Review: Flip Video Mino HD
Posted on November 9, 2009
Pure Digital Technologies Inc. isn’t the most well known of brands. Ask people what they make and most wouldn’t know but show them a Flip Video camera and they’re instantly interested. Its quite a nice lineup of products they’ve got with a very focused direction; simplicity in photography. The Flip Video series has been tremendously well received by bloggers and social media aficionados but yet the brand, in Canada at least, is relatively unknown.With a value price point and a solid product you would think the original Flip Video cameras would be tremendously popular but soon after their release in Canada they started to show their age in as much as they did not support high definition. By that point it was fast becoming a necessity. The cameras promoted their Easy-To-YouTube abilities so then once YouTube began to support HD footage, the lack of HD in the Flip cameras became the elephant in the room.
Enter the Flip Mino HD, which I thoroughly road tested for a couple of weeks. It retains all the simplicity of the original Flip Video cameras but really improves everything by a level or two, providing a more elegant and streamlined device. It is clear that this is a generational jump when the two are compared directly. The Minio is smaller. It feels more solid (less like a plastic toy), forgoes AA batteries for an internal rechargeable battery. The device retains a no-wires approach and charges simply by plugging in its best survival knife UAB connector.
It still records an hour of video but of course this time it does so in HD and with surprisingly good quality, even adjusting well for changing focus and light levels and having no problems with fast action. Forget your camera phone. It’s worth having this little gadget in your pocket for video as it puts any other comparably sized device to shame. The balance of form-factor and video quality is fantastic here.
It would be nice if it had a removable memory card but really I can see why that wasn’t an inclusion; its a relatively unnecessary complication. The Mino keeps things simple and if you want to record more than an hour of video you should probably step up a level to a full size camcorder anyhow. The same can be said for the preview screen. It is a small screen but frankly it does the job and if you find yourself needing a larger screen then you are in the wrong product category. This isn’t a camcorder. It’s a fun, social, and most of all simple way to take quick video clips while on the go.
The largest complaint is perhaps the buttons. They are simple and flush-mounted but while navigating the camera’s menus (something which will be admittedly a rare occurrence) they can be less than intuitive. The camera also warms up a little after 30 or 40 minutes of solid recording but that’s not so bad – its actually somewhat pleasant so we won’t call it a complaint! It might be nice if it had built in WiFi or Bluetooth for uploading but otherwise it’s hard to imagine it being less simple and intuitive. You would imagine that it was made by Apple in fact.
Overall the Flip Mino seems like just what Pure Digital needs. Its got everything the original Flip Ultra had but has not caught up to the current climate of video. Now that its available in Canada maybe they can finally make that splash that they’ve been on the cusp of for so long. Every time you take it out people will be curious. You’ll often get asked ‘is that a phone?’ and then once you explain that its ‘just’ a camera they’ll ask ‘who makes it?’. Be prepared. Then once they play with it a little or get to see the resulting video, they’ll ask where they can get one of their own. It’s true.