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May 13, 2010
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June 3, 2010

Flip: The ultra camcorder you’ll love

When a product has high KAF a.k.a Kid Approved Factor, its time to give the product a lot of respect. Ever since a friend gifted me the Flip Ultra camcorder, my 8-year old daughter loves using it to rehearse as a TV anchor.

It doesn’t take long to figure out why the Flip Ultra is such a loved video camcorder. The biggest advantage of this product is its ‘no-frills’ simplicity. It has just three buttons, the biggest one reserved for ‘Record’ and two smaller ones for Playback and Delete. It’s that simple.

It’s the Flip’s uncomplicated approach to easy video recording, combined with a pocket-friendly pricing that has made this a much loved camcorder for the YouTube, Facebook generation. Once you shoot the video, it’s just a simple two step process to upload your videos online. The product comes with inbuilt software which means that there’s no need for a CD or to download any software.

It changed the way people capture and share video by making it simple, accessible and fun for anyone. “I have them in my backpack and it goes wherever I go. It helps me to capture all those wonderful places and moments,” says Venky Krishnamoorthy, an IT professional. So popular that it attracted the attention of the IT giant, Cisco, which eventually bought the company a few years ago.

What I really liked was the friendly spring-loaded USB arm. With just a press of a knob, the USB arm pops out at right angles. This means, no more lugging around the USB cable and more importantly, no more losing them. Once videos are shot, you just simply plug in the camera to the USB in your computer and it automatically launches FlipShare software.

The audio clarity is quite good for a camera of this size. However, you begin to sorely miss the audio input especially in noisy environs. You wish there was a provision to plug in your microphone to cut out the external noises. Seshu, a professional wedding photographer strongly feels that without good audio input, the HD capability in the flip loses its edge.

Not many know that one can do excellent audio podcasting using Flip camcorders. While editing the video, you can easily split out the audio from the video. This re-emphasises the need for a good audio input, especially for interviews, something that I do so often for my Kiruba.TV show.

What you can’t complain about is the Flip’s ability to shoot in low-light areas. It shows its class in indoor filming. While it does very well for outdoors shooting, it gives washed out images when you shoot in bright sunlight. The Flip does have a 2x optical zoom but you are better off not using this facility as it gives you pixilated results.

Another thing I like about this flip is it uses two AA batteries. I use two re-chargeable batteries and in the scenario where the batteries run out of juice while I am outdoors, I have the simple option of buying two new batteries without scurrying around for plug points to charge them. I like this flexibility.

Not many are big fans of Flip’s tiny 2 inch camera. “I bought it and ultimately returned it after using it for a day. The first thing that irritated me was that really tiny screen which made it so tough to take proper videos. Half the time, I wasn’t sure what I was filming,” says Filpert Devasahayam. After getting used to big screens in other devices like the iTouch, the Flip’s screen does feel very tiny.

In spite of the few downsides, I find the Flip the easiest and most affordable low end camcorder to buy. It’s a great portable camcorder for the YouTube generation. Just remember that its not a replacement for full-blown video camera and if you can set the expectations right, you’ll love this one just as I do.