The new UltraHD takes a very flexible approach to power supply, though. In the box you find a rechargeable pack which will last for around 1.5 hours of shooting. But the same battery compartment will also accommodate a trio of AAA batteries, so you can call upon regular cells in an emergency. However, Flip claims regular batteries are for backup only, and won’t last as long as the rechargeable pack.
And, of course, the feature which most defined this genre of camcorder and gave the Flip its name remains: a built-in full-sized USB jack allied with built-in software. The FlipShare software supplied has matured quite nicely, too, and now offers most of what you need for a quick edit. Not only can you upload footage to the de facto YouTube, but current social networking darlings Facebook and Twitter are also included. FlipShare’s editing abilities are quite reasonable as well. You can trim the beginning and end points of your clips, then string them together, add opening and closing credits, as well as background music.
We’ve consistently been surprised by the image quality afforded by Flip’s camcorders. Although they cater for the simplest point-and-shoot user, and sit at the budget end of the price range, Flips traditionally sport larger sensors than budget camcorders used to offer, and certainly than any current smartphone. This particularly enhances low light performance, and the UltraHD 8GB carries on this tradition. Colour and detail are maintained to a reassuringly low level of illumination, and colour fidelity is also decent.
Budget mainstream camcorders are now providing more competition again, such as Samsung’s HMX-H200 with its back-side illuminated sensor. But Flip’s UltraHD 8GB will capture your footage under most lighting conditions, and crucially during those indoor situations where artificial illumination leaves a lot to be desired, which is the most you can ask for in a camcorder costing under £150. Performance in good lighting is less surprising, but still reasonable for a camcorder at this price.
The Flip was a minor revolution in camcorders, but it’s far from unique now. The waterproof Kodak Playsport Zx3 and low cost Panasonic’s HM-TA1 are both available for well under £100, and even though you have to factor some SDHC memory into their prices, they still make the UltraHD 8GB look expensive. Conversely, Sony’s Bloggie Touch MHS-TS20K and JVC’s PICSIO GC-FM2 add more features for not that much more money. So a lot is riding on the FlipPort. Let’s hope the peripherals are worth waiting for, as otherwise the third generation of Flip’s UltraHD doesn’t add enough or come in cheap enough to be as revolutionary as its predecessors.