Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra

Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra

Instant video gratification.

 

Choosing - and then mastering - a digital video camera that sets you back over $300 is an intimidating task, even for the experienced videographer. Or you can spend less than a couple hundred bucks on the effortless Flip Video Ultra, an inexpensive, compact camcorder designed to be as easy to use as possible. The Flip is a truly shining example of a device that delivers on the promise of technology that can be used by anyone.

 

The Flip comes with 1GB or 2GB of flash memory for storing video (and it can also double as a portable hard drive for any type of file). Since the camera doesn’t waste energy on moving parts, you can get over 6 hours of recording and playback time with a pair of AA lithium batteries, or over 2 hours with alkaline batteries. The controls are sparse, with all the important functionality contained in a handful of buttons. The big red button stops and starts recording, a combo controller surrounding the record button delivers file navigation, there are 2x zoom and volume controls, and the two remaining buttons control playback and file deletion.

 

A small speaker is built in (but no headphone jack), and the camera can be hooked right into a television’s composite connectors using a bundled cable. The screen is sharp, though not as wonderful as the current iPod screens, but it does display the remaining recording time quite accurately. The Flip lacks a visual battery meter, so keep some spare batteries handy.

 

It’s incredibly easy to get up and running, and while the 640-by-480-pixel resolution, 30-frames-per-second video won’t put any HD cameras out of business, the overall quality is good enough for Web work, family outings, and letting the kids have a try at guerrilla filmmaking. We were a little less than thrilled with the audio quality - you’ll need to be close to your subjects for healthy signal levels - but it’s totally serviceable for the intended audience.

 

Getting your video out of the camera is cake: a USB plug swings out of the side, letting you plug the entire camera right into your Mac. The camera shows up in the Finder, where you’ll see the installer for loading the 3ivx MPEG-4 5.0 Decoder QuickTime codec on your Mac, which lets you edit and play the native AVI files that come off the Flip. Drag the movies onto a hard drive, load them up in iMovie or any other video editor, and chop away. There’s an application that makes it easy to preview, rename, and do basic edits on the videos when they’re still on the camera and then upload them directly to YouTube. This might be enticing for total newbies, but it’s of less interest to anyone comfortable with iMovie.

 

The reviewed Flip Video Ultra model has some significant advantages over the standard Flip Video model ($139.99 for 60 minutes), including double the video data rate (delivering noticeably better video quality) and a higher-resolution screen that works a bit better in outdoor lighting conditions. It also includes a tripod mounting thread, crucial for smooth video captures. And won’t someone please figure out how to hack the Flip into a webcam?

 

The bottom line. The Flip Video Ultra is simply perfect for folks who want the kind of immediate gratification they would normally get from watching television, making this a perfect gift for aspiring videographers and anyone seeking instant video enlightenment. It’s a seriously cool video gadget that delivers a big bang in a small, inexpensive package.

 

COMPANY: Pure Digital

CONTACT: www.theflip.com

PRICE: $149.99 (30 minutes recording time), $179.99 (60 minutes)

REQUIREMENTS: 1GHz G4 or Intel processor, Mac OS 10.3.9 or later, 512MB RAM

Low price. Absolute ease of use. Decent image quality.

No battery meter. Audio quality could be better.

 

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Luilu Needs answers

Okay for school I need to film some stuff, if I film it with my flip camera can I upload it to imovie 06?? I need the answer because my group needs this info!! Plz reply!!

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lilyeejames

According to Apple official website, iMovie can only import DV, HDV, MPEG-4, MOV and M4V. However, most of Flip camcorders records in MPEG-4 AVI video format which is not supported by iMovie. In order to successfully import this kind of Flip video to iMovie, we need to convert it to iMovie compatible format like MPEG-4, DV.

Just google search Step by Step Guide on How to Import Flip Video to iMovie'11, '09, '08

you will find a step by step guide on how to convert and import Flip video to iMovie'11/'09/'08

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Luilu Needs answers

Okay for school I need to film some stuff, if I film it with my flip camera can I upload it to imovie 06?? I need the answer because my group needs this info!! Plz reply!!

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benet

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jayfresh

Hi,

I've had my Flip Ultra for five days and so far I'm pretty happy with it!

Annoyingly, Movie Mixer isn't included in the Mac software - this is a way I found to use iMovie to make a film and then get it back into Flip Video for Mac so you can use the simple (and effective) exporting options:

 

  1. Save the video files from Flip to the computer - they’ll be saved as AVI’s
  2. Create a new iMovie project, add your clips and make your movie
  3. When it comes to exporting the finished video, export as a Quicktime File and choose the 3ivx codec (this is installed the first time you run “Flip Video for Mac”), 30 frames per second and 640×480 resolution - other settings seem fine on their defaults
  4. After iMovie has finished exporting, plug in the Flip and look in its “DCIM” folder for the existing videos, which will be called something like “VID0000x.AVI”; rename your movie so it is the next in sequence and copy it across to the Flip
  5. Now, when you open up “Flip Video for Mac”, your movie will be treated just like any other on the Flip

I grabbed the above from my blog post reviewing my Flip: http://jaybyjayfresh.com/2008/09/22/a-weekend-with-a-flip/

Hope that helps,

 

J.

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tybeebum

I've had no problems playing, saving, etc. My problem is YouTube. Movies upload OK, but fail processing every time. I've not seen other references to this problem, and I'm a part-time idiot, so any ideas? I've tried uploading directly from flip software as well as using flip software to convert to .mov format before uploading from desktop with no luck. Firmware has been updated as of 3/8/08.

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tybeebum

OK, iSquint did the trick. Maybe YouTube doesn't like 3ivX? It certainly didn't like the videos I uploaded in that codec. Don't waste a precious minute of your life with Flip's customer support or tech support, by the way.

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Ric

Leopard and Perian.

Perfect. Thanks.

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Sam Wilson

Well I just got my Flip cam in today and any feelings of excitement have been replaced by frustration. This POS doesn't work in Leopard and their packaged software works so badly you would suspect they outsourced it to a local school's media arts class or something.

It's too bad, I had high hopes :(

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Anonymous

And whose fault is it that the Flip does not work with Leopard? Flip or Apple? Apple changed the O/S.

As far as the sotware being poor, it is not intended to be iMovie, just a very basic editor.You get what you pay for

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Anonymous

A new mac OSX compatible firmware update utility for the Pure Digital Flip Ultra video camcorder is now available at: http://support.theflip.com/fwupdate/camcorderupdate

It fixes issues with stalled copies from the camera to your machine. I'm also using the on camera software fine on my 10.5.1 MacBook Pro. Normally I don't use the software though and just copy the AVIs directly off the camera, then I run them through DivX doctor and turn them into .mov files. I copy the files over, launch DivX doctor, then open, point to the folder, select all and go. Afterwards, I delete the original .avi files. Doing it this way allows me to have .mov files that read fine in Quicktime.

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Craig

Using suggestions given by Flip Video and Bakari's suggestion on updating Flip Video on my PC at http://www.theflip.com/app/prius/31/update/, we are now up and running on Mac Leopard.

My son is able to view, save and edit his Flip Video films on Mac Leopard.

THANK YOU TO ALL...Unfortunately, it is like finding a "needle in a haystack" to get this information and support with retailers.

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cuykaylab

I got help from the Apple Genius bar who downloaded a program called iSquint that changes my avi files to mp4 so iMovie08 will read them. I'm going to try the suggestions about useing the update on a different computer and uploading to the camcorder. I use it a lot in my work to tape consultations in dog training and it is very helpful!

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rmstudio

I got my flip ultra and its working fine and works with my Imac without a hitch... No problems with the camera or the software running on OS 10.5 I love the thing. Yah its not perfect video quality but its dam close to a 500.00 Mini DV camera! for 120 bucks on Amazon how can you go wrong? Sure it doesnt have a huge monitor or big zoom but hey its pocket sized and takes AA batteries. Its about 95% of the quality of a mini dv cam and has pretty dam decent sound quality. What it doesnt have in quality or features it makes up for in ease of use and pocketbility.. Which in turn makes for alot of quick easy video captures of things normally you wouldnt bust out the big sized Mini Camcorder for.. ie: the girlfriend arguing with you and you whipping it out to show her that she didnt say what she said.... Ending the discussion... Husbands can thank me later...

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Ray Lazarine

Hi David,

While I have also received the same response from Pure Digital regarding the current lack of support for Leopard, I have been able to install the Flip Video software and transfer the .avi movies over to my iMac running OS X 10.5.1.

However, I've not been able to import the .avi files to iMovie '08.
Your article makes a reference to iMovie, however it was not clear to me whether you were able to successfully import and edit the files from the Flip Video camera, using iMovie.

To work around this, I've had to import the .avi files into Toast Titanium and convert the files to DV files. I'm then able to open the converted DV files w/ iMovie '08.

Can you please clarify whether you've been able to import and edit w/ iMovie on a Mac?

Thank you,
Ray Lazarine
raylaz@mac.com

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David Biedny

Folks,

I've had no problem loading the AVI files into iMovie 06, Premiere Pro and After Effects, but I have NOT tried using iMovie 08. I've stayed away from it after reading the many comments on the web regarding the massive changes from iMovie 06...

So I just ran iMovie 08, and indeed, it does not appear that the AVIs can be imported. Another reason to stick with iMovie 06.

dB

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Anonymous

Beautifully designed camera for the price. I can view the .avi files on my MacBook (using QuickTime), but cannot import into the iMovie. Downloaded the above quoted upgraded, but no go..
-lynn

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Bakri

I purchased this camcorder tonight to shoot my son's birthday, and it seriously is not working on either my Mac Pro or my PowerBook G4--both running Leopard. I tried installing the Decorder you speak of, but whenever I try to open up the camera's installed software, it simply crashes my Finder. At one point, I could access the AVA files on the camera, but on a second or third try that didn't work. I still can't get them copied to my computer. You guys make this camera set up sound easy, but it's not working for me.

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Eli

The device itself is great, but this was near impossible to get up and running on the Mac. Too many problems to list - generally, everything we tried either crashed the finder or ended with a message suggesting that we call their on-hold-for-20-minutes tech support. Returning today.

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glenesis

If you have problems with the 3ivX format video, download the freeware Perian codec bundle. It is an easy install, and plays back just about all of the video and audio formats (including DivX) you would ever use, all from one handy installation.

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16pitches

I had done everything else -- installed the firmware update, downloaded and installed the DivX and 3ivX codecs, but nothing was working. Every time I tried to edit the original AVI files in iMovie 6 or iDVD, the program would crash. But, I installed the Perian Codec and now everything seems to be working properly. Thanks so much for the heads-up on that plug-in!

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George

Like many of you, the video from Flip Ultra wasn't working nicely with my Macbook Pro running Leopard. Installing all the software and firmware updates didn't help either. But installing Perian did. Now my videos play like butter!

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David Biedny

I've had no problems connecting the Flip to my Macs - a few of them - copying the files to my internal hard drive, opening them and messing with them in After Effects and Final Cut. I was also able to use the bundled app, but as I stated in the review, anyone who has basic experience with iMovie will find the bundled editing app to be rather weak. I'm wondering if there's an issue using USB 1.0 ports (as in the Powerbook G4, if I'm not wrong), I've only used it on Macs with USB 2.0 ports. Have you tried getting some tech support from the Flip folks?

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Bakari

Here's a message I got from the company:

"The Flip Video camera does not support Mac OSX Leopard (OSX 10.5.x), so
we cannot guarantee that the Flip Video program will have full
functionality. However, you should still be able to access your videos
in order to play and save them.

We are working on adding Leopard support in future versions of our
software and camcorders. We are also hoping to provide an upgrade to our
current users, although we do not have a release date.

While we do not technically support Leopard, we have an update that
seems to allow for smooth functionality of the Flip on Leopard. It would
be beneficial to upgrade your camcorder on another computer using this
link: http://www.theflip.com/app/prius/31/update/. You can then try to
run the program on your Mac.

We apologize for any inconvenience, and hope you won't hesitate to
contact us further."

I tried using the camera on both my Mac Pro and my PowerBook G4. I can't even get it to copy the files.

It's really too bad. I like the camera, but it looks I'm gonna have to take it back to the store.

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camille Moss

I aggree with you. The setup is extremely easy, but this is not working on my Mac at all. The application just keeps crashing.

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David Biedny

I do indeed feel that this is a perfect, low cost option for folks looking to get their feet wet with video work, but who are hesitant to drop more than a couple hundred bucks on a camcorder. This camera is rugged, dependable (no moving parts), and delivers really decent video quality for the money. How many other choices are on the market that deliver 640x480, 30 fps video for under $200? With no learning curve? That would be none. I used the term "aspiring" as a qualifier - and feel absolutely comfortable making that statement. If they improve the audio quality - my one major issue - it would rate 5 stars.

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James R Bizzari

I've read that the CCD's in a camcorder are different from those found in digital cameras, resulting in photos not as sharp as if taken with a regular digital camera.
Is the reverse true?
I have a Canon Powershot SD870 IS Digital Elph that will shoot video at 640x480, 30fps.
Will the video quality of the Flip Ultra be better?
Thanks.

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Mark Kjeldgaard

In the course of helping my daughter resolve Leopard issues on her Macbook, I downloaded the flip upgrade onto my Leopard G4 PB including the 3ivx video codec. Then Flip Ultra worked, BUT a few minutes later I tried opening Word 2000 for Mac, and it crashed before opening, repeatedly. I removed 3ivx and Word was all better. Disappointing there are so many issues w the Flip software, my other daughter uses one w Tiger and it's a blast.

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Michael Dunlop

Ok it might be cool, and a good idea for home videos or vacations but I wouldn't say it was a "perfect gift for aspiring videographers"!

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Hoodgrown_Magazine

I was looking for a low end camera to shoot video to throw up on YouTube and I was about to get something else when the guy at Walmart recommended this camera.

It seems the same camera is out under a few different brands as mine is called the RCA EZ (something).

I was totally surprised at the quality of this camera, especially for it's price. DVD quality video (though it eats up more memory)but come on.

Why not get it for the aspiring videographer?

I shoot my first YouTube video with this camera and edited in Imovie...

check out this camera's quality:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=pNSIhwsry98

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MacLifer

FYI - The RCA EZ is not the Flip in any way, shape or form. The EZ was created as competition for the Flip but has nothing to do with the Flip. Read reviews on both and go from there.

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