Flip MinoHD Review

The Flip MinoHD is a compact, cellphone-sized, digital video camera that is capable of capturing high definition video.  It focuses on simple operation and sharing options.  I’ve had one for a couple of weeks now and, generally speaking, am very impressed with its features, quality and operation.

While I have no shortage of photographs of my kids and the rest of my family and friends, I am severely lacking in video footage.  I’ve owned a Panasonic MiniDV video camera for a few years now.  It is good at what it does; however, I hate the task of getting the footage from the MiniDV tapes to iMovie and out to DVD so we can watch the videos as normal-folk rather than using the little LCD screen on the camera or connecting the camera to the TV via RCA jacks.  As a result, I have a ton of family footage on MiniDV tapes that no one has ever seen.

My daughter just turned one year old.  I realized as her birthday was approaching that her birth is the only thing that I have recorded on video, which still remains on a MiniDV tape in a box somewhere.  This was a wakeup call for ol’ Dad to get some more video footage of my kids on a going forward basis.  Call it an early New Year’s resolution if you will.

I had seen a number of blogs, over the past several months, rave about how awesome the Flip video camera was for them.  Quite frankly, however, I thought the camera and idea seemed very silly and considered it a fad.  That was until I started looking a little closer and examining the workflow to get your video from camera-to-Internet or -DVD.

And then there’s the price – I consider the $229.99 price of the Flip MinoHD a bargain in light of some of the offerings out there by other manufacturers.  And if you don’t want or need the high-def version, the other Flip models are even cheaper.

Flip Video Camera Models

Model
Flip MinoHD
Flip Mino Flip Ultra Flip Video (original)
Price $229.99 $179.99 $149.99 $129.99
Recording Time 60 mins 60 mins 60 mins 60 mins
Memory 4GB 2GB 2GB 1GB
Colors Black Black, White, Pink, Orange, Green Black, White Black, White
LCD Size 1.5″ 1.5″ 1.5″ 1.5″
LCD Resolution 528 x 132 528 x 132 528 x 132 280 x 120
Video Resolution 1280 x720 640 x 480 640 x 480 640 x 480
Video Format 1280 x720 640 x 480 640 x 480 640 x 480
Focus Type Fixed Focus (1.5m to infinity) Fixed Focus (1m to infinity) Fixed Focus (0.8m to infinity) Fixed Focus (0.8m to infinity)
Zoom Smooth multi-step 2x digital Smooth multi-step 2x digital Smooth multi-step 2x digital Smooth multi-step 2x digital
Battery Type Internal Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Internal Lithium-Ion Rechargeable 2 AA Batteries 2 AA Batteries
Battery Life Up to 2 hrs Up to 4 hrs Up to 2 hrs Up to 2 hrs

Flip MinoHD Performance

Operation of the Flip MinoHD is very straightforward.  Hit the power button on the side of the camera and its ready to go.  Frame up your scene in the LCD screen and then hit the big red button on the back to record.

When filming, the Flip MinoHD handles much like a cell phone camera due to the size and design.  While there is a certain awkwardness associated with this design compared to traditional video cameras, it really doesn’t take long to get used to.  It’s still awkward, but you get used to it.

Video quality is what I’d call “good” for a personal camcorder.  Sure, the bulkier HD camcorders will produce a cleaner picture, but you’ll have it with you less.  Actually, the Flip MinoHD gives a lot more quality than I would have expected from a camera with such a small sensor.

FlipShare Software

This was one of the most welcomed features of the Flip MinoHD.  After I captured my first few clips, I flipped out the USB dongle that’s attached directly to the camera.  When I plugged the camera into my Vista 64 bit-based computer, I was prompted to install the FlipShare software.  A click or two did the job.

The FlipShare software is almost as intuitive as the camera itself, and becomes a big part of what makes the Flip MinoHD so attractive as an everyday video camera.  Plug the Flip MinoHD into the computer and you can seamlessly download the video clips to the software.  You also get the option to delete the video clips from the Flip Mino HD, which I have made a practice.

Once you get your video in FlipShare, uploading it to YouTube, MySpace or AOL Video is just a couple clicks away.  You don’t even have to open a browser to get it online.  Simple.  Seamless.  Awesome.

Want to put it on SmugMug or another site?  Well, you can export the video to your desktop and just upload it through your web browser.  Again, simple and seamless.

DVD creation has a couple more steps, but still produces videos quite easily.  Match this with the free Windows DVD Maker, which was included on my Vista desktop, and you get some very pretty DVD menu options.  Unfortunately, I noticed some glitches in a handful of frames in the first DVD that I burned.  I have not determined yet whether this is a Windows DVD Maker or a FlipShare software issue.  It wasn’t a major distraction to others, but I noticed it and it will continue to bother me until I resolve the issue.  I can’t really chalk this up to Flip until I dig a little more into it.

You also get some editing/trimming options in the FlipShare software.  Additionally, there are email and frame snapshot options.  The frame snapshot hasn’t really worked well for me thus far, but I wouldn’t consider it a deal killer either.

All in all, I am more than happy with what the FlipShare software does and how well it manages the video clips from my Flip MinoHD.

Flip MinoHD Samples

Here’s a Flip MinoHD video clip that I put up on both YouTube, which now features the widescreen embedding format, and SmugMug, which has been widescreen since launching their video service.

YouTube

SmugMug

Flip MinoHD Final Thoughts

Make no mistake, the Flip cameras are not your high-end consumer cam.  The price tag should tell you that.  No, what the Flip does is to bring convenience and reasonable quality video to your pocket.  Additionally, it makes it easy to process and share the video clips that you capture.

The Flip video cameras are available at Amazon.com:

Flip MinoHD

Flip Mino

Flip Ultra

Flip Video (original)

 

Comments

  1. Jeff says

    I would also look at the Kodak Zi6. It shoots HD and has a memory card slot and a larger LCD. Macworld has reviewed both and prefers the Kodak, but they give their reasons in fair detail.

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