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Flip MinoHD Video Camera 8 GB, 2 Hours (2nd Generation)

December 6th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
3 Stars- techdad
(Courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program)

Having used the original Flip Ultra extensively and to a lesser extent, the Creative Labs Vado HD 8GB 2nd Gen, I was eager to see how the Flip MinoHD would fare against those two very popular pocket camcorders.  I came away a bit disappointed but hopeful for improvements on a delicious design.

PROS
  • Gorgeous, sleek appearance
  • Brushed metal face
  • Good 2″ LCD screen
  • Now with stereo mic
  • 2 hour capacity
  • Easy to use FlipShare software
  • Excellent build quality
CONS
  • Short battery life
  • Battery not user replaceable
  • No image stabilization
  • Only 2x zoom
  • Average video quality and only 720p
  • No HDMI cable included
PHYSICAL QUALITY & DESIGN
Physically, this is the smallest pocket camcorder I know of.  It is gorgeous and absolutely tiny.  The build quality is also amazing and feels rock solid in my hands.  As with other pocket camcorders, it has a built in USB connector to plug into your computer.  The Flip retains the rigid connector (though metal now) where others have gone to the more durable, flexible connector.

SCREEN & CONTROLS
The 2″ 320 x 240 resolution LCD screen looks nice but is a bit grainy compared to the Vado’s.  The screen shows you the remaining record time available as well as the battery status.  The controls are mostly touch sensitive buttons.  The exception being the record/stop button and the power button.  The touch sensitive controls are fairly responsive but I found myself accidentally activating functions just through normal handling of the device.  The trash can/delete button being the most dangerous to accidentally activate, has a locking mechanism whereby you hold it to “lock” this button.  The glossy controls are fingerprint magnets as well.

VIDEO QUALITY
I found the video quality to be acceptable, but by no means amazing.  Colors were absolutely washed out and even in well lit, daytime shots inside, the videos came out somewhat grainy.  Most pocket camcorders struggle in low light and the MinoHD was no exception.  Unfortunately, there are no other resolutions to select, like the Vado offers so you also lose some flexibility there.  It’s 720p in 1280 x 720 resolution or nothing.

SOUND QUALITY

I found the sound to be fine in recording and appreciated the new stereo mic in the latter versions of the 2nd gen MinoHD’s.  The built-in speaker also sounded fine but easily became distorted at high volumes.

BATTERY LIFE
Given the tiny size of the device, getting about 90 minutes of recording with light previewing of clips is ok.  However, since the built-in lithium ion battery is sealed, you have no way of having a backup power source for longer shooting sessions.  Even worse, an AC adapter is not included and you must provide your own or charge it from a computer.  Given the high cost of the Flip MinoHD, I found this omission to be unacceptable.

SOFTWARE
The FlipShare software is about as easy as it gets in managing video clips of this nature.  Unlike the Vado however, you must install it on each computer in order to use it.  The Vado’s software runs off of the camcorder directly.

ACCESSORIES
The only accessories provided with the MinoHD is a tiny pouch and a wrist strap.  My wrist strap fell apart the moment I touched it and I had to contact Cisco for a replacement.  Again, for the high cost of the unit, I would have appreciated some type of silicone case and an HDMI cable, both of which are included in the less expensive Vado.

SUMMARY
The original Flip Ultra was a phenomenon that pioneered the market for pocket camcorders.  It fared so well because it was cheap and easy to use.  With the MinoHD, Cisco is attempting to go a bit high-end.  Unfortunately, it’s no longer cheap and aside from being pretty and well built, it lacks high-end substance.  The Kodak and Creative Labs offerings are a much better value and even Cisco’s own Flip UltraHD is probably better suited for most users.  However, if you are looking for a beautifully designed pocket camcorder in a tiny but well-built package, the MinoHD 2nd Gen is not a bad choice.  It just doesn’t come cheap.
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