Flip UltraHD review
When all you want to do is shoot some quick video footage, the last thing you want to do is whip out a whacking great video camera and spend five minutes setting up the shot. That’s why the simplicity of point and shoot pocket video cameras has caught on in the last year or so, and Pure Digital Technologies, manufacturer of the Flip range of cameras, is at the forefront of the revolution. Its latest camera, the Flip UltraHD, consolidates its position at the top.
As the name suggests, this is the high-definition version of the original VGA pocket video camera, the Flip Ultra, which met with such excitement on its launch last year. And it conforms to the same tried-and-trusted recipe, with an integrated pop-out USB plug, Flip’s excellent FlipShare software stored in the onboard memory, ready to be installed upon connection. It’s just as admirably easy to use. To shoot video, you simply switch on the camera, press the large red button on the rear once to start, and once again to stop.
It would be easy to dismiss the UltraHD as merely an incremental upgrade: it looks exactly the same as its predecessor with its chunky, retro profile. But examine the specifications more closely and you’ll soon discover that a number of changes other than the HD upgrade have made it into the new model. First on the list is the screen, which has been boosted from its original 1.6in to 2in. That extra space makes all the difference, and you can now see what you’re recording much more clearly. It’s still transflective too, so it’s viewable even in direct sunlight.
Power can be supplied by AA alkaline batteries as before, but unlike the original Ultra this version comes with a rechargeable 4,200mAh NiMH battery pack, which is charged over the camera’s USB connection. It’s the best of both worlds: you need never use AA batteries, but if you do run out of charge while you’re away from your computer, you shouldn’t ever find yourself completely stuck.
The microphone is now stereo rather than mono. There’s a mini-HDMI output, a significant advantage it holds over the Flip Mino HD, although note that there’s no HDMI cable included in the box. And last, but not least, the Flip Ultra HD boasts twice the storage, with 8GB supplied as standard, allowing you to shoot up to two hours of video.
Under the hood, the Ultra boasts the same internals as the Mino HD (same lens, same 1/4.5 CMOS sensor) and records using the same combination of H.264 codec and MP4 wrapper, so it isn’t surprising to find it matches that camera for quality. If anything, footage with the UltraHD looks a little less washed out and warmer, possibly due to a change in image processing. It’s just as good in low light, afflicted with remarkably little colour noise. Outdoor footage looks crisp. And on close inspection, compression is a little less apparent than with the Mino HD.
The only downside to the Flip UltraHD is its size and the price, which at £139 exc VAT is a touch too close to the ultra-pocketable Mino HD’s £147 for comfort. We’d still choose the latter for its slim profile as a result, but the HDMI output, increased storage and flexible battery arrangement means the Ultra HD comes a very close second.
|Camcorder HD standard||720p|
|Camcorder maximum video resolution||1280 x 720|
|Camera megapixel rating||N/A|
|Camcorder recording format||H.264 (MP4)|
|Camera optical zoom range||N/A|
|Camera optical image stabilisation||no|
|Electronic image stabilisation?||no|
|Number of sensors||1|
|Internal mic type||Mono|
|External mic socket?||no|
|Dimensions||55 x 29.5 x 108mm (WDH)|
|Camcorder internal storage type||Flash memory|
|Memory card support||None|
|Data connection||integrated USB connector|
|Composite video output?||no|
|Component video output?||no|