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Geek Gifts 2010: Flip SlideHD video camcorder

The Flip SlideHD is a novel take on the Mino, but is the pricey camcorder a must-have for a media savvy geek? Mandy Wolf Detwiler answers that question in her review.

In 2008, Pure Digital Technologies captured every geek's inner Jerry Bruckheimer by offering a flash-based pocket video camera capable of recording -- and sharing -- up to 60 minutes of video with its Flip Mino. A few months later, the company followed with a high-definition version that became the standard by which all pocket video cameras would be judged.

Since then, Pure Digital was purchased by Cisco, and the company launched a new product, the Flip SlideHD. The camera can record up to four hours of HD video and can save up to 12 hours of video for playback. A three-inch widescreen pops up for viewing. It's a novel take on the Mino, but is it a great geek gift for 2010?

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 4.13" x 2.17" x 0.98"
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • 16 GB (four hours)
  • Records up to four hours of HD video
  • Rechargeable lithium ion battery; recharges via USB or Flip Video power adapter ($24.99)
  • 3" widescreen LCD display
  • VGA-quality video (1280 x 720)
  • Connects to TV using an HDMI cable (Type A) on one end and an HDMI Mini Connector (Type C) on the other
  • Instant playback, pause, fast forward, rewind, and delete capability
  • Built-in FlipShare software useable on PC or Mac platforms
  • MSRP: $249.99 (USD)
  • TechRepublic photo gallery of the Flip SlideHD

What I like

The 3" screen is nice for watching videos; it's a handy, portable way to carry around the video equivalent of a family photo album. The ability to record four hours versus the 60 minutes you can record with a Flip MinoHD means users don't have to be choosy when capturing memories. The fact that it slides out and up at a 45-degree angle is kitschy, sure, but it's as much for shared viewing as it is for function. The controls -- namely, the record button and zooming capabilities -- function the same as the Flip MinoHD with one exception: On the Flip SlideHD, they are accessed through the touchscreen.

The native FlipShare software program operates the same for the Flip MinoHD and the Flip SlideHD. The program also makes it easy to edit video and upload video to Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace. Uploading video is simple using the signature flip out USB arm -- simply pop it out, plug it in, and go. FlipShare is easy to use and fast, but you won't want to do any hardcore or professional editing in the program, as it is rudimentary at best (stick to Final Cut Pro or Avid for a more complete editing experience). The ability to save video to the camcorder -- namely video I had shot using another device -- makes for a nice mobile movie theater.

Choosing a video for playback is easy using the control bar -- simply slide your finger to the left or right on the touch slide strip and double click on the strip to view a video. Users can also click directly on the touch-sensitive screen, although the device tends to take a couple of good finger punches to comply. It's best to use the slide bar.

There's also the ability to use headphones on the Flip SlideHD, a feature that is not available on the Flip MinoHD. While you're probably not going to watch Avatar on the 3" screen, viewing vacation videos on an airplane is probably best done with headphones -- no one wants to hear little Johnny's squeals on the beach except for, well, you.

What I don't like

The Flip SlideHD's biggest downfall is its heft. What the Flip Mino has going for it -- its light weight -- is what the Flip SlideHD lacks. It doesn't fit in a pocket, and it was bulky to carry in my hand. I found it dangerously droppable, especially when using my thumb to zoom in or out. Luckily, the included wrist strap saved the day on more than one occasion.

In an era of iPhones and iPads, it's not surprising to see the Flip SlideHD utilize a more hands-on touch interface. Unfortunately, it's not exactly as intuitive as Cisco would have you believe. When recording, the interface makes the red record button difficult to hit if I'm not looking directly at it. (On the Flip Mino, I can easily seek out the record button by feel.) Changing the volume requires the user to start a video and hold a finger to the screen until a user menu pops up.

And while users can save old videos to the Flip SlideHD, it isn't a fast process. It took nearly 10 minutes to save an old two-minute video to it. Filling up all available 12 hours would take more time than most users are probably willing to give.

The price tag is a definite drawback. At $249.99, it seems Flip has taken a step back in the pocket camcorder race. It's pricier than an iPhone 4 with a contract, and although the f/2.4 aperture produces great MP4 video, it's difficult to justify a separate device for those who already employ Apple's bestselling phone.

Geek bottom line

The SlideHD's four-hour recording time is an attractive selling point. If you need more storage than the Flip MinoHD and hope to share your videos (especially using the HDMI out), then the Flip SlideHD is a viable choice if size is not a factor. The ability to carry around a video library is also a plus, and with 12 hours of storage, that's a lot of video. Still, the hefty price tag makes the SlideHD a splurge rather than a must-have for a media savvy geek.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ****
  • Geek factor: **
  • Value: **
  • Overall: ***

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2010.

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