When a product's sole tenet is simplicity, revisions can be tricky. The new Flip MinoHD and UltraHD cameras play it safe: the video's still 720p, but it's 60fps and image-stabilised, and the devices look familiar but the Ultra's now accessory-friendly.
Flip's four new cameras—an 8GB and 4GB UltraHD ($US199 and $US149) and 8GB and 4GB MinoHD ($US229 and $US179)—give all the existing models (besides the odd-man-out Slide) a nice little update. And in some ways it is just a nice little update. There's no 1080p video, something that could've set the the line apart from the encroaching threat of smartphone video cameras. But that doesn't mean nothing's changed under the hood: all the new models have new sensors, shooting 720p video at 60fps with a newly developed, always-on image stabilisation (all, that is, except for the $US149 4GB UltraHD, which is the cheapest of the bunch and still shoots at 30fps without image stabilisation.)
I've only had the new 8GB UltraHD for a few days—cosmetically, it's a bit slimmer than the old Ultra and has a nicer matte-ish finish—and I haven't yet had the chance to test it extensively against its predecessors or its competition. But so far the new footage looks great. The image stabilisation is immediately noticeable (always in a good way, though sometimes, after reviewing footage you know you just shot with a super shaky hand, in a kind of freaky good way) and it goes a long way to elevate Flip footage from something that looks like it was shot with a single-purpose "good enough" pocket cam to a product that turns out a bit more polished. The new, stabilised clips look good enough that you might feel compelled to edit a few together for a little Suzie's First Soccer Game narrative, as opposed to just picking the least-shaky one of the bunch and uploading it straight to YouTube as you might have done before.
Here's a clip comparing the last generation MinoHD to the new UltraHD, shot simultaneously with one in each hand as I twirled around like a ballerina (old and busted first, new hotness second).
As seen in the first clip, in addition to the richer colours afforded by the new sensor, the image stabilisation does a decent job of correcting not only the tiny movements caused by my shaky hands, but also some of the unevenness of my broader circular movement. And where the walking in the second set of shots resulted in an almost schizophrenic clip with the old Mino, the new Ultra fares a bit better and is, for my money, significantly more watchable (and watch it lock on to that bus!)
The other big feature found on the new UltraHDs (but not the Minos) is the FlipPort, a new connector located next to the standard HDMI that allows for the attachment of a variety of proprietary Flip accessories slated to arrive in coming months. Some such add-ons I saw included an external mic by Blue, a wireless lapel mic by Scosche, a battery pack, and a pico projector. Fun stuff! That line of accessories, Designed for Flip, will also include non-FlipPort products like a waterproof case and a magnetic Wide Angle lens. Some of these sound quite cool, and they'll be a nice way to offer some additional functionality for budding videographers while keeping the core Flip device itself as simple as ever.
Cisco Debuts All-New Flip Video Lineup
New Line Delivers Next-Generation Video Quality, Expanded Personalization Capabilities, and More Options for Fun
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – September 20, 2010 – Cisco's Flip Video®, the world's leader in shoot-and share video cameras, today rolled out an exciting all-new line up of affordable UltraHD™ and MinoHD™ video cameras with a host of compelling features: signature Flip Video simplicity; innovative enhanced HD video quality with always-on image stabilisation, expanded product personalization options; and more ways to share video using pre-loaded FlipShare™ software. Flip also announced today Designed for Flip™, a new program offering fun accessories from a wide range of partners that include everything from wide angle lenses and external microphones to battery chargers and a portable projector (see separate release).
"This is without question the best line of Flip Video cameras we've ever created," said Jonathan Kaplan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Consumer Products. "The new line combines Flip's signature simplicity and affordability with truly breakthrough video quality, unlimited personalization options, and an array of creative new accessories – all of which add up to more fun, and an even better video experience for our consumers."
Building upon the acclaimed Flip Video user experience — which makes it easy and fun for anyone to capture and share video — Flip Video's new line has raised the bar again, by delivering amazing video quality without compromising Flip's hallmark simplicity. By combining its innovative, always-on image stabilisation technology with 720p resolution at 60 frames per second (fps), Flip now offers the consumer stunningly clear and steady video that's both simple and affordable. The new Flip Video line is available nationwide starting at just $US149.99, offering a video camera for every budget.
In addition, the entire Flip Video family is now available in personalised designs so Flip owners can express their own personal style with every Flip they buy, at no additional cost. Consumers can visit the Flip Online Store (TheFlip.com) to choose from thousands of designs from artists, celebrities, and iconic brands, or upload an image to create their own one-of-a-kind Flip video camera.
The new Flip video cameras also come pre-loaded with the latest version of FlipShare, which helps consumers easily organize, edit and share their videos. FlipShare upgrade now includes direct posts to Twitter™— joining the convenient direct-share options already popular with Facebook™ and YouTube™. Flip users can count on stunning video no matter how they choose to view or share it – on a computer, their HDTV or using the simple direct uploads to social media sites.
New UltraHD Family
The world's best-selling shoot-and-share video family – the Flip Video UltraHD – now offers two new models with even more reasons to own one. For the first time, the UltraHD line offers personalization through the Flip Online Store (TheFlip.com) with thousands of designs for users to create a video camera showcasing their own personal style. Along with always-on image stabilisation and newly enhanced 720p/60 fps video quality, the new Flip Video UltraHD 2 hour also features a new design that fits easily in a pocket or purse. The UltraHD 2 hour is the first Flip video camera to feature FlipPort™ – a proprietary Flip-designed connector enabling new add-ons options as part of the newly announced Designed for Flip™ accessory program.
The new Flip Video UltraHD 1 hour is the first-ever HD Flip Video camera priced at $US149.99. An industry top-seller and consumer favourite, this Flip offers more for less: one hour of high-quality HD video; Flip simplicity, no-hassle built-in memory; plus a choice of magenta, blue, white or thousands of unique designs.
New Flip MinoHD Line
The new MinoHD 1 hour and 2 hour video cameras are sleek and stylish with enhanced HD video quality. Like the new UltraHD line, the new MinoHD video cameras now feature the built-in image stabilisation and 720p/60 fps combination allowing consumers to capture incredibly clear and steady video. Flip customers can opt for black, silver or from thousands of designs at the Flip Online Store (TheFlip.com). To express their own personal style, consumers can easily upload their own image to create a one-of-a-kind Flip MinoHD video camera.
Model UltraHD 8 GB/ 2 Hour UltraHD 4 GB/ 1 Hour MinoHD 8 GB/ 2 Hour MinoHD 4 GB/ 1 Hour
Color Black, White and personalised White, Magenta, Blue and personalised Black and personalised Silver and personalized
Recording time 2 hours 1 hour 2 hours 1 hour
Memory 8 GB 4 GB 8 GB 4 GB
Video Resolution High Definition; 1280x720 (60fps) with image stabilisation High Definition; 1280x720 (30fps) High Definition; 1280x720 (60fps) with image stabilisation High Definition; 1280x720 (60fps) with image stabilization
The new Flip line-up promises to build on the success of the Flip Video family, which includes American's best selling camcorders, with nearly 5 million Flip video cameras sold to date.
The new Flip video cameras will be broadly distributed and are available starting today at the Flip Video Store (www.TheFlip.com), Best Buy and Amazon.com and coming soon to Wal-Mart, Target and Staples.