Flip has carved out a substantial slice of the pocket camcorder market and it's not hard to see why: the lightweight but robust FlipVideo Flip UltraHD camcorder fits easily into a pocket and is simplicity itself to use.
The software comes preloaded on the FlipVideo Flip UltraHD camera and you don't need to worry about remembering a memory card as its built in. The Flip UltraHD we review here has 8GB of internal flash memory. There aren't even any cables to remember not to lose: the Flip hallmark is the USB arm that flips out from the lefthand side of the camcorder and that attaches it directly to a PC or laptop to transfer files.
Easy peasy software allows you to view your video clips on your computer screen and transfer any you want to save to its hard drive. While you're at sorting out your video footage, the FlipVideo Flip UltraHD is recharging itself.
As a convenient video recorder, the Flip is an obvious winner - its makers liken its success to that of the iPod and we can see their point. The Flip range is about to go onsale in the UK through no less than the Apple Store - acknowledgement, perhaps, that Apple would struggle to pull off a better implementation of its straightforward to well executed camcorder for the masses.
There may be more capable video cameras out there, but for one that anyone can pick up and use, it's highly compelling. It's got a gurt red Record button smack in the middle flanked by a play button and one to delete anything you don't like.
In fact, FlipVideo's problem now isn't selling enough of its Flip cameras; it's selling better versions to existing customers and designing separate models to its two main customer groups. There's the YouTube and Facebook generation that want to record themselves and their mates and their hijinks and share them with the world asap. For them there's the new silver Mino model on which they can check themselves out before putting themselves on YouTube.
The other big customer type for the Flip is the older generation who are more interested in videoing their kids or grandchildren and having some footage to save for posterity. That's the market for the Flip UltraHD.
While there's wasn't too much to criticise about the FlipVideo Flip UltraHD, the addition of 1,280x720p HD (high-definition) video capture is important. The video quality is markedly better and the colours sharper and brighter but the zoom is limited to 1.5x.
FlipVideo has added an HDMI port too, so you can hook up the UltraHD straight to an HD-ready TV and instantly relive the cute antics of little Joe as he stumbled along the beach.
The software that comes with the camcorder now lets you take still photos of any part of your video, send a themed video greeting card, splice together clips to create your own movie or post them straight to the web. The camcorder now outputs to H.264 video - ideal for YouTube and for viewing shared clips on portable devices such as the iPhone.
Even with the increased storage demands of HD video, the 8GB capacity of this camcorder is sufficient for two hour's use. You always know how much more you can record as it's displayed along the bottom of the screen. The screen itself is larger than previous models too.
We found the switch from 1.5in to 2in made it noticeably more useful and the 960x240 pixel resolution a welcome step up. The UltraHD also has replaceable batteries, so if it's not convenient to recharge the one supplied via USB, you can charge them in an external charging cradle.
It's hard to fault the FlipVideo Flip UltraHD. The cramped screen has been addressed and the quality of video captured improved. This camcorder is a very compelling purchase and its straightforward usability second to none.