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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Flip Video Mino HD Video Camera - First Impressions

I used to own a video camera. However, I rarely found myself using them. Bulky, slow, and those darn MiniDV tapes and the time they took to transfer to a PC to edit and make a movie -- just killed it for me. In fact, the last video camera I had, a Canon ZR50MC ended up sitting in my drawer for a couple of years pretty much unused. By the time I hawked it on eBay, it had depreciated about $400 in value. Not the greatest investment on my part.

That was at least two years ago...since then, although I have mainly focused on photography, I dabbled with taking the little mini videos on my Canon Powershot camera, you know the 640x480 poor quality ones. I had a series of videos planned for the site to show a few videos on my BMW M3, and started to think if that was really how I wanted to shoot my videos, with my Canon Powershot.

Probably not.

I had casually looked around and was intriqued by the Mino Flip Video line of products. They were highly portable (critical requirement for me) and seemed to be a good mix of portability, quality, and compatibility (Mac and PC). Plus, they were in the $200 range, for a HD quality video -- the Mino HD which supports 720p resolution with a 60 minute record time. A pretty good value in my book.

Then I read Chris Pirillo's article in which he compared the Flip Mino HD bvs. Vado HD vs. the Kodak Zi6. Chris' review was not so favorable for the Mino HD, so I was not really sure where that left me -- previously I was pretty convinced it was the best of what was available. After doing some additional searching, I ran into Robert Scoble's blog in which he stated the Chris was flat out wrong. After reading his article and various reviews on the products, I completely agreed that Chris was in fact...wrong.

For me it came down to a couple of reasons, 1) picture quality, and 2) portability. With those being my requirements, the Flip Video Mino HD was clearly the camera for me if I was going to get a "digital" video camera. With that, I went ahead and placed my order on and I watited for it to arrive.

And I waited...and waited...and waited...and waited. Then it finally arrived...I was not sure what took so long, but I found myself wishing I was a member of Amazon prime.

I almost laughed when I saw the box inside of the Amazon box. It felt like I had received a product from Apple...kind of. Basically, the packaging was almost identical to the numerous iPod and iPhone packages we had purchased. Small, compact, attractive.

My actual box photo of my Flip Video Mino HD Digital Video Camera at 720p

I thought about ripping open the box, thought again about the resale value and opened up the box. Almost identically to how the iPod is packaged the first thing you see is the Flip Mino HD and that's it. I was impressed immediately by how small it was. I pictured it fitting in my shirt or pants pocket, but this was even smaller. Almost what I would consider tiny.

When opening up the box to the Flip Video Mino HD video camera, it looks a little like opening an Apple product like an iPod or an iPhone

I hit the power button and was pleased to find that the unit shipped half-charged, so I did not need to plug it into the USB port on my computer to charge it. My first thought as I powered it up and looked at the mini LCD screen at 1.5" -- can this really produce a decent quality video? It's tiny, it feel very light (not as solid as an iPod or iPhone), and you can't tell a whole lot from the screen.

Immediately when I got home, I decided to try it out -- I quickly setup the mini-tripod that I purchased as part of the "package" and started-up the M3 and a portion of the video is below.

While it was mounted on a tripod, I was absolutely blown away by the quality, even with YouTube's compression to get it down to a reasonable size. I was able to publish the video in just minutes from the time I connected the built-in "flip" USB dongle into my Apple Mac Mini and publish it to YouTube.

More to come once I have a little more experience with it!