When the iPhone first gained the ability to shoot video I thought it was all over for the Flip camcorder. When the iPhone began shooting HD video I knew it was all over. I was wrong on both counts.
Turns out there is still a huge market for relatively inexpensive dedicated camcorders. They often do a better job recording sound, they are specifically designed to shoot video and, in a world where battery technology is still way behind, they let you shoot video without burning through your phone’s charge.
Flip recently updated a number of their camcorders.
They can now shoot 720p at 60fps. (The older HD models shot at 30fps.) In addition, one model now has the ability to accept accessories such as an external microphone.
The Flip MinoHD and the FlipUltraHD don’t look all that different from what you could buy last year. Overall they aren’t. They still don’t have the ability to wirelessly share video. (How I wish they would add those features now that Cisco owns the company). And you still can’t edit video on the UltraHD or the MinoHD. So what IS the difference between the current offerings and the previous models other than the addition of Cisco banding? They both simply do what they do better than ever.
So which one is the right choice? Lets take a closer look at both.
First up… The Flip Ultra HD
The Flip UltraHD is available in 4GB and 8GB versions. Both shoot 720p HD, have a digital zoom, use both a lithium-ion battery OR lithium batteries. Both offer the ability to design your own and make a one of a kind unique camcorder for yourself or a loved one. Pricing is $149.99 and $199.99 respectively.
The 4GB version offers an hour of recording time at 30fps while the 8GB version records for a full 2 hours at 60fps. It also has the added benefit of image stabilization and a FlipPort for adding accessories.
A host of accessories can be found here.
Next up- The Flip MinoHD
The Flip MinoHD comes in 4GB and 8GB versions. The 4GB version will record an hour of video while the 8GB version will double that and offer 2 hours of recording time. Both record in 720p at 60fps and both offer image stabilization. Both have an internal lithium-ion battery. With both you can design your own camcorder and make a unique gift for yourself or someone else.
There are some accessories available but the selection is smaller than you will find with the larger capacity UltraHD since it does not have the FlipPort.
The 4GB version is $179.99 while the 8GB version has an MSRP of $229.99.
The impact of the image stabilization can be seen here. It is quite impressive.
Both the UltraHD and the MinoHD have 2″ diagonal screens and a resolution of 320 by 240. (The Flip SlideHD has a 3″ screen.) Both shoot 720p video, have a tripod mount, have HDMI out, built-in speakers and built-in, wide-range stereo microphones. Both work with the easy-to-use FlipShare software that makes organizing, editing and sharing videos simple and fun. Both power up in under 4 seconds so you can quickly be up and shooting you video.
So what is the difference between the UltraHD and the MinoHD? It largely comes down to size, weight and controls.
The MinoHD is significantly smaller and lighter than the UltraHD. On paper the differences don’t look all that great but when you put the two side-by-side the differences is easily seen.
In addition, while the UltraHD has physical button (the company refers to them as “easy-press buttons”), the MinoHD uses touch-sensitive capacitive buttons.
Finally, the larger capacity UltraHD has a “FlipPort”. The FlipPort is Flip’s proprietary accessory port. It enables the use of attachments such as an external microphone and a special battery pack. It also allows you to off-load video if the, somewhat limited, memory fills up.
The MinoHD is lacking this port but does sport the HDMI port.
Both CamCorders have built-in USB dongles. These make it simple to download video to your computer and begin editing and sharing them.
On the UltraHD the USB dongle is on the side while, due to space limitations, on the MinoHD the USB is on the top.
I used both camcorders to record a number of different videos. Overall I was quite impressed. The cameras now support 60 fps (the lower capacity UltraHD is still at 30) and have added image stabilization into the mix. The impact is impressive and both camcorders do a nice job of recording video.
So which one is right for you? If you are in the market for a dedicated camcorder I would definitely look to the MinoHD or the higher capacity UltraHD since the lower capacity UltraHD is missing some key bells and whistles found on all the other Flip cameras. I would also shy away from the SlideHD unless you need its huge capacity of 16GB. We reviewed it a few months ago and, while it does a decent enough job, it is larger, weighs more, shoots just 30fps and lacks the image stabilization of the newer models.
So that leaves the larger capacity UltraHD and the MiniHDs from which to choose. So which one? Honestly you can’t go wrong with either one. Both shoot nice video. Both have the ability to use rechargeable batteries. Both have image stabilization. So it really comes down to this…
If you want the ability to use an external microphone with your Flip look at the UltraHD. If you want the smallest, lightest option, look to the MinoHD. And if you want all the new features AND the best balance of price, weight and capacity look at the 4GB MinoHD. Either way though you will be able to shoot plenty of video and not use up valuable battery on your smartphone.
You can check out all the Flip options here on the product comparison page.