The increasing availability of small form factor video recorders is, in a word, cool. You no longer need a large camcorder unless you want the flexibility of disc-based media or higher lens quality. The need for standard camcorders will never go away, but for quick on-the-fly video recording, nothing beats the small form factor, flash based video recorder.
The Flip Video Mino is one such camera. Let’s take a look at it.
A few months ago, I took a look at the big brother of the Mino: the Flip Video. The camera gets it done and I thought it was small enough. However, the Mino takes it up a notch (or should I say down?)
What’s So Different About It?
First, what are the primary differences between the original Flip Video and the Mino?
- Uses an internal battery rather than AA batteries. Is charged by way of your USB port and provides about 4 hours of use.
- Smaller form factor (only about 0.2 inches shorter, but about half the thickness). Also weighs less.
- More up-to-date video compression engine
- Uses touch sensitive buttons on the back rather than “easy press” buttons
- Pause, fast forward and rewind capability
- Omni directional microphone
- Included software includes native Myspace support (for those who care)
- Comes with a power adapter (earlier models do not)
The price comes in at $179.99. This is about $30 cheaper than the Ultra model I reviewed earlier. Is it worth the extra scratch?
If size is a big issue for you, then yes. The Mino is noticeable smaller than the Ultra. There isn’t a pocket this couldn’t fit in. And the weight makes it easy to fit even into a shirt pocket without it dragging your shirt down to your knees. The next thing to do is run some video tests (obviously).
[flv:http://pcmech.s3.amazonaws.com/reviews/mino_review.flv 320 240]
A quick video review while driving
[flv:http://pcmech.s3.amazonaws.com/reviews/florida_rain.flv 320 240]
Florida rainstorm and a dork recording it behind the wheel
[flv:http://pcmech.s3.amazonaws.com/reviews/elyana_cloverfield.flv 320 240]
Using the Flip Video Mino for quick family moments
As you can see, the video quality is really pretty good for a camera this size. The microphone does a good job of capturing everything that is going on. I also noticed that the 2X zoom seems to look a little better on this camera than it did on the Ultra.
Like the Ultra model, the USB plug is not flexible. Seeing as you need to charge the Mini from your USB port, that means you’re going to have the camera hanging straight out from your USB port for an extended period of time. There would be some definite benefit to having a standard USB cable included with this camera so that it can be connected yet still sit on my desk without having to hang out there in the air.
Also, the buttons on the back combined with a lack of motion compensation means you’re likely to see some camera movement on your videos. You’re likely to see a little jolt when you push a button to zoom or start/stop recording, for example. he situation is helped on the Mini, though, because the buttons are touch sensitive – an improvement over the larger models.
The Flip Video Mino is great for anybody who wants a video camera on the go. As a blogger, I find it handy to be able to easily record quick videos with no preparation required. You could also use a Flip for records purposes. For example, one person I know uses a camera similar to the Flip when doing home inspections. Makes for a good record of the inspection for easy writeup when he gets back to the office. The uses are plenty.
To me, it is amazing how such a small device can so revolutionize the field of video recording. And you can have a piece of the revolution if you get your own a Flip Video. I do recommend you do your research, though. The Flip Video series are great cameras, but sometimes you can find similar cameras at more competitive prices elsewhere. Pure Digital obviously has some great marketing folks in order to give the Flip the attention it has received.
The PCMech.com weekly newsletter has been running strong for over 8 years. Sign up to get tech news, updates and exclusive content - right in your inbox. Also get (several) free gifts.