Monday, March 31, 2008

Flip Camcorder has real potential for student use

At only $180 and with its astonishing ease of use, the Flip camcorder sounds like something that would be a good "check out" device for the lab. Although it has only a 2X digital zoom, the video quality looked good and I think the Flip camcorder would work well for small group classroom applications.

By the way, I really enjoy David Pogue's videos and get as much information out of these short entertaining videos as I do plowing through a two page article.

But you can read the full article too. Here's a snippet:

"Now, understanding the appeal of this machine will require you not just to open your mind, but to practically empty it. Because on paper, the Flip looks like a cheesy toy that no self-respecting geek would fool with, let alone a technology columnist.

The screen is tiny (1.5 inches) and doesn't swing out for self-portraits. You can't snap still photos. There are no tapes or discs, so you must offload the videos to a computer when the memory is full (30 or 60 minutes of footage, depending on whether you buy the $150 or $180 model). There are no menus, no settings, no video light, no optical viewfinder, no special effects, no headphone jack, no high definition, no lens cap, no memory card. And there's no optical zoom -- only a 2X digital zoom that blows up and degrades the picture. Ouch.

Instead, the Flip has been reduced to the purest essence of video capture. You turn it on, and it's ready to start filming in two seconds. You press the red button once to record (press hard -- it's a little balky) and once to stop. You press Play to review the video, and the Trash button to delete a clip.

There it is: the entire user's manual.

But come on -- 13 percent of the camcorder market? This limited little thing? What's going on here? Having finally lived with the Flip, I finally know the answer: it's a blast. It's always ready, always with you, always trustworthy. Instead of crippling this "camcorder," the simplicity elevates it. Comparisons with a real camcorder are nonsensical, because the Flip is something else altogether: it's the video equivalent of a Kodak point-and-shoot camera. It's the very definition of "less is more."

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