Flip UltraHD (2010, 1 hour, white) – Simple recording controls

Camcorders — on October 14, 2010 at 12:05 am | Comment Now

Cisco’s Flip Video UltraHD is available in two hour and one hour versions and it is not just the recording time that separates these two models. The one hour model costs $149.99 and it is the same as UltraHD that I reviewed last year but with smaller storage capacity. The The UltraHD 2 Hour (2H) come with plenty of new features. The video quality has been improved and there is also a proprietary port for connecting third party accessories that are made especially for Flip devices. This version costs $50 extra and according to me, it its good value for money.

On the flip side, I would recommend the Flip UltraHD 1 hour if you are looking for a simple way to shoot and share the videos online. Otherwise, there are plenty of models in the same price range which give better video quality. If you are not interested in the accessories and need things like headphone or mic jack, more than a single shooting resolution, expandable memory, or the ability to shoot/play photos with creative video filters, stay away from Flip’s lineup including this device.

Flip UltraHD camcorder reviewFlip UltraHD looks quite similar to its predecessor. The only exception is the tiny Cisco logo on the back. This model is available in white and for the stylish trim, you can choose from magenta, blue or silver trim. This can be personalized on Flip’s Website.

On the front, there is the lens flanked by red recording indicator light and mic. On the right, there is the tiny power button and the left side has switch which flips out there miniHDMI port and USB connector. Through this, the camcorder can be connected to a monitor or HDTV directly. There is a threaded tripod mount on the bottom and also a lock which secures the battery compartment cover. I was disappointed to see that there is no FlipPort which lets third party manufacturers to create accessories for the device.

For the Flip UltraHD’s accessories, all you get in the box is a pair of AA batteries. For USB or miniHDMI connections, you will have to splash extra money for the cables, the manufacturer doesn’t give them bundled with the device. Also, the camcorders consumes a lot of battery juice quickly so I would recommend you to purchase rechargeable AA sized batteries (which will cost you $24.99) instead of standard alkaline ones.

The best reason to buy the Flip UltraHD is its user friendly interface. It still remains very easy to use and even a newbie will get hang of it in not time. The control panel here is the same as other Flip video cameras and you get buttons for Record, Delete, Play and the four way direction pad. While recording, you will have to press the up and down buttons for controlling the 2x digital zoom and during playback, it will control the volume. The right and left buttons will just navigate through the recordings irrespective of the modes. The camcorder doesn’t have any menu systems except for a couple of setup options like date, time, language, on/off button and record light. You can give the device to anyone for shooting the videos. It takes a little more effort for sharing the videos but the built in FlipShare application is still the best for doing it directly from the camcorder.

FlipShare is compatible with both Windows (XP Service Pack 2 or later) and Mac OS X (10.5 or later). Once it is launched, you can watch, browser, save or organize the videos, create and edit movies with the clips by adding titles or music, grab a photo from a video, and upload the content to YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. You can send the videos through e-mail (but the resolution will be chopped down) or it can the stuck on a greeting card. This is not all, the videos can be uploaded to personal Flip Channel and you can make a list of people that you want to share the video with. When the video is uploaded, people on the list will automatically be notified through e-mail. There is also an iPhone app which lets your friend and family view the videos through iPod Touch or iPhone.

Once the movies are saved to an external sources, you can reformat them using FlipShare software to save space and then you can put it back to the device. It just takes a couple of clicks. Video quality on the Flip UltraHD is subpar but that it not unexpected from a mini-camcorder like this. It is nowhere close to the video quality of a full fledged HD camcorder. The 2 hour version is much better than this one. The colors are muted and the scenes are underexposed. The 2H’s video looked a bit oversharpened but the subjects look soft and fuzzy on the 1H. Videos taken in low light had lots of noise but again, this is common in such devices. The video quality is good only for Web sharing. Watching the videos on a large HDTV is a pretty miserable.

I would recommend the Flip UltraHD 1 hour version only if you need a foolproof way of recording video and then sharing it with family and friends. If you can afford to spend $50 more, there is the two hour version which gives more features with better video quality. However, if you are unwilling to spend more, check out the Kodak Playsport.

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