Flip Camcorder Is No Flop--For Now
As a critic, I'm supposed to throw my opinion into the story, saying upfront whether I like something or not. But for today's review of the Flip Mino video camera, I had to step back a little from my own perspective.
The review I would have written for myself, or for people with my general level of tolerance for the foibles of digital video, would have read much like TechCrunch's curt dismissal of this gadget. I already own a phone that shoots mediocre video and a camera that records much better footage, so why would I want to drop another $180 on something with arguably inferior specs? Why would I want to carry around yet another gadget?
But I've seen how little help many cameras and phones provide when it comes time to get the video onto a computer. I've had to figure these things out--recording video is part of my job when I ship out to cover events like the Consumer Electronics Show--but many other people have neither the motivation nor the time to pore over the manual for their phone or camera.
The Flip, for all its faults, eliminates most of those barriers. As long as you stick to the tasks it's built for, you'll have a hard time finding an easier way to shoot and share video. The way its USB plug flips out with a satisfying click--like a nerd switchblade--is pretty cool too.
But Flip manufacturer Pure Digital Technologies really does need to do something about the Flip's balky video-editing application (based in part of muvee Technologies' just-discontinued autoProducer program). Forget about adding any new features to it--this software just needs to crash less. It wouldn't hurt if installing its 3ivx video-helper software didn't require clicking through three different User Account Control dialogs in Windows Vista either.
There is always the chance, as unlikely as this might seem, that camera and phone vendors will fix their own software--which could leave the Flip a fruitless branch of the gadget evolutionary tree, the Disc camera of this decade.
We can talk about this during my Web chat today, from 2 to 3 p.m. Meanwhile, I'll close with a couple of questions: What do you use to capture video on the go--with a camera, a cell phone or a video-only device like the Flip? And how often do you find yourself shooting your surroundings in this way?
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