I got a new toy last week, the latest Flip video camera – the Ultra HD and wanted to share my thoughts on the camera and the software. I’ve seen a lot of Flips (especially since Cisco bought them) and the simplicity and portability put it on the top of my birthday list. Overall, I love the camera and the software is good, but could use some enhancements (if anyone has any corrections or tips on what I list, please let me know).
In choosing the model, the Mino line is smaller than the Ultra, but the new Ultra HD had two features that made me choose it: 1) 2 hours of capacity with the same HD quality as the Mino HD and 2) it comes with a rechargeable battery which is removable and 2 AA batteries can be used if needed. Using the camera is very simple – there is an on/off button, a big red button to start/stop recording and you can zoom +/- while filming. There is a USB plug on the camera which flips open and you can plug straight into a computer (having a USB extension cable can be useful).
FlipShare Software comes pre-loaded on the camera, so you can load it onto the computer. I had read that there was a way to privately share videos on “Flip Channels” – I found the site http://www.flipshare.com, but at first couldn’t figure out how to get videos to the site. It turns out that the camera came with the 4.2 FlipShare software which did not have the Flip channel functions. There was no details as to how to add channels; after poking around on the Product page, I saw that there was an update of the FlipShare software to 4.5 version. When I updated the software, the Channels options became available. If possible, they should look to either automatically search for updates, or at least to have an option on the FlipShare menus to look for updates. Also note that by default, the camera will create a “FlipShare Data” folder in the “My Videos” folder, you can change this at Edit>Preferences>Library tab.
The software allows for easy sharing via email, to the private channel, or to online sites. From the desktop, you can post to MySpace, YouTube or “other” – this last choice simply compresses the video and saves it to your desktop. For the Channels, a limitation that I ran into is that the largest file that you can upload to a channel is 450MB. This is not listed in the documentation or on the site, I found it in the forum Q&A on their site. If you try to send a larger file to the channel, it simply hangs when the bar reaches the end. What you can do to get around this limitation is to first compress the video file (using the Share>Online>Other), but once you compress the video, you will need to re-import the file to the FlipShare by using Help>Import other FlipShare files. Hopefully in future versions of the software, this will be easier. From the FlipShare website (your channel, not the desktop application), you can share on Facebook. It would be nice if you could share to Facebook or YouTube from both the desktop or web channel pages.
There is a basic editing, snapshot and movie making software on the FlipShare desktop softare – these are great considering that they are free. On the editing, note that it will only actually cut the trimmed pieces of the video while the files are on the camera; once on the desktop it will mark your preferred beginning and end, but not trim. The snapshots are nice – probably good enough quality for 4×6 prints and since the Flip is so portable and fast, it’s a decent camera while on the go (better than my Blackberry photos). The movie making is also nice, very simple and allows for layering of music. Flip also offers to make professional DVDs, I have a DVD creations software package, so I haven’t this.
Here’s a sample movie that I created at a monthly social media gathering that we have at EMC.
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UPDATE: FlipShare 5.0 now makes it much easier to share HD videos directly to sites like YouTube and Facebook [Dec ’09]