Gadget Guide: The Flip Video MinoHD Makes Home Movies a Breeze

These days, just about everyone is a moviemaker—or at least, a home-moviemaker. YouTube should be thanking us for its gazillion video clips! But there are still plenty of folks who have never used a video camera themselves. I was one of those people until three months ago, when I got my hands on a Flip Video MinoHD ($229.99,

This unbelievably easy-to-use digital camcorder lets you record and play back 4GB worth of videos, upload them to your computer and post them onto your YouTube or MySpace profile at a button click’s notice. Its makers have realized that unless you’re an aspiring Steven Spielberg, you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a big, expensive camcorder! So the approach they’ve taken is all streamlined simplicity.

Like the iPod, the Flip Mino HD has touch-sensitive navigation with just the bare essential functions: record, play/pause, delete, zoom in/out, and forward/back (for when viewing what you’ve recorded). Because honestly, what else do you need? Even more convenient is the Flip’s USB connecter, which pops straight up from the top of the device so that you can conveniently plug it into your computer and transfer your videos.

Once it’s plugged in, the FlipShare software automatically shows up onscreen, allowing you to perform light editing on your videos (by cutting from the beginning and end points of a clip) or if they’re ready to go, just post them to your YouTube, MySpace or AOL account. It’s truly as simple as that. You can also grab a still image from your video and save it as a digital photo, which I’ve done much more often than I thought I would.

I haven’t even gotten to my favorite part yet, though. Wait for it…the Flip Video minoHD weighs just 3.3 ounces and is just 2 x 3.9 inches! So yes, this little gadget has become a staple in my purse, right along with my PDA, my iPod, my makeup bag, etc. I definitely couldn’t tote a clunky, circa 2006-camcorder everywhere I go.

For those concerned with the video quality of such a teeny device, the fact that it’s a solid 720p should appease you. Though your videos won’t necessarily look crystal clear on a big-screen TV, they look perfectly fine on your computer and there is no major degradation of quality when you view them in full-screen mode. The Flip also shoots well in dimly lit settings—I recorded fireworks on New Year’s Eve, and I was amazed at how good they looked when I uploaded the video to my computer! And as you’re recording, you can get a sense of how the finished product will appear on a 1.46 inch LCD display that looks clear even in daylight.

As for the sound, I’ve recorded videos at concerts, on the beach, in department stores, etc., and I haven’t had any issues with the quality of the device’s built-in microphone. Yes, a boom mic would give you better fidelity, but let’s face it: We want gadgets that deliver high quality and convenience, and the Flip Video MinoHD offers the best of both worlds.