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A new camcorder format is upon us. Traditionally, the focus has been on video quality and features. But the mobile phone has opened up a new culture of grabbing the moment and rapidly sharing the results, with less concern for what the footage actually looks like. So camcorders are adapting to meet the challenge, which is leaving opportunities open to manufacturers not normally associated with the video business.
Creative was the first to get a product for this new era over to TrustedReviews in the shape of the Vado. But Pure Digital Technologies is making much more of a song and dance about its Flip. The original Flip Video wasn't launched in the UK, so our first taste is the Flip Video Ultra, which is slightly smaller and of sleeker design, with double the storage capacity. The Ultra is about as tall and wide as the Vado, but around twice as fat, although there's also a Flip Mino available in the US with similar dimensions to the Vado.
Realising the impromptu videomaker is more style conscious than the camcorder enthusiast, Pure Digital makes the Flip Video Ultra in four main colours - white, black, orange and pink (with a green one also cropping up online). So you should be able to buy one which matches your outfit. The device itself uses a 1/4in CMOS sensor, which is reasonably large for a low-end camcorder. Pure Digital doesn't state how many pixels this CMOS sensor has, but each pixel is apparently 5.6μm across.
Like the Vado, the Flip shoots at 640 x 480 and 30 frames/sec, which is great for YouTube compatibility but not so good if you want to burn a PAL DVD of your footage, as that will be running at 25 frames/sec and quality-reducing frame interpolation will be required. There is only one data rate available - 4.5Mbits/sec, which means the 2GB of on-board memory will be enough for an hour of footage, and there is no slot for adding any more. Instead of using a rechargeable battery, the Flip works on two AA batteries, which last a couple of hours. So, unlike the Vado, you're not tied to a PC for power, although this is one of the reasons the Ultra is more portly.
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