The bestselling pocket camera goes HD with improved software. (November 23rd, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Pure Digital
- HD a boon for HDTV enthusiasts or simply future proofing.
- Simple but excellent FlipShare software loaded on the camera.
- Very straightforward on-camera control.
- Good low-light sensitivity; detail kept in most individual video frames.
- 4GB of memory built-in enough to handle likely uses of HD without an add-in card.
- No removable storage or battery.
- Images occasionally subject to purple fringing or poor light level transitions.
- Battery life is just 'good enough.' - Software lacks clip trimming or other editing besides clip selections and music.
- Needs optical zoom to truly rival larger, more expensive cameras.
FlipShare and video editing
Aside from the move to HD, the other great leap with the update Flip Mino comes from the addition of FlipShare, a new video management suite that comes preloaded on the camera itself and will even run from the camera if you're not willing to copy it out. Testing was done with the Mac version, but the Windows version is very similar.
To call it simple would be an understatement, but largely in the good sense of the word. Virtually every feature is visible from large, conspicuous buttons and menu options. Control is also largely hands-off. While you can create your own folders and choose whether videos are deleted once safely transferred to the computer, there's little else to contend with. In this tester's experience, there's a sense of freedom to it; the camera always puts its videos in the most logical location (the Movies folder, for Macs) and doesn't fret over export options.
In keeping with the philosophy behind the camera, there's also not much else that can be done to edit the videos. Creating a multi-clip video chiefly involves putting individual recordings in order and adding basic opening and closing credits as well as a backing soundtrack. You'll need to turn to a dedicated video editing tool instead. Most of the focus is on sharing clips. Movies can be sent to AOL, MySpace, or YouTube out of the box; it's also possible to save a clip or edited movie to the computer in a DVD- or e-mail ready format, to make greeting cards or to grab still images.
Again, this is video in its simplest form, and it's unfortunate that there isn't at least a way of trimming the start and endpoints of clips to avoid awkward dead time during a clip. Thankfully, the Flip Mino HD encodes videos in standard H.264 and so can at least send its video to tools like Apple's iMovie or Adobe's Premiere Elements for more complex edits without having to transcode the footage.
The unambiguous nature of editing also has the benefit of getting video up quickly. It took longer to encode and upload a video to YouTube than it did to fill in the import, editing, and sharing settings. A multi-clip video went from the camera to the web in well under half an hour after the entire process is taken into account. For those who value getting content up quickly over a slick presentation, that's something of a minor breakthrough. An example of what can be done solely through the camera's included software is available below.
Song credit: Mr. Scruff - Travelogue