PureDigital Flip Ultra Video Camera - Setup and Usingthe Flip Ultra

Article Index
PureDigital Flip Ultra Video Camera
Flip Ultra Specs and FlipShare
Setup and Usingthe Flip Ultra

Setup & General Usage:

The setup process for the Flip Ultra is very simple and will have to be done initially - and when you change the batteries.  It basically involves setting the correct time and date as well as indicator sounds on button presses and a record light.  There is nothing else.  This makes it very easy for everyone to get started.  Flip video cameras are meant to be super simple and they nail it.  There are no manual exposure controls, white balance or night-vision modes.  Everything is automatic and this is somewhat limiting in certain situations.

 Video Playback Quality
Video Playback Quality

 

I like several things about the Flip Ultra.  It's size and weight are great and it makes it easy to take just about anywhere.  Also, with the built-in USB connection, you don't need to take extra cables with you.  Also having the software built-in is very handy as you can easily setup and use this on your laptop or desktop computer without downloading software or bringing the CD.   As we saw on the previous page, the software is easy to understand and use - even for those that have no experience with digital video.  The video quality is very good in good lighting conditions and the battery life is excellent.  You can fill up the camera twice on a single charge.  Most cameras run out of battery before storage.


It's not all roses though.  There are a few things that leave me feeling less than impressed.  The biggest is the lack of an optical zoom.  Digital zoom is always crappy, and is pretty much useless if you want to maintain any quality.  Also, there is no image stabilization so moving when holding the camera shows quite a bit of shake.  Finally, the lack of DVD creating capability is a bit irritating - especially since the FlipShare software shows that you can "Create A DVD".

My wife has never uploaded anything to YouTube before and I asked her to compile a few clips of video taken with the Flip Ultra and put up on the web.  She's computer savvy for sure, but not YouTube savvy.  She managed to complete the whole process - including editing the video, encoding it and uploading it in under 10 minutes.  With traditional camcorders, this is a process that would take longer and involve a lot more steps.

 

The video shows low light performance, cloudy performance, moving while holding the camera and even some digital zoom.  Keep in mind that YouTube destroys the actual quality of the video, but it still gives you an idea on how it performs.  It is best outside for sure . . . and no, those aren't all my kids playing Mario Kart.

 

Final Thoughts:

The Flip Ultra is quite an interesting product.  It's certainly not for everyone, but it is a great addition to your current camcorder or for those that want to capture a few memories without forking over a lot of cash.  If you're going to be doing some pretty extreme hiking or climbing and don't want to pack your $1000 camera, this unit would still do a nice job and even if it got damaged, you're not going to cry too long over a $150 video camera.  The reality is that the Flip Ultra is a nice little unit that gets the job done while leaving a good chunk of change in your pocket.  It has a few shortcomings as we've mentioned, but no real deal-breakers - especially for under $150.

 

Pros:

  • Super simple to use
  • Excellent video quality in good lighting conditions
  • Very good battery life on cheap "AA" batteries
  • FlipShare software is very handy and simple

 

Cons:

  • No optical zoom
  • Poor quality in low-light
  • Fixed focus doesn't allow close-ups

 

Overall, we rate the Flip Ultra 4GB unit pretty well and it is a worthy choice for anyone wanting to throw a video camera in their bag for a hiking trip, or to the kid's soccer game.  For $150, it's a great value.

BCCRating

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