happy. Owners of old Flip camera could actually save money--imagine that!
When a Flip is discarded because of a dead battery, Cisco reaps the benefits. Not only does the consumer have to purchase a new one, but if the Flips are discarded, the new ones won't have to compete (so much) with the price of used Flips.
Folks, it's all about money! Hold on to it tightly!
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2010 1:26:57 PM PST
Dear Mr. Kahuda,
I am sorry that my review (my opinions) angered you such that you felt you needed to make what I believe are sarcastic comments (and I apologize to you if that was not your intent).
Nonetheless, I shall try to address your comments.
I believe that I AM being fair to the manufacturer (Cisco/Flip). The Flip has a non-replaceable battery. Both the Creative and the Kodak feature user-replaceable batteries (and the Creative's battery lasts much longer on a charge than does the Flip's).
Even if you discount the fact that these 'built-in' batteries have a finite life, what will you do with the camera, say, when you're trying to video your child's sporting event or something similar and the battery goes flat? If you are using the Creative or the Kodak, you merely swap batteries. With the Flip? You're out of luck. You might say that a person should make sure that the camcorder is fully charged before using it - but some events last quite a long time, longer than the Flip's battery will (at least in my experience with it).
And while you are correct in saying that batteries in hybrid cars are guaranteed for eight or ten years, the batteries in consumer products such as this one have not shown such longevity in use. How long does your laptop's computer battery last? In my own experience they can last from about two to five years and then they must be replaced. (They 'die' much faster if they are used constantly.)
But at least you can replace computer batteries yourself. (And you can buy relatively inexpensive replacement batteries from third-party sources.) You cannot do so with this Flip camcorder. I do not know how much Cisco/Flip will charge for battery replacement, but I'd be willing to bet it will be plenty. (And postage is not inexpensive these days - and it is bound to go up.)
When I write a review (again, they are only my opinions) I try to explain the way I think. While I do not use a rotary phone any more (those were the days! You know those phones NEVER broke!), both my wife and I still have our first (and only) cell phones (purchased in 2006). They are just phones. They work. We do not need or want anything more and we'll continue to use them until they 'die.' (By the way, both of them have user-replaceable batteries and we have replaced them once each.)
When I buy something I first look for usefulness for a particular purpose; the Flip fails on this count due to the reason I outlined in my review and mentioned above: what do you do when you're 'filming' something important to you and the battery goes flat?
Next I look for good construction qualities. The Flip certainly passes this test - but then so do the Creative and the Kodak.
Finally I try to determine whether the product will last a long time and offer good value for money. You already know my opinion on that score.
Regarding '"leading edge" techno gizmos' - I keep them a LONG time. I had a video projector in my home theater for seventeen years before it had to be replaced. I bought expensive high-fidelity amplification equipment THIRTY YEARS AGO - and not only does the equipment still function as it did when new, I have still not heard anything which surpasses it. (I have bought newer additional audio and video components since then, always 'high end' for my main systems, because if one buys wisely, that equipment will LAST and ultimately will cost far less than cheaper equipment which has to be replaced much more quickly.)
I want good value for my dollar. Do I succeed in getting it all the time? Certainly not! But I think I do so more than the average person (with no slight intended) because I am careful in what I buy.
Amazon Vine, of which I am a member, offers products free of charge; members are obligated to write honest reviews, to the best of their ability, about the products they receive. Because the number of each particular product offered is limited, one has to place an order very quickly, often without having the opportunity to investigate the product thoroughly (otherwise you won't get it!). This camcorder looked interesting at first glance and I know that Flip is quite popular. That is why I ordered it.
Had I actually purchased it and seen that it has this built-in battery, with all its disadvantages (in my opinion), I should have returned it immediately.
If you do not mind those (what I believe to be) disadvantages, it is certainly your prerogative to buy this camcorder. After all, YOUR opinion is as valid as mine! (And, at this point, who knows? Maybe its battery WILL last ten years - but I wouldn't put any money on that!)
But I myself cannot and will not recommend it. I DO recommend (highly) those two others (and, by the way, the Creative WAY outperforms the Flip in low-light situations, just another reason why I like it better - AND the Kodak is unparalleled in bad-weather conditions or if you wish to take underwater video).
I hope this comment will clarify my thoughts on my reviews, not only of this particular item, but also of ANY technological item I happen to review.
I apologize again if I offended you in any way - it was certainly not my intent - but I do thank you very much for reading my review and for taking the time to write to me.