Flip Video UltraHD Camcorder Review

Flip Video UltraHD Camcorder

A little over a year ago, I reviewed the Flip MinoHD camcorder and gave it a glowing recommendation.  Since then, the MinoHD has been by my side for a ton of daily video clips.  I’ve recorded more video in the past year than I’ve recorded in the previous 5 years.  Why? Because it’s easy and the Flip MinoHD can fit in my pocket and, as a result, it’s always with me.

Now, it’s time to look at the latest and greatest with the Flip Video UltraHD.  The UltraHD is an incremental step up from the MinoHD in my opinion; however, those increments are worthwhile.

Flip Video UltraHD Specs

Flip Video UltraHD Camcorder

To start, the newer UltraHD camcorder offers twice as much recording time at 120 minutes, which is thanks to the built-in 8GB of memory. One of the downsides about the built-in memory is that you are stuck with that.  120 minutes and your done.  That said, I’ve never ran out on a single outing but I’m also pretty consistent about dumping the video off to my computer whenever I have shot something with it.

The video format is still 720p video using H.264 MP4 encryption.  The video is 16:9 format, which is becoming more and more common nowadays.  The LCD has a full 2-inch screen with a higher resolution of 960 x 240.  Additionally, the UltraHD has real buttons – instead of the capacitive touch buttons on the MinoHD.  I tend to favor the real buttons after having used both cameras.

Finally, the UltraHD is powered by AA batteries and is packaged with a NiMH battery pack.  And, you can still plug the Flip’s USB port into your computer for charging.  If the rechargeable batteries die while you’re out though, you can pop in some standard alkaline batteries to get you through the day.

There are a number of Flip video camera models out there with a range of specs that cover 60 minutes to 120 minutes of recording time, as well as HD and VGA recording resolutions.  All of them are easy to operate and relatively inexpensive in price.  The UltraHD is near the top of the product line at carries a retail price tag of $199; however, you can find it on B&H Photo for around $155 at the time of this review.

Flip UltraHD Performance

Flip Video UltraHD Camcorder

As with the other Flip cameras, operation is simple.  One button to start and stop recording – and it’s big and red.  The lens is fairly wide angle, so there’s a lot of real estate to see.  It has a 2x digital zoom, which is pretty slow and practically useless.  If you are looking for something that zooms across the room to capture your video, this camera is not for you.

The fact that a camera this tiny can produce HD video is amazing.  And the video looks good considering where it’s coming from. Make no mistake though, the video quality is not going to be as good as the more expensive cameras featuring better sensors and improved optics. The trade off in overall quality though is worth it in most circumstances for me.  The portability of the Flip cameras just can’t be matched by the larger and more expensive consumer video cameras on the market.

The big win for the Flip UltraHD is the fact that it will be with you more often, and it is easy to get it out and start recording in just a couple of seconds.

FlipShare Software

FlipShare

The software program packaged with the Flip UltraHD is called FlipShare.  There is no CD in the box.  The software is actually pre-loaded on the camera.  So, you just plug the camera’s USB port into your computer and install it straight from there.

The good thing about FlipShare is that you can install it on several computers – Mac or PC.  I’ve installed it on a Vista 64-bit desktop, a Windows XP Pro laptop and a MacBook running OS X 10.6.2 with no hiccups whatsoever.

Once you get the FlipShare software installed, you start to see the real magic of the Flip video cameras.  Just hit the switch on the side of your Flip camera and the USB dongle pops out. Plug the camera directly into your computer and the FlipShare software will open automatically and recognize the camera.

After the software recognizes the camera, it will display the recorded videos from the UltraHD in the FlipShare dashboard.  You can preview the videos straight from the camera then.  You can also select one, several or all of the videos to be imported onto your computer.

The videos will then be available to edit or share from the FlipShare dashboard.  You can upload directly to Facebook, MySpace or YouTube once you input your login credentials into FlipShare.  You can also export files for sharing on other online video services.

In addition to the ability to quickly upload and share individual clips, you can also grab a large group of clips together and create a long video. I use this feature to put together quick videos of all our clips from the holidays or family events. Using FlipShare, it only takes a few mouse clicks and I can produce however many DVDs that I need to pass along to friends and family.

For you Mac users out there, you’ll be glad to know that the files are compatible with iMovie and can be directly imported to iPhoto or iMovie for cataloging and editing.  I’ve used the Flip MinoHD and the UltraHD, along with iMovie, this year at CES and ImagingUSA to catch quick hands-on shots with the latest cameras and gadgets.  I really appreciate the ability to make short work of videos with the Flip cameras and iMovie – it’s a great combo.

Flip UltraHD Samples

Below are a couple of samples taken with the UltraHD at ImagingUSA 2010 at Tamrac’s booth for the Zipshot tripod.  I’ve used the same clip twice, with the first embedding from SmugMug and the second clip from YouTube for comparison purposes.

SmugMug

YouTube

Conclusion

Flip Video UltraHD Camcorder

The Flip UltraHD is a solid handheld video camera.  It’s a stellar performer that is simple and quick to use.  The inclusion of the FlipShare software makes it a step above the many of the other handheld options out there.

Granted, the UltraHD is not going to fill the need for everyone out there.  However, I would encourage to consider how that you would use a video camera that fits in your pocket or purse.  The Flip UltraHD is great for capturing video at random occasions.  Whether you are at your dinner table when your kids are doing something funny and want to “grab a camera” or you are at hanging out with friends on campus and someone is about to do something incredibly stupid, the UltraHD is a quick-response device.  It will make sure the moment lives on in your home movies or your friend’s indiscretion is the latest and greatest on YouTube.  It gets major kudos and a big recommendation from me.

The Flip UltraHD  is available from B&H Photo at the following link:

Flip UltraHD at B&H Photo

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Comments

  1. forkboy1965 says

    I actually have a question…. I recently upgraded my computer to an iMac. The USB ports are on the back and quite close together. How would I attach this device to my iMac considering the space limitations and the devices swing-out USB plug?

    • says

      Apple does tend to put USB ports close together. If the Flip won’t fit with your other USB devices attached, you could use a USB extension cable or a USB hub.

  2. forkboy1965 says

    Eric,

    Thanks for the thoughts. I’ve had very mixed results using a powered USB hub with my iMac, so I might take a look at an extension cable. Never seen one, but I’ve always imagined they existed.

  3. Hdawson says

    I love the Flip camera but have trouble doing editing, naming files, transferin, etc. Is there a manual anywhere that I can download or purchase?

  4. Martin says

    What’t the audio playback quality on these like when used to record at festivals and in nightclubs?

  5. Carla says

    I just purchased the flip and love its simplicity and quality of video but sound is not very good at all. Am I doing something wrong? I’d like to know because I bought this to record stories my great aunt tells about the family and want to be able to hear her!

  6. Lockett says

    How good is the image stabilization during recording? How well does this record under low light conditions? What is the minimum sensitivity of the sensor? 1 lux?

  7. John Phillips says

    I want to use the Flip attached to my race car’s rollbar, to record laps on track. Is it suitable for that use, and is there a tripod threaded fitting to use for attachment to a base? Thanks

  8. Rox says

    To bad mine didn’t work for more then a few months.
    I got the UltraHD for XMass last year, now it sits useless.
    Battery won’t recharge, and I got no where with the Flip Company.
    There suggestion was replace the rechargeable, which still does not work.

    Think twice before you waste your money.

  9. Billy says

    I am thinking of getting the flip, and I was wondering if you can upload your vids to windows media player, and then to windows movie maker. I am asking this because my droid uploads vids to quicktime and I have no way of editing them without buying quicktime pro or something.

  10. pat zick says

    Yes, I agree and think the Flip is great,,, however, I’ve trying to create my own DVD copies of movies but am pulling my hair out. Flip has a tab which allows you create a movie, save to desktop and then you burn with 3rd party software. I’ve tried Nero 10 and Total Video2dvd and neither works. Can you help? Thanks, Pat

  11. Valerie says

    I am also having a terrible time trying to transfer my movies to a DVD. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. Extremely frustrating, and I’ve actually regretted my purchase. If anyone can help, I would be grateful.

  12. Harry says

    Pat and Valerie, search the web for “how to make a dvd” and that will probably explain things for you. The Flip does not produce anything that is ready to be burned to a DVD, it will require conversion to another video format as well as authoring. Pat if you have the full Nero suite have you tried using Nero Vision?

  13. Rosemary says

    I’m looking to purchase a flip video camera. (I just picked up a Sony Bloggie but it doesn’t work with my Mac.

    In your review you commented: he good thing about FlipShare is that you can install it on several computers – Mac or PC. I’ve installed it on a Vista 64-bit desktop, a Windows XP Pro laptop and a MacBook running OS X 10.6.2 with no hiccups whatsoever”.

    Did you plug/install the same camera into each of the different computers? I have a Macbook Pro with iMovies 09. I’m planning on lending the camera to close friends who have a PC.

  14. andrew says

    I’m finding the fLip video SW to be full of bugs and with limited functionality. Looks like the SW was rushed to market before it was ready. For example, the fLip video SW has no feature to rotate a video by 90 deg. Worse, the files are stored in a format that Windows Movie Maker (5.1) does not recognize, so I can not import them and rotate or otherwise manipulate them with it. The fLip video SW has an export feature that supposedly lets other video editing packages see the files, but on my version (5.10.25 the latest release as of Jan 1, 2011), it crashes every time an attempt is made to export a video. I’ve already spent hours on this with little to show…thinking of returning for a refund.

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