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Flip Ultra Video Camera - White, 1 GB, 30 Minutes (1st Generation)
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- Simple to use, pocket-sized camcorder with one-touch recording and digital zoom
- Holds 30 minutes of full VGA-quality video on 1GB of built-in memory; no tapes or additional memory cards required
- Convenient USB arm plugs directly into your computer for easy viewing and sharing
- Built-in software lets you easily e-mail videos, upload to YouTube and AOL, and capture still photos from video
- Watch videos instantly on TV with included cable
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|Item Dimensions||4.17 x 2.16 x 1.25 inches|
|Media Format Digital Video||Flash Card|
|Media Type||Flash card|
|Optical Sensor Resolution||5.6 MP|
|Optical Sensor Technology||CMOS|
|Shipping Weight||1 pound|
|Video Capture Format||mpeg-4|
The Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder is a revolutionary new way to shoot and share videos. Its portable, simple-to-use design makes it incredibly easy to create high quality home movies. The camcorder's built-in software provides a convenient, seamless way to save and share memories: email videos, make custom movies, capture still photos from video clips, and upload videos directly to popular video-sharing sites, including AOL Video and YouTube. Flip Video Ultra is the ideal, affordable choice for capturing everyday moments that happen anywhere, and sharing them with family and friends everywhere. This next-generation version of the original Flip Video line features a new sleeker design, premium no-glare LCD screen, and improved video and audio quality. Flip Video Ultra comes with a TV connector cable, wrist strap, soft carrying case, two AA batteries, and a quick start guide. Specs: Flip Video Ultra incorporates 1GB of built-in flash memory which holds up to 30 minutes of 30-frame per second full VGA-quality MPEG-4 video. Compatible with Windows XP SP2 and Vista; Macintosh OS X 10.3.9 or later. Computer connection via integrated USB Port.
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I read a reviewer of another model of the Flip saying he needed an extra part to hook up his USB, I don't know what he was using but you don't need any middleman if you have a current USB port. Of course it might have been that he didn't feel comfortable with the camera sort of weighing itself down a bit when you have the USB attached to a tower. I'm using mine with a laptop which is on a table so the camera can rest comfortably on it. He might have gotten a USB extension so that he could set his down if he was using a desktop computer. I did try the flip out in my desktop and I did have to make sure that the dog didn't jump around it as it does feel sort of vulnerable, but I will mainly use it in my laptop.
After you have it in your USB port, you will then go to "my computer" and see a new blue icon (unless you're Mac, you'll see a folder for you instead), click it and it installs the program - which seems to run on the stick alone, not taking up any space on your system, although it does put a small encoder on your system.
(Side note: - I did try to click "explore" before I installed the program to see if I could just drag the videos directly to my desktop by passing the program, and while you can save them, you can't see the videos). You have to go through the program to save them to your computer and be viewed properly.
So after you have installed the program, click "flipvideo" from your "my computer", then click "Flip Video for PC.exe" to open the program. It's very simple, you will see your videos and on the left you'll see a "save video" tab, here you can select what video(s) you want to move to your hard drive and then click the save button - they call it saving to your library, they will ask you to name a library, which will end up being a folder that holds your videos, which you will find in your documents as "My Flip Video Library".
After you have done this, you can then open them normally (outside of the program using just a player). They will be saved as AVIs.
They also have a "share video" section where you can upload your movies straight to Youtube, AOL or any video sharing website. Sounds good, but I haven't tried it yet. Now you can make a "movie mix" which is basically adding an effect to your video (slowed down in black and white or cartoon fish floating about etc. - no editing). It's very (very) simple, but it's cute.
They include a little plug that connects your Flip straight to your TV. Use your remote to find your 'line', 'input' or 'source' button to find it, click a few times, you'll see the first still of your video when you've got it right. Then hit play, now it wasn't clear in the instructions, but you want to hit play on your Flip (not the TV), to watch your video on your television and it looks great!
They also have an option to 'save for email' - if you do this it will save the videos into a folder "Flip videos for emailing" on your desktop that you can then send as attachments. When I did this it sped up the sound (think Mickey and Minnie) while the footage remained at normal speed (now don't worry, this doesn't happen when you save the videos to your computer as discussed above). This is probably a compression problem, but we can't fix it in their program, so I won't be using that option again - I'll stick to the 'save to library' option. It also does this for the ecard videos. There is an option to send the video as an ecard with cute little borders around them, recipients are sent a link to see the card, but again when played the sound is sped up.
In spite of that (cuz it's worth it), I have found my video camera, it's so small and light, there are no plugs or cords, it takes great videos, no tracers, no little pixel smudges and the lighting is great. I took one outside at dusk and it looks nice. This thing records twice as long as my bulky handycam and I don't have to format any disks or plug in a bunch of stuff. The picture quality of the Ultra Flip videos is really amazing, my other cameras (handycam, Creative labs, the onboard Vaio and VIJE) do not hold a candle to the Flips quality. I'll be using it for video projects. I am very happy with the Ultra Flip and will be bringing it along with me for a family visit. I recommend it! Yes, I flipped for it!
NEW UPDATE ADDITION (11/15/07): Just an update for you here, after I wrote this review I did run the flip on some other systems and it did not have the problem. I only had the problem on my custom Hypersonic PC laptop which runs windows XP. The computers that had no problems were: A Boxx desktop running Windows XP pro, and a Sony Vaio laptop running Vista, and just today I tested the flip on a Dell desktop running XP home which also had no problems.
-And, a big AND here, after I ran the flip on the first two working machines (the Sony and the Boxx) a few times (using the export and email functions), suddenly it worked on the "bad" Hypersonic laptop. It seemed to have jolted it to work? I don't know why. Since that time I have had continued success on the Hypersonic.
-An engineer from Pure Digital (the makers of the Flip) emailed me after reading my review and we had an extensive exchange working on trying to figure out why this happened and he was very serious about resolving the issue. Another thing that flip does is create updates, so with these two things in mind I feel confident that they have or are taking care of any problems. But again, right now I do not have any problems.
-Also, someone asked if you can take stills. This camera is only a video camera, you can't snap pictures with it, however you can pull stills from your movies inside of their program.
good little gadget that I still use occasionally. Of course, it's not HD and not much storage space, but
it did get the job done.
As someone as noted, the software is no longer usable. It has been discontinued. Because of that,
I did lose some videos which can't be replaced, but I blame that on myself since I didn't
properly "save" it.
As today's smartphone are getting better, there's no reason to use a video camera unless
you don't have a smartphone. All in all, I did get great usage out of this, and it still works!
I have purchased this item, personally for me, at the full retail price. There's
no relationship with the seller or the company of this product. Absolutely
there's zero compensation involved for my review. I am solely reviewing my
experience for other potential customers.
First, the Flip Video Ultra is in a class all its own. It is purely a highly portable video recorder for casual use. It will not replace your $12,000 Sony prosumer model or even your $800 Sony, Canon or Pansonic.
Rather the Flip Video Ultra is an extremely portable unit, measuring about 2.25 inches across by 4 inches high and a bit more than an inch thick. Powered by two AA cells, it can record 60 minutes or - surprise - more of video. In my experiments, I recorded almost 2 hours of video on a Flip Video Ultra. There's no big secret here: if what you are recording has relatively little movement, you can stretch your recording time. Thus, for recording lectures of your version of "My Dinner With Andre", the Flip might work out better than you planned.
The 640 x 480 VGA video is surprisingly good. Not theatrical quality sharpness, but far better than your cell phone camera will produce. Action is recorded smoothly with little, if any, artifacting. Exposure capability is excellent. I tried it on scenes ranging from a brightly lit sunny outdoor street with wide contrasts to a dark highway lit only by passing cars. Good detail under all conditions with little blocking. Quite surprising, really.
Incidentally, another reviewer complained that the lens could be easily scratched. That's not true. The actual lens is recessed and protected by either a glass or plastic cover. So far, it shows no susceptibility to being easily scratched. If it is, it appears to held in place by a metal fitting. Whether that permit user replacement, I don't know, but should the lens cover become damaged, I am sure it could be replaced.
The unit has what appears to be about a 2x digital zoom, which is a nice touch.
The Flip Video Ultra is a very nice piece of design. The battery compartment latch is on the bottom and is highly resistant to accidental opening. There's also a tripod socket on the bottom. It is mounted off-center, which I consider unfortunate because this camera would be a perfect fit for the Quik Pod Pro+ with All Accessories Including Tripod Legs, a handheld camera mount that allows you to include yourself and a companion or two in your own videos. It's really a very clever gadget, but the off-center tripod mount on the Flip makes it a tiny bit difficult to use.
From the back, on the right side, is a sliding switch to power the unit on and off. Again, the switch is very well designed and very difficult to trip accidentally.
On the back of the Flip is a 1.5" transflective screen that you can see even in quite bright daylight. It is more than sufficient for casual videomaking. There's a 4-way rocker switch under the viewfinder. This four way has a big red button in the middle that controls recording. It is on the difficult side to use, requiring you to use a fingernail to depress it to stop and start recording. They obviously made it this way to prevent accidental starting and stopping, but they did their job too well. It's a bit of hassle to cleanly start and stop recording. But at least you won't be making any accidental recordings with this unit. The rocker switch is multi-purpose. Playback volume is controlled from here as is the digital zoom and, in playback mode, moving from one clip to another. There's a play button to the left of the 4-way and a delete button to the right. Couldn't be simpler. My only complaint is that the recording start and stop function isn't as snappy as it could be.
Response time of the unit is excellent. Once you do get that pesky start button pressed, the unit begins recording almost instantly. Audio quality, by the way, is excellent. The built-in microphone is sensitive and nearby voices are recorded without distortion.
Some people fail to see the utility in the Flip Video Ultra, pointing out that their digital cameras also have video. Yes, many do. But few offer the capability of recording an hour or more of 640x480 video at one time. Most can't hold an hour of video on a single card. And few are as small and compact as the Flip Video Ultra. So the comparison of the flip with digital still cameras doesn't fly.
The Flip is the kind of thing you can carry with you all the time and whip into action reasonably quickly (but thanks to that pesky record switch, not quickly enough) to capture some cute thing the kids are doing or something that is going on around you. Bloggers, blossoming independent journalists and artists of many kinds will love the Flip. Parents who are into recording their kids' cute moments will also love it. And, frankly, it's a nice thing to pop in your pocket when you're travelling. The Flip is one of those rare gadgets that can appeal to many different kinds of people for many different reasons.
The real beauty of the Flip is in getting the video off the camera and onto a computer.
Just plug it into a USB port.
The USB connector flips up from the Flip.
Truly slick design, reflective of very innovative thinking.
Plugging it in brings up an idiot proof interface for getting the video onto your computer. (There's an option to save it to DVD through authorized dealers which I did not try.) It's two-step process to transfer. Simplicity personified.
Flip also includes a trial version of Muvee Autoproducer which can more or less edit your video clips into a presentable format by applying machine intelligence. It works, sort of, and for many people may be all they need or want. Be forewarned: there's a sales message included that promises you 20% off the full version of Muvee Autoproducer. But guess what? The "special deal" gets you Version 5 of the product, not the currently shipping Version 6 to which you can upgrade for $39.95 more. Guess what? That brings you to the full suggested retail price of the current product. This kind of "special offer" has an unsavory aroma to it. I've written to both Pure Digital, makers of the Flip, and Muvee to see if this is just an unfortunate mistake (i.e., the offer was embedded in the software before the new version came out) or is just a plain attempt at a rip-off. Should you be attracted to the "special offer" on the Muvee software, I suggest you check it out for yourself.
I'm obviously a quick convert to the Flip. I think it's a great gadget and a more than adequate substitute for heavier equipment in appropriate situations. I've been thinking of doing some video blogging for a project that requires one-on-one interviews. I can see buying another one or two Flip Video Ultras, some lightweight 4-SECTION Tripod with Grounderand with a portable light or two, having a more than adequate two or three camera setup. The quality would be more than adequate for web distribution and, depending on circumstances, even for DVD distribution to a business audience.
I am obviously impressed by the Flip Video Ultra. It has not only a very high cool factor, but a very high utility factor as well.