Flip Video Mino review

£117
Price when reviewed

YouTube has completely changed our attitudes toward digital video over the past year or so. Where once shooting and editing motion footage was the preserve of keen amateurs and those with plenty of time on their hands, now just about anyone with a mobile phone can do their You’ve Been Framed bit.

The Flip Video Mino takes this to another level. It doesn’t look like much, but inside its cigarette packet-sized case hides a video camera capable of shooting decent quality footage.

It’s no HD camcorder, with no luxuries such as optical zoom or image stabilisation, but what it lacks in sophistication it makes up for in sheer simplicity. Just switch it on, press the red button on the rear and you’re shooting away. There’s 2GB of internal flash memory, so you can store up to an hour of footage at 640 x 480 and a bit rate of 4Mb/sec without having to worry about adding SD cards.

When it comes to transferring the footage to a PC, it couldn’t easier. The Mino boasts a pop-up USB plug on the top that allows you to stick it straight into a free USB socket. Usefully, its integrated battery charges over that very same connection.

Once you do plug it in, you have a choice to drag and drop the video files straight to your PC, or to use the Mino’s onboard software. The latter allows you to perform basic edits, create simple ‘Movie Mixes’ and upload clips directly to YouTube, AOL video and myspacetv.com. You can also use it to reprocess video footage for sending over email.

The video quality is surprisingly good, too. In particular, filming in bright sunlight doesn’t result in highlights that are burned out, while in low light conditions it’s noisy, but not as bad as we had expected. Don’t expect footage to rival more expensive dedicated HD-capable cameras, but it’s a darned sight better than using a mobile phone.

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It’s an admirably straightforward camera to use and its reasonable quality makes it great for impromptu shooting, but there are some problems. The flip-out USB plug is awkward and won’t squeeze into a crowded panel of sockets, and the screen is a little small for comfort at a mere 1.5in in diagonal. It is transflective, though – a nice touch which makes it easy to read in bright sunshine.

The price, though, is a more serious issue. At £102 exc VAT, it’s pricey for a camera for only casual shooting, especially when you can now pick up a decent DV camera equipped with a good optical zoom for around the same cash. A nice plaything, then, but the Flip Video Mino would have to be a good £30 cheaper to really float our boat.

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