Pure Flip Mino HD
The YouTuber's favourite goes HD at last
It’s certainly smaller than rivals such as Kodak’s Zi6 HD camcorder, and is only slightly larger than Apple’s slimline iPod Nano 4G. It seems quite solidly built, though, so we wouldn’t have any worries about dropping it into a backpack if we were going away for the weekend. The clear plastic coating that covers the back of the unit – including the tiny, 1.5in LCD preview screen – smudges if you so much as look at it, but did seem to be reasonably scratch-resistant during the few days that we had to test it.
The Flip Mino HD retains the simplicity of its predecessors, with the same three buttons for recording, playing and deleting clips. On previous models, the Record button had a gamepad design, allowing you to rock it from side to side in order to adjust additional settings such as the zoom level. However, the Mino HD opts for a more streamlined touch-sensitive panel that responds to a light flick of the finger.
When you turn it on for the first time, you're asked to set the date and time on the small menu screen, but there are no other settings to adjust. Once that’s done the screen switches into its viewfinder mode – there’s no separate optical viewfinder – and displays a live preview image.
We have to say that this 1.5in screen is the camcorder’s biggest weakness. Not only is the screen itself extremely small and low-res – a rather odd 528 x 132 pixels, according to the spec sheet – but the preview image is letterboxed so that it doesn’t even fill the small amount of screen space that is available. A screen this size might be tolerable when you’re paying less than £100 for one of the low-res Flip models, but it’s annoying in an HD model costing £170.
Still, the image quality turns out to be pretty good – just about sharp enough to live up to the HD tag, and with bold, strong colours. There’s a slight tendency for colours to wash out in strong sunlight, but the main problem we found with the Flip Mino HD is that its size and weight make it very susceptible to every little shake of your hands. The no-frills design means that it doesn’t have any of the image stabilization features found in more expensive camcorders, and we found that there was often a slight shakiness to the image no matter how hard we tried to steady our hand.