by cjw333  (San Jose, CA United States)

I’ve owned a few video cameras over the years but none of them have gotten much use mainly due to the size of the camera. In my opinion it’s not always practical to haul those things around. When they do get used, the video that I take tends to sit on those small tapes never to be seen again. It’s just too much of a hassle to go the content from tape to digital so I can edit and finally watch what I’ve recorded.

Enter the Flip – with a size that fits easily in the hand (about the size of an iPod but narrower and a bit thicker) this device is also easily stuffed in a bag so you have it everywhere you go. For me this accessibility makes it much more practical compared to a traditional video camera.

Another huge selling point for me is the simplicity. It’s simple enough to use that I reckon even my parents could operate it with small instruction. It starts up in a flash and is instantly ready to record (from off to record in about 5 sec). The huge red button records and stops recording. That’s all you really need to know. Of course there are zoom and playback options that take the Flip beyond simple recording.

Although the Flip works well in low light, it’s best that you film in daylight or a well lit room. I did a test shot at night in a dimly lit room and the video was watchable but a bit grainy. Filming outside during the day resulted in crisp, clear video. If you’re looking to do a lot of recording in low light the HD version might be a better choice for you.

I also like the fact that I can watch my recordings right on the device itself. The built in screen is excellent enough for a few people to gather around for a quick view of what was just recorded. It has built in audio as well. If you want to show off your video to a larger crowd you can use the audio/video out on the side of your Fip to plug directly into a TV with a composite input (HD version has and HDMI output).

Getting the video from your Flip to your computer couldn’t be simpler. You basically flip out the small USB arm and plug your camera directly into your computer. When plugged in the flip will show up as a hard drive so if for some reason you don’t want to install the software you can just drag and drop video files just as you might do from a thumb drive or other external drive. The software, but, gives you a nice interface for managing your videos on your Flip as well as those that you’ve went to your computer. In addition to simplified file management the software gives your an simple way to edit videos, take snapshots and make your own movies by joining together multiple files.

I’m very excited to use my Flip for an upcoming vacation. The small size will fit easily into my day bag and with 2 hours of recording time I should have plenty of room to store a day’s worth of video. I also like the fact that the Flip takes AA batteries (regular or rechargeable) so if I run out of juice while I’m out I should be able to find replacements easily. Finally since it’s so simple to transfer the video to my computer I might really end up watching these videos for a change.

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Filed under: Camcorders

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