If last year’s most-viewed YouTube clip, ‘David After the Dentist’, has taught us anything, it is that it’s okay to exploit your seriously doped-up kid for fame and fortune (as long as you don’t pretend he escaped in an oversized helium balloon). It has also shown us why the Flip Video mini camcorder is one of the niftiest gadgets to make it big in 2009: Dave’s dad had one handy to capture the post-dentist delirium.
Just think what he could have done now that the device has added high-definition video.
The 4GB MinoHD tested here records up to an hour of 16:9 widescreen HD video at 30 frames per second. This is not full 1080 HD, however, but rather the 720 variety. Still, footage we took of large landscapes such as the Fox Glacier rendered well on a 40-inch HDTV. The device features a video output jack and ships with the required AV cables.
But the Flip is not intended as a sit-your-friends-down-in-front-of-the-telly-and-bore-them-to-death-with-your-holiday-movies device. Where it truly excels is its ability to allow you to share short clips online with ease.
The small dimensions of the MinoHD — a mere 100 x 50 x 16mm — pays dividends, allowing you to capture moments spontaneously. And getting to grips with operating the camera is child’s play — it wouldn’t take a tween long to figure out the large red circular button in the centre of the device has a purpose: to record. When held down after turning the camera on, it also takes you to the setup menu.
A 1.5-inch LCD screen acts as a viewfinder and allows for playback on the unit.
An onboard flip-up USB plug means no cables are needed to connect the camera to a computer. From here the included FlipShare software allows you to painlessly upload videos to YouTube or your own private Flip Channel in a few clicks.
The software installs automatically from the camera the first time it connects, so there’s no installation disc.
Video and sound quality are remarkable given the size of the Flip. It picked up voices that might have been overwhelmed by raging winds on a West Coast beach and juddering engines on the Cook Strait ferry.
The biggest issue we encountered is that the FlipShare software is resource hungry, requiring a 3.0GHz or faster processor — it did not play well with my first-generation HP netbook.
In addition, you can’t capture still snapshots on the device itself. They can be extracted from recorded clips using the FlipShare software, but this method produces quite low-resolution images.
The software offers only limited editing tools, too — mainly cutting bits off the start and end of clips and copying sequences into longer movies. However, this process is finicky. You certainly won’t want to create movies of more than a few minutes in length.
Despite these minor foibles, for people who like to document their lives the FlipMino is a nice gadget to keep in the pocket at all times. It’s not the device for creating Peter Jackson-like epics; but for capturing relatives under the influence of anaesthetic, it’s the perfect tool.
LOUIS VAN WYK
Flip Video MinoHD Digital Video Recorder – Tech Specs
Resolution: 1280 x 720
Lens: Fixed focus (1.5m to infinity zoom)
Video: 30 frames per second; 9Mbit/s bitrate
Internal memory: 4GB
File Format: MPEG-4
Interface: USB 2.0, composite video out
Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, charges on USB and optional power adapter
Minimum System Requirements: PC – 3.0GHz Intel Pentium 4 or faster processor, Windows XP SP2 with 512MB RAM, Vista or Windows 7 with 1GB RAM Mac – 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo or faster processor, 1GB RAM, OS X Tiger 10.4, Leopard 10.5 or Snow Leopard 10.6
Dimensions: 100 x 50 x 16mm
* Effortless to use
* Share clips to the web in moments
* Stunning quality video & audio
* Software needs grunty hardware
The ultimate keep-in-your-pocket camcorder
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