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Lunch » Tags » Electronics » Reviews » Flip MinoHD Camcorder 2nd Generation, 2 Hours » User review

Why buy a flip? It's simple. It fits in your pocket. It captures good video and sound.

  • Apr 25, 2010
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I've got several camcorders, some old, some new, one that's quite nice. The only one I have on me all the time is my Flip. For a few years now -- the original Flip Ultra, a standard Flip Mino, and now this one, the Flip Mino HD. I've always got one in my pocket. Ready to capture life at a moment's notice.

Why the Flip?

The Flip concept is brilliant: it does for video what compact digital point and shoot cameras did for photography. It makes it accessible, and widespread. No need to think about it, no need to master a craft, just point and shoot, plug in, arrange, and show. Now of course there are other similar pocket cameras out there. I've tried a few of them, and still think that for ease of use and enjoyment the Flip has them beat. What everyone tries to do with each new model is to add features. The new Flip Mino HD has just been streamlined, with a simplified design, improved picture quality and memory, and hdmi output.

What I noticed early on with the Flip is the experiential difference between standard video cameras and this. With standard video cameras you're distanced from the subject. You're here, outside of the action, peeping in through a viewer, with the subject over there. With the Flip (and other cameras like it) it feels like you are in the action. It's more intimate. You shoot something you're a part of. The camera is designed to perform some automatic adjustments for light levels, but focus seems to be pre-adjusted for maximum depth of field. Roughly that means everything is in focus from about a foot away to as far as it can see.

The video quality with the HD is a significant improvement on an already solid image. It's widescreen now, and blows up for television much better than the standard Mino. The low light performance seems also to be improved somewhat. The viewer screen is quite a bit bigger than before, with obviously improved resolution, and places LCD info above and below the video rather than on top of it. It shoots two hours now! Enough for lots of little moments or for an entire meeting or memorable speech. They've also upgraded the onboard mikes from mono to stereo.

Possible gripes

Some complain about the lack of zoom - what it really means is you get closer to the subject. I never use the 2x digital zoom on the Flip - rather, I walk up to what I'm filming. This makes it ideal for home movie style footage of friends and family, or of events you're in. It makes it less useful for some kinds of nature photography, or voyeuristic filmmaking where you want to capture something unawares. But that kind of filming takes planning anyways, and the magic of the flip is you can pull it out on impulse. Still, it's pretty amazing what you can get on impulse if you're ready - see the little video attached to this review for some possibilities, that I shot during an afternoon at the beach and wandering through a local nature park.

Some complain about the Mino's battery. It's a Lithium Ion battery, which means it will last a long time, and can be recharged regularly. In this case the battery is also unchangeable. If you want replaceable batteries, you need to go with the Flip Ultra HD instead of the Mino. On the other hand, it's the streamlined design of the Mino that will make it appealing to some. It's why, after owning the older standard definition Ultra, I decided to buy a couple of the standard definition Minos for my wife and daughter, and why I'm very happy with the Mino HD. I can say we've had those two standard Minos for about two years now, using them at least every week or so, and the batteries are still just fine. I'm pretty sure that with normal use, the Mino HD batteries will last until I'm ready to upgrade.

There are a couple of things that bug me and that ought to be improved in future incarnations of the Flip. The touch buttons are a bit touchy. Especially when you preview videos you've shot and want to bump from one to the next I find it sometimes skips forward a few. I also noticed that on mine the plastic casing on the back doesn't mesh perfectly with the brushed metal front. On one side the plastic juts out a tad, not visibly but enough that it's a rough edge.

About the Video

I wanted to show what's possible with the Flip, shooting outside in a shady nature park and on a bright beach until it started to get darker. Obviously you can't get the full feel for it here since I had to compress it for uploading. (You'll see that for privacy's sake I tried not to show anybody close-up; but of course what the Flip is best at is capturing people closely, in situations you are part of.)

Finally, if you do decide to get a Flip, think of the following as an opinionated guide to making the most of it, in the form of nine commandments.

Flip Video Rules

1. Always Carry Your Flip!
It's small enough to keep in a pocket or purse, so have it handy. You never know when something interesting or memorable will happen and you will want to capture it.

2. Always Keep it Charged Up!
If you have a cell phone you've probably gotten used to charging it up regularly. You have to do the same thing with the Flip. Just plug it into your computer when you get home, or buy the charging accessory and plug it into a wall at work.

3. Frame things like a photograph
When you are filming, don't just turn on your Flip and point it. Try to frame what you see. Keep the subject a little off center, try to keep things balanced and uncluttered. Adjust framing as objects move around. Every frozen moment of your video should look like a decent snapshot.

4. Move in closer to zoom
Don't bother with the 2x digital zoom. It won't do much for you and just blows up your picture, with a resultant quality loss. If you decide later that you wished you'd gotten something bigger, you can always blow it up easily in your editing program.

5. Use your body as a stabilizer
There is no automatic digital or optical stabilizer on the Flip. You have to keep it steady. Fortunately that's easy to do since you aren't zooming. One technique is to place the elbow of your shooting arm at your hip and hold it tight, then bring your hand up and pivot with your shoulders or your hips to move the camera. Or grasp the wrist of your shooting arm to hold it steady. Or lean up on something to stabilize that arm.

6. Slow and steady
If you move more slowly you are likely to be more stable. Plus the video won't make your viewers dizzy.

7. Save your stuff
Upload your footage regularly, either using the Flip software included onboard or (as I prefer) using whatever decent video editing program came with your computer (usually iMovie on Macs and Windows Movie Maker on PCs).

8. Edit before you show it
There's nothing more boring than a series of clips (at least the second time through). You shoot this stuff in order to keep it as a memory, so it's best to try and arrange it in some pleasing order.

9. Always carry your Flip!
Did I say this already? Worth remembering. It's the most important rule.

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About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #68
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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From the Manufacturer MinoHD Overview Flip MinoHD Overview
  • All-new MinoHD is the world's sleekest HD camcorder
  • Slim, sleek design fits in any pocket or purse--perfect for shooting video on the go
  • Captures 120 minutes of stunning HD video on 8 GB of built-in memory; no additional memory needed
  • Simple user interface--power on and press record to start capturing HD video in moments
  • Convenient flip-out USB arm plugs directly into your PC or Mac to launch pre-loaded FlipShare software
  • FlipShare software makes it easy to email videos, edit individual clips, make custom movies, capture still-image snapshots, and upload video to Facebook, YouTube and other sharing sites
  • Large, 2-inch anti-glare color display to play back and delete videos
  • Internal Lithium-ion battery recharges through built-in USB; also recharges when connected to Flip Video Power Adapter (not included)
  • HDMI output (mini-HDMI connector) makes it easy to watch your videos on your HDTV
  • All-new design features a unique brushed-metal front and soft, rounded edges
  • Features a flat-back panel with touch-sensitive, backlit buttons
  • Video: 16:9 widescreen, HD 720p (1280 x 720) at 30 frames per seconds (fps) progressive scan; recorded as MP4 files
Flip MinoHD Highlights

The World's Sleekest HD Camcorder Is Now Even Better
With the all-new Flip MinoHD, it's now even easier to capture incredible HD video and share it with the world. MinoHD features 120 minutes of record time, so you'll never have to miss another ...
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