capsule review

Flip MinoHD Pocket Camcorder

At a Glance
  • Flip Video Flip MinoHD

    PCWorld Rating

    The MinoHD brings high-def to the world of mini camcorders--and does a good job of it.

Pure Digital Technologies' $230 Flip MinoHD brings high-definition video recording to your pocket. This tiny 720p-resolution minicamcorder doesn't have enough advanced features to replace a standard HD camcorder, but it will do an admirable job of capturing spontaneous moments and allowing you to post them online.

To see how footage captured with the Flip MinoHD compares to other HD pocket camcorders, watch our test videos: Wide-angle test | Normal lighting test | Low-light test | Audio test

The MinoHD is extremely compact and pocket-friendly, and feels good in the hand. It measures 4 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.62 inches thick--slightly larger than an iPod Nano. The MinoHD's plastic shell is a fingerprint magnet and may be prone to scratches, but Pure Digital includes a soft microfiber pouch to carry the device around. The camcorder comes in glossy black; the company also offers designed cases (and lets you create your own custom design) at the Flip Web site.

Using the MinoHD is ridiculously simple thanks to its minimalistic user interface and easy-to-understand controls. Seven buttons control the MinoHD: record, play/pause, delete video, volume up/zoom in, volume down/zoom out, previous, and next. With the exception of the record button, all of them are touch-sensitive; they work reasonably well but are easy to press accidentally. The MinoHD also features a 1.5-inch display, integrated speakers, and a tripod mount.

Flip a slider on the MinoHD's side, and out pops the USB connector. While that means you have one less USB cable to carry around, it causes the camera to dangle awkwardly off the computer when connected, and as a result the MinoHD may block other ports. Overall, I think the flip-out USB connector is a good thing, annoyances aside. Additionally, the MinoHD can output to a TV, and comes with a cable for linking to a TV's composite video and audio jacks.

The Flip MinoHD stores up to 4GB of video, which is enough for about 1 hour of recording. It has no media card slot, so you can't add more storage. The lithium ion battery will power about 2 hours of use, according to Pure Digital. Unfortunately, the battery is not user-replaceable.

I found the video quality to be pretty good, especially considering the MinoHD's diminutive size. The camcorder handles low-light and indoor situations well, shooting smooth-playing video. Colors are fairly accurate, though they have a noticeable yellowish tint. The video quality is good enough that you could use the MinoHD as your main camcorder for home movies that you would burn to DVD, but the device does not excel at close-ups. Its lens has a fixed focus (1.5 meters to infinity), and its 2X zoom is weak relative to that of typical camcorders. These limitations aren't a severe drawback if you use the MinoHD for video that you'll just post online. But YouTube doesn't support high-definition video, so if sharing on that site is all you want a minicamcorder for, you might instead consider the MinoHD's standard-definition sibling and save $50.

The MinoHD comes bundled with FlipShare, an application for transferring videos onto your computer, playing videos, sharing them online, burning videos to DVD, and more. FlipShare works with both Windows and Mac OS X. Pure Digital conveniently loaded the application's installer on the camera itself, saving you from having to futz around with a CD. FlipShare is pretty easy and straightforward to use; you have a sidebar listing your camcorder and folders containing videos you have already transferred to your PC. A toolbar along the bottom of the main window contains the various commands, such as saving videos to your system, sharing videos with friends, or creating a DVD or movie out of video clips.

FlipShare's movie-creation tool takes you through an easy four-step process and makes stringing together clips a snap, though with limited flexibility and options (you can't add transitions, use effects, and so on). However, you can use the MinoHD's video in just about any home-movie creation application that supports high-definition H.264 video. Uploading video to YouTube or similar sites is an equally simple process.

Given its size, the Flip MinoHD stands out with its good video quality, and it's downright handy. Although the Flip MinoHD won't suit everyone, if you're like me and you enjoy keeping a camera on you at all times for whatever may come up, the MinoHD is for you. If you're looking at buying an ultracompact camcorder and you want to do more than post clips on YouTube, the MinoHD deserves your attention.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The MinoHD brings high-def to the world of mini camcorders--and does a good job of it.

    Pros

    • Very small and compact
    • Excellent low-light video

    Cons

    • Fixed storage and battery
    • Very limited feature set
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