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Issue 6.6


Flip Ultra

Issue: 6.6 (September/October 2008)
Author: Dave Mancuso
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,671
Starting Page Number: 11
Article Number: 6604
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Full text of article...

Sometimes a developer has a brand new idea for an application. Sometimes a developer has an idea for a better way to do something that no one else has thought of. And sometimes a developer has an idea to simplify a task so well that people are truly compelled to buy it. The Flip video camera from Pure Digital Technologies is one of these products. The Flip is a simple concept brilliantly executed.

I've held out against buying a video camera for years. The prices were too high and the portability was an issue even with smaller handheld video cameras. Connection to a computer for video import wasn't completely smooth, either.

The Flip addresses every one of those problems. The price is only $149 and is often cheaper online. The video camera itself is about the size of a pack of cigarettes and fits easily in my wife's purse. The Flip's USB connector, which flips out from the side of the device, plugs into a PC or Mac and shows up on the OS with software ready to install.

Taking videos is easy. Once I got used to the Record button (I needed to press it and hold for a moment to activate it and to turn off recording), taking video was a one button process.

Plugging it into my computer was easy as well. I tried the included software, but it wasn't quite for me (a personal preference). I just opened the Flip's disk icon, located the video files themselves (in a "100VIDEO" folder), and copied them manually to my hard drive. The Flip's files are 640 by 480 pixels in AVI format. The Flip video codec is 3ivx however, so you'll need to install it separately on your hard drive to handle the video files (3ivx can be found at http://www.3ivx.com or on the camera's hard drive). After that, importing Flip video into iMovie was a breeze.

The finished video looked fairly good, even blown up full size on a 1920 by 1200 screen. Recent reviews claim that the Flip Mino (a successor to the Flip Ultra) suffers video quality issues, so the Ultra would be a better bet to buy at a less expensive price.

The Ultra only had a few negative issues for me. I couldn't seem to turn off the startup chirp sound, which makes candid shooting difficult at times. Holding the Flip requires you to tilt your wrist and hand at a slightly unnatural angle, which can be tiring after a while. And I'm still getting used to Record button actions to start and stop filming (I never seem to hold it down properly or long enough). Regardless, I strongly recommend the Flip Ultra as both an example of a developer's user-oriented product and a video camera the entire family can use.

End of article.