Flip, Kodak Bring HD Video To Go, For Less
One of the fun parts of my job is seeing how (make that, if), gadgets can grow up. Less than a year ago, I reviewed a simple, stripped-down video camera, Pure Digital's Flip Mino. It had some shaky software and produced recordings that could only be called VHS-quality, but it was a lot easier to use than most other video cameras.
In today's column, I review a descendant of that Flip camera, as well as a competing model. The Flip UltraHD and Kodak's Zx1 can both record high-definition video and provide far more storage than earlier models but remain affordable. Click after the jump to see a sample high-definition clip from each.
On a lot of traditional gadget scorecards, the Kodak would rank higher: It offers expandable storage, it has more video-recording options (you can choose between standard, the default 30 frames-per-second high-def and 60 fps high-def, plus a still-image option) and it's smaller and lighter. Kodak also throws in the HDMI cable you'll need to connect the camera to an HDTV, while the Flip does not.
And yet... the Kodak's software is just awful. The company took a third-party program and made the minimum number of changes necessary to get it to work with the Zx1's video. It would take a massive rewrite to get this application into shape to compete with Pure Digital's simple FlipShare software.
The flaws in the Flip's software, meanwhile, doesn't need nearly as many changes. One is already in the works: The company is working to add support for YouTube's high-def option. I'd also like to see it stop hiding videos saved to your computer in encoded form inside a FlipShare Data folder; it's weird to see FlipShare report that it's saved a video to a "May 2009" folder when you can't see any such folder on your hard drive.
Both cameras' programs, of course, could stand to link to more video-sharing options online. For instance, the Facebook social-networking site (perhaps you've heard of it?) would be a logical option.
Speaking of other options, here are a few other reviews of the Flip, the Kodak or both:
* The Orlando Sentinel's Etan Horowitz compared the UltraHD to Flip's MinoHD in his column two weeks ago.
* CBS News's Rafe Needleman wrote an interesting comparison of the Flip UltraHD and digital cameras with HD video capability from Canon and Casio. (Note that this review includes the same error that I made in one version of mine, a statement that FlipShare can't trim a clip; although it has no "edit" button to flag this feature's existence, the scissors icon at the bottom right of each video allows you to snip footage from the start or end of a clip.)
If you've got other questions, post them in the comments or in my Web chat, starting at noon today. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a few questions: Have you bought a Flip or a similar video camera? If so, how's that been working out for you? If not, are you instead relying on your digital camera's video mode or a "real" digital camcorder?
This clip shows the Flip's performance (it should play in YouTube's high-def mode, but if it doesn't click the "HD" button):
And here's the Kodak's footage:
May 15, 2009; 10:01 AM ET
Categories: Gadgets , Video
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