Ever since I reviewed the Flip minoHD, I’ve become a big fan of small USB video cameras. They are much more convenient to carry than lugging around a traditional camcorder that uses tapes or a hard drive for storage. I have been curious to see if the ultraHD version of the Flip would address some of the issues that I had with the minoHD. So, let’s check it out.
Recording time – 120 minutes
Internal memory – 8GB
Display – Transflective TFT 2.0″ diagonal (960 x 240)
Video resolution – 16:9 widescreen, HD 720p (1280 x 720) at 30 frames per second progressive scan
Sensor – 1/4.5″ HD CMOS Sensor 2.2µm pixels
Lens – 2x digital zoom, Fixed Focus (1.5m to infinity), f/2.4
Light sensitivity – Ultra low-light sensitivity (>1.4 V/lux-sec)
Average bitrate – 9.0Mbps (auto-adaptive algorithm)
Video format – H.264 video compression, AAC audio compression, MP4 file format
Battery – AA rechargeable battery pack (1.2 Volt NiMH rechargeable). Rechargeable through USB. 2.5hr runtime
Dimensions – 4.25″ x 2.19″ x 1.17″
Weight – 6.0 oz
Soft carrying case
Upon holding the ultraHD for the first time, I immediately noticed the size difference in comparison to the minoHD.
In the image above, the ultraHD is on the Left and the minoHD is on the Right. You’ll notice that the ultra is a little longer.
But the main difference is the thickness.
As you can see, the ultraHD is almost twice as thick as the minoHD. That said, the ultra is still very compact and comfortable to hold.
The ultra is available in Black or White. The Black (not sure about the White) has a slightly rubberized matte covering that makes it non-slippery. The main feature on the front of the camera is the lens. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cover for the lens to protect it when it is not in use. To the Right of the lens is the microphone.
The battery compartment is accessed by unlocking and sliding the cover off the front of the camera. The included battery pack easily installs in the compartment. This camera can also use regular AA batteries in a pinch.
The battery is charged via USB, of which there is a built in connector on the Right side of the camera. You’ll also notice that the ultraHD has an HDMI connector too. However, you’ll have to supply your own HDMI cable if you wish to watch your videos through a TV.
The spring loaded USB connector easily pops out when you slide down the latch.
A Red LED blinks behind the microphone while charging and shines solid when the battery is completely recharged. On a full charge, the battery should provide up to 2.5hrs of recording time. That is 30 minutes more than the minoHD.
There’s a power button on the Left side of the camera, along with a wrist strap hook.
You’ll also notice that the sides of the camera are shiny chromed plastic. Prepare to polish often if you’re neurotic about finger prints and smudges like I am.
Like the minoHD, the ultraHD shares a super simple user interface. There’s a 2 inch LCD (a nice upgrade from 1.5″ display that the minoHD has) and several buttons that control recording and playback.
The large Red button in the center toggles the recording mode on and off. The four way button surrounding the record button controls zooming (up / down) and Left / Right buttons move you through menus and videos during playback. There is also a Play button and a Trashcan button.
The video interface isn’t different from the minoHD. Other than having the ability for setting the date and time and if you want sounds on or off, all other settings are hard coded. There isn’t a way to change resolution, white balance, etc. This camera continues with the KISS principle of keeping it simple stupid.
When you turn on the camera, it’s ready to record within 2-3 seconds after you press the button. When the camera is in idle, it shows how much recording time is left. When you press the Red button to start capturing video, you’ll just see a timer on the screen in the upper Left corner. While you are recording video, the only buttons that effect what you are recording are the +/- buttons that zoom in and out.
The ultraHD has 8GB of flash memory (2hrs) compared to 4GBs on the minoHD (1hr). The resolution and frame rates for both cameras are exactly the same: 1280 x 720 at 30 frames per second.
Video is captured using H.264 video compression, AAC audio compression and saved with .MP4 file format. You can access your videos two ways. One way is to just plug the camera into your PC or Mac and the flipshare application in the camera will automatically install and launch.
From there you can see all the videos on the camera, play them, crop them, delete them, email them, create a DVD, create a greeting card, etc. The flipshare application is ok, but it’s easier for me to just drag and drop the videos from the camera like you would any other USB flash drive.
Here are a few samples that I recorded to give you an idea of the video quality. In order to view the video without problems, right click the links and save the files directly to your computer and view them that way instead of through your web browser. If you view through your web browser, the playback will be jerky.
flip-ultrahd-video1 24mb (to view, right click and save to your desktop)
flip-ultrahd-video2 18mb (to view, right click and save to your desktop)
flip-ultrahd-video3 25mb (to view, right click and save to your desktop)
I found recording video with the ultraHD to be easier than the minoHD due to the larger viewfinder and the physical buttons. The minoHD has touch buttons for zooming in and out, while the ultra has buttons with good tactile feedback. That said, I don’t usually use the zoom. But the larger display is a big help.
Like the minoHD, the ultraHD lacks a macro mode. Both cameras have a fixed focus lens that starts focusing at 1.5 meters (59in). At least that’s what the specs on the flip website say. I was able to capture clear video much closer than that, at about 15 inches or so. In video #3 of the sample videos I had the camera about 8 inches from the bee’s nest. You can see that it’s a bit blurry – which is a shame.
When it comes down to it, I have enjoyed using the flip ultraHD quite a bit. It is a fast camera that is fun and very easy to use. I just wish that it had good macro capabilities so that it would be more useful to me for recordings that I might do for my reviews. That’s really the only deficiency with this camera for me. Although it could also benefit from an anti-shaking feature. I think most people would find the flip ultraHD camera to be a worthy gadget for recording all sorts of spur of the moment videos.