Flip Now Shoots High-Definition Video

Pocket-size camcorder delivers sharper video at a higher price

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Flip Mino HD.jpg
New Flips can be ordered with custom covers

The Flip video camera has gone high def. The latest of the small, simple and popular Flip videocams captures sharp-looking footage that does justice to an expensive HDTV.

But I hesitate to heartily recommend the new Flip Mino HD. More on that later, because I should give credit to the manufacturer, Pure Digital. The company delivers what it promises in the HD model. It remains small and easy to use while now delivering better-looking video. The camcorder doubled the internal memory so that it could still capture a full hour at the new, 720p resolution.

The Flip comes with a new version of its software that is even cleaner and more intuitive, while offering more power and options. (The new software, by the way, is available now to owners of other Flips.) The new Flip is also said to have improved on the sound quality, though I couldn't tell much difference.

The Mino HD is follows on the Mino model that arrived last summer. They're smaller and more stylish than the original Flip models, with touch-pad buttons and a sealed, rechargeable battery. I didn't necessarily like all the changes, but could see the appeal of the sleeker Mino.

And I can see the appeal of the HD model. But for me, the new Flip is a fowl or fish question. At $230 and with high definition, it's edging into competition with conventional camcorders.

The earlier Flip Ultra holds a unique slot in our house for capturing quick videos that are easy to share across the Internet. They're short moments with the kids where action and words are more important than the image quality. For those, HD seems overkill, and the file sizes would make them cumbersome for shipping across the Internet, anyway.

If I want HD-quality video for the TV, if the scenery is beautiful or the moment important enough for archiving, I'll grab a conventional camcorder.

So my impulse, at least at these prices, is to still recommend the Flip Ultra. The Ultra lists at $150, and can be found for around $120 online. That's cheap enough that I let my 7-year-old handle it, and it does surprisingly good video for the price. Still, the new Flip Mino HD is an upgrade, for those willing to spend the extra money.