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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
CL:120 minutes
K: 25 minutes with batteries they included, 120 minutes if you buy an SD card

MEMORY:
F: 8 GB
M: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.

RESOLUTION:
All 720p which is excellent, just one step below the top 1080p format.

MICROPHONE:
F: Stereo
M: Mono **Update** They are now putting Stereo Mics in the Minos as of 2010.
CL: Mono
K: Mono

SOUND:
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

ZOOM:
F: 2x
M:2x
CL:2x
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: 5.5x2.5.0.9 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

TECHNICAL DETAILS:
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.

SPEED:
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"

IMPORTANT NOTES:
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:
F Excellent
M Excellent
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. :-)
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on October 3, 2009
 This video shows you what you get, and how it compares to the Flip MinoHD. Why should you buy one over the other, when they are similarly priced? Shows a side-by-side comparison of the video, and a feature comparison table.

Flip UltraHD Camcorder, 120 Minutes (Black)Flip UltraHD Camcorder, 120 Minutes (White)Flip Video Battery Pack for 2nd Generation Ultra & UltraHD
3838 comments| 1,750 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
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.
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on July 29, 2009
I read a lot about the Flip Mino and almost took the plunge, and finally did with the Ultra HD. It sounded great, and like several other recent reviewers, I really wanted to like it. I finally do, but it's taken a good 10 days, and with little help from Flip support.

Right out of the box, my Ultra HD had what I'm starting to think of as the "usual" charging problems that others describe -- the "charging paused, check battery" message. More concerning, the camera halted all performance in the USB ports on my one-year-old iMac. This disabled the mouse, so I could never upload the software. There is the peculiar design flaw, too, that the camera charges in the face-down position, making it very difficult to see these error messages.

Eventually it dawned on me simply to use AA batteries (an option that drew me to this camera), and the camera has worked just fine ever since.

I had an extensive correspondence with Flip's online support. My advice: skip them entirely and just phone Flip. Online support did get back to me quickly ... with a whole set of detailed questions about my computer which I wish they'd just asked in the first place (I'd already told them the computer model and OS). This might have been a stalling technique, as there then was silence. Then, in response to my prodding, more correspondence where they seemed not to understand the problem and we pretty much started over.

Phone support was amenable to having me send only the battery pack back for an exchange, though I'm not confident that I'll receive a functioning one. And, like online support, they seem puzzled, surprised, and much more focused on fixing their battery pack problem than making a customer happy (i.e., interested to have mine for "research" and so "authorized" me to send it, but had zero interest in giving me a pre-paid label or making it easy for me to return this faulty piece). Like another reviewer, I'm not happy to have spent money to have a bad battery pack, but I also have to pick my battles, and decided to keep the machine since it works fine with the AAs. And maybe I'll get a functioning rechargeable back from Flip.

And it's a great little camera! Footage is sharp and the sound is crisp. It uploads easily to the Mac. Very portable and sturdy. Really, I love the camera, and had it worked out of the box I would be posting a five-star rave. Also on the plus side, really, is the phone support -- they do have it, they answer the phone, and they do respond. So, they are ahead of some other products on that score!

So I hope they do fix this glitch and also develop some online customer-friendliness.
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on December 9, 2009
We received the UltraHD today (12-9-2009) - shipping was incredibly FAST.

Out of the box the battery had a full charge and I was recording in seconds (not minutes, seconds); the usability is great, the interface is easy, and the software is actually quite good.

The biggest pro: speed. After hitting the power then record buttons, you can literally be recording in 2-3 seconds. This is perfect when trying to capture those special moments (like our 9-month old son throwing his Cheerios all over the place).

The biggest con: pixelation. In low-to-medium light the quality is quite poor (even in a brightly lit kitchen). If it had a bigger/better sensor, I could easily use this to record long-term "memories" of my son growing up. But I'd hate to look back 2-3 years from now and find myself saying "I wish it wasn't so pixelated" or "We missed X detail because of the sensor". For comparison, my HTC Droid Eris (a Verizon Android phone) takes comparable videos, although the quality is lower and there is an audio-to-video delay (but no pixelation, especially when recording "blacks" and other dark colors). The HTC Passion is coming out in Q1 2010 with 720p capabilities and I might just return the UltraHD (and my Eris) and use the Passion, depending on cost and image quality.

Regarding the software: you can manually transfer the files in XP, but the software does a great job at grabbing the files from the device, storing them, and allowing you to burn them to a DVD - nice. The configuration options could use some improvement (naming of files and folders, i.e. yyyy-mm-dd-0001.mp4), but overall a very usable piece of software. I tried watching the files using GOMPlayer and/or Quicktime, but my computer wasn't speedy enough to render the video in sync with the audio. The FlipShare software (for whatever reason) renders everything quite nicely, so don't freak out about jitter and such.

We plan on using it for a few days, and after such time I will post a follow-up report.
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on June 7, 2010
The specs have already been reviewed extensively by other reviewers. What I would like to comment on is on the following:

1) The Ultra HD is cost effective for what Amazon sells. Amazon offers the price with what amounts to a twenty-five percent discount off the MSRP. I'm not sure if I would have bought the camera at full retail cost. That being said, it is a camcorder meant for casual use and entertainment, and reaches this target goal very satisfactorily. Obviously, if one wants to be shooting documentaries, one needs to spend significantly more.

2) No extraneous features, simple point and shoot.

3) Software that comes with the product is again, meant for casual entertainment purposes, and suits this ideally. Allows you to do cut video segments and take snapshots from the video. Will also automatically download and install updates (however, this is not something that you can choose as a preference, which I find slightly annoying).

4) BIG CON: recharging time and associated issues. The rechargeable batteries that are supplied with the Flip last around 3-4 hours. However, it takes 24 hours to fully recharge via USB port into computer (NOT the stated 7 hours according to Flip). The charging will often pause because it claims the unit is overheated. You can always use AA batteries as backup, however, so while this issue is definitely annoying and can be frustrating, is not enough of a deterrent for product rejection for me.

What I use it for:

Daily driving documentation (in combination with the Panavise 809 Camera Window Suction Cup Mount http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000246ST6/ref=pe_11540_15778150_ae_tit_a1/). Images can be somewhat shaky, but overall provides a clear picture (can read license plates up to 2 car lengths away).

Satisfied with purchase.
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on December 14, 2009
I can't stress enough how easy the Flip is to use! Turn on, record, plug into your computer/tv, and play! That's literally all you have to do.

I chose to purchase this UltaHD Flip over the Mino because of the reviews saying the resolution was better on this one. Please note that if you're used to the Mino, this model does seem a lot bulkier.

This is a great little camera to have around - perfect for recording your kids' birthdays, taking a quick youtube video, etc. Please keep in mind that the "HD" on this is meant for computers, it's not the same quality as HD tv. The videos are grainy when I play them on my 42" HDTV, but way clearer than any videos I've taken with my 10 megapixel Canon Camera or my Samsung phone. No complaints about the audio, everything is very clear. The zoom feature definitely has room for improvement. I haven't used this for more than 30 minutes at a time yet, so I can't say anything about the battery power, although many reviews on here have complained about it.

If the camera cost anymore than $200, I wouldn't have purchased it. It doesn't come with any accessories, and even a basic HDMI cable is an extra $30. You don't NEED anything other than what it comes with - you can plug it in directly to your computer and charge it/load videos - however, the cables and the charger do come in handy. Luckily Amazon was having a deal ($150 for the camera + 2 free accessories), so I took advantage of it.

It does what it's supposed to do. It's a great portable video camera to catch moments in life that you might otherwise miss. It doesn't shoot professional video quality and it doesn't take still pictures. It is what it is, but I think it's well worth the price of $150.
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on March 6, 2010
All I have to say about the Flip Ultra HD 120 is that I am completely impressed. I had no idea what these new cameras were all about until about 3 weeks ago and after I saw the ease of use and quality of picture I had to get one. I received mine from Amazon and was able to have it out of the box and in use within 5 minutes. The picture quality is stunning and the sound is much better than anticipated. Within 10 minutes of use, I was able to record my 15 week old daughter in a 1 min clip and then upload it to my computer and send it to the grandparents in an email as well as post the clip to facebook. The quality of the picture was solid even though the lighting was not terrific inside our home. The outdoor footage that I have seen on this camera is simply stunning and I can't wait to use this on future vacations.

The size of the camera is not much bigger than a cell phone and it takes less than 10 seconds to whip it out of a pocket turn it on and start recording. A few things to note and be aware of before you purchase. Since the quality is so good, expect the files to be very large. A 1 min file ended up being around 75 MB of memory uploaded onto our computer. If you do not have much empty disk space on your computer then you may need to think about getting an external hard drive to primarily store video files. The second thing to know is that the way this records digital files is different from a conventional video camera. Older cameras mesh all the files on after another and end up essentially recording the files one after another so that when you play it back there is not much transition time from a shot taken 3 weeks ago to a shot today. The Flip camera stores every recording as separate file. If you hit record for 30 seconds and then hit off, then do the same thing, you will watch two separate files once uploaded to your computer. The only reason I mention this is because that may be something that someone hasn't experienced when using new digital video.

I am absolutely in love with the piece of technology and the price on these really can't be beat. If there was one thing to add on this camera would be the ability to zoom however, I realize that you can't have everything in a pint sized HD camera that is priced so well. This really is an incredible by and easy to use from the start.
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on October 24, 2009
We recently had a baby, so we wanted a better way to video her than just using the video recorders on our cell phones. I just wanted something simple and small and something that had decent quality of video. Well, when I discovered the Flip UltraHD I found the perfect fit to what I was shopping for. It is incredibly simple to use with just a handful of buttons. The first time you push the little button to have the USB adapter pop out and hook it up to your PC, the software automatically installs itself. The software is really simple to use and even lets you take snapshots from videos you make. So, if you have a really cute photo in the middle of some video footage, you can "freeze-frame" it and save that portion as a jpg picture.

The unit does not allow any form of external memory. It records up to 2 hours period, and then you will need to download or delete to continue recording. We have not found this to be an issue at all...download now and then & you'll be absolutely fine. I suppose if you were on an extended trip without access to something to download to, you may be a little frustrated with this "limitation". But knowing this before you purchase it makes you aware of this limitation and you should know if this will be problem for your situation or not.

The quality of the video is excellent--I believe it is in 720p, so it is definitely HD. I am really impressed with the quality--both of the video and of this little unit itself! I kept thinking I was going to be spending $250-$400 to be happy with a digital camcorder. I find this unit to be an excellent choice for only like $150. Plus, you would have to be mighty simple to not be able to operate the Flip. I wish everything electronic/digital was this nice and this simple to use--it sure would make all of our lives a lot easier.

If you're on the fence, go ahead and buy the Flip UltraHD--you will be pleased. I think the white one is a little cheaper than the black one for some reason, so I went with white. Have fun with the Flip--you'll catch yourself videoing more often because of its incredible simplicity!!
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on October 13, 2010
I will give FlipVideo credit for designing a camera which can use a readily available alternate power source. Their proprietary battery pack can be replaced with a pair of AA's. However, one expects the supplied pack to work properly out of the box.

Having fully charged the battery via USB connection to my computer, I shot a few minutes of video, came back to the computer and plugged it in to transfer the files. What had been a fully charged battery just minutes before was now shown as barely charged. It took a good fifteen minutes for the indicator to reach full charge.

I disconnected the camera and plugged it back in about ten seconds later. Once again, the indicator showed a barely charged battery, and once again, it took more than fifteen minutes to bring it back to full strength. After several useless calls to FlipVideo Tech Support and their arcane suggestions (including leaving the brand new battery pack out of the brand new camera for 72 hours), I returned the camera to Amazon and they shipped me a replacement.

Repeat the entire above process, with the exception of having the camera replaced by Amazon. The same problem twice is a warning. I opted for a Samsung camera, slightly larger but with a lot more features, much more versatile for only a few dollars more.

Bad lot of batteries? Faulty sensors or software? Who knows? I could not have been the first person to experience this battery issue, but that's how the Tech Support people treated it. They didn't have a clue.

If FlipVideo replaced the camera under warranty, I would be responsible for sending it back, upon receipt of which they would ship me a refurb. Amazon, on the other hand, would take it back and send me a NEW one, at their expense. And quickly, too. In fact, it was the very next day when one UPS driver picked up the first camera and delivered the second, all in one shot. That, my friends, is how it's done. In all fairness, I will give FlipVideo's parent company (Cisco) credit for picking up the ball, albeit a little late. Over a week after I returned the second camera, they called to see if they could do anything.
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