“...if you're buying it for yourself as your primary camera, spend a little more and get something different.”
- Easy to use; includes editing software; social sharing features; compact size
- Expensive; poor sound; below-average picture quality; bad zoom
Flip, a small startup based in San Francisco has their second video camera offering in the new Flip Mino, replacing the previous ever-popular Flip Camcorder which has sold more than 1 million units since launch.
Features and Design
The Flip Mino is a tiny little 2GB camcorder measuring up at just 4-inches tall and 2-inches wide inches and a mere 3.3 ounces living up to the buzz word “portable camera”. The Mino has a USB jack on the top that hides inside the unit until released by the touch of a tab.. The right hand side has a mini-headphone to RCA output jack allowing easy access directly to your TV with the supplied cables for those of you in too much of a hurry to download your clips to a PC. The right side has the power button and the bottom of the Mino actually has a full size tripod mount. Just the thought of putting the Mino on a tripod was funny to us as its purpose is a very simple point and shoot –vs- point, steady, lights, sound, background and action don’t seem to be in the cards. On the inside is a built in 2GB of memory allowing for up to 60 minutes of Mino filming goodness.
The face of the Mino has a no-glare 1.5-inch screen, 4 buttons surrounding the red “go” button. A playback and delete button is also located on the front. There is a nice glossy black finish with a clean silver trim. The Mino is available in both black and white models.
The Flip Mino
Testing and Use
The Mino records at 640×480 VGA resolution at 30 frames per second. There are no picture adjustments available as they are all automatic on the Mino. In a low light situation the Mino handled artificial light accurately, but actual daylight looked more blue than normal. While shooting outside we found the colors to look correct, and natural. The quality of the video is better than most of the videos seen on YouTube or MySpace for example, but not even close to that of a standard camcorder. We see the Mino being a fun, alternative way of shooting video intended for sharing online with friends and pals rather than keeping the clips for home memories. On the audio side there was always a buzzing in the background and unless you were recording a person speaking to the camera, you had to deal with a great deal of background noise; in most camcorders you can expect some feedback, but not of this intensity.
The controls on the Mino however could not be easier. Once you’ve powered up, it only takes about 1-2 seconds before your ready to shoot. There is a red dot in the center of the camera to get you going and the camera automatically takes each shot and puts it in its own folder making it easy to find the clips later when editing. You can use the zoom in and out illuminated touch sensitive buttons for some close up shots, but don’t expect much, as the results are ho-hum. The 1.5-inch no-glare screen does a decent job of immediate playback and viewing while recording, but we would have appreciated at least a 2” screen. The menu on the Mino is extremely easy and ultra intuitive making deleting a snap and getting the most out of your 60 minutes of available space.
Muvee Software Screenshot
Once plugged in, the Muvee mixing software program loaded up and took only 40 seconds to start (your startup time could be different). The Muvee’s software was easy to use and fun to play around with. You can edit your videos start and end time, add your own custom music, a few basic graphics, and even change the film to black and white. Another cool feature is the ability to mix some of your clips into one movie. The Muvee software will do the transitions for you and will make anyone look like they know what they’re doing – sorta. The Muvee software is no Final Cut Pro, but a fun and simple way to dress up your videos. Once you have your video made, you can easily upload it to your favorite website, capture still images, or send it to a friend via email. When sending email videos we found the process to also be fun and intuitive. Before the email is sent, you’re prompted to add a greeting card and custom text message, and the software does everything else for you – even sending you a confirmation that your email has been sent. The beauty of the Mino is the simplicity of its ability to package out a semi-tailored home video.
The previous Flip camera could be found in blister wrapped packaging in drug and department stores and retail stores alike, and at over 1 million units sold was clearly a popular option, but the price tag felt more appropriate at a manageable $139.99 USD. The newer Mini has a price tag of $179.99 USD which might make people second guess their camera purchase and go with a more traditional camera rather than the Mino, or most will just use the camera built into their cell phone for the same quality. If you want a no fuss sharing video solution, or are looking for a gift for a parent or completely non technical friend, they will get a kick out of the Mino, if you’re buying it for yourself as your primary camera, spend a little more and get something different.
• Easy to use
• Includes editing software
• Plenty of Social Sharing features
• Compact and Lightweight
• Expensive for the purpose
• Poor sound
• Poor zoom
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