Flip UltraHD

11 Apr

The Flip range of pocket video cameras has long been a PC Pro favorite, marrying ease of use with excellent video quality at a reasonable price. The third-gen Flip UltraHD electronic gadgets add a couple of major new features to the armory: image stabilization and 50fps video recording.

There’s still no upgrade to 1080p, but it’s the first time we’ve seen image stabilization on any pocket video camera, and it combines with the new, super-high frame rate to spectacular effect. High frame rates smooth out panning and action shots beautifully, and the stabilization works effectively to eliminate camera shake.

We clamped the old and new Flip UltraHD together and shot a scene while walking along the street to get an idea of how much of an improvement had been made – and were blown away by the difference. That isn’t the only change. The new UltraHD is slimmer than before, and thus more pocket able. The electronic gadgets still comes with a rechargeable battery and the option to replace that with standard alkaline or lithium cells in an emergency, but this time you’ll need three AAAs instead of two AAs.

Image quality is a different story, however, and here Flip has made some odd choices. With the extra frames we’d expected to see a higher bit rate, but in fact there’s very little difference between the two cameras. The new UltraHD still hovers around 9Mbits/sec, and the result is that some details are lost to its aggressive compression. There’s a touch more noise in low-light situations, and colors look oversaturate ted.

Realistically, though, the improvements outweigh this small backwards shuffle. Image quality in all conditions matches or surpasses any other pocket video camera on the market, and its ease of use is as peerless as ever. The price might be a touch high, but if you want the best, it’s worth paying the premium.

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