The Flip Video Ultra camcorder from Pure Digital is easy to use straight out of the box. Install the included AA batteries, press record and you’re off and running. You can easily scroll through your videos and watch or delete them if you’d like. Downloading the video is just as simple. Flip open the built-in USB connector and plug it into your computer. You can then drag and drop the videos from the camera to your computer or use the built-in software to upload them to the Internet or email them to friends.
The first time you download video on a computer, the Flip will attempt to install drivers and video editing software. I should note that I had some trouble getting things to install. If that happens to you, you may need to visit the Flip Video website to download an upgrade for the software on the camera. It’s a fairly simply process if you follow the directions on the site.
Editing and Sharing
The built-in software from Pure Digital provides access to a free (as of writing) site for sharing videos with family and will upload the content for you. It will also upload automatically to YouTube if that’s your thing. I found myself toting the camera everywhere I went and delighting my kids’ grandparents with silly spur-of-the-moment videos. Since our family video camera uses digital video tapes, most of our family memories are on little cartridges around the house waiting for me to have the time to copy hours of content. As silly as it sounds, the Flip Video camcorder revolutionized the way we capture the little moments that are fun to remember later.
The camcorder also includes a basic version of an easy, but fun video editing software called Muvee Movie Producer. This software actually takes your movies, times them to music and does some simple editing for you. Based on your choice of theme, you might end up with a sepia-toned Western-style movie, or a bright, up-tempo flick. Note to Mac users: Muvee Movie Producer is designed for the PC.
A Few Flaws
As much as my whole family enjoyed the Flip, it’s not without flaw. The limited storage space (1GB in the 30-minute version, 2GB in the 60) means that it’s not great for taking long videos of a school play or ballgame. A removable memory card would make the Flip Video Ultra just about perfect. It only has a 2X zoom, so it’s also not ideal for recording things that are far away. Lastly, the built-in USB plug is useful in terms of portability, but can be a challenge in terms of finding the space to connect, especially on a laptop. It also means that the camera is dangling precariously from the USB port while you’re downloading video.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the Flip Video Ultra is a delight. It’s simple, fun, trendy and does exactly what it’s supposed to do. The MSRP ($149.99/30 minutes, $179.99/60 minutes) is still a bit daunting given the limited storage and the fact that it may not suffice as the only family video camera. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of batteries, since the camera does not have a built in power source. Of course, there are some bargains to be found for savvy shoppers. All of that aside, this little gadget is addictive! If you’re looking for a way to take quick and easy videos, this is a top-notch solution.
Specs for the Flip
- Display: 1.5” screen
- Memory: 30 Minute (1 GB); 60 Minute (2 GB)
- Resolution: 640 x 480
- Frame rate: 30 frames per second (constant)
- Video bitrate: 4.5Mbps
- Video format: Advanced Profile MPEG4 AVI
- Available colors: 30 Minute (White, Black); 60 Minute (White, Black, Orange, Pink)
- Size: Width: 2.2 in; Depth: 1.3 in; Height: 4.2 in