Flip UltraHD Camcorder

| June 23, 2009 | 7 Comments
flip ultra hd video camera 1 Flip UltraHD Camcorder

Flip Ulta—a great camera!

The Virtual Backpack is all about finding those pieces of kit–the ones that stand out. The ones that have won important volume in your pack and deserve to be lugged around the planet. Join us as we take a closer look at gear from the perspective of the long-term traveler.

The popularity of video-sharing sites, such YouTube and social nets such as Facebook, coupled with the integration of video-capture into ubiquitous mobile devices such as handsets and digicams, has turned virtually every backpacker into a budding travel videographer and documentary filmmaker.

The Flip UltraHD features 120 minutes of recording time and an included rechargeable battery pack. Its real advantage is in its form factor. Because it’s ultra-portable, it allows you to capture spontaneous video. What the Flip UltraHD offers to backpackers is an inexpensive and very easy means of recording HD video in a small form factor. And, when you are living out of a backpack for months on end, size matters—no matter what anyone tells you. Video is 16:9 widescreen, 720p HD (1280 x 720) at 30 frames per second (fps) progressive scan; recorded in MP4 format.

Its easy-to-use interface allows you to record up to 120 minutes of HD video (720p) on 8GB of internal memory—so no easily damaged and expensive tapes to take up real estate in your pack.

The Flip also comes with pre-installed software called ‘FlipShare’ that allows you to quickly and easily edit your videos. Flip users will especially appreciate the intuitive and rather elegant video editing software.

small flip ultrahd front main image Flip UltraHD Camcorder

The flip-out USB plug lets you connect to your PC or Mac easily and automatically launches the FlipShare application. As the software is launched from the camera’s memory, it instantly transforms any run-of-the-mill internet cafe into a mini video editing studio. With it, you can edit individual clips and create feature-length custom movies. It’s a great feature for those who seek location independence. The software makes it extremely easy to free up its 8GB of onboard storage, by offloading your video to video-sharing sites or online storage hubs.

It also sports another indispensible feature for backpackers—the ability to supplement the rechargeable battery with good old, off-the-shelf AAs. This could prove to be a lifesaver when you find yourself in a country with strange looking electrical outlets.

The 2-inch colour LCD with anti-glare allows you play back and also delete your videos. But the screen is far too small to be useful, aside from allowing you to frame your shot.

The biggest negative is lack of image stabilization. Your image will only be as steady as your ability to keep the camera still. However, the lack of stabilization, while not leaving you with broadcast quality, doesn’t cause the problems that we thought it might.

For the most part, we found the Flip UltraHD to be a compelling product owing to its ease of use and form factor. All in all, we are very pleased with the Flip UltraHD. It doesn’t try to do too much, but what it does, it does very well. This unit is highly recommended for those on the go who just want to shoot HD video without having to deal with the overwhelming number of options available to other bigger, more expensive camcorders.

Until a more complete package comes along, this little unit has won itself a place in both our backpack—and our virtual backpack.

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Category: Reviews

About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. Check him out on Google+.

Comments (7)

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  1. Philip Ayers says:

    Agreed, Daniel. This a fantastic pocket video camera—and it’s the best in its class, in my opinion. However, it is what it is—an inexpensive procket camers geared towards those who want to upload video for sharing. In order to get this at a good price point, you have to give up features for portability. And since it is so lightweight, you are going to see more shakiness.

    If you are looking for higher quality HD video, check out Canon’s HV line. They’re amazing. But then again you’re paying around four times the amount of the Flip HD. Again it’s all about which features are most important.

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks, will be sure to check out the Canons. Also, I’d like to get my hands on a Sanyo Xacti, which I’ve heard good things about and which is also fairly inexpensive.

  2. Jillian says:

    We’re on an RTW right now and carry the flip ultra with us (not the HD). We love it, it has it’s shortcomings, but really for the price and size it can’t be beat. It also comes with some basic editing software which we’ve used to edit our videos down in size for ease of upload.

    You make a great point about the AA batteries- we have a lot of electronics with us and we made a point to choose items that take AA- it cuts down on weight and battery chargers in our pack which is invaluable.

    Look forward to reading more about your travel preparations and eventually your travels. Cheers!

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks for the endorsement, Jillian. Kathryn and I are going to bring along ours for sure. And a point and shoot! With the portability of things these days, I am so tempted to cram so much into my pack. Used to be I carried a couple of pages and a dog-eared journal — and sometimes not even that. I have a few journals from trips that I kept in the margins of the books, I was travelling with. Filled up a whole volume of Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ with my travels through China and SE Asia. We’ve added your blog to our blogroll, and have subscribed to your RSS feed. Looking forward to keeping abreast of your travels!

  3. Eric says:

    Originally I went in to Best Buy to pick up a Mino HD so I could record studio and location “behind the scenes” photography shoots for my business. The employee I spoke to handed this to me saying “it doesn’t come out for another week, but its cheaper than the Mino that is on sale”. It was a no-brainer for me to pick up.

  4. If I’m going to spend more than a hundred bucks on an item or somewhere around there, I do extensive research first to know I got the best bang-for-the-buck and, consequently, dodge any potential future buyer’s remorse. I’ve realized that the time I spend doing my product comparisons is often time that others don’t have so I may as well share what I can. I’ll start by saying that you’ll see my “Verified Amazon Purchase” on the Flip HD Ultra Camcorder review because, obviously, that’s the one I wound up buying and I’ll share with you why. Clearest picture and sound was important to me, expert reviews that pointed to the Flip UltraHD as well and I liked the built in software and the case I can get to shoot underwater. It is the number one selling camcorder as well. So that was my personal decision-making process. However, keep in mind that if you need reading glasses none of that will matter if the 2″ screen is too small for your viewing the shots easily for playback in which case you may wish to get the Kodak if that’s important to you.

  5. Ursula says:

    I just bookmarked this page. This is a fabulous camera..Has great features and its really priceworthy. No one will regret for sure.. Thanks for sharing the review…

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