Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder : Close, but not quite! (edit: I bought it again.)

I am a reluctant gadget lover. I enjoy technology that makes my life simpler and gadgets that look cool, are highly portable and deliver on the ‘simplify my life’ philosophy. And i am reasonably tech-savvy. I was quick to embrace digital cameras and digital photography. I take hundreds of pictures a month and catalog them carefully. However, i have never gotten into video – camcorders are too bulky and complicated for me. My husband has some cool sony camcorder that supposedly does great things but i have never been tempted to use it once. But i love the idea of video. So, after reading all of the reviews of the flip video ultra here and elsewhere, i decided that this company may have accomplished what i have been looking for in a video recorder. I just got my flip yesterday and it is everything i had hoped for and morei bought the orange flip – it’s compact, light and pretty.

I had been debating buying the flip ultra for the past two months. I read so many of the reviews on amazon as well as other sites and kept going back and forth for two reasons: 1. My ibm laptop, running xp which is 1 and half years old has had massive problems from day one, it’s extremely delicate and i’ve gotten the blue screen of (almost) death on many occassions. My hard drive has been wiped out more than one and the list goes on. 00+ i couldn’t justify it given i had just bought a very expensive dslr and i already have a point and shoot that takes video. What changed my mind in almost an instant was the drop in price. As i mention, i do have video on my point and shoot but now that i have a digital slr camera i won’t be carrying both camera’s around so wanted something that would do just video on a day to day basis that i could just tuck in my pocket or my purse. I take a lot of video’s of my 4 year when we are out and about and upload to dropshots and carrying the point and shoot is kind of pain sometimes so i thought the flip ultra would be a fantastic option for me. I received the flip ultra and was anxious to try it out but again was nervous that i would have problems with it as mentioned in so many reviews and was in fear of my laptop going nuts again but i finally took the plunge.The flip ultra is so incredibly easy to use i can’t get over it, it’s basically plug and play right out of the box. I put the batteries in which is clearly shown how to do on the instruction booklet, set the time and date, and started filming. The screen is beautiful and far surpases the screen on my point and shoot camera with video. Then i popped out the usb arm (which i will not use again for fear of it breaking off – i will just use a standard usb cable), plugged it into my usb port and my job was done. It automatically started downloading the software which could not be easier to use. You can’t make changes to your video but i don’t do that anyway, do most people?. No one i know of does that’s using it for similar purposes. I’ve got a sony handcam so if i was looking to make some incredible video that i wanted to look a certain way i could use that with other software but trust me, i’m not ever going to do that. As i mentioned earlier i use dropshots dot com to share my video’s with family and friends and have the dropshots dropbox on my desktop which you just drop a video into and it uploads, i was unsure how my flip ultra video’s would work with dropshots but not only was it no problem at all the video and sound quality far surpasses my point and shoot digital camera video, it’s just amazingso, i am not looking to discount anyone else’s experience with the flip ultra but for me this works like a dream.

I was looking for a quick, small, light, easy-to-use video camera to take with me for samples of anything interesting i might find wherever i might go. I’m a former professional still photographer, and continue to carry around lots of still camera gear, so the ease, size and light weight of this camera is a big plus. It fits easily into a pocket, and you almost forget you’ve got it. The hour of video is a pretty good length, just about enough to let me record most of a traditional music performance on a recent trip to colombia. The image resolution is decent, being vga quality, sound pickup is reasonably good, at least for close subjects or those creating enough volume. I was able to record unamplified musicians at 15 feet with no problem, although sometimes i think the volume actually was too much. Speaking voices at 20 feet or so were about the maximum, though, and normal conversation would need to be much closer. It uses aa batteries, which means you can almost always find fresh batteries if your own supply is used up. However, i was able to record a non-continuous hour’s worth of video during about an hour and a half period and the standard alkaline’s were still pumping out the juice.

I purchased the flip video ultra mainly to take videos of our family gatherings both for keepsakes and to send them to our family members that live too far from us. The expectation was to be able to make videos that we could edit in os x 10. 5, upload to youtube, make dvds or add to our two appletvs. The goodthis is as simple as it gets. It is held more or less the same way that you hold a cell phone while taking pictures/videos, and it is very light. It only has the bare minimum controls to get the job done. Importing into os x is easier if you just plug the camera and drag the movies into wherever you want them stored at. Processing is simple: i just import the clips as imovie events, and in minutes i can edit the whole thing with transitions, titles and music. Export to youtube from imovie is painless, while sending to appletv is a bit more involved (this is an imovie concern, it has nothing to do with the flip video). As a rough estimate, i can take a five-minute clip, edit it and export it to youtube in less than half an hour, and most of that time is wasted in conversions and uploads.

I like it for close-ups and it’s ease of use and price. I like the convenience factor. (it fits in the pocket and there’s no cables to mess with and no settings to fiddle with. It’s plastic, and the buttons feel a bit like a toy. It doesn’t feel like it will fall apart and the quailty of the video up-close to 10-15′ feet is great. . But i have a problem using it for my mac. Imovie ’08 doesn’t support the video format. There goes much of the ease of use (and convenience) the camera gave you initially. (note: the included software is very very basic and has to load each time the flip is plugged in.

Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder, 60 Minutes (Pink) : After only having this camcorder for a week, i can honestly say i will never go back to a regular camcorder again. I bought the first issue of sony’s dvd camcorder years ago and still don’t fully understand it. It cost me $900 back then and i still have to buy 30-60min dvd’s that are expensive. I did it because i didn’t want to transfer video but it was still cumbersome. In the past year or so, it barely comes out at all and when i want to tape something, i never have it on me. Plus, you need to carry the bulky battery charger and hope things are recharges and ready. The flip however is the same size as my comcact canon camera and actually weighs less. When i opened the box, i was surprised to find 2 aa duracell batteries already in there as well as a velvet draw string pouch to put the camera in. It has a av cord to hook up to your tv to playback your videos and a very simple 6 page book for directions. No huge manual in 10 languages and more importantly, no software.

I bought this at a good price, and decided to get one due to my growing family. It was agood little gadget that i still use occasionally. Of course, it’s not hd and not much storage space, butit did get the job done. As someone as noted, the software is no longer usable. Because of that,i did lose some videos which can’t be replaced, but i blame that on myself since i didn’tproperly ‘save’ it. As today’s smartphone are getting better, there’s no reason to use a video camera unlessyou don’t have a smartphone. All in all, i did get great usage out of this, and it still worksi have purchased this item, personally for me, at the full retail price. There’sno relationship with the seller or the company of this product. Absolutelythere’s zero compensation involved for my review. I am solely reviewing myexperience for other potential customers.

I’ve owned this since january 2008, and have found it invaluable – it’s so easy to use & so portable & cheap that i can take it anywhere and put it anyone’s hands and they can use it. I have used it mostly for capturing dog-training classes — agility and herding. I can hand it off to a fellow class-member, give them 10 seconds of instructions (‘turn it on there, and stop/start the video with the big red button’) and i end up with hours of very useful videos of me & my dogs that i can watch later to review what we did right or wrong, and to listen again to my trainers’ comments. If you don’t use the zoom, the picture is fantastic. I can hook it up directly to a standard 37-inch tv and the video is terrific. Sound is amazing, considering the basic microphone. It’s digital, not optical, so that means the picture gets fuzzy, like blowing up a lo-res. I just don’t even use the zoom anymore.

It is compact, easy to operate, looks good, comes with everything you need to operate it, and takes very high quality videos relative to its price. I recently recorded a piano recital and both the sound and video were surprisingly good. Piano is not an easy instrument to record, but the flip did a great job. I did have a problem loading the software, in particular the 3ivx codec that it uses. When attempting to install the software i received an ‘installation failed’ message on windows xp. I tried installing the 3ivx codec separately but literally one second after agreeing to the terms and conditions and then pressing the ‘install’ button, i received an ‘aborted’ message. I subsequently learned the problem was i had k-lite codecs on my computer, of which one was 3ivx that was not an authorized version (i had no idea it wasn’t legit) so once i uninstalled the k-lite package, the flip software installed without a hitch. In case any of you reading this have a problem installing the software and/or codec, it may be that you have a rogue version of 3ivx lurking on your computer already so try uninstalling it. Note that the creators of 3ivx charge you $14.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder, 60 Minutes (Pink)
Rating
4.7 / 5  stars, based on  1608  reviews