Pure Digital's latest pocket camcorder lets anyone capture and share video--no technical knowledge or cords required-starting at only $119. While the Flip couldn't be easier to use, you'll want to remember that it's designed for making short, fun videos for posting online, not the birth of your next child.
The white-and-silver Flip is housed in an identical body to the previous-generation Point and Shoot Video Camcorder. It measures 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.3 inches and weighs only 4.8 ounces. It doesn't have any complicated menus or confusing buttons; the lens and microphone are up front, and on the back you'll find a 1.4-inch LCD, three buttons (play, delete, and record), and a four-way navigation pad, which controls the zoom and lets you scroll through recorded clips. When it's time to transfer footage, simply flip out the USB plug on the side and connect it to your PC. Everything you'll need is in the package, including a TV connector and the two AA batteries it runs on.
Using the camcorder couldn't be easier: Turn on the power button and then press the red Record button to start shooting video. When you're done recording, press Record again. Play back your videos on the screen, and if you don't like one, simply press Delete twice.
Our test unit came with 512MB of flash memory, which translates to 30 minutes of 30-fps VGA video. The Flip saves files in AVI format so that they're small enough for sharing and easily watching on most media players. Test clips opened quickly with Windows Media Player 9 and played back relatively smoothly.
While the videos we recorded looked on a par with those from most digital cameras--decent colors and a little oversaturated--we don't recommend using the 2X digital zoom. When we zoomed in on the New York skyline and a cherry tree in full bloom, we encountered a considerable amount of noise, and footage became distorted. Videos without the zoom looked much clearer. The Flip includes a cable for connecting it to a TV, but we don't recommend using it. Although clips looked fine on a PC, they looked awful when displayed on our 42-inch Panasonic plasma.
Sharing videos with the Digital Flips is just as simple as shooting them. In addition to e-mailing videos, the Flip can upload them directly to user-generated video sites like YouTube and Grouper. On our tests, it took 53 seconds to upload a 21-second video to YouTube. Once we navigated through the Flip's preinstalled software, YouTube opened and we were ready to upload the file. The same included software also lets you edit clips and add your own music.
You won't find a cheaper way to capture video clips on the go. While the Pure Digital Flip Video Camcorder doesn't offer the same video quality as low-end MiniDV camcorders (about $250), it's perfect for shooting quick clips and is simple enough for anyone to operate.
Digital Cameras for All Levels
We review four digital cameras ranging in price and control level, and give you advice on how to take better pictures
How To Take Better Pictures
You don't need a fancy digital SLR to get perfect shots. Just better technique.