Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Great Video In A Small Package

If you are a regular reader you know that I often take designers and engineers to task for overloading electronic devices with so many features that the average intelligent person is unable to actually use them. Recently, as I was getting ready for a long bicycle trip, I looked for a video camera that would record good quality video and be very compact and light weight. When you are biking upwards of 100 miles in a day, every ounce of cargo is scrutinized.

While I had read about the “Flip™” camera from PureDigital Technologies®, I had discounted it as a toy. Since it was retailing for about $150, how good could it be? Well I was wrong. The “Flip™” video camera sets the bar very high for anyone designing a device that is simple to use, compact in size and provides superior video quality.

The camera itself is about the size of a large cell phone measuring 2”x 4”x ¾”. It weighs only a few ounces and will easily fit in your pocket or purse. From this small package comes a plethora of features. It has a small LCD screen that serves as the viewfinder and playback window. It has a fixed lens with digital zoom. (Don’t bother to use the digital zoom as it makes the video look bad.) The camera runs on two AA batteries and gets almost four hours of recording or play back time for each set of batteries.

What impresses me most are the controls, or lack thereof. The camera has an on/off button and only a few other controls. There is a large red button. Push it once and you are recording. Push it again and it stops and saves the video. The only other controls are a volume control, an erase control and a playback control. All the video settings are automatic. The color and picture sharpness are as good or better than cameras selling at five times the price. Audio record volume is automatic.

You can watch the videos on the internal screen or connect the camera to a TV or a PC. Again no settings, just plug and play.

The camera has a fold out USB connector. Using that connector you plug the camera into a computer and the camera automatically downloads special software that allows you to watch and edit your videos on your PC or Mac computer. You can ignore that software and the camera becomes an external hard drive. You can access it and copy any or all the videos into your computer and use programs like Microsoft Movie Maker™ to edit your videos.

The camera works out of the box and comes with everything you need. There are no tapes or memory cards. The video is stored in the camera on the 2 gig internal storage device and will hold one hour of high quality video. It does take some time to get used to holding the camera steady since it is so light. I made a sample of the video. Click here to watch it. I recorded the video recently using the Flip Camera while riding on the Miami Whitewater Forest Shaker Trace Bike Trail.

If you are in the market for an easy to use quality video camera for vacations or family events, you can’t go wrong with the Flip. You will find it a major electronics retailers.

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Anonymous Paul Campbell said...

Nice video explanation.
1. How did you connect it while
you biked ?

2. How did you do the little text
section at the end of the video?

I would like to use it for climbing
in the North Cascades. It would be nice to put it on my element. But the light levels can change quickly.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Paul Campbell said...

not element, helmet

12:35 AM  

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