Handy pocket-cams also get a new line of accessories that increase the device’s versatility.
If you still inhabit a standard-definition world, the folks at Flip Video would like to know why. Or at least that seems to be the sentiment now that they’ve released their new line-up of camcorders – all of which now record in 720p HD.
Many of the features that have made the Flip such a popular product are still a part of the picture, including the swing-out USB arm that enables file transfers to a PC as well as battery recharging, simple one-handed operation, built-in editing and sharing “FlipShare” software and decent image quality. But on today’s Flips you’ll find some other goodies too: mini-HDMI-out is now standard on all models, and if you look closely at the bottom of the new UltraHD 2 Hour model you’ll see a second jack – this is the FlipPort, a connector that should do for the Flip what Apple’s standard dock-connector has done for their i-devices, namely establish an ecosystem of accessories designed and sold by third parties.
Flip has already announced the first batch of these “designed for Flip” FlipPort gagdets including an external storage unit and a wireless microphone, both of which go a long way to answering the two most common complaints associated with the Flip: no memory card slots and no external microphone jack. Other accessories include wide-angle lenses that adhere magnetically to any of the Flip models, and a very cool underwater housing designed just for the UltraHD models. At $260 USD it isn’t cheap, but even when you throw in the cost of the Flip itself (starting at $159 CDN) the whole package is still way less than base-model traditional camcorders. And if you’re crazy enough to go diving with some of nature’s perfect killing machines, shouldn’t you spend a little extra and capture the footage?
But perhaps the most important improvement is the addition of image stabilization to the two top-end models, the UltraHD 2 Hour and MinoHD 2 Hour. In using several of Flip’s previous models of both the HD and SD variety, one thing always bothered me. Actually two things. But the big one was the jerky quality of the video. You needed a very steady hand indeed – or preferably a tripod – to get a smooth result, otherwise video clips all tended to have a “shaky-cam” feel that traditional tape-based camcorders haven’t suffered from in over a decade. And while the image stabilization on the new Flips isn’t at the same level of refinement as you’ll find on the latest full-size camcorders, it’s a huge improvement over the non-stabilized Flips.