In terms of camcorder features, the Mino is as limited as the Ultra. The real buttons have been replaced with touch-sensitive ones, but there are precious few new abilities. You can pause and fast forward when playing back, which you couldn’t on the Ultra. But the only settings available are changing the data and time, plus whether the device makes noises when you press buttons. The 2x digital zoom is the only configuration you can alter during shooting. There is no manual focusing, no aperture and shutter, not even scene modes to think about.
The biggest revelation with the Flip Video Ultra was how well it performed in low light – although this isn’t such a surprise considering the fairly large 1/4in CMOS. The Mino, with an identical sensor, performs just as well. In optimal lighting conditions, the image isn’t exactly pin-sharp, particularly if you’re getting used to HD camcorders, and bright colour graduations tend to run into each other, losing distinction. But overall the results are far beyond what you would expect for a camcorder in this price range, beating camera phones and most digital cameras hands down.
Drop the light levels further, and the Flip Mino impresses still further. In the average living room, lit by one or two ceiling lights, the Mino still retains plenty of colour and shoots bright-looking video. This is a key ability, as a lot of family events will take place in these kinds of lighting conditions – exactly the sort of shooting this camcorder is aimed at. In this respect, the Mino actually outperforms budget big-name camcorders costing twice the price. However, drop the lighting further and the image does begin to darken. Few camcorders produce an image worth using in the equivalent of candle light, with the exception of Canon’s recent HD models, so this isn’t a particularly damning failure
The slightly smaller form factor means the Mino will only focus to 1m rather than 80cm. However, in practice we found that shots closer than a few metres looked quite blurry, thanks to the fixed lens. So macro shots are not its forte either.