Jumbo Sunshade - Ezine

Review - Flip Video MinoHD Digital Camcorder
Flip Video's MinoHD (high definition, wide screen) camcorder is being marketed to people who shoot and upload videos to YouTube, MySpace, AOL Video, etc.  Their minimalist approach toward simplicity probably hits its mark with the consumers they're targeting, but...

You're stuck with low quality audio; file sizes that take the maximum amount of time to upload to your PC and/or website; and exactly zero I/O options during record & playback.  All for around $200.

So why do i have this camcorder?  Well, my friendly neighborhood Novell representative (who shall remain unnamed) gave it to me for a job i was

working on.  When i took it out of the box i actually smiled and we were like "wow, this thing is cool"!  Kinda surprised at how small it was - 3.3 ounces.

As it happened the MinoHD worked for us, which was nice - but the requirements for this job were also fairly minimal: widescreen & high-def.  It wouldn't have hurt to have higher quality audio, but for this online presentation we really didn't need it.
Our only other real requirement was that the camera be mounted on a tripod.  The MinoHD is tripod-mountable but i could've also done that with tape no problem.
 

Strictly speaking my Flip Video digital camcorder wasn't "free", but since there was no out-of-pocket expense for me i'm not completely unhappy with it.  It'd be easy enough to sell on eBay if i really wanted to.  I have to say though that if i'd paid for this thing i would've been returning it as soon as i was done using it.  I've lent it to other people but i've only used it once myself in months now, and i don't expect to be using it again anytime soon (you never know though i guess).

On the back of the camcorder below its 1.5" display is a big red record button.  Video capture takes place on the built-in 4GB flash memory.  You get about 48 minutes of video and then you have to dump 'em to your computer to make room for more because the MinoHD doesn't accept memory cards.  [Flip

Video claims 60 minutes of record time but in practice it doesn't work out that way because of the pre-loaded software taking up space.]

These are the specs and they are non-negotiable:
* Resolution: 1280 x 720 @ 16:9 (widescreen)
* Video compression: H.264
* Audio compression: ACC
* Bitrate (average/auto-adaptive): 9.0 Mbps
* File format: MP4

The lens is fixed focus (1.5m to infinity).  The MinoHD has auto white balance and exposure, plus low light detection.

FYI: The MinoHD uses a CMOS image sensor; not a CCD.  I'm told that CMOS has better power consumption and can be implemented

with fewer components for a smaller footprint.  As to which type of image sensor is "better"... my videographer friends tell me that the jury is still out.

 

Video quality on LCD playback was excellent, even if if that was unnecessarily so for our needs.  And that was the big problem for us, because the MinoHD shoots ONLY in super high res mode, which made this whole job take WAY l o n g e r  than it needed to.

Our takes were about 5 minutes each, which resulted in MP4s of about 375MB in size.  Well that 4 GB internal flash filled up pretty quick and file transfer

was really slow for some reason, so we did alot of waiting on that.

The customer was editing on-site using freeware - it was kindof ridiculous really, but funny too.  These 375MB files had to be

converted to .AVI before they could be edited into 1-minute scenes, which were then converted into .FLV (and at a much lower res) for publishing on the web.  The editing was fairly quick, but all that file conversion was itself painfully slow.

If the MinoHD allowed us to capture at lower resolutions AND to .AVI instead of MP4... DAMN would things have gone quicker.

 

Audio quality is definitely lo-fi.  The MinoHD's built-in microphone is your standard omni condenser which uses an integrated leveler.  There is no gain adjustment so you'd have to keep this thing away from high SPL.

And in case you were wondering - you can just leave

your super awesome-sounding wireless lav mic back at the studio, because the MinoHD doesn't allow for an external source.

Fortunately for us (that day), podcast-quality audio was an acceptable minimum.  And i think it's a safe bet that most of

whatever people will do with this digi camcorder will probably end up coming out of computer speakers anyway.

[Update - audio]
I tested using a dreadnought (guitar) aimed directly at the MinoHD from about 4 feet.  Listening back on 8" studio monitors, the results sucked.  The good thing was that there was no clipping during heavy strumming.  The bad thing was that there was no low end and the mid range was hyped (probably not by design).
I won't go as far as to say that i'll never use the MinoHD to post performance clips on YouTube, but damn.

[Update #2 - audio]
Last month i used my Flip Video cam to record parts of an acoustic show at a local

art gallery.  Tripod was setup about 30 feet from mains.  As usual, the video came out great and the audio came out horrible.

Copyright 2009 jumbosunshade.com.