Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Flip Video Ultra: World's Simplest Video Camera

I've been a big fan of the Flip Video, a low cost pocket-sized camcorder from Pure Digital, since the first day I held it. A new improved version, the Flip Video Ultra, is ready, and there's a lot to love about it, including the price tag.
Slimmed down and styled up, the Flip Video Ultra comes in colors, isnmore streamlined, and has software built into the camera that lets you upload immediately to AOL, YouTube, or other video sharing sites.

The camera is shirt pocket-sized and runs on AA batteries. The Flip Video I've been using is one of the only gadgets I own where I can say nice things about its battery life.

But what sets Flip Video apart is that all the software you need to perform simple video-editing chores and then publish to your favorite video-sharing site are built right into the camera. No extra software required.

There are only a few buttons on the camera for playing, stopping ,and zooming in and out so its easy to get up to speed. Once you're ready to transfer your work, a retractable USB connects you to your PC. Plug the USB into a PC and you also have tools to edit, archive, and share your work, all built in to the camera. You can quickly send a video greeting card or
email, add music, transitional effects, or voice to the video. It's by no means a full-fledged video editing package, but it's sufficient for most people most of the time.

The new Ultra has an improved 1.5-inch display and microphone. The first generation camera held either 512MB or 1GB of video. The new version is available in 1GB ($150) or 2GB ($180). The video is captured at VGA resolution but still
looks good enough to output to a TV. The new camera has a video output and a slot for a tripod.

I find the Flip Video camera useful for all sorts of things. I've used it to document trips, narrating what I'm seeing so that I can remember the names of all of those pretty mountains, churches, and museums. It's great for documenting schoolwork, analyzing your golf swing, creating a walk-through of your home for sale, and more. I've given the camera to kids as young as 5 years old and adults as old as 80 to try. They instinctively figure out what to do. A story in USA Today said that Flip Video is currently the No. 1 best-selling video camera at Amazon and Target.