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The Best Flip Camera Yet

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    NEWSLETTERS

    David Parkinson via National Weather Service Data

    They may not look too different from their predecessors, but the new Flip camcorders — the alkaline battery-powered UltraHD and the slim rechargeable MinoHD — offer two major changes.

    First is the FlipPort, a proprietary accessory jack à la iPod/iPhone, and improved image stabilization. The latter improvement means a significant reduction in nausea-inducing hand-movement jitter, achieved by some accelerometer/gyro-like chip technology. While not the lens-based optical-based technology used on full-size camcorders from Sony, Canon and Panasonic, Flip's innovative tech doesn't introduce the digital interpolation artifacts by digital or electronic image stabilization found in other pocketcam models.

    Flip also has slightly improved overall video quality by upping the frame rate from 720p/30 frames per second to 720p/60 fps, and adding auto white balance, which helps compensate when you're shooting someone in front of a window with the sun shining in.
    Flip's new FlipPort accessory port opens the door for a plethora of Flip attachments, such as external microphones (the first looks to be the Mikey for Flip from Blue Microphones, an attachable mic array with a mic input jack for a wired or wireless interview mic, $69 and available sometime early next year), a video off-loaded if your memory fills up, battery chargers or packs, etc.

    Physically, the new UltraHD is about a third thinner than the old model, with the full-size HDMI port transformed to a mini HDMI jack and moved from side to bottom next to the FlipPort jack. One step backward on the UltraHD is the change from two AA batteries to a clumsier three AAAs.

    Flip's new models remain as cheap as the old version. The UltraHD runs $149 (or $199 for two hours of shooting time); the Mino is $179 (again, $199 for two hours).